Ready for Her Close-Up!

 

Amirah Vann,  The “Underground” Interview with Kam Williams, actress, singer/songwriter, NAACP Image Award nomination, Amirah Vann 

The “Underground” Interview

with Kam Williams

Ready for Her Close-Up!

An actress and singer/songwriter from Far Rockaway, Queens, Amirah Vann began performing at a young age. Pursuing her passion for performing, she completed her undergraduate study in acting at Fordham University at Lincoln Center before entering a graduate acting program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Soon thereafter, Amirah began working with The Continuum Company under the direction of Jim Calder. She traveled with the company to Florence, Italy, performing in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” while collaborating as a vocalist with Jonathan Batiste (“The Late Show”) to develop original music for the production. She also performed in the company’s popular production of “Pericles.” 

Upon graduation, Amirah  to participate in a variety of developmental musical workshops, including “Kingdom,” “Holler If You Hear Me,” “Sweethearts of Swing,” “The Lady Killers Love Story” and “Cubamor.” She made her Off-Broadway debut in “Laughing Pictures” at the Flea Theatre, and continued her stage career in “Trouble In Mind,” “The Mountaintop,” “Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike,” “Wax Wings” and “Blueprint.”

Amirah Vann,  The “Underground” Interview with Kam Williams, actress, singer/songwriter, NAACP Image Award nomination,

She began her television career in roles on “Girls” (HBO), “Believe” (NBC) and “Mozart in the Jungle” (Amazon). Her film credits include Tracers, And So It Goes, Don’t Worry Baby, Once More with Feeling and Three and a Half Thoughts.

Amirah was recently nominated for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work in “Underground,” WGN America’s critically acclaimed hit series. Here, she talks about her role on the show as “Ernestine.”

Kam Williams: Hi Amirah, thanks for the interview.

Amirah Vann: It’s my pleasure, Kam. Thank you.

KW: What interested you in Underground?

AV: Misha Green and Joe Pokaski’s writing. It’s smart, dynamic, and bold!

KW: Congratulations on your character’s expanded role during the second season.

AV: Thank you. Ms. Ernestine is such an amazing, complex woman that I was thrilled to get the opportunity to go deeper into her story.

Amirah Vann,  The “Underground” Interview with Kam Williams, actress, singer/songwriter, NAACP Image Award nomination,

KW: How would you describe her in 25 words or less?

AV: She’s like so many women I know: strong, resilient, wise and beautifully flawed.

KW: Has her plight ever struck an emotional chord in you?

AV: Most definitely! These are our ancestors, and what they had to endure is almost unimaginable. But the fact remains that Ms. Ernestine found the courage to get up and face another day. So, it is my duty to share her courage and her humanity.

KW: What message do you want people to take away from the series?

AV: Let’s all be soldiers! Join me on the front lines. I am arming myself with a voice that speaks for equality and justice, a spirit of love, and a walk with God.

KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?

AV: God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man” by Cornelia Bailey. It beautifully reflects both the Gullah Geechee Nation, my African-American father’s history, and my mother’s stories of Puerto Rico.

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385493770/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

AV: My favorite meal is pollo guisado with arroz con habichuelas and a side salad with avocado, and stewed chicken with rice and beans.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far? 

AV: Live honoring your truth, not in response to others.

KW: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

AV: Daring to pursue my dreams. It’s not such a crazy idea y’all!

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

AV: Leadership that reflects the diverse citizens they represent.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?

AV: Hmmm… That’s tough. I can say I love baggy jeans and a hoodie as much as I do an elegant dress.

KW: The Anthony Mackie question: Is there anything that you promised yourself you’d do if you became famous, that you still haven’t done yet?

AV: Give back! Love doing that and will continue.

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?

AV: I would love to be in a remake of Set it Off.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share? 

AV: They pressed on through the storm.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

AV: A Metro card. Always ready to jump on the train.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Amirah, and good luck with Underground.

AV: Thank you, Kam.

American Masters — Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise

 

Maya Angelou,  PBS-TV Review, by Kam Williams, African-American icon, poet,author,actress,director,civil rights activistAmerican Masters — Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise

Premieres nationwide Tuesday, February 21 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise

PBS-TV Review by Kam Williams

PBS’ American Masters Broadcasts Revealing Retrospective about the Late Icon

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was born Marguerite Annie Johnson,in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928 to parents for whom she and her big brother Bailey soon became a burden. When Maya was just 3, the siblings were sent alone by train to live with their paternal grandmother in Arkansas where they would be terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan.

At 7, Maya moved back to St. Louis, only to be molested by her now single mother’s boyfriend. When she  reported the rape, the perpetrator was soon murdered under mysterious circumstances.

Maya subsequently fell mute and was shipped back to her grandma’s house. Although she couldn’t talk, she did take to reading like a fish to water. And by the time she spoke again at the age of 12, she’d become very acquainted with the classics ranging from Shakespeare to Langston Hughes to Edgar Allan Poe. 

Unfortunately, exposure to great literature didn’t save Maya from further trauma, as she would become a single-mom at 17 after being pressured into a sexual encounter with a boy who wanted nothing more to do with her. She subsequently supported herself and her son, Guy, by holding an array of odd jobs, including work in the sex trade industry as a stripper, prostitute and even a madam.

Yet somehow, Maya would overcome her humble roots and checkered early career to become an African-American icon and a very respected writer in her own right. That miraculous recovery is the subject of Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, a reverential retrospective offering an intimate look at the life of the late poet/author/actress/director/civil rights activist.

Maya Angelou,  PBS-TV Review, by Kam Williams, African-American icon, poet,author,actress,director,civil rights activist

Co-directed by Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack, the film features heartfelt reflections by an array of luminaries, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, John Singleton, Cicely Tyson, Dave Chappelle and Valerie Simpson, to name a few.  For example, we hear Secretary Clinton refer to her as “a phenomenal woman” while Lou Gossett, Jr. credits her with raising his political consciousness.

A poignant portrait of a sex abuse survivor’s unlikely path from abandoned street urchin to consummate poet laureate!

Excellent (4 stars)

Unrated

Running time: 114 minutes

Distributor: PBS

For a behind-the-scenes peek at Common on the set with Maya Angelou, visit: https://youtu.be/O8pLATICKq8

For an excerpt featuring Maya Angelou speaking about her role in a production of Porgy and Bess, visit: https://youtu.be/TYIzoL5bJmI

To order a copy of Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise on DVD, visit:

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N3UHKU7/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20 

Source:  GIG News