A few months ago I self taped for the American Black Film Festival’s Star Project that’s sponsored by NBC. From over 2,000 submissions I was selected to be one of three female finalists! So I got another opportunity to go to 30 Rock and meet more NBC casting folks. I also got to do a table read for TV One with Malinda Williams, Essence Atkins, Dennis L. A. White, Aisha Hinds, A. Russell Anderson, Keith Robinson, Thomas Q. Jones and the other finalists. We were also free to attend a lot of great panel discussions, film premieres and parties. At the end of the weekend I didn’t win the prize of a walk on role on One Life To Live, but left with amazing new contacts and friends. I’m so happy to have participated and been acknowledged among so many great creatives.
This week I booked a co-star on Amazon’s Red Oaks. I’ve spent so much of the last year focusing on cracking the juggernaut that is television that it feels awesome to finally be reaping the benefits of that. Which brings me to my next piece of news…
Today I walked into the SAG AFTRA office and became their newest member! I’m so pleased I’ve reached this milestone in my career and am eager to put that card into serious use.
2015 has been great so far! The first week of the year I shot a beautiful short film Masquerade with my new friend and collaborator Andrew Hawkins. It’s a period film about William and Ellen Craft who escaped slavery by posing as a white invalid and his slave. It’s an equally fascinating and unnerving true story that I’m honored to have a part in telling. The crew of people that came together for this were talented hardworking problem solvers. I am so grateful for all their efforts. Our fearless cinematographer Thomas Garrett brought a drone! So cool and surreal to see (especially against an 1848 backdrop!). I’m so excited to see how the shot turns out…
The rest of January through March I was busy running around for pilot season. Which basically means a lot of makeup and memorizing. I’m kidding–it’s great exercise! And I’m so pleased there’s so much more work available and feel lucky to have been considered for so many large parts.
Also, I just booked another short film called Dizzy With That Dame. It’s another period film–this time the 30s–and it’s a “whodunnit!” Check out the kickstarter page here to see a short promo video featuring yours truly.
Up next is the world premiere of Cynthia Robinson’s Dancing on Eggshells. It’s being produced by The Billie Holiday Theater but we’re in residence at The Brooklyn Music School Playhouse in Fort Greene. More recently I’ve been focused on writing and pursuing on camera work, but doing a play will always feel like home. Nothing can match that feeling of “we’re all here in a room together and anything could happen” so I’m over the moon about starting rehearsal next week. The play has a lot of heart and danger and it should be interesting to see where we go with it. It runs from April 23rd to May 17th (Thursdays through Sundays) and you can buy tickets here.
I kicked off the summer by reuniting with YJLTC at the LIFT Festival in London. There were performances happening all over the city, but we were fortunate enough to perform at the Barbican. It’s been two years since we’ve done the show and seven since we made it. It was gratifying and illuminating to return to the material as older different (and hopefully) better actors. After my jet lag subsided I took off for the Summer Workshop at The Huntington Theater in Boston. I was cast in two new plays: Murmur Rock by MJ Kaufman directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh and The Bluebeard Project cowritten by Masha Obolensky and Melia Bensussen and directed by Melia Bensussen. We had two weeks to really pull the material apart so by the time we had our final public showings there were several impressive discernible changes. It takes a village to raise a play! And I’m very proud to say I was a small part of bringing these two into being.
I did a photo shoot with my beautiful and diversely talented friend Christine Jean Chambers last weekend. She wanted to recreate some images of Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean taken by Sid Avery using our mutual friend Samira Wiley and myself. We shot in Harlem and then relocated to Brooklyn where our friend Lauren Davis joined us. Below are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as we enjoyed getting together to make them!
I’m starring in a new play this Tuesday August 20th at 7PM in Fort Greene Park (near Washington Park). It’s being presented by MOCADA as a part of their Soul of Brooklyn Festival. The play is smart, funny, relevant and full of vibrant and familiar characters (see blurb and indiegogo page below). And the fact that I am attempting to get off book for a single performance is really a testament to this play and the wonderfully talented group that’s assembled to bring it to life.
Also, it’s free and open to the public (no tickets needed)! There should be a really interesting seamless sort of organic meta feel in terms of the relationship between audience and performer, which will hopefully get some interesting and healthy conversations started. I’m really excited to explore that dynamic while watching the sun set over Fort Greene Park. I’d love it if you could join me. Check out the festival flyer below for more information.
About the Play:
H Street is a comedic play that follows Frankie, the newest resident of the rapidly gentrifying H Street, any city, USA. Armed with a city grant to build a community center, she has dreams of building the perfect home for her new neighbors – but quickly discovers it takes more than good intentions to unite a neighborhood.
I’ve had a ball working on By The Way, Meet Vera Stark at The Goodman this spring. It’s a terribly smart play that gave me the opportunity to play four different characters (one on-screen and some with accents). Working with Lynn Nottage is a real personal triumph–she was one of the first playwrights I came across that taught me that I could have a voice in the American theater. So I’m proud to say that I’ve finally had the opportunity to cross paths with her (we’re both in the seated row). Also, Chuck Smith and the Goodman team are a dream to work with, and I’m thrilled to have developed a relationship with them.
Last fall I was in the world premiere of Dave Malloy’s hit non traditional opera Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. I’d never done or seen anything like it and am so happy to have been a part of helping Dave and Rachel’s shared vision come to life. The show was named one of the best shows of 2012 by Time Out New York, awarded a 2013 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater, given a Special Citation by the Obie Awards, and nominated for two Drama League Awards and five 2013 Drama Desk Awards!