An actor who has perfected their craft makes it look easy. Their acting skills have you believing their character so much that you can’t separate the character from the actual person. Many people still don’t like Danny Glover for playing “Mr.” in the Color Purple and it seems like Angela Basset turned into Tina Turner in the movie “What’s Love Got To Do With It”.
Chicago actress Marisa Baldwin Woodhouse who is known for roles in plays such as “Speakin Of The Devil“and movies “Because He Loved Me” transforms herself into the character that she is portraying. She talks with EarHustle411 about her beginnings as an actress, how to beat the Chi-town sigma, giving back to the community and her plans for the future. Check out her Exclusive Interview.
We know that you are from Chicago, can you share with our readers how did you feel about growing up in Chicago and the area that you are from in the city?
Well I’m from the Roseland area on the far south side. I always feel a sense of humility due to the fact that I came from literally nothing and was able to rise above the tough neighborhoods in my area. I could have ventured several different ways in life but I found a way out through the arts which always gave me new life. The arts became my outlet early on in life. I used the arts to get through 4 years of college and am now working on my Masters degree.
What are some of the challenges that you face as an actress in Chicago?
Whoa, where to start. Firstly, I would say that the biggest challenge is fighting the continuous fight to dissolve the “Chi-Town Stigma” of having to get out of Chicago to make it. I believe that there is enough work out there for us all, especially with the pilots and films that are coming. I always aim to stay positive and keep a great attitude about working here in my hometown. Second challenge I would say is to continue to witness projects that are produced by some of your favorite filmmakers that we locals are unable to audition for because of various reasons. Lastly, film making has become more about the “money” and less about “talent.”
We are brought into this world to grow and leave our legacy for others. What is the biggest impact in your life that you want to be remembered for?
The biggest impact that I would like to be known for is always giving back and reaching back. Working with the youth and the less fortunate in trying to help uplift, encourage and help.
We are a society of television and movie watchers. What inspired you to become an actress?
Since the age of 4, I can remember wanting to be on television. I would watch TV shows like Fame, The Facts of Life, Good Times etc. and I knew that I wanted to study acting. Through my life I would try and fight the passion because you sometimes think that dreams don’t come true. It took me only a short while to understand that I was sent here to fulfill my passion of acting. Nothing else matters and I won’t take no for an answer. When it gets tough, I find new ways and enlist positive people to help me through and push me further.
Everyone has that one person that they want to work with; if you had the chance to star in a movie, who would you pick to be your co-star (dead or alive)? Why?
I am absolutely mesmerized by Angela Bassett’s body work. I have a great appreciation for her preparation and how she approaches each character she plays. I would love to learn from her and soak up some of her knowledge. It would be a joy to work along side her.
When you decided to become an actress, what type of training did you receive to hone your craft?
I studied at nearly every acting school in Chicago. The Audition Studio, Second City, Act One, Karen Vaccaro (private coach), ETA Creative Arts and some others also.
We know that you have been in movies and theater plays such as “Love hangover II”, “Heart’s Desire” and “Madison & State”, what are some the things you do to portray the character that you are playing?
Whenever I am offered a role, I always sleep on it and envision what the characters sounds like, what her mannerisms are, how she smells and her entire demeanor. I kind of just let it come to me then develop on what comes naturally to embody that character.
Chicago is a beautiful city; however it’s also a city that is known for corruptions and violence. Are there any social or political issues that have a major impact on you?
I am deeply impacted by the black on black crime. Being that I’m from the Roseland community, it really hurts that children all over this city are being victims of senseless violence. I have seen A LOT in my days, however, I never thought or dreamed that our city would ever be coined as “Chi-Raq.” It’s an embarrassment and somehow our youth have lost sight of their whole lineage and culture. I will continue to work with the youth that I can and those who are willing to listen and accept knowledge. Because violence is not the answer.
When a person is blessed with a gift such as yours, some people will give back to community. What are some of the things that you have done to give back to those in need?
I’m a huge giver to our communities. Over the years I have worked at shelters, donated clothing, furniture and cosmetics to the less fortunate. I have also worked with teen moms to help them stay in school and encourage them to practice abstinence while taking care of their young (child)ren.
As adults we are the guide to those younger than us and our experience can help someone grow. What advice would you give a person that wants to become an actor?
Firstly, I would encourage them to figure out if acting is a passion or a hobby. If it is a passion, I would immediately encourage them to get involved in classes to grow their craft. Learn the craft. Most people wake up and decide that they “want” to be an actor, however, acting takes both endurance and persistence for those who are serious. Therefore, training is imperative. If it’s a hobby, I would suggest working as a stagehand and behind the scenes to get a better grasp of what it takes to be an actor. It’s not at all fly by night as some may think.
It seems like when Tyler Perry started traveling the world doing his stage plays, the black community started showing support to the theater. What are some of the things that you love about being an actress in Chicago?
I love the fact that I always have my hometown crowd to come out and support me. They always say that when performing in your hometown, you have home court advantage and I love the feeling of appreciation I always receive from my hometown fans and family.
What does the future holds for Marisa Baldwin Woodhouse?
Well, I currently have a regional commercial running for “Cartridge World,” I’m working on some re-shoots for the upcoming web series “Madison & State,” We’re gearing up to shoot another film called “Crime City,” “Penis Monologues” hits the road this February, I’m cast as the lead (Addie) in the upcoming stage play “Addie’s Wash & Fold,” I’m supporting in the stage play “AD&Me,” I’ll be doing some interview and press in Atlanta and Indiana both in February, I’m receiving the award for “Accomplished Actress” from The Peach Theatre Awards on March 23rd, and I’ll be an award presenter at the 3rd annual DPI Playwrights Awards Gala in NYC September 26-27th.
If anyone is interested in viewing your work or maybe wants to work with you, what is the best method to contact you?
Moore Talent Management (708) 654-1030