Q: You have been part of a tremendous episodic short drama project called Harlemites. Can you talk about it and your role as Karen?
A: ABSOLUTELY. Harlemites is a TV mini-series of interweaving stories that follow five different characters, each living in Harlem. Each episode focuses on a specific character. My character’s (Karen Parker’s) first episode is called MASK.
Karen is a divorced, single mum and a nurse. I cannot give too much away but if you go to Harlemites.com you can watch all five episodes online and for free. The director/creator of this project is Michael T. Jackson while the other actors are Thais Kirby, Jacques Mitchell, and Wesli Spencer. They are some of the most talented artists I have ever worked with.
Q: Gentrification is one of the themes of Harlemites. Ira Sachs’ film Little Men also recently tackled this issue in New York. As someone living and working in the City, have you noticed the effects? What impact does the City have on your own work?
A: YES, in New York City you see gentrification happening everywhere. It is a highly complex and relevant issue. Regarding Harlem, in some ways it is having a cultural revival, but looking at it a different way culture seems to be getting lost or pushed out. As artists, it is our job to find, listen to, and create truthful narratives. Currently, I see a large movement happening where underrepresented people are finally having their stories told. I truly feel this is the future of television, film and theatre.
Q: What is the current environment like for actors in New York? Would you say the culture is different from Hollywood? If so, how?
A: I HAVE to admit that I have never been an LA girl. I love the gritty realness of New York and the strong theatre community there. But honestly, I have not spent enough time in LA to make an educated comparison. I am going to be there a few times this upcoming year so ask me again in a few months.
Q: What is the favourite character you have played so far in your career?
A: I PLAYED Melania Trump in a comedy called Drumpf. I had a lot of fun playing her- she is quite a complex and unique character. Unfortunately, the film was made prior to the election so what was initially a funny satire became reality. The first time we viewed it everyone was in stitches laughing. After the election it was watched in silence.
Q: Can you tell us about Wv4 Productions and your role in the company?
A: WV4 PRODUCTIONS is the name I gave to my company because I am in the West Village near 4th Street. I have lived and worked in WV for more than 10 years, so it seemed appropriate. WV4 is a production company – our first film Verpussi’s Heirs is still in post-production. It also provides content creation/photography for social media and audition taping for actor auditions.
Q: You are also a part of The Collective theatre company – founded by Amy Schumer. So far, how have you found your experiences and work with the company?
A: YES, I am one of their ensemble members. The Collective is my theatre family. We have company meetings every Monday in the East Village. We develop pieces that our writers are working on and actors bring in work to practice their craft. Last October, I was in their annual C:10 Play Festival in a piece called Uncovering by Erin Mallon. This year we are producing an off-Broadway play called The Hurricane Party.
Q: You have also been working with screenwriter Ed Solomon. What have you learnt from Ed and do you have ambitions to write or direct in the future?
A: I HAVE been working with Ed for more than a year now. Every day I am learning new things about the industry from him. He is the one of my favourite people and incredibly talented. His latest project Mosaic just dropped in January on HBO and yes, I have plans to write, direct and produce.
Q: Do you have any favourite films from last year Are there any current artists you would love to work with in the future?
A: I WOULD have to say Mudbound, Lady Bird and Get Out. Gotta represent the ladies and Jordan Peele. I am focused on working with more women filmmakers this year.
Filmmakers, writers, producers, directors…this is where my heart is leading me. My two best friends Lacy Marie Meyer and Kelly Tuohy have partnered up with me to create a platform for making this happen. More to come.
Q: Lastly, do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
A: IN September last year, I acted in a film called I Am Not Broken written/directed by Felix Pinero, and produced by Full Spectrum Features. Their last project Signature Move hit the film festival circuit hard. The lead in that film Fawzia Mirza also plays a part in I Am Not Broken. She is a total badass. Stay tuned for more on this project.