Tell us about the character you play, and how can you relate to him/her. Is there any part of CHESS that resonates with you as an actor, or personally?
My character’s name is Florence Vassy, who at first plays the assistant to Chess Champion Frederick Trumper, who then moves diagonally and finds herself at the other side of the board. I play a woman who’s fearless, determined and continues to be success-driven in a male dominated society.
What challenges, if any, have you faced with playing your character?
It was vocally challenging for me or maybe it was just the process of repetition during rehearsals. So yes, the thing that I love about this role is the very thing that gave me that challenge. But I have no shame whatsoever when it comes to asking for help and coaching. I worked with a voice teacher who also studies acting and is brilliant in improvisational work. She taught me many things from maintaining healthy vocal chords to having a healthy diet.
What distinguishes this production or role you have compared to other characters you’ve played in the past?
What distinguishes the role from other productions is that we discover new nuances every performance. It’s like a chess game, the board is the same, the pieces are the same but the moves are different. They way the other players present themselves emotionally and physically has an influence on the way I deliver back. What’s great about Tim’s direction is that he laid in the structure and allowed us to explore the characters internally. The improvisational exercises gave me permission to find the subtle moments, the beats, the things not written on the script, the things not said that would actually connect and would become my character’s thread. There were times of fear and frustration that turned into favorite moments.
What made you want to pursue acting?
My acting coach, Allen Savage, inspired me to pursue acting. He gave me TRUTH about acting. That it is selfless and that it is about listening to the other person. Know the WHYs of your character. Don’t play interesting but BE interested. I was also inhibited as a result of my conservative upbringing and because of that I was guarded, I built walls. I was so stiff. Allen ruined me, tore me to pieces and brought me back up. He helped me tear the walls down and turned my vulnerability into an asset.
Have you ever faced adversity in your career, and if so, how?
This is something you can ask me on a daily basis because once I overcome one adversity I face a new one the next day. Rejection is constant, I have to say. I’ve been through the too-fat-too-thin/too-old-too-young phase and more. But being married to a producer/director, I have learned to appreciate the complexity of the casting process.
Any advice you’d give to actors just starting out?
Find a mentor. Find an acting coach that you can trust and build a lifelong friendship with. Someone who can tell you what you don’t want to hear. Someone who sees from a bird’s eye view of your career, one who is brutally honest. When you find something that interests you, whether or not it is acting related, dig deep into that subject and do more research. Find something that excites you and it will surely benefit you as an actor. As for the inside job, PRAYER and DISCIPLINE.
What’s in store for you after CHESS?
I have mostly out of town projects lined up and a festival Award-Winning film touring the circuits right now. I just recently signed with a new agency here in Los Angeles and I’m very excited to be with them and focus on Film and TV so I can be home with my immediate family. Also, I was offered to teach Vacation Bible School this summer, one of the few things I’m very passionate about.
Anything else you’d like to share?
READ the classics! The more acting jobs you get the more classes you take!
How can fans stay updated about your projects?