Where are you from?
I’m from Gulfport, Mississippi originally, and I live in Brooklyn, New York now.
When did you move to Brooklyn?
In 2003. I went to Boston University for undergrad and then graduated in 2003 and moved to New York. BFA acting undergrad.
What is the project you are working on at SPACE?
I’m working on a project that is about a dentist in Mississippi who was called in for a lot of cases as a forensic specialist. It’s based on a real man who turned out to be completely corrupt and totally racist and homophobic and ended up putting a lot of people on death row. My sister works for the Innocence Project in Mississippi, and her job is to pull all of his cases that he was an expert witness on and try to get these cases opened back up - even if a lot of these people have been executed already. She’s trying to exonerate them even after death. I want to write it - I want it to be like Sweeney Todd-ish in nature. I want it to be just a drop outside of reality, but then as it ripples along I want it to feel like something that really could happen. Because, of course, it did happen… I want to leave the moral issue of the death penalty out of it and basically focus on the fact that the judicial system is corrupt. Whether or not you believe in the death penalty, it’s really a stance on the fact that everyone deserves a fair trial. And maybe some people that were prosecuted were guilty, maybe. But they didn’t get a fair trial.
Is that a lot to walk around and carry with you?
Yeah, but I feel like if it’s not a lot to walk around with then you probably shouldn’t write about it.
Where have you been spending most of your time here at SPACE?
The table! Of course, I have been working in my room and walking around. But when I look back to where I have been spending my time, it’s sitting at that dining room table talking with people. Eating delicious food. It’s a communal gathering for sure.
What’s coming up next for you and your project?
I don’t know, I go back to school. I go to Juilliard for the playwriting grad program, and we bring in three plays a year. This is going to be one of the plays I bring in. I’m also doing a lot of development on another play I wrote this summer.
How has the transition been from acting to writing?
It was hard. I’ll do workshops of new plays in a heartbeat. But I hate auditioning. I’m terrible at it. I want to be with movers and shakers and people who are making new stuff. I also have a theater company, so I do a lot of acting with them. But the transition was… I was doing the acting thing and it took me a while to realize that I was unhappy. And I was really happy when I was making work with my company. So, I started writing by myself and plays started happening and my life just got significantly better. I feel like with writing I have found so much more fulfillment. But it was hard to let go of the dream I thought I really wanted. And I love actually acting. I just hate all the stuff that goes with it. It’s figuring out quality of life, what kind of adult do you want to turn into? It was so about my nerves and my anxiousness and my appearance. I just felt like: thats not who I want to be.
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal what animal would you be and why?
Something that doesn’t get slaughtered. Maybe a… maybe a goat that isn’t getting killed. I could just eat all the time and chill. Yeah, I’m gonna say a goat.
Interviewed by Emma C. Geer