“When I told my niece that I was auditioning for a lesbian role, she responded negatively. It made me think about how children so often believe the majority whether right or wrong. I believe in tolerance. This became an opportunity for me to stretch as an actress and engage in a film about some very real issues in our society today. I had to consider the lesbian/gay experience. What is it like to be a minority in a society where heterosexuality [is dominant]?” she said.
“I can never hide my blackness, right, because everyone can see my color, but when it comes to sexuality, people can hide. Should they? And to what extent do I, as a heterosexual, create the need for them to hide? I hope that my performance sparks dialogue and leads viewers to higher levels of consciousness.”
Read what this actress has to say. –yvette caslin
Where you were born/where you were raised?
I was born in Germany, while my father was serving in the U.S. Air Force. I have lived in Oklahoma, Ohio, Las Vegas and even Chicago, but I consider Atlanta home. It’s where my family is.
Did you have any particular mentors or inspirations as a young actor?
Seeing Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman made me believe in the fairytale of love stories and I thank Tyler Perry for making a “black pretty woman” with Good Deeds. I believed Thandie Newton. In both movies, I believed that was their life. That’s inspiring as an actress to be so believable onscreen that you can make the most unrealistic story, stuff that only happens in the movies, seem like it could really happen in real life. I still believe in the possibility.
The one movie that you will never forget:
Geez. I’m sure I could go back farther, but what is striking me most prominently was when I recently saw Secretariat on Starz and it blew me away. The strength of Mrs. Penny Chenery Tweedy, played by Diane Lane, gave me goosebumps and it made me cry. It reminded me so much of my mother and I think it renewed an inner strength in me. I had to have my mom and nieces come over to watch it with me. It’s just that good.
Your personal acting idols:
Kerry Washington, Julia Roberts, Kimberly Elise, Meryl Streep, Sanaa Lathan and Angelina Jolie
Last good movie you saw:
Think Like a Man. I think it will be a classic.
Some films you consider classics:
Love Jones, Pretty Woman, Star Wars, Sex and the City, Clueless, Casablanca, Coming to America, Dumb & Dumber
Performer you would drop everything to go see:
My niece Destini Hammond, [she’s] a beautiful and talented, up-and-coming singer. Google her. I think I’d drop everything to go see people who I know are grinding to make their passions and dreams come true.
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
“Gossip Girl.” I’m addicted!
Chicago, Gambier, Ohio and, of course, Atlanta
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:
When I reflect, I suppose I have had many opportunities that were leading me to the profession, but I never really considered it. It wasn’t until about two or three years ago that I “caught the bug” after seeing my kids perform onstage. I’m also a teacher and drama club sponsor at my school.
That summer, I had the chance to meet Tommy Ford and he asked me to read for him. After hearing him tell me, “You’re good!” I began to think, if I can impress him with my natural ability, what could I do if I was trained? So, I started training with Dwayne Boyd and never looked back.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:
I was trying to communicate with another actor and I kept calling her the name of the character that I was playing.
Most challenging role you have played:
Me? I’m still figuring myself out every day. Life is tough. I have to remember to be kind to myself and hold things loosely.
Worst job you ever had:
I’m appreciative of my first job at McDonald’s. It was great training and all in all a fun experience at the time. I [have] fond memories. It taught me the value of a dollar, but within the first house of cleaning the lobby, wiping tables, sweeping and mopping floors while only making at minimum wage, I realized that I didn’t want to be doing that for the rest of my life.
Career you would want if not a performer:
Hmm, this changes regularly. In this season of my life, I’d say a drama teacher.
Three things you can’t live without:
Passion, family and good food