BWW Interview: Actress CHRISTINA FOSTER
Her Mom and Grandmother placed the seeds to Christina Foster's theater life.
Growing up having long talks and watching important movies was their form of love and entertainment she still remembers.
What started you in acting?
As a child I watched earnestly as my mother and grandmother wrote plays, movies, and books revolving around black culture, segregation in the south, mental illness in the black community, and the drug epidemic that plague and destroyed urban communities as well. Although they never published any of their work I would spend late nights with my mother watching movies like The color Purple, New Jack City, Sugar Hill, The Five Heartbeats, Imitation of Life, and Friday just to name a few. Afterwards my mother would ask a series of questions; "what is the emotion behind the characters response, if I understood the content, and if the type of emotional response the actors used necessary. This of course then led to me reenacting scenes which I like to believe was my mother's personal form of love entertainment.
What was your first role?
My first role was me portraying the life a slave girl on a boat attempting to escape to freedom. This play was written by my grandmother when I was six years old. I remember it as if it was yesterday. My grandmother would pass me some peanuts and I would recite my line, "mama, I'm tired of eating nuts and apples asa want some real food". She would then follow with her line, "hush up child and eat what the good lord gave". Even to this day we laugh as we recall these memories together.
What was it about acting that intrigued you?
Well, my passion for acting started the very first day I saw The color Purple. It hit home for me. The scene where the two sisters Celie and Nettie being separated by that no good "Mister" reminded me of the separation my brothers and I endured when we were placed in foster care. The type of emotion I felt from watching that movie even at the young age of seven I knew I wanted to be a storyteller; to tell people's truth in hopes of bringing inspiration, hope, restoration, healing and humor.
Talk about some of the other roles you've played.
One of my favorite characters I had the pleasure of portraying theatrically has to be Rena in the stage play "Jitney" written by the late August Wilson. Rena was independent, stubborn as a mule, powerful, determined, education and yet vulnerable when she chose to be. Vulnerability is an attribute we all have in us naturally but make a choice not to reveal ourselves because of fear. However, Rena chose to let go of that fear because her love for Youngblood outweighed the cost. Rena was fun to create and watch evolve over time. I recall one rehearsal becoming so involved with the spirit of Rena that even my colleagues said that night they knew they had to step it up. It also helped to have an amazing director, Mr. Willie Judson, and outstanding cast to add flavor to the story. We were so powerful as an ensemble that we were nominated in six different categories and winning Best Production of a Play from the Artie's.
What part would you love to play but haven't yet?
There are too many to list. However, I must say overall I'm not into playing gimmicky roles! Never have been never will be. I'm not into telling stories just for a laugh. I need something with some meat on the bones. Something that requires gravy and a biscuit if you know what I mean. I enjoy roles that has resolution , that are multi-dimensional, raw, and real. For the sake of conversation one story I would love to tell would be that of a child diagnosed as mentally retarded. Reason being, I have a soon to be step daughter who is diagnosed as autistic. Although she has some delays she is one of the most beautiful and intelligent children you would ever meet. Oftentimes those who may be diagnosis with a cognitive and or mental disorder is stigmatized in a way that does not speak to the many dimensions of who they are at the core essence of their being. They still can love, feel, laugh, and care as we "normal" (whatever that mean) people do. It's just expressed differently but yet understood if we paid attention.
You are working a TV series. What is it? What's it about?
I am currently casted as Alex in the upcoming Netflix series "Daddy's Girl Club". This story revolves around four women who have experienced past trauma with their father that has now intertwined with their present life as adults. These characters never meet but their stories of trauma or at least the root of it is what connects them. The complexity behind each character is that they all have wounds that never healed properly. My character Alex is a self- made (so she thinks) business woman who is a go getter by any means. Alex fathers absence, along with molestation experienced by her mother's boyfriends, and heartbreak from her college sweetheart has caused her to become cold-hearted. She's focused successful but afraid to be alone. Instead of attempting to find love in a man she desires to be with a woman because in that relationship she can control it. Anything Alex can not control she hides from. The only man Alex has vowed to always love is her son Anthony. Ultimately, she ends up facing her demons in a way that is unconventional and or taboo in her culture. Will she recover? Well you'll have to watch the series to figure that one out. LOL!
Do you see any of yourself in the TV character?
Absolutely. Pain is universal something we all have experienced. That is a commonality Alex and I share. The only difference is I acknowledge it and use it as strength whereas Alex hides behind it and it cripples her. I would also like to consider myself a hard worker but unlike Alex I don't feel it necessary to flaunt what I have worked for. Alex can be very mean, self-righteous, and prideful at times. I don't like that about her but I completely understand her.
How is stage and film acting different?
Stage and film differs in many ways. In my opinion Theatre is for the right here right now. There is only one take per night and you have one chance to ensure that your audience believes you by placing yourself in the moment so much so that people feel as if they are a fly on the wall listening to a conversation. Many say Film is more intimate but I beg to differ just a tad bit. I think Theatre is more intimate because people can reach out and touch you in a sense whereas in television there is only a lens that connects actors to their audience. Film is only intimate as it pertains to "capturing angels". With that in mind, for film you do not have to be so big with expression. You tell the story through behavior yes but you want to talk to your scene partner as if it was the person watching TV (still learning that). Whereas, on stage the expression you're giving the audience in the front row has to be big enough to reach those in the nosebleed sections and give the same powerful impact.
Time to promote yourself. What is coming up for you in 2017/2018?
I am a busy Queen Bee this season and I'm so grateful and blessed to announce that I will be opening the fall season with the Kavinoky Theatre in a classic play titled The Crucible portraying the characters of Rebecca Nurse and TiTuba. Shortly after, from January 19- February 11 I'll be portraying the character of Shanita in a Dominique Morisseau play at the Paul Robeson Theatre. I'm excited about both productions and hoping to get cast in another play this fall giving the city of Buffalo three powerful stories that leaves a cathartic response in the audience one stage at a time.
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