In preparation for the upcoming workshop and reading of NOMS DE GUERRE as part of Pasadena Playhouse's HotHouse series, I connected with our company about their careers in the theatre and the relevant themes of the play. HotHouse readings are by invitation only. Click here to learn more and please enjoy this wonderful interview with cast member Michole White.
JACQUELINE LAWTON: To begin, why did you decide to get into theater? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
MICHOLE WHITE: My mom put me into modeling school when I was 12 at Cleo Johnson's school of modeling in Chicago which I loved. I was really 'acting" like a model and I truly enjoyed it. Then I saw a commercial for Barbizon School of Modeling and I begged to go there. It was expensive for us at the time but I wouldn't let up and she finally gave in---- thank God! I was there for a while and even won model of the month. Shortly after that they started an acting program and oh, I just had to be in it!. That was my first acting class ever and Mr. Lush was my teacher. I was always acting as a kid, putting on voices, doing monologues and having conversations with myself in the bathroom mirror as my mom often tells me. I just never had a label for it until I reached Barbizon.
JL: NOMS DE GUERRE is a socio-political drama that addresses the U.S. military policy and the damaging impact of PTSD on veterans and their family. Why do you feel this play is relevant to today’s audiences?
MW: PTSD is a serious issue in the U.S. and I think there's far more that we can do to support our veterans.They should never have to wait fourteen days to receive mental health care. They should never wait to receive physical health care. In fact all health care offered to them should be top of the line with the best doctors and staff as they would for higher government positions. There should be at least a two year program to initiate them back into civilian life, as needed. I strongly believe that once they return from war all their needs should be met for themselves and their families for the rest of their days. For it is unfair and inhumane to ask them to continuously put themselves in the line of fire and offer them any less.
JL: NOMS DE GUERRE also addresses women’s rights and recent restrictions places on health care for women. It’s been 50 years since the Women’s Liberation Movement swept the nation, where do you feel we are in terms of gender relations in the U.S.?
MW: In terms of gender relations in the U.S. and where we are now I think we have grown as a nation but still have a ways to go. Particularly the fact that men often make more money for the same job than women do. There are also men making decisions on what a woman should do with her body denying her right the to choose.
JL: Which character are you playing? What, if anything, do you have in common with this character’s passions, values, intentions or belief system?
MW: I am playing the role of Jude Nolan-Belizaire. She is a journalist with the highest rated cable news program for the second year in a row. As we have only had three days to really investigate this play, I am still seeking a clearer understanding of who she is and what is truly driving her. My current understanding is this: She is highly ambitious, passionate about what she does and seeking the truth... at any cost. She is desperately trying to keep her position as a journalist and move up in the ranks. She believes if she does not divulge information, she could lose her job. In a sense she can be a little ruthless and perhaps even a bit deluded about how she goes about reaching her goals. That being said, I unfortunately can relate.
As an actor in this business and working professionally for over two decades, it has become more and more difficult to "move up in the ranks." I have to work much harder and fight harder than ever before to get even the simplest job. I have to promote myself in a way that I have never felt comfortable doing...in any way really. And as a woman of color, the game has truly changed. The competition is much higher and filled with my peers and a few very dear friends. You all go out for the same role that any one of us could be hired to do--- and do well--- but perhaps on that given day, you missed a beat...slightly... and did not get the job. It doesn't mean that you're not talented...maybe just not enough twitter followers... or your imdb ranking wasn't quite up to par, or you weren't pretty enough, or you just simply weren't right for the job. For a moment you may be bruised before you remind yourself of what you possess, find the joy for the friend that got it and move on. I am not a ruthless person at all, but I can certainly see how this business can push you to such extremes to get ahead as you are passionate about what you love and would like to continue making a living at just that. But for me, instead of putting myself or others in harms way, I do my best to create for myself and when other things come to me, I see them as icing on the cake.
JL: What’s next for you as an actor? Where can we follow your work?
MW: Coming up is the film Lila and Eve starting Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez in early 2015. Also, The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes, where I'll be playing the lead role of Dr. Myes; a rare and unique find for a person of color to be released early 2015. You can view the trailer here: http://youtu.be/4vBDiFQzhVc. Also, you can keep up with me at my website: Micholebrianawhite.com and follow me on Twitter at @missmichole.
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I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!