Has writing always been an interest of yours, or were you initially more focused on other areas of theatre?
HA! If my parents read this question they would immediately tell you that I was never focused on any of it; I just drove them crazy with ALL of it! I was the kind of kid that enjoyed “making up” stories and having the neighborhood kids join me in performing whatever I could talk them into doing. To me writing and acting have always gone hand in hand. I was the kind of student that could write a literature essay in the car or on the train on the way to class and then get an “A” on the paper.
I actually started out in Musical Theater, then I found that I just enjoyed performing and it didn’t matter if it was a comedy, drama, improv or a musical; I just needed to be onstage. Then I was encouraged by a director to write a one-woman show for myself, so that I could show off my character skills; that led to some free-lance commercial writing, which opened up more writing doors for me.
Where did you find the inspiration for your piece in Illuminating Voices: “Welcome Home”?
I’ve tried, like so many of my fellow actors, to walk away from acting when life’s challenges got in my way. I think in every career, especially as an “artist”, you always question your choice. “Why am I doing this. I can’t take anymore rejection!”
I know of a brilliant actress that was performing in a successful show when her mother had a stroke while she was onstage, then died during the run of the show. That was 4 years ago, she’s had a very hard time dealing with her career and her mother’s death. It became very over whelming for her, but she’s still an actress. I’ve learned a lot throughout my career. I’ve had some amazing moments onstage and some challenging ones offstage as well; but the minute I walk onto a stage and those lights hit my face, automatically mutter to myself: “What rejection? Baby, this is home!”
How did your time at Loyola impact you as an artist?
When I see that AT&T commercial about how easy kids have it nowadays, I double over with laughter. I am constantly telling my students that same thing. Loyola taught me the two most valuable constants in my life…Discipline and Commitment. Without the two, I would not still be performing. That strict theater regimen taught me the real meaning of discipline. Now, I can’t be late for anything! I was taught that once you committed yourself to the project, that’s it. It could stink, and you might not make any money, but you ahve to be committed no matter what.
What were your thoughts when you were approached about taking part in the Illuminating Voices project?
Are you serious? You want ME to write what? I was so humbled and so excited that I actually have the letter that was sent to me; that I plan to frame along with a copy of the check. Seriously, with all the support and love that I have received from Loyola’s Theater Department throughout the years, this is a real honor for me. Plus, I was encouraged by Jonathan Wilson to do it, and that meant a lot to me.
What impact do you believe the opening of the Newhart Family Theatre will have on the arts at Loyola?
I don’t know if I can give a fair answer to this one, because I’m going to miss the Mullady Theatre. However, I will say that from what I’ve seen happening on the campus the past 5 years, this place is rockin’! There are so many new spaces and classes that can only help each and every theater student here have the best advantage there is to have a thriving career once they leave.
Your first novel, I Love You More Than Shoes, was released earlier this year. What inspired you to write a book?
This Business! The book is about 4 African American actresses over the age of 50 still trying to make it in Hollywood. They say to write about what you know… Need I say more? Just go to Amazon.com and pick it up, then you’ll understand my plight. I’m working on selling it as a TV series. Now that’s what we need, a Loyola alumni picking up her Emmy as the writer of a hit new TV series!