You never know when certain people will show up in the bustle that is New York City. Three years ago I moved to the urban jungle to start working at a new gig with an ed-tech company located in midtown Manhattan. Little did I know that I would be plunging myself in a space with so many artists with vast talents during my tenure. Musicians, actors and other amazingly passionate colleagues worked side by side with me every day opening up about their mediums beyond the office. Luckily, many became friends and through their work I was able to watch them thrive within their craft. One such artist, Pascale Armand, has been a perfect example of a woman to admire. I met her early on at the company and we became fast friends. Eventually, she made her way out and worked primarily on her acting. Since then, she has been all over the place on television, the performance stage and beyond. Curious to hear more about her work to date, I reached out to have her share her world as an actress.
Artists all have their calling moment where their craft suddenly clicks and they know its what they want to do for a living. I asked Pascale to elaborate on her mission as an actress. “It was something that I was really interested in, it really piqued my curiosity. Understanding the choices that people make, channeling the ‘whys’ and ‘whats’ of a life and making those choices apparent to others captures my attention. When you dissect a moment, part in a person’s day, year and life, things aren’t so cut and dry, right or wrong. These intricacies and circumstances that cause people to make their choices are infinitely interesting. If you walk a mile in someone’s shoes and know what they’re up against, is it that easy to pass judgment? Sure it is, while you’re standing off in the distance. If you assume that particular position, though, it gets tricky. I like that tricky spot. It’s fascinating to me to know the inner workings of someone’s thinking that causes them to act the way they do.”
On that note, I wondered what role in particular had held a special place for her. One stood out among all the rest. “I had the lead female role of ‘Jekesai/Esther’ in Danai Gurira’s play The Convert. Up until 2012, I have only had supporting roles, so that was a big step for me. It was a huge responsibility as well and I loved it. Being throughout the whole show (that was three hours long) and developing the arc of this character’s journey was absolutely thrilling. I learned about Zimbabwean history and [how] to speak a new language. I immersed myself in a different culture and I helped to enrich audiences’ knowledge of what they know beyond the everyday.” Filled with culture and a new experience, Pascale was able to use this well to propel even further in her career. “Whatever I am fortunate enough to book, I give my all to. I am constantly striving to give my ideal performance with every chance I get to perform so going after that never stops.”
Unfortunately, sometimes her experiences have not been ideal. “I was doing a regional show in California. I think it was the afternoon of my opening night. I thought my Grandfather was calling me to wish me a great opening night, but instead, he called me from NYC to tell me that my Grandmother had a stroke and was in the hospital. She raised me, so I was a mess after that … AND it was a commedia dell’arte piece! I don’t know how I got myself together, but, as they say, the show must go on. I took a trip back to NYC on a red-eye to go see her on my day off, but had to fly back to finish out the show. We had no understudies. She passed away 66 days after I closed that show.” If that is not professionalism, I do not know what is.
As an actress, she talked about the state of acting in the world today. “I am happy to see that more women of color are getting their due recognition. Viola Davis’ Emmy win was such an inspiration… The fact that it came now, in the 21st century, when we have been here all along means that more work needs to be done to consistently recognize the work people of all colors are doing in the entertainment industry, especially women. I can’t say it enough; Viola Davis is way up there for me. She has been and is continuing to make such strides in the business. I love watching her work and BE. Like Viola said, opportunity is key. There are too many talented actresses out there for there to be a lack of stories to tell. The CHANCE to tell them is what is missing.” Let us hope these stories make it out for all of us to hear. We need to hear them.
To end, Pascale remains an ambitious woman. “I would like to tackle writing, creating my own work. I am very proud of my body of work. I would love to just keep adding to that. Adding a bit more comedy would be nice, striking an even balance is important. Some more TV and film would also add to my exposure in the business. I’m open to a lot. I just like a great story and doing my part to tell it.” Pascale would thrive in comedy I think, she always had a giant smile plastered on her face when we worked together. People would love that smile out in the world.
Currently, you can see Pascale in the new play, Eclipsed, also written by Danai Gurira, showing at the Public Theater. The story revolves around five Liberian women striving to survive in the world. She and her fellow cast performers, Akosua Busia, Zainab Jah, Saycon Sengbloh and the lovely Lupita Nyong’o hope to see the play move to Broadway next. See here for more information. Please enjoy this astonishing show while you can and be sure to watch the stunning work of the gorgeous Pascale Armand. She will blow you away and make you eager for more.