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‘Middle of Nowhere’ actress Emayatzy Corinealdi: ‘Growth comes from struggle’

Photo courtesy Lionsgate

Starring in the film Middle of Nowhere, Emayatzy Corinealdi plays Ruby whose journey of self-discovery tugs at your heartstrings. In just four short years, the girl who dreamt of becoming a doctor ends up on a visitation list to see the love of her life, Derek (Omari Hardwick) who’s in prison.

When she meets Brian, a bus driver, who challenges her sensibilities and diminished loyalty, i.e, heartbreak, Ruby takes a detour and finds herself at a crossroad.

“This story itself is one I feel everyone can relate to. I had times in my life when I looked up and asked how did I get to the point where I am making plans to go left and find myself veering over to the right,” Corinealdi remembers playing the lead role in the film that garnered her a “Breakthrough Award” at the 2012 Gotham Awards.

“There were moments when I dealt with loss and other common human experiences – they prepared me. When you find yourself in the throngs of life and all the obstacles, that’s when your true character is tested and you really get to see what you’re made of. Growth comes from that struggle.”

How does the on-screen journey compare to reality?

“The main thing for me is that we tend to start with a plan, by the end of it, you realize you are in a different place. It isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s exactly what you need. But you may not realize it when you’re going through it.”

Trying out for the role initially seemed like a typical audition booked by her agent and quickly turned into a once-in-a-Hollywood-lifetime opportunity. “It was one of those scripts, stories and characters that just really gets your attention. You see this woman take a full journey. She gets to have a full experience and she’s a black woman. It doesn’t happen often. It was the first thing I noticed.” Corinealdi showed up to audition for the role of Ruby’s sister. When the window was open for the lead, she jumped in and landed on her heels.

Corinealdi, is of Panamanian descent, and there’s a cute story behind her forename. It’s a mash-up of her maternal grandmother’s name and the Panamanian term for princess.

How’d this Kentucky-born military brat end up in Hollywood?

Corinealdi remembers so clearly leaving her hometown in New Jersey and heading west to pursue an acting career in film. “Even though it would have been easier to stay” on the East Coast, she chose film over theater.

“I packed up, made a game plan and drove out 10 years ago,” says Corinealdi whose acting career almost took a backseat to fleeting desire to become a lawyer.

“I loved the way they looked in the courtroom and the way they argued cases. After awhile, I realized I liked the way they looked and the whole [theatrics]. That changed everything for me. Since middle school, I did summer theater and was involved in all types of plays. Once I got to high school, I was involved in sports and track, acting took a backseat because I thought I am an athlete, acting was fun to do on the side.”


For the first time, the powerful drama ¬– the critically acclaimed and award winning film from Selma director Ava DuVernay and also starring Selma’s David Oyelowo – Middle of Nowhere arrives on DVD (plus Digital), Digital HD and On Demand on January 13 from Codeblack Films and Lionsgate Home Entertainment.