BWW Interviews: Ta'Rea Campbell Loves Playing in SISTER ACT
You grew up in Philadelphia. I lived in the suburbs. Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Philadelphia. I went to school in South Philadelphia for my high school education. I went to Performing Arts High School where I studied acting and dance. Then I went onto to college in New York City. I went to Marymount Manhattan College.
What got you interested in performing?
There was nothing that got me interested in it. It was just something that naturally happened. I grew up singing in the church. I was a shy kid but I was very creative and very fascinated with TV and characters and the musical "Annie." I had the record "Annie" and I played it all the time and all my Disney records. I didn't have a lot of friends growing up because I was bused to school in a neighborhood that wasn't my neighborhood so I didn't have any after school friends. When I got home it was either me and the television and me and my records or my books. So I developed a creative side to things. So in middle school, I did musicals and I got an agent and did professional acting for just a little while when I was 12 years old. I only did it for about two years and then I went onto Performing Arts High School when I was 13 and then really began to focus on acting.
What was the first show that you did?
The first one I remember doing was in elementary school and it was "Peter Pan." I wasn't actually in the show. The actors were one part of it, then you could be in the chorus which means you sat off on the side singing the songs or you could be in the orchestra. I remember doing "Peter Pan."But the first show as an actor was when I was in 6th grade. I remember I did the show, "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown."
What are some of your favorite shows you have done?
Some of my favorite shows are "The Lion King." I did that for five years and it was a really wonderful time in my life. I toured with it for three years and then did the Broadway Production for two years. I also have really fond memories for "Aida" which I did on Broadway and also with the national tour. And I got to play "Aida" on Broadway which was fantastic and I always say that I wish I could do that show again now that I know what I know. I was a little young at the time. It was a really beautiful show and I would love for it to be revived again even if I can be in it even if I can just see one of my favorites. It's one of my mother's favorite shows that she's seen me in. No matter what I'm doing no matter what my part, if I'm the lead in something, she would always say, "Well, it's not as good as "Aida." She loves that show so much.
Let's talk about Sister Act. When did you start playing Deloris? How did you get the role?
I started at the beginning of this tour which was in 2012. Our first performance was in October of 2012. We started rehearsals in the summer of that year so it's been two years. I just auditioned for the role back in 2012. Actually I auditioned for the role in 2009 when it was first coming to Broadway. I didn't get it. It was interesting because I was working on and Alan Menken show at the time and I auditioned for it when I was working on the other show and I auditioned and they were not interested at all. Then I auditioned again when it was going on tour and it was like, "Where have you been?" I've been the same place as I've always been. You didn't like me before but I think life works in special ways and you get what you get when you get it. I was supposed to do this tour and I wasn't supposed to do Broadway and I have no problems with that.
What are some parts of Deloris that are like you?
Of course. She's full of love. She's a louder person than I am but she has love in her heart and I think her character gets misinterpreted a lot because she's so flashy but she really does have a heart of gold. She is someone that is an aspiring diva. She has big hopes and dreams for her future so I like to think there's a little bit of that in me as well. She says whatever she wants to say right when it comes to her brain. That's something that is, unfortunately, is me at times and not always. There are tons of similarities between the two of us. It's a great character to play. It's really meaty. It's really fun. I get to do tons of improv every night. I get to be funny. I get to try new things and I have an amazing cast that also appreciates those aspects as well. They just try to go with the flow. And we have fun every night. The show's always different.
And what are some of the differences between the movie and the play?
The movie was made in 1992. But the play is set in 1977. The movie was set in Vegas but the play is set in Philadelphia. A lot of the characters have been flushed out. Deloris has a love interest now, a guy that she went to high school with is the cop that's in charge of her case and there's a love story there. You'll find that there are nice similarities to the movie but a lot of new aspects. Also it's an all new score written by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. None of the music from the movie is in the play.
If you had not gotten into show business, what would you have done?
I probably would have been a professional shopper. It's a sad, sad thing because as I'm sitting her talking to you now, I have two garbage bags in front of me full of clothes. I am cleaning out because we are on a hiatus. So, I'm home in my apartment in New York and I'm cleaning out my drawers and getting rid of things because I'm going to be coming home soon and I need to make room for all this stuff. Being on tour, you buy a lot of things even though you have them at your house because you may need that right away. You don't have them. You might need a light jacket even though you have light jackets at home. Over the last two years I have accumulated quite a bit of stuff but I'm making that big purge right now. So, yes, I would probably a personal shopper for people. I love shopping, I love styling people. But, I also have aspirations to be a writer.
Do you do any writing now?
I like to think that I do a lot of scribbling on papers and I my head and in my purse I have little pieces of paper but I haven't committed pen to paper. I'll get a chance to do that this summer I don't have any projects lined up. I'm going to be at home with my dog and my husband. I'm a newlywed. I'm looking forward to just spending time not really doing anything.
What advice do you have for anyone thinking about getting into the business?
Do anything that you do be it acting, baking cakes, going to law school because you love it. Not for the fame it brings not for the fortune but just because you love it. My acting teacher said to me once when I was in high school, "You should not aspire to be a rich actor. You should aspire to be a great actor." I think that's something that's really prevalent to a lot of different professions. I act because I love it. It's what innately running through my veins and not because I want to be a famous actor. You know, I've had great roles on Broadway and great roles in smaller theaters and on tour. The same acting teacher told me that you don't always have horizontal moves. Sometimes you have lateral moves. Sometimes the next job won't be better than the last job you had, it will be just as good or maybe slightly smaller but you are working. In this profession, 90 percent of actors are unemployed. I'm just blessed to be able to have a job. I consider myself an extremely blessed person and I'm very grateful for all the opportunities that I've been afforded. So back to my one piece of advice, really do whatever you're doing because you love and you can't think of doing anything else.