How She Move Interview
studying at the Las Vegas Academy of
Performing Arts, Rutina Wesley attended the
University of Evansville where she received
her BFA in Theatre Performance. Next, the
attractive, Las Vegas native matriculated in
the prestigious Juilliard Schoolís Drama
Division, performing in productions of
Macbeth, Richard III and The Winter's Tale
to The Marriage of Figaro, Rebel Armies Deep
into Chad and In the Blood, among others.
also spent a summer studying Shakespeare at
the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where she
landed the title role in a production of
Romeo and Juliet. And since graduating from
Juilliard in May of 2005, sheís exhibited
such an impressive emotional range that
Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes cast her
opposite Julianne Moore in the Broadway
production of The Vertical Hour.
itís no surprise that the charismatic young
actress was tapped to make her screen debut
in the lead role of Raya Green in How She
Move. Here, the promising young star of
tomorrow talks about this inspirational,
inner-city saga where she plays a prep
student who has to return to her
crime-infested ghetto neighborhood when her
parents can no longer afford the tuition.
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Kam Williams: Thanks for the
Rutina Wesley: Not a problem. Thank you
for having me. I appreciate it.
Kam Williams: Given your classical
training, what interested you in this script?
Honestly, when I read one of the first lines, which was,
ďChocolate-stained skin,Ē I was immediately drawn to
that, because Iím a dark-skinned female, and itís
something that Iíve, my whole life, struggled with,
being considered too dark by some, and all that stuff.
But I also just related to Raya because sheís very
driven, sheís passionate, she sets goals for herself,
and she goes after them on her own terms. I think that
as a young lady, you start off not knowing what you want
to do, and then you kinda arrive at yourself by the time
youíre 17 or 18, hopefully. And thatís what I did. In
high school I was figuring out what I wanted to do, and
by the time I was 18, I settled on being an actress, and
began seriously pursuing that goal.
are you from originally?
up in Las Vegas, born and raised.
Kam Williams: Soon
after Juilliard, you landed a role on Broadway as one of
the five original cast members in The Vertical Hour. How
was that experience?
one of the most amazing experiences of my career,
because a young actor could not ask for anything more
than to work with people of the caliber of Sam Mendes,
Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy. Theyíre so good at what
they do, I learned so much just by watching them. And
they treated me like family. I was very, very, very
lucky to have that opportunity. It was one of the
greatest experiences Iíve had.
Kam Williams: Now
youíre in How She Move which is so much more than just a
dance movie. It has a richness and depth which reminded
me of Love Jones.
how I feel about it, too. The dancing is great, but
there is this beautiful little story behind it thatís
positive and hopeful for our community.
KW: I was
very pleasantly surprised by the movie. It even made me
cry. And you did a great job.
Thank you. Iím really glad you enjoyed it. Wow! Thanks.
Kam Williams: Did you
identify with your character, Raya?
Definitely. I had definitely made sure that I got out of
Las Vegas after high school. I knew that if I stayed
there, I wouldnít have been able to pursue my dreams as
an actor or dancer. My family always told me to dream
big, so I made sure that I got out of there and explored
new places, because the world is huge. And Iím still
learning new things every day in this business and in my
Kam Williams: Now,
this is your screen debut. How much pressure did you
feel in the lead role?
It was a
lot of pressure. Your nerves can get the better of you,
especially when itís your first film. But Ian [director
Ian Iqbal Rashid], from the beginning, made me feel
right at home, and reassured me that the part was mine,
and that I didnít need to worry about whether I was
going to have the part the next week. So, I was able to
relax, enjoy myself, and live in the moment.
Kam Williams: In the
movie, your character has an accent since her family is
from Jamaica. Do you really have a West Indian
donít. I had to work on the accent with a dialect coach.
Raya, remember, went to a prep school, so her dialect
had to be a bit more proper than her parents. But when
she came back home, we threw a little more of her roots
back in there to make her a little more tangible, and to
contrast how she is at home versus how she is at school,
because that really happens.
Kam Williams: Do you
think Halle Berryís Oscar win opened up roles for all
black actresses, or just for lighter-skinned actresses?
Halle opened the door for all of us. As black women, we
should all stick together, and if someone gets there
first, youíre setting an example for those behind you.
So, I definitely look up to Halle Berry. And Angela
Bassett is my role model. And Viola Davis is another
actress who I love and adore. For me, Iíve gotten away
from feeling Iím too dark. Weíre all women of color, and
a lot of us are doing some great things. I think itís
important the great things that we all do instead of
asking, ďWhy didnít I get this?Ē or ďWhy did the
light-skinned girl get that?Ē instead of focusing on the
positive. That what I and some girlfriends of mine are
doing, celebrating all colors and all ethnicities of
women of color. Thatís a better way to go, rather than
bringing all the negativities into it. It so much easier
to smile and have fun than it is to hold grudges.
Kam Williams: I hope
that your powerful performance here will open things up
further in terms of colorblind casting.
you very much. The reason I trained so hard in school
was so that I could be versatile and play any character.
With all these in my bag, Iím like a chameleon. I always
tell other young actors to go to school, or at least
watch movies to learn as much as you can.
Kam Williams: Do you
think you will still be able to go to the mall after
this movie opens?
grandmother thinks I wonít be able to, but of course I
will. I donít know what it will be like, but itís
Kam Williams: What
message do you want the audience to get from How She
like for the young generation to walk away from this
movie inspired about their lives and about the
possibilities that are out there for them.
Kam Williams: Would
you describe yourself as happy?
Yes. I feel incredibly blessed. Iím happy, but all of
this movie business, and working as an actress is really
hard. When youíre not working is when you have to stay
positive and remind yourself that youíre talented.
Whatís due for you is due for you, and you donít know
when thatís going to come. Thatís something I struggled
with after I got out of school, wondering how long I was
going to have to wait. Then beautiful jobs started
coming to me. Now, I feel that my path is going to be
what itís going to be, and as long as I relax and
breathe, I can enjoy it. I think that an actor shouldnít
work from a place of fear, because itíll show in
your work. You should work from a place of contentment,
relaxation, and coming from your heart, and from the
truth of yourself.
Kam Williams: Columbus
Short gave me that ďAre you happy?Ē question when I
asked him what would be a good question to ask him.
some people assume youíre happy, because you just did a
movie. And youíre like, ďMaybe not.Ē
Kam Williams: The
Jimmy Bayan question. Where in L.A. do you live?
the Hollywood area.
Kam Williams: Whatís
up next for you, career-wise?
an upcoming HBO television series starring Anna Paquin
called True Blood.
Kam Williams: Youíre
very intelligent. Do you think youíll write and direct
thought about producing, maybe way, way, way down the
line, because I do have a lot of friends who are amazing
writers. Iíd love to have a production company where I
can produce more black films, period pieces, for
instance, like Shakespeare, with an all-black cast.
There are lots of ideas that I have, but all in due
Kam Williams: Well,
best of luck with everything, and thanks for the time.
Rutina Wesley: Thank
is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for
100+ publications around the country. He is a member of
both the African-American Film Critics Association and
The New York Film Critics Online. In addition to a BA in
Black Studies from Cornell, he has an MA in English from
Brown, an MBA from The Wharton School, and a JD from
Boston University. Mr. Williams lives in
Princeton, NJ with his wife and son.
posted 23 January 2008
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In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign. The Economy
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