This fall has been chock full of new developments! I’ve been in residency at The New Museum since the end of October. They’ve created a pop up repertory company called X-ID Rep in an effort to further explore the theme of their season: persona. More to the point: the company is investigating “cross play” in the theater or playing someone of a different race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. and what the politics of that are. We’re talking stereotypes, appropriation, xenophobia, history, language, privilege and so much more. It’s been a difficult heady tender meta journey to have the talents of eight performers, four writers and four directors meet. But overall, everyone’s skills are so varied and wonderful it’s been a real gift to share this time and space together. We’re essentially an ongoing exhibit at the museum until we have our final showing in January. So anyone can stop by and check out the process during open studio hours. More information including open studio hours (and eventually details regarding the final showing) can be found here. Justine Williams is writing a series of articles about the project for Culturebot that can be found here.
I attended the Audelco awards a few weeks ago as Dancing on Eggshells (a show I was in the world premiere of earlier this year) was nominated for Best Choreography and Best Ensemble. We didn’t win but it was wonderful to be acknowledged and invited. There was a lot of talent in that room.
I just watched a final cut of Masquerade, a period short I’m in that tells the true story of William and Ellen Craft’s escape from slavery (see post below for more info). It’s being submitted to festivals and will premiere in 2016 so I can’t post clips yet but I do have this screen shot to share:
Last month I was in PlayTime at New Dramatists, which is one of their longer developmental workshops (lasting two weeks) for five of their playwrights in residence. What’s amazing is that they take such great care of everyone and go to such pains to make sure that people working on different shows intersect that it feels like a retreat though almost everyone in the company was in the city they call home. There were free meals, yoga classes and writing workshops and the whole thing was totally kumbaya and rejuvenating. I was lucky enough to work with Sibyl Kempson (writer/director) and Graham Reynolds (composer) on The Securely Conferred Vouchsafed Keepsakes of Maery S. Sibyl is endlessly smart and creative and operating on a frequency that resonates in yet undiscovered parts of the psyche. Graham’s music is inspired and hearty and satisfying. Love them. Love the work. So excited to see what else we can make together…
Finally, I’m so excited to announce that I’m in the world premiere of Laura Jacqumin’s Residence directed by Hal Brooks at Humana Festival. Humana is such a hotbed for great new American plays it’s been a goal of mine to be a part of it. I’m really happy I’ll get to go with such a great creative team and more than a relieved to miss the worst of winter in NYC 🙂 More info here.
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.