How did you get started in theatrical acting?
SP: ” I have always been in love with the arts! My first musical was actually at Mandeville High School. I was cast as one of the ugly step sisters in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella”. That’s when I truly fell in love with stage acting and musicals! But for “Hair”, The Director/Music Director Lauren Turner, whom was a top 12 female contestant on American Idol Season 10 (I love bragging on her)… contacted me and asked me if I would accept the role she wanted to give me. We have been friends for 20 years! I couldn’t tell her no. And that’s when it all began… again!”
You just played in the rock musical Hair! Who was the character you played and what challenges did you face getting into character?
Shylanda Pam in the musical “Hair“
SP: “Yes!! In “Hair”, I actually had three roles. A principal, Tribe member Emmaretta, and the all, so memorable Abraham Lincoln aka Abie Baby. During rehearsals, we, the tribe, had to research background stories of our characters and if we could not find a background, we were to create our own but make our character relatable to that time period, 1968. It wasn’t a challenge getting into character because my character was so relatable. Upon research, I found that my character was actually based on the original cast member of the Hair tribe, Mrs. Emmaretta Marks. She was a young black woman that took a leap and didn’t conform to the norm. “Hair” led her to later record with the The Rolling Stones, then after, she went on tour with Ike and Tina Turner. All her success came from taking a leap! She was a freshmen at Howard University in 1964 when her life changed! I, as a small town girl can, by notion, relate to Ms. Marks. Hopefully I’ll get to experience half the success she did! We are both free spirited souls.. we relate!”
As a wonderful mother, how do you balance time between family, work, and starring in productions?
SP: “Oh gosh… I sometimes wonder how do I do it myself! But I have to say my family and lots of meditation!! My mom, Monica, my fiancé Josh and my oldest daughter Dakotah make it all possible! Lot of compromise in the household, small talks with the kids formed a balance… And lots of meditation in my car, *quiet time in my car keeps me sane*. It was difficult to find balance at first.. on top of all that, I am an Occupational Therapy major. Juggling summer school in the mix was quite the task, but it’s safe to say I graduate from Delgado Community College, the City Park New Orleans campus this December… And I must add, “Hair” was very successful!”
I was so excited when I found out you are going to be in the classic musical “The Color Purple”! Tell us about the character you’re playing and how you can relate to her personally.
SP: “I have to say, me being cast in “The Color Purple” is the Universe working for me. The Friday night before auditions, we had a “Hair” show and of course, because I’m that lucky, my microphone went out! I had to belt my song out in the theater of a sold out crowd, which is, by the way, no biggie to me. But surely, the next morning, (audition day for Color Purple) I had NO VOICE whatsoever!! It just so happened, the music director for “Hair” just happened to be at the auditions for “The Color Purple.” I was so worried… But it wasn’t the singing that got me cast as this character… it was my delivery during the reading of the script. I was contacted shortly after by a co-director and she announced that I was Sofia!! I almost passed out! Getting a huge lead such a Sofia never even crossed my mind! But Sofia is probably the role that was meant for me. I have lived the life of Sofia.. I have endured judgement, the fights, the disrespect, to an extent as well as her undying strength and perseverance! Growing up, watching Oprah give life to Sofia was simply amazing. I was young, but old enough to realize Oprah from the Oprah Winfrey Show was more than just Oprah from The Oprah Winfrey Show. Being honored to portray this role is an understatement for the feeling I have.”
If you could play any character in a show, what show, who, and why?
SP: “I’m a bit of a nerd. My dream role would be becoming a Marvel Super Hero!! I love Stan Lee, the creator of The Marvel Universe! I grew up on X-Men comics. But if I had to play a particular character, it would definitely be Xena Warrior Princess! She was so badass and beautiful and smart and brave! She was I everything I feel I am!”
Who do you look up as as a actor?
SP: “Right now, Viola Davis is killing the acting game! I love her so much. She’s so raw and she owns every scene she’s in, no matter who her counterpart is! She’s amazing! And I have always loved Loretta Devine! Both these ladies deliver so much passion and feeling on screen! And lastly, Will Smith. His spirit, his positivity, and just his total outlook on life off screen speaks to my soul. I feel like he gets me! He is such a divine teacher of selflessness and positioning the mind to perceive and perform positive thoughts and actions. I adore him for vibe he gives! Such a fulfilling spirit.”
If someone was going to make your life into a move, who would play you?
SP: “Oh wow! This is a tough one. I’ve never thought about someone playing me. I’ve only thought about playing other people! But I think Naturi Naughton would play an awesome Me!”
What advice do you have for people trying to start in theatrical acting?
SP: “My advice… Just Do It!! Even if you have doubts, still do it! There is no such thing as the wrong role. Whatever you’re cast as, whoever you’re cast as, own it! Even the smallest roles can deliver the biggest response!”
What can we expect from Shy in the future?
SP: “You can expect many more stages with my body on it! Maybe I’ll audition for one of Tyler’s plays… It’s a goal! And I think maybe a trip to New York is being put on the table. So please keep your fingers crossed for me!”