Mekhi Phifer Talks Broadway Debut in Alicia Keys-Produced "Stick Fly"

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by Vanessa Martinez
December 26, 2011 9:25 AM
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Mekhi Phifer, Tracie Thoms In 'Stick Fly' On Broadway
Stick Fly, a play by Lydia R. Diamond, directed by Kenny Leon (The Mountaintop, Fences) and produced by Alicia Keys along with Reuben Cannon, is currently showing on the Broadway stage. We've covered the play, which has garnered mostly positive reviews so far, a few times on the site; Tambay posted an opening night video earlier this month.

To recap, Stick Fly, which along Mekhi Pfiffer, stars Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Emmy nominee Dulé Hill, Tracie Thoms, and Condola Rashad, "chronicles the interactions and revelations within a well-to-do black family at its home in Martha’s Vineyard."

Phifer, who plays a plastic surgeon, spoke to Loop 21 about his start in film, the play's character and motivations to join the production. Here are some excerpts of that interview:

On making his Broadway debut:

This is my first time doing a play and I am having a ball. As far as I know we only have one life to live so live it to the fullest. It’s good to accept a challenge, something that is not familiar, not easy. When you accomplish it, you are living life. Plus I am bringing something to the community. It’s nice to be ingratiated into the Broadway world. You know there are Broadway snobs who say you’re not an actor until you have done Broadway. We have a great cast with Dule Hill, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Tracie Thoms, Rosie Benton, and. Condola Rashad who is Phylicia Rashad’s daughter. We have fun every night. Dule plays my brother and I’ve known him for thirteen years.  I make a guest appearance in his TV series “Psych” in an episode airing in February. We love to hang out together after the shows like real brothers.

On the approach to his character:

Actors look at life in a different way. When I meet people I know that one day I may portray that person or someone like them. It may be a cop or a homeless guy. It helps you to pay more attention to people. Everyone I meet I retain something from them, something from their personality. It helps me to portray realism in my work.

On playing Flip, a successful African American plastic surgeon:

Ironically I have never been to Martha’s Vineyard but now I have to go. Through the play I’ve met several people who have homes there and have invited me. My character Flip is a successful plastic surgeon living in Atlanta. He is arrogant, unapologetic, and self assured. A socialite who feels good about himself. He has money and women. The play has some race issues but it is really about family and any family from any race can relate to it. We’re like the Cosbys but much more edgy. It is about family, whether you are Black, white, Asian or Latino. I would love for the play to extend into a TV version.

On his film debut in Spike Lee's Clockers:

I had never acted before. When I was told I needed head shots, I went to a store and took a passport photo. I didn’t know what I was doing. I remember I auditioned with Isaiah. He had been acting for a few years including appearing in Spike’s film “Crooklyn” so I learned from him. Spike made us do a lot of improvisation so I had to create on the spot and he selected both of us. What a feeling to begin my career as the star of a Spike Lee movie with Isaiah playing my brother.

You can now purchase tickets to Stick Fly via its website HERE.

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