Ingrid Griffith, a Guyanese born actress living in New York City, opens up about life in Guyana and the inspiration behind her one-woman show.
Tell me a little about yourself?
I’m an actor and writer. I’m from Guyana. I came to the US when I was 12 years old. I currently live in NYC
Where were you born and what’s your background?
I was born in Georgetown, Guyana. My parents are African-Guyanese. My ancestors are from West Africa, Barbados, Antigua and Guyana.
Why did you decide to become an Actress and a Playwright?
I like the idea of becoming different people with circumstances that are unlike mine. I like coming up with reasons that would motivate characters.
I like exploring the psychological make up of a character whose experiences and intentions are totally different than mine. I like to create them: how they laugh, how they walk, how they perceive other people, themselves, how they carry themselves in the world. It’s the empathy thing. I like putting myself in someone’s shoes. I can play them and then can be me again.
Describe your acting style?
I’m trained to build a character carefully and slowly. I’m not a quick study. I think about issues discussed above and layer in physical adjustments along with sense memory and emotional memory.
Why did you write Demerara Gold?
There was domestic abuse in my family and I no longer wanted to keep the family’s se-cret. It’s been something I had been carrying around for a while and I was ready to share it and tell it like fully.
It is taboo in most cultures and families — to tell your business, reveal family secrets especially those that can be hurtful or embarrassing. But for me, this story demanded to be told.
Is the story related to a personal experience?
What part of the story connects most with Guyanese people? And Why
I’m Guyanese and the family members who took care of me are. My upbringing and experiences are deeply connected to my culture. Almost everything in DEMERARA GOLD resonates with the Caribbean audience. The language, the nuances of the story, the mannerisms and personalities of my various family members (I play 18 characters) and the familiar circumstance of leav-ing your homeland for a better life.
Of course, everyone’s experiences are unique but the Caribbean experience is a shared experience. It’s about a strong and vibrant tradition. Part of this tradition entails a strong family life, good upbringing, pursuing your dreams (through education and hard work) and a strong faith in God (and going to church).
Where have you performed this work?
I’ve been performing DEMERARA GOLD for 2 years now. I’ve performed throughout the US in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Decatur, Georgia, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan and London(UK), Toronto(Canada), St. Vincent and the Grenadines and throughout Guyana.
What things are most important to you now?
Sharing the important message in Demerara Gold is important to me while also developing new projects that are fresh, entertaining. My ultimate aim is to share valuable life messages through my play and interactions with everyone that I come into contact with.
That’s my path, that’s my purpose.
How have your dreams and goals changed through your life?
My goals and dreams happily, are my life. I’ve made sacrifices — where I live, how I live and what I do are all connected to my life as a performer and writer.
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Literally, I see a brown skinned woman, simultaneously alert and peaceful.
What’s been the happiest or proudest moment in your life so far?
My happiest moment-when I was reunited with my parents in the U.S.
My proudest- every time I hear the audience respond to something I’ve written and performed.
- What do you feel have been the important successes in your life?
Finishing the NYC Marathon. Appearing on the cover of a fitness magazine. Earning my Master’s Degree. Teaching on the college level. Writing Demerara Gold.
- Your frustrations?
- The frustrations of finding work as an actor. The audition process. The rejections. The not knowing what’s going to happen next. It’s the life I’ve chosen but sometimes it can be quite overwhelming. As a writer, the frustrations are understanding that there are stages in the process, that I must be patient, disciplined and know that every stage of the endeavor is not rewarding.
What do you think has stayed the same about you throughout life?
I’ve always been meticulous, head strong, outspoken and sensitive.
What do you think has changed about you over the years?
I’m becoming more patient. I’ve also noticed that when I’m working on the right project how my energy level surprises even me.
Thank you very much Ingrid for sharing your story
Watch the video below for more about Ingrid Griffith
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