Teyonah Parris talks ‘Survivor’s Remorse’ and pursuing one’s dreams

teyonah_parris

The new STARZ show “Survivor’s Remorse” is a look inside the life of Cam Calloway, a young NBA star, and how his success affects the lives of those around him. Actress Teyonah Parris costars as Missy Vaughn, wife of Cam’s cousin-manager, Reggie Vaughn. The actress spoke to rolling out about her own journey and how she’s traveled from the small-town South to hit shows and Hollywood.

Parris grew up in an environment that placed a high premium on athletic prowess. The Hopkins, South Carolina, native was raised in the shadow of the University of South Carolina and its legendary football program and she knew that football was almost a religion to her community.

“It was definitely a football town,” she says with a laugh. “We have the Gamecocks, where you almost get out of school early [for a game]! Football is definitely a big deal.”

But the actress was in a household that appreciated her creative ambitions. Despite growing up in a place that focused on sports, she was given tremendous support for her focus on the arts. Her parents were with her every step of the way.

“It was not hard for me to find guidance and motivation,” Parris explains. “I’m very blessed and my parents were always so supportive of myself and my brother. Whatever you wanted to do, you just had to give 110 percent. So whatever that was, they supported it.”

“I went to middle school and high school and my drama teacher, Ms. Cooper, basically nurtured me. It was always a part of my life and my parents allowed it to be. In my junior year of high school, I went to a boarding school for the arts; a school called the Governor’s School for The Arts and Humanities. It was basically a mini-Juilliard — an intense training conservatory for the arts,” says Parris.

“The structure and discipline, I’m so grateful for it,” Parris continues.

Along with her own success, Parris has watched some of her classmates, including Samira Wiley and Tasha Jefferson of the hit Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black,” step into the spotlight. She gets emotional discussing what it means for them to achieve their breakthroughs at the same time.

“We were all a hot mess, trying to make it,” Parris says. “This past month, when I went to the Emmy’s, I was there with maybe four of my schoolmates from Juilliard. Just seeing us there and nominated felt so amazing and surreal. It was like ‘Wow!’ The hard work and discipline — seeing our dreams unfolding before our eyes was just amazing. Every time I see my friends on a billboard, I’m so excited. If God can do it for me or them, he can do it for everybody.”

Stereo Williams
Stereo Williams

Todd "Stereo" Williams, entertainment writer based in New York City. He co-founded Thirty 2 Oh 1 Productions, an indie film company.



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