PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Wild With Happy's Sharon Washington
By Matthew Blank
October 9, 2012
Stage veteran Sharon Washington, who returns to the Public Theater this week in Colman Domingo's Wild With Happy, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Washington has appeared on Broadway as The Lady in The Scottsboro Boys.
Public Theater credits include Lady Anne to Denzel Washington's Richard III, Valeria to Christopher Walken's Coriolanus and Lady Helen in Cymbeline with Joan Cusack. She was also in the Public’s award-winning adaptation of Caucasian Chalk Circle directed by George C. Wolfe, as well as the critically acclaimed production of Stuff Happens directed by Daniel Sullivan. She was nominated for an Audelco Award for her performance in Fear Itself directed by Joe Morton.
She has appeared on screen in "Damages," "Royal Pains," "Taking Chance," "Michael Clayton," "The School of Rock," "Rocksteady," "Two Mothers," "Half Nelson," "The Long Kiss Goodnight," "The Confession," "Malcolm X," "Die Hard With A Vengeance," "Cosby," "Guiding Light" and "One Life to Live."
Full given name:
Sharon Priscilla Washington
Where you were born/where you were raised:
New York City - inside the St. Agnes Branch of the NY Public Library on Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side.
My father was the custodian, and we lived in an apartment on the top floor inside the library. Yes, I'm writing a children's book about it and yes, I love books and still surround myself with them. I can't imagine life without them.
What your parents did/do for a living:
My dad was a custodian and a cook, and my mom was a secretary.
I'm an only child and still a Daddy's girl.
That's a secret.
Something you're REALLY bad at:
Geography and therefore directions. I am navigationally challenged. Thank God for GPS!
First Broadway show you ever saw:
Much Ado About Nothing (The Public Theater transfer)
Did you have any particular mentors or inspirations as a young actor?
Cicely Tyson and Madge Sinclair. It was the first time I'd seen dark brown-skinned actresses regularly on television. They were so talented and beautiful and full of pride and grace. I wanted to be them.
Recent show other than your own you have been recommending to friends:
Some favorite musicals:
Some favorite modern plays:
Intimate Apparel, Ruined, Clybourne Park, Other Desert Cities
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:
Patti LuPone as Evita. She was simply electric and I kept going back... I was blown away!
MAC or PC?
Most played song on your iPod:
"Peaceful Living" by Natalie Cole
Last book you read:
"One Crazy Summer" by Rita Williams-Garcia
Must-see TV show(s):
“American Horror Story”
Some films you consider classics:
"All About Eve"
"The Godfather" Parts 1 and 2
"Lady Sings the Blues"
Performer you would drop everything to go see:
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
"The Walking Dead"
San Francisco, Minneapolis and New York, of course!
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:
The Christmas Pageant in church when I always wanted the little piece of paper with the most lines on it.
Favorite liquid refreshment:
A fine cabernet
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups:
Singing gospel music
Worst job you ever had:
Having to sell ANYTHING on commission. Convincing people to buy stuff they didn't need actually made me cry.
What drew you to this project?
The opportunity to work with the amazing Colman Domingo on his newest play and to be a part of creating a role from its inception - literally page to stage.
Most challenging role you have played onstage:
Esther in Intimate Apparel
Some favorite screen or commercial roles:
George Clooney's character's assistant "Pam" in "Michael Clayton"
Who have you played on "Law & Order"? What edition?
I've played six different roles on all three editions over the years.
My first was as a mom whose son was killed on the original “Law & Order" mothership, and just recently I was a judge on "Law & Order: SVU," following in the footsteps of other thespian judges like Lynn Thigpen, John Cullum and Judith Light, among others. Some very distinguished company!
Leading lady role you've been dying to play:
Leading man role you wish you could play:
Something about you that surprises people:
I'm pretty funny. And loud.
"I'll never understand why…"
… people still don't turn their cellphones off at the theatre. Are you a doctor on call? Do you really need to be that accessible for the next 2 hours?
Words of advice for aspiring performers:
Learn your craft, but experience the world. Don't be a "one trick pony" - expand your horizons beyond just "the business." Seek out and talk to people other than actors, people who have different interests and passions - you'll be amazed and surprised by what inspires you. Your work as a performer will be richer and deeper and you will in turn inspire others.