This world continues to shift and change, and I continue to wonder what will happen next.
My youth was spent growing up outside a tiny village in Northern New Mexico, where my paternal grandmother’s family has lived for centuries; and being witness to the day-to-day reality of living with farm animals. Because of my love of and empathy for our animal friends, I remain a vegetarian; and, I would say it all probably started right there.
Later on, I had the opportunity to study in the UK where I learned to love the theater and drinking pints of room temperature ale. After leaving England, I moved to the city of angels. I’d always believed I would live there and here I still am – sort of. I studied Meisner at Playhouse West with Bob Carnegie and Jeff Goldblum where I got a real feel for the truthfulness of the moment—and the power of the story to transform lives both on stage and in the audience.
For years, I was mostly focused on a career that was a lot of 99-seat waiver theater. Some of it was really fantastic. I lived with the notion that most people in Los Angeles were just like me – going to classes and workshops, trying to meet the right people and having drinks at Residuals.
I was working as a temp at The Wave newspaper when I met some really great people who taught me some things I did not know about the reality of day-to-day life for black people in the U.S. These were community newspaper people who cared about community issues. I started hearing stories from them such as how common it is in their world to be stopped by police and asked to produce receipts for things they had in their car. This was the beginning of an education that I hadn’t learned in school.
I continued that education for two years in New York City, where I also studied Meisner again at The Acting Studio with James Price. I did some Off-Broadway theater there in Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding. I also worked as a temp again at Columbia University Law School where I became good friends with the inimitable Kellis Parker – first black professor at Columbia Law School and one of five black students who integrated the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I returned from New York shortly before September 11, 2001, because a temp job I had in the World Trade Center had been cancelled.
Back in Los Angeles, as images of that day were replayed again and again on television, I thought of how close I had been to being in that building.
In the following days, months and what turned into years, the conviction within me grew that there was nothing more important than the fight for a better world.
Doing what I could to advance the cause of justice and peace overshadowed the business of bumping up against an industry where I struggled for even a few lines on a television sitcom.
I spent about twelve years giving every possible moment as an organizer – producing forums, film screenings, conferences, spoken word and musical concerts, and large and small demonstrations from 50 – 150,000 people.
The experience was incredible. I got to travel the world and see and hear things that few actors in Hollywood have.Though I’d do the sam again, the reality is that this hurt me in terms of my timeline in the business..
Today’s writer/showrunner has revolutionized television. Now, more than ever, the stories told on the small and the big screen represent the broad spectrum of human experience, as well as the American scene. It is a golden age in television history, and I want to contribute my gifts to the magic of that creation.
I’ve come full circle back to New Mexico now. My perspective on the craft of an actor includes the art of standing in the shoes of another and living that truth. The power of seeing the world through the eyes of the other – whether for the actor or the viewer, holds the promise of building bridges and transforming lives on a personal and a global scale. In this moment and each moment, I bring all the passion for building those bridges to my work as an actor.
What I am seeking now are partners who are convinced as I am that this work is paramount… creative people who are looking to tell the same kinds of stories, so that together, we can touch hearts and minds, and maybe change the world—even if it’s just one project at a time.