5 Pieces of Advice From Suzi Bass Nominee Danielle Deadwyler

Photo Source: Greg Ponder Photography

Actor Danielle Deadwyler is young and, by all accounts, thriving. Nominated twice at the 2015 Suzi Bass Awards, for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play and Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Play, she has demonstrated an amazing range of work this year alone in the Atlanta scene. First in The Alliance Theatre’s premiere of “The C. A. Lyons Project” as Christine aka Chaos Unit Cross, then as ethereal ingénue Nina in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” at Horizon Theatre, and in Aurora Theatre’s production of “Clybourne Park,” Deadwyler has demonstrated considerable acting chops.

Deadwyler will join the best of Atlanta’s theater scene for the Suzi Bass Award ceremony Nov. 2. Backstage was able to catch up with the actor and check in on her flourishing, multidisciplinary career.

How do you manage to find such a range of diversity in your acting?
What did Whoopi Goldberg say? “I’m an actor, I can play anything!” I’m attracted to alternative roles. They’re exciting to me. I expect a little dirty and a hint of pretty—the whole gamut—in any kind of project or persona. Chaos Unit was a street dancer whose abilities blended hip hop, house, martial arts, freestyle, and just raw emotion.

You’re an actor, writer, producer, dancer, and filmmaker. How do you maintain your focus?
I believe all of the work that I do informs the other, in some way. Performance is a transferable skill...honesty, truth, and authenticity [are] all qualities I strive to employ and embody in my work, and carry from one discipline to the next.

How do you manage to attract so much work?
I think I’ve created opportunities for myself via performance art and collaborative works and projects. We’re in an era where you can connect, create, and broadcast in myriad forms. I’ve made good baby steps to do just that.

Do you think you will stay in Atlanta?
Atlanta is home. I’m born and bred; I want to continue to be here. My family is here, the city is opening itself in new ways, for art, the entertainment industry. I look forward to working in other cities and markets, but got the dirt and clay in my bones.

We see later this year you are working with the great Kenny Leon. How is it to work with him?
I’m actually working with Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company. I’m playing Sonji, Muhammad Ali’s first wife, in “Fetch Clay, Make Man” [running Oct. 27–Nov. 22]. It’s always, always a pleasure to work with True Colors Theatre Company. They gave me my first real opportunities with an Equity production house.

How does your family feel about your career?
Without my family, I am not an artist. My mother pushed me into performing in all kinds of ways. Dance, theatre, martial arts, sports, modeling...she just wanted my siblings and I to be expressive, to have opportunities she did not have, and I am thankful she pushed the way she did. My sister, playwright Gabrielle Fulton, is a constant ear and source of encouragement. We are on slight different sides of the same plate, but we support each other. My son and partner also give me the space to be me. I’m grateful.

Any words of wisdom?
I really don’t think there’s a secret. Everybody’s got their own DNA and because of that, you’ve got to keep testing unpaved grounds. Nobody’s adventure is parallel. Can’t be! But I do believe in heeding the energies that move you. And doin’ the damn work: reading, engaging folk with wisdom, doing something new, refining what’s old, and being bold.

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