Syr Law debuts in Nollywood with the film “Paparazzi!
Breakout Actress To Watch: SYR LAW
Syr Law stars in the upcoming Nollywood Indie film “PAPARAZZI: Eye in the Dark”
You have seen Syr (pronounced s-e-e-r) Law grace the screen in Allen Wolf's 2009 mystery thriller “In My Sleep” and in Tyler Perry's 2005 comedy romance “Diary of a Mad Black woman.” Now Syr Law makes her Nollywood debut as the only American actress amongst an all star Nollywood cast. In this romantic, Nollywood murder mystery, PAPARAZZI: Eye In The Dark, Syr Law provides viewers with an undeniably strong performance of a woman struggling to clear her name of a heinous crime she is accused of committing.
Syr Law's experience behind the camera and the roles she has played is garnering the interest from some of Hollywood and Nollywood's creditable indie film producers. She has been featured and starred in a number of motion pictures. Syr Law also played integral roles in the independent award-winning films: Somebodies (which was spun-off into a BET television series) and Dark Remains.
Fans and critics can expect captivating suspense and enthrallment from Syr's performance. “I'm very excited about this film,” says Syr. “My character is complex, yet very human and I think viewers will be excited to see the layers of her story unfold.”
This riveting character portrayal by Syr Law is a must-see by audiences of all walks of life.
“PAPARAZZI: Eye In The Dark” http://www.youtube.com/watch
“PAPARAZZI: Eye In The Dark” website: www.eyeinthedark.com
This young beautiful American actress is warming herself to the hearts of millions of Nigerians and Africans in general with her recent role in this movie that would soon be in a theatre next to your neighborhood. Although the setting is in America but it touches the heart of Africa. Syr Law has just made her first movie for Nollywood and the film is called Paparazzi. She would tell us her role in the movie and why she got involved with Nollywood.
She has graced theater stages throughout the U.S. Atlanta's Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff playing the role of a Cuban mistress, Cecilia in “Day of Kings”; the Actors Group Theatre in Los Angeles as Vivian Baptiste in “A Lesson Before Dying.” Syr portrayed the character of Angela Lovett to sold-out audiences in the National Touring Company of Tyler Perry “What's Done in the Dark.” Most recently, Syr understudied the role of Taylor in the Ovation Winning Play “Stickfly” at the Matrix Theatre under the direction of Shirley Jo Finney. Her beautiful and distinctive face has been seen in many motion pictures, from Allen Wolf's thriller In My Sleep (2010) (Morning Star Pictures) to the smash hit by Tyler Perry Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005) (Lions Gate Films). Also, the independent Award-winning films: Somebodies (2006) (won, Special Jury Prize for Screenwriting, Sarasota Film Festival, 2006; Nominated, Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic, Sundance Film Festival, 2006), and Dark Remains (2005) (winner, Best Feature, Rhode Island International Horror Festival, 2006).
Additionally, Syr has also completed principal photography on the upcoming feature film titled “Bad Medicine” (2999 Films). Syr has the rare and special ability to embody a wide range of characters. She is an up and coming star and defiantly the actor to look out for.
She spoke to the Voice magazine Editor-in-Chief recently in this exclusive interview, you read first in the Voice magazine.
TV: Syr, tell me a little bit about your background (place of birth, parents, family)
Syr: I am originally from Atlanta, GA. My mother is from Charleston, SC. My father is from Tallahassee, FL. I am definitely a southern girl. Traditionally, we (Southern Girls) are thought to be sweet, pretty women that show themselves well. Maybe that is true but the differences that I find in Southern women stem from the generosity that southern households have as a standard. You better come to my mother or grandmother's house ready to eat. There is no passing on the food (lol). That's just considered rude! I can't remember a time when my grandmother's door was ever locked. We live with a heart of a village. One child is everybody's child. And the welcome sign never turns off, so to speak. I think that sort of standard radiates into our lives as we become women making us special in a traditional way.
TV: What about your educational Training?
Syr: I graduated from Hampton University in Hampton, VA. I have a BA in English. My parents wanted me to study International Law but I knew my creative mind required more freedom. I studied acting at Actor's Express and The Professional Actor's Studio in Atlanta, GA. In Los Angeles with Sharon Chatten who's list of clients include Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Will Smith, Jim Carrey and many more Hollywood stars. I believe in studying my craft. In order to harness the power an actor has, which is the power to move people through story, I must have command of my instrument; body, voice, emotional range, the music of language. That requires study.
TV: When did you decide to become an Actress? And was your first experience
Syr: That's a funny story. I started acting later than most. I actually wanted to own a record label. That was my dream! To be the female Sean “Puffy” Combs. I interned for Sony Music in NY and worked as a College Rep while at Hampton University in Hampton, VA. When I graduated, I moved back to Atlanta and worked for a few months with a management firm who rapped local music producers and writers. The owner of the company decided that she wanted to relocate to LA and I wasn't ready to leave. That left me, a recent unemployed college graduate with time and space to see what else was out there for me. I saw an ad in Creative Loafing, a local paper, for auditions for the Black Playwrights Festival at Actor's Express, one of the most prominent theatre's in the city. I had never acted but it sounded fun. So, I got 2 monologues and auditioned. I'm laughing thinking back on the audition. I was terrible!!! I didn't even get through the first monologue when the Casting Director stopped me like 3 times to give direction. Finally, she said just tell me in your own words the story the monologue is conveying. And I did. I left the audition in tears. I knew I had blown it and I would never hear from the theatre again. Surprisingly, they called a couple of days later. I remember Karen, the Festival Director agreed that I was not the strongest but she saw something in me. She didn't know what it was (lol) and neither did I but she gave me a shot. I was offered free Meisner classes and a spot in one of the festival's readings. I called my parents that day and said I found my gift. I am an actor. After the festival, Chris Coleman, Artistic Director of Actor's Express asked me to audition for a spot in the theatre's intern program which was a huge deal. Theater students from all around the country audition to get in this program. Out of a couple hundred candidates, I was 1 of 12 students chosen. And I have been acting ever since.
TV: How I got involved with Nollywood and the film Paparazzi?
Syr: God. I am laughing because really it had to be God and fate. Ghanaian musician, Koby Maxwell, who I did not know at the time, was doing a show in Oakland, CA. His opening act, a stand-up comedian cancelled on him last minute. Koby called actor Chet Anekew, who I knew from Atlanta because we studied at the same acting studio, and asked if he knew of a stand-up comedian who would be available to do a show that night in Oakland. Chet called Jermaine, also a fellow actor/stand-up comedian from the Atlanta-based studio where we all studied, who now lives in LA too and linked Koby and Jermaine. Jermaine flew to Oakland, met Koby and did the show. Koby told Jermaine about the script Paparazzi and about the role of my character, Pearl. Jermaine thought of me for the role and linked Koby and myself. Koby sent me to script and we talked for months about the project and the characters. He liked my vision for Pearl and the direction that I wanted to take her story. Pearl is unique in so many ways that I fell in love with her from the first read. She is the lead female role so there were many actresses both African and African American who wanted the part. Honestly, I didn't know if I had a shot. But I knew that I connected to the role and somewhere inside of me the character found a voice that I knew I could give life to. Koby asked me to audition for 3 roles; one of the roles was Pearl.
I sent him a video audition for all roles. Koby talked with Chet who spoke highly of me because he knew my work and work ethic. Koby met with the Director, Bayo Akinfemi. Koby and Bayo reviewed the audition tapes. I talked with Bayo extensively about the role of Pearl and a few days later Koby called and offered me the part. I'm laughing because I told you it was God and fate.
I am grateful to Koby for casting me, an African American woman as the lead in my first Nollywood film. Although I am working consistently in Hollywood I am a new face to Nollywood audiences so I feel like he took risk with me. I am grateful. I would love to do more work in Nollywood Films and establish my name with the Nollywood film community and audiences.
TV: What is your experience with Nigerian actors? And what is the story line with Paparazzi?
Syr: Having the opportunity to work with Nollywood's Top A-List Actors: Tchidi Chikere, Van Vicker, Chet Anekwe, JJ Bunny, Reprudencia Sonkey and Koby Maxwell was awesome! All talented, professional actors with such a great sense of humor. We had so much fun on set! They received me with open arms. My hope is that the Nollywood audiences will do the same. One the most memorable experiences would have to be a scene with Tchidi, Koby, JJ Bunny and myself. In the scene I accuse Koby of cheating on me. We have a huge fight and Tchidi and JJ Bunny work to calm me down. There is a moment in that scene between the four of us that is just magic! It's the moment when a scene transcends to reality and the emotions are so raw and real you have no idea of where the moment is going to take you so you just let go. And we did. We all let go and just lived it. That's when the magic happens. That happened a lot in this film. I have two fight scenes and at the end of each scene, I had cast, crew and extras cheering me on. They forgot it was a scene because it looked so real. Those moments are always fun. But a lot of hard work! And I can't leave out the club scene where Koby performs live. We had so many people from the African community come out and support the show and the film. The music was incredible and we danced all night! The jail scene. When I finished shooting that scene the crew gave me a standing ovation. That's a big deal. To garner the respect of your crew is huge. Oh, and I can't forget the last scene of the film. We had so much fun filming that scene. Everyone is in that scene; Tchidi, Van, Chet, JJ Bunny, Koby. It's full of surprise and emotion. I can't tell you any more inside scoop because I don't want to spoil the story. But it's a romantic drama full of action, romance, back stabbing and murder. The films plot: when you are pushed to the corner financially, you result to all kinds of ways to resolve your issues. You listen to friends and family. Your dreams can highlight a way for you. That is what happened to Rich (Van Vicker). He literally followed his dream. The question then becomes did Rich's decision bring him out of his predicaments or worsen them?
You are going to love it, I promise!
Every moment of this film project has a memory attached that makes me smile, big!
TV: Hollywood/Nollywood; what a difference, how does it feel?
Syr: Having the opportunity to step into a new market with such a great film excites me! I have been able to work consistently in Hollywood because it's expanding it's face beyond the traditional story with the traditional actor. For example, in my most recent film, What To Bring To America I play an Ethiopian woman living in America struggling with tradition versus a westernized culture. The film centers around female circumcision; a controversial and rarely spoken of truth. I spent a lot of time in Little Ethiopia, here in Los Angeles living and learning the culture and traditions of Ethiopian people, particularly the women. Their love and pain; joy and struggles. It was important to be as authentic as possible to a culture and people who trusted me to tell a story with an open mind and with respect. It is a gift to be given the privilege to walk in another person's shoes, especially if there is a cultural difference, so authenticity, open mindedness and truth are as important to me as the story I am telling. Prior to filming, What To Bring To America and Paparazzi, I was cast in Stick Fly from playwright Lydia R. Diamond under the direction of Shirley Jo Finney. The show won several Ovation Awards. Other film credits include Allen Wolf's thriller In My Sleep (2010), the independent Award-winning films: Somebodies (2006) (won, Special Jury Prize for Screenwriting, Sarasota Film Festival, 2006; Nominated, Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic, Sundance Film Festival, 2006), and Dark Remains (2005) (winner, Best Feature, Rhode Island International Horror Festival, 2006). The thrillers Slip (2005) and Camp DOA (2005) are also films that have garnered recognition both nationally and internationally.
I have performed in Atlanta's Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff under the direction of Susan V. Booth, Artistic Director, playing the role of a Cuban mistress, Cecilia in Day of Kings and worked at the Actors Group Theatre in Los Angeles playing the role of Vivian Baptiste in A Lesson Before Dying. I portrayed the character of Angela Lovett to sold-out audiences in the National Touring Company of Tyler Perry's What's Done in the Dark and the Tyler Perry film Diary Of A Mad Black Woman.
Nollywood is the next Hollywood. The stories that Nollywood writers and directors are telling are exciting and moving pieces of film. The quality of
Nollywood projects such as Paparazzi are moving in the direction of Hollywood films. The director of Paparazzi , Bayo Akinfemi and Koby Maxwell have that vision! Their idea was to bring Hollywood to Nollywood with this film project. I believe they accomplished that goal. Working with talent such as Tchidi, who's attention to detail and storytelling is so specific is vital to a successful film. Having that type of talent in Nollywood is certainly bringing attention to the African film industry on an international level. Not to mention the beautiful and talented Genevieve Nnaji. I have recently added her to my list of favorite actors. While filming Paparazzi I was introduced to her work. I thought she was brilliant as Olivia in Beautiful Soul. She has such grace and beauty with a range of emotion that I find simply magnificent! I would love to work with her one day.
TV: What are the plans to visit Nigeria with this movie?
Syr: I am so excited to visit Nigeria! I can't wait to meet the people of Nigeria. Nigerians love their culture. You can see that in their faces and even in their films. And the unity they have is beautiful. I want to visit Lagos and the Gurara Falls. I want to dance and eat traditional Nigerian food with a Nigerian family. I would love to go places that tourist don't know about. Maybe even meet a government official. I am so excited to tour Nigeria with the film Paparazzi. I hope to get a chance to meet the Nollywood audience in Nigeria and hear their feedback on the film. That excites me!
TV: What would be your advise to artists, particularly ladies?
Syr: Love living! How you live will transfer into your art. The more expansive your experience and knowledge the more you can bring to your character and the story. Dream big! Then develop your skill. While the other guy is sleeping. I'm working. While he's eating. I'm studying. You can do anything by laying one brick at a time. For ladies, we have voices. I would say use them and stand for something bigger than yourself. When the world doubts us because of our gender, shade, features they call imperfections that are really God's perfections, quiet the chatter and remember who you are! You decide who you are going to be and stand in your power of choice. Be Bold in everything! Start by believing in yourself!
TV: Thank you for your time
Syr: You are welcome love to your readers.