Deirdra McDowell Channels Eartha Kitt In DOWN TO EARTHA
In 1968 while at the height of her career as a world renowned entertainer, Eartha Kitt was also working as one of the main lobbyist for a group of young activists called the Rebels With A Cause. During this time, Miss Kitt was then invited to the White House by Lady Bird Johnson to partake in a women's luncheon to discuss the issue of the rising crime rates in America. At the luncheon however, when Eartha stood up and expressed her views, stating that the increase in crime was mostly due to Americans involvement in the Vietnam War, Lady Bird Johnson was personally insulted by the comment and shortly after, by order of President Lyndon Johnson, Eartha Kitt was blacklisted from work in the United States for the following 10 years!
DOWN TO EARTHA is a one woman show written and performed by Dierdra McDowell, and directed by Marishka S. Phillips. In one act filled with drama and music, this play explores Eartha Kitt´s personal re-encounter of that fateful day in detail. It also delves into her personal journey back to her power and freedom. Stemming from a life ridden with years of child abuse, Eartha´s personal journey proves to be at times a nightmare of a hurdle! It is one that could only be conquered by the power of love.
Dierdra McDowell was born in Brooklyn, New York...with Panamanian roots! Being the first American born in her family, they often joked about her "celebrity status". Little did they know the power behind this choice of words! She surrounded herself early on in the area of the arts, and attended the high school of Art and Design. Following, she completed studies at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and FIT in NYC. While in high school she gravitated towards the school's drama club as part of her extra curricular activities. It was here she found her passion!
Years later, Dierdra continued to study acting at several well acclaimed establishments, such as the Susan Batson Studio (formerly Black Nexxus), the T. Schreiber Studio, and the Marishka Phillips Theatrical Preparatory (MPTP). Her dedication to this art form led to her appearances in many commercials, television shows and films in the years to follow. She has also done lots of print modeling work and is often spotted in magazine and billboard ads for various commercial products.
As an actress, Ms. McDowell is honored to claim guest star appearances in current television shows, such as POWER, Odd Mom Out and Mr. Robot. She is honored for work in feature length and short films...such as the noted film 4:44 directed by Abel Ferrera and starring Willem Dafoe (as his ex wife). She remains proud of her work in commercials for Verizon Fios, Time Warner Cable, Pearle Vision, Home Depot, Spray and Wash, Wii, and Allegra D to name a few. She is delighted to have worked with Susan Lucci, (Erica Kane) on the former hit soap opera All My Children. It's not a bad trail to leave behind...but Dierdra says. "it's just the beginning of the road!
Broadway actress, accomplished director, and thespian guru, Marishka S. Phillips is an actor's actor with an extraordinary wealth of talent.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Marishka began performing at age of eight, and by the time she was thirteen, was cast in the European tour of Raisin, a musical version of the popular play A Raisin In The Sun. Upon graduating from Springfield Gardens High School, Mariskha honed in on her skills at the prestigious Alvin Ailey School of Dance, the Broadway Dance Center, and Fordham University, where she studied theater arts.
Marishka's big break came at the age of nineteen when the budding actress landed a feature role in the Broadway musical, Uptown: It's Hot. Directed by the legendary Maurice Hines, Marishka found her niche on stage, and would go on to star in a host of other musicals, including Bubblin' Brown Sugar, FAME: The Musical, The Wiz, and The Me Nobody Knows.
During a quick stint in Los Angeles, in 1991, Marishka made the move to television, scoring bit parts on the last two seasons of The Cosby Show and it's spin-off A Different World, but by 1997, Marishka found herself back on stage, and spent the next ten years touring Europe in big budget plays and musicals. Covering over eight countries, Marishka performed various roles in productions such as Tribute to the Blues Brothers, Ludwig: The Musical, and Teatro Piazzo. In between stage work, in 2002, Marishka released a musical recording on Hinterland Records entitled The Hike, and in 2007, released At The Waterfront on Mole Listening Pearls.
Under the mentorship of renowned acting coach, Susan Batson, Marishka returned to New York and continued studying the art of acting. In 2005, Marishka obtained the lead in an all-female cast of Othello, but by 2006, Marishka earned the lead in Absolute Fight at the NY Fringe Festival, and received an Audelco nomination for her role in Woody King's production of Sweet Mama String Bean, as a young Ethel Waters. The talented actress would go on to star in Stage & Screen, a play directed by Tony Award winner Hinton Battle.
As an acting coach, in 2011, Marishka founded the Marishka Phillips Theatrical Preparatory. Having coached and trained some of the Hollywood's biggest names, including Deborah Cox, Kerry Washington, Terri Vaughn, Nafessa Williams, Tasha Smith and Elizabeth Rohm to name a few. Marishka's ingenious acting method combines the traditional art of storytelling through a spiritual connection.
As a director, Marishka studied at the Los Angeles Community College, and has directed two highly revered off-Broadway productions: Box produced by Stuart Films LLC, and Precious written and directed by Damian Bailey. On screen, she made her directorial debut with Love Always, Eartha, a short film that takes an in-depth look at the life of Eartha Kitt in 1955, which has won 8 awards.. Since she has directed numerous other films including her self-penned MELINDA.
Marishka lives and resides in New York City