Photography DaMarko GianCarlo
Make Up & Hair Mirlen Quesada
Interview Kyra Greene
How does it feel to be a part of both DC and Marvel universes?
I am grateful to have been a part of both iconic comic book universes. I was cast as ‘newscaster Morgan’ on camera in ‘Aquaman,’ which is a DC Comics project, and I did voice-over work on ‘Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse,’ which is a Marvel Comics production. I loved being a part of both projects but I always appreciate being on camera!
What’s your favorite character that you voiced?
I don’t have one favorite character. But I love animation. It’s fun to play and create unique characters possibly using different accents.
The longevity of your over 30-year career (working on In Living Color to Frasier to General Hospital), can you believe that it has gone this fast?
Some years went by quickly, and some trudged by slowly! But I am grateful to have sustained a career this long in a business that is so unpredictable. I believe being able to work across the board in: TV, film, commercials, voiceovers and on stage has given me stability and longevity.
You’ve been able to work on some of the best-known dramas of the last 20 years. How are the fans from being on 24, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and the ‘West Wing’?
A show is only as successful as its fan base. With social media, viewers can engage with shows in real time and the online ‘buzz’ can often determine the success of a show. The West Wing still has a loyal fan base. A few years ago, a ‘West Wing’ fan club organized an entire weekend of panels and events dedicated to the show and flew several of us to Maryland to participate. It was amazing to see how loyal people still are to the show and the impact it had on their lives.
You have worked with some of the best showrunners on TV. How has that shaped your career?
Working on well-written, excellent projects is a gift to any actor. I think working with some of the top show-runners has set a high standard of expectation for the types of projects I am interested in and it has opened up more opportunities.
You’ve played a journalist a few times, would you say your degree in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University.
Definitely! During my college years I hosted a talk show, produced several news stories and reported the news on the campus radio station WJPZ. I also worked for a prestigious news organization after graduating from Syracuse, so playing a news reporter/anchor feels very natural and familiar to me.
How has acting changed for you over the course of your tenure?
I am cast in different roles now that I am older. And, the audition process has changed due to technology and the pandemic. But the actual work of an actress remains the same. I’ve settled into myself and I’m much more comfortable in my skin, but I still have to put in the work.
Working on ‘The Kings of Napa’ is a unique experience for an actor of color in Hollywood. How has it been working on the show?
It has been awesome working on a show that is centered on a Black educated, wealthy, culturally aware family who owns a winery in Napa. The show’s creator/Executive Producer, Janine Sherman Barrois, showcases Black excellence through lifestyle, fashion, art, food, etc. Janine was lovely to work for because she welcomed discussions about our characters and allowed us to collaborate about some of the scenes we were in. Playing the role of ‘Melanie’ also allowed me to be a bit more scandalous and messy than some of my other roles.
Would you like rolls in which you could showcase both sides of your heritage?
I would love to be part of stories that showcase both sides of my heritage but more importantly for me, is telling great stories that all people can relate too. The human experience is one we all share no matter one’s race, color or gender even if you do not identify with a specific experience.
What’s next for you?
I will continue to audition for other roles, continue to work in voice over and look forward to the new doors that will open from working on ‘The Kings of Napa.’ I will also try to stay more engaged on social media, since it is one of the main ways people communicate and access information now.
How was working on the modern classic West Wing?
Did it shape how you viewed acting working with actors that have such gravitas?
Working with that caliber of talent from ‘The West Wing,’ it felt like I was in a master class for acting whenever I was on set. It was exciting to watch and engage with the lead actors while they found these delicious, juicy moments. It was similar to being a part of or watching the best tennis match. Each actor’s process was different but they were all so present and made it look easy. It was a blessing to have been a part of ‘The West Wing.’
When looking at more recent shows like scandal do you feel like you were a part of paving the way for shows like these to thrive?
I think Aaron Sorkin’s writing and storytelling set the bar high for excellent TV and demonstrated that shows about politics and the White House could thrive. ‘Scandal’ was based on a real-life woman, Judy A. Smith, whereas, ‘The West Wing’ was based on a white house with fictitious characters with elements of real-life circumstances.
Do you keep in touch with any former cast mates?
I stay in touch with several of my cast mates from ‘The West Wing’ and I’m sure I will stay in touch with many of the cast and crew from ‘The Kings of Napa.’ With social media, it’s much easier to keep up with people.