London, Broadway, Uzbekistan? 2012 Ghost Tony Nominee Da'Vine Joy Randolph Conjures Oda May Brown

Special Features   London, Broadway, Uzbekistan? 2012 Ghost Tony Nominee Da'Vine Joy Randolph Conjures Oda May Brown When recent Yale School of Drama graduate Da'Vine Joy Randolph was cast as shady medium Oda May Brown in the Broadway production of Ghost the Musical, she couldn't foretell that it would lead her to a London stage debut and a Tony Award nomination.

Da'Vine Joy Randolph
Da'Vine Joy Randolph

"I had been keeping it a secret for quite some time," Randolph says of landing the role of Oda May. In the meantime the actress was working on a reading of Betty Boop the musical. "It's actually quite great – I think it's gonna be a hit," she laughs, adding, "I hope they call me!"

Randolph's reading was interrupted by a series of urgent phone calls from her agent, who asked if she had her passport. She says, "I had been up for an international Nestle's commercial and they were gonna film it in like Uzbekistan, and I was like, 'Oh! I got it!'"

On a break from the reading, Randolph excitedly asked her agent, "Am I goin' to Uzbekistan!?" The agent replied, "No, you're going to London."

The actress playing Oda May in the original West End production of Ghost the Musical had suffered a minor knee injury, which would keep her out of the production for a brief period of time. Producers told Randolph to quickly pack her bags and grab her passport.

Randolph in Ghost.
photo by Joan Marcus

Randolph learned her lines on a red-eye to London and arrived on a Sunday. "I watched the show and thought, 'Oh great, this is a LOT,'" she recalls. "We did rehearsal on Monday and I was about 80 percent off book. I guess they were impressed, because they were like, 'Great, you're gonna go on on Friday.' And I remember thinking, 'WHAT?'" Her crash-course London debut with Oda May was a blessing Randolph says: "Not having time to think and over calculate, it allowed me to be raw and fresh and I can continue to infuse that. So, every night when I get out there, it depends on what the audience is giving me and whatever the atmosphere is."

London ultimately led Randolph to Broadway, and on June 10 she'll be among five actresses competing for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical Tony Award.

"This Tony nomination, I mean, What? This is crazy! I am so blessed, so humble, so grateful. This nomination really represents our whole cast," Randolph says.

"For me, Oda May is like playing on stage," she laughs. "I feel like I'm robbing people! You're paying me to do this?"

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