Just like the saying goes “An apple does not fall far from the tree,” one can tell a prolific acting teacher by its students.
It was in 2006 that I took several acting classes with Howard University acting professor and coach, Vera Katz. She’s trained Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad, Emmy Award winner Lynn Whitfield, and Oscar nominee Taraji Henson, and more. So, it comes to no surprise that the wildly talented Isaiah Washington is one of her former students.
When I learned that I would be interviewing him, I immediately thought of the Vera Katz connection. I tend to always try and find a “connecting point” between myself and the people that I interview.
However, due to last week’s “pseudo controversial” interview that I conducted with actor Omari Hardwick, I was scared to interview Isaiah. I simply did not want to ask any "crazy, stupid questions!"
However, I carried on and conducted the interview in the fearless sprit of “Shadow and Act”. The interview proved to be very inspirational for me as an actor, and a person that is working on becoming more self aware (quirks and all). In every word that Isaiah spoke, he was deeply self aware.
S&A was able to quickly catch up with Isaiah, before he jets off to Chicago to gear up forUnspeakable. He spoke briefly about his role in David E. Talbert’s Suddenly Single (released on DVD, and digital download yesterday, September 4th) his book, and other tid bits:
Shadow and Act: Thank you for taking the time to talk with Shadow and Act about “Suddenly Single.”
Isaiah Washington: You guys support my career like no one else. I’m a fan of the site! I’m always reading your posts.
Shadow and Act: Can you tell us about the projects theme?
IW: It’s about infidelity. It’s about real life issues.
Shadow and Act: You play Sylvester Stone, the high school sweetheart to Samantha Stone played by Garcelle Beauvais. Can you tell us about your character?
IW: The guy is lost. This man is blinded by his own success. He’s very neurotic.
Shadow and Act: Do you enjoy playing neurotic characters?
IW: (laughs…) I enjoy bringing humanity to complex characters. I enjoy jumping into those roles.
Shadow and Act: How was it working with David E. Talbert and Garcelle?
IW: David is a genius! His genius is like that of Alfred Hitchcock. I’ve known Garcelle for a very long time. We have mutual respect for each other, and that came in handy with this project because we did not have a lot of time to rehearse.
Shadow and Act: I like how you described David. Can you explain your thoughts about David a little more?
IW: Well, he is a social scientist. He entertains, while the audience learns something new.
Shadow and Act: Can you tell us where we can catch “Suddenly Single”?
IW: It will be released on September 4th. You can purchase it at David E. Talbert online, or Image Entertainment.
Shadow and Act: You wrote “A Man from Another Land” last year. Can you tell us about it?
IW: The book explores my journey. It explains why I became an actor. It talks a bit about the school that I founded in Sierra Leone, through my foundation, The Gandobay Manga Foundation. Yes, actors like me, Blair Underwood and others give back. I don’t have anything to hide, and this book is all about my journey as a Pan-Africanist and actor.
Shadow and Act: Can you tell us about your training with acting coach Vera Katz?
IW: Are you sure that you didn’t read my book? I have a whole entire chapter dedicated to her! Vera helped build my career foundation. I mean, I went on to be trained by some great teachers, but it was with Vera that I became the actor that I am today. She’s the first person that gave me a foundation through it all --- the pan-africanism and all. I have finally talked her into writing a book.
We would like to thank Isaiah for taking the time to chat with us about Suddenly Single, now on DVD and VOD. You will also soon be able to check him out in Russ Parr’s The Under Shepherd, and the upcoming Richard Pryor play, Unspeakable.