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Why did you start acting?
“I started acting in 2004. I remember being a recluse. I also remember being a very angry teenager, and that’s when I discovered drama. It became that avenue for me to express myself – for me to channel my emotions. Through doing the activities, I discovered that I could easily mimic persons, or I could do cool things with my voice and it would make me push myself continuously. It’s around that time, I guess, I made the conscious effort to act, though I think was always very dramatic before then! But it was in 2004 I remember, at Wolmers, just falling in love with it.”
What has your experience been like?
“My experience as an actor has been good, bad and challenging. As it pertains to the good, I’ve met so many amazingly talented persons and I have discovered a lot about myself. I have been able to work on my craft, to hone this talent. I’ve been given quite a few opportunities to showcase my talent. I’ve been on “The Ity and Fancy Cat Show” from 2011-2016, appeared in at least seven television commercials, a few music videos, and over twelve stage productions so I’ve gotten some exposure.
In terms of the negative/challenging aspect, I have been typecast and I’ve been exploited a few times. I’ve been to auditions where I met the criteria for talent but not for looks ‘cause you know Jamaica and this classism thing, so I do face that a lot. Luckily, quite a few of them were straightforward enough to tell me that, alright, this person may have gotten that role; not because I’m not good enough, but they just have that particular look. I also recall sinking into depression because I started to question my worth as an actor but the good outweighs the bad, because even in the bad I’ve learnt valuable lessons like “Just be yourself ‘cause your time will come.” I’m still nowhere near my ultimate goal, which is Hollywood, but I really do hope to be there. I know that it will involve a lot of hard work and smart work.”
Is it profitable to be an actor/actress in Jamaica?
“Yes, and no. It all depends.
I’m just going to very real and say this: links go a long way in this country, and in this industry. Who you know sometimes plays a major role. Yes sometimes your talent, hard work and consistency will be a great propellant into the industry; however, having your foot in and having persons inside the industry to help you can be beneficial and it can make it a more secure job.
Now if it is that you nahve nuh links, you only have yuh talent, then that requires a lot of hard work. You have to have that tenacity. You need to love it. For me, acting is seasonal so it’s not a secure job yet. Trying to find that footing can be very tedious, but it can be profitable if, let’s say, you garnered a particular amount of popularity and/or experience and your portfolio is big. After a while, agencies may realize that they can rely on you, you don’t necessarily have to go to auditions, and you’ll get called for the top tier gigs etc. Persons can live off it, not many though, because it is a small industry and unfortunately, there is that dog-eat-dog mentality that some of us have, and there are persons who may not necessarily want to expand to find new talent.”
Who do you look to for inspiration?
“I look for inspiration from my son Chrys-Anthony (smiles), my dad, my mother, myself, and from persons that I meet. I also have a few friends who are in my corner and they are continuously pushing me. I’m so very grateful for them. Inspiration in terms of characterization – I find that everywhere. So I’ll just meet someone walking differently and I’ll take that and make it into a character. Or, I listen to how someone speaks and I use that to give nuances to my characters. Inspiration comes from a variety of things.”
Why does your art matter?
“My Art matters because I don’t know how else to be…it is who I am, it is what I am. It is literally my life and it’s almost like I don’t know how to exist outside of it. Most of the things that I do is centered on it. It’s how I get to truly express myself. It heals. You know that Japanese art tradition where they use gold to patch broken ornaments/pottery? I think it’s called Kintsugi. That’s my art; it puts me together.”
Please feel free to contact Chrystal at:
Blessings in abundance!