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Interview with Actress: Sarah Steele

Interview with Actress: Sarah Steele

Ted Sod spoke to Sarah Steele on her role as Brigid Blake in Stephen Karam's The Humans.

TED SOD: Where were you born? Where were you educated? When did you decide you wanted to become an actor?

SARAH STEELE: I was born in North Carolina but moved to a suburb just outside of Philadelphia when I was 5, so mostly grew up there. I decided I wanted to become an actor when I was 8 years old. I literally heard a friend on the playground bragging about how he was taking acting classes and thought, "Oh! That's what I'm supposed to be doing!" I went to college at Columbia but studied English, not theatre.

TS: Stephen Karam wrote the role of Brigid for you after you were in his first play at Roundabout, Speech & Debate. What are the benefits of having a role written specifically for you?

SS: Well, there are the obvious benefits like the character sort of sounds like me. But more than that, it's wonderful to be written for because then the writer fights for you to get the part! Stephen is probably my favorite playwright of all time, so getting to bring his work to life is a huge honor.

TS: You've done almost all the developmental readings of The Humans, which began July 23, 2013. What did you learn as an actress from doing these developmental readings? How has your role as Brigid evolved?

SS: Developmental readings are actually the best part of being an actor for me. I once spent a month doing so many developmental readings at the Roundabout that we all joked that I was an "artist in residence" there. But to me it's such a special time to be involved with a new play. Because you get to ask questions and help identify problems and hopefully help make the play better. With Brigid, there was a concern at the beginning that maybe she was too harsh. But Stephen has definitely moved beyond that by now.

TS: Which aspect of your role is most challenging? Which is the most fun?

SS: I don't really know what is most challenging or most fun because we haven't yet started rehearsal! But I will say that getting to tangle with Reed Birney, Cassie Beck, and Jayne Houdyshell in the workshops was crazily fun and challenging. They are absolute dynamite, and I feel out of my league in the best way.

TS: Brigid and her significant other, Richard, are hosting a family dinner on Thanksgiving. Do you think family gatherings in holidays are inherently dramatic?

SS: Family holidays are extremely dramatic! Especially when you start throwing significant others and alcohol into the mix.

TS: How do you keep yourself inspired as an artist? Do you see the work of your peers? Travel? Read? Go to museums?

SS: I see a ton of theatre whenever I'm not working to stay inspired. I love feeling like I'm a part of the theatre community and following the work of actors and writers I admire. I'm a big reader, too.

TS: Do you have any advice for a young person who wants to enter the profession of acting?

SS: My advice to young people who want to act is just to do it as much as you can! Find friends who also want to do it and have readings of great plays in your apartment. You don't have to wait for someone else to tell you that you can do it. You can be getting better on your own all the time.

The Humans begins previews at the Laura Pels Theatre on September 30. For more information, please visit our website.

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