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10 THINGS with Idara Victor

You’re originally from Brooklyn, NY and you had some exposure to music. What initially drew you to being an actress?

Haha! Yes, my dad would DJ our parties on the weekends and I grew up playing the piano. My parents were really into music, so that was a constant in the house. But, they weren’t going to stage shows nor were they really huge film enthusiasts, except on our Blockbuster nights. I loved movies growing up and watched a lot of I Love Lucy reruns, which gave me an itch to do it. I would say 3 pivotal moments really fueled my desire to act as a kid: (1) When my 1st grade teacher did The Tortoise and the Hare, and I played the Hare, (2) When I read the play Romeo and Juliet, fell in love with Shakespeare, then saw Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann’s adaptations. And, (3) Seeing the movie Sense and Sensibility… falling for Kate Winslet. Also, Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett. I loved period pieces.

While attending college, you went to Business School. How did this fit into your overall plans for the entertainment industry?

It didn’t. I didn’t plan on entering the performing arts, as much as I wanted to do it. I attended the Wharton School for undergrad, and that curriculum left very little room for any liberal arts in my course load. When I graduated, I couldn’t shake the desire to act, so I pursued it without knowing anyone in the business or anything about it. My ability to find my way can be greatly attributed to that education and a healthy dose of common sense. Talent is key, but I know so many talented people in this business. You need to have a clear direction of where you’re headed and what you want to achieve to succeed. At the end of the day, this is a business, and getting an education from a school like that, has helped me tremendously. I see the many ways in which it will continue to do so.

With respect to acting, you received a good portion of your training at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and worked on Broadway. What advantage did this provide you as you began to work in film and television?

Working in theater gave me a huge level of discipline and respect for my work. Not only from the shows that I did, but from workshops and readings that were also a non-stop part of my life. Exercising that muscle of learning lines quickly and incorporating changes, flows seamlessly into the film and television world, because you don’t get nearly as much time to rehearse with your co-workers, if at all. You have to think quickly on your feet, as well as adapt and incorporate new material on the fly. My background in theater, has made that much easier. Also, we shoot out of sequence on-camera. The legwork I learned to do for a role while in theater, helps me to maintain the thread of the storyline and the integrity of the character through all of that hopping around the script.

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You’ve had the opportunity to play a variety of roles on television. What characters do you tend to draw to the most?

Whether set in the 1700s or now, I seem to play a lot of quietly powerful women who have to be strong in the face of tragedy or potential danger. I love that. They are usually also quick-witted and flirtatious, yet independent. I like that, although most of them are set in these dramas, they still have those colors and quirks that make them multi-dimensional people, as every woman I know is.

With these opportunities, you’ve had the chance to play alongside various actors. If given the chance, which actors would you want to work with?

Ohhh wow…That is incredibly hard. I’m working with some majorly talented folks right now. Of the people I haven’t gotten to work with quite yet, I have such a long list. If I try to run it down, it would be as long as an 8-year old’s Christmas list in November. The person I’ve looked up to for life is Cate Blanchett, so she’d be somewhere at the top. I would be willing to read a grocery list on-camera with Tilda Swinton. I’d also like to work with my friend Uzo Aduba sometime very soon.

Let’s talk about your role on TNT’s hit series, Rizzoli & Isles. How were you first introduced to the show?

I didn’t watch the show for some time, because the only “cop” show that I was loyal to was Law & Order. Allegiance to any other one, felt like cheating. So, it wasn’t until somewhere in Season 4 that I finally watched it and got to see how smart, funny and dynamic it is. Our female leads are two of the most powerful women I’ve seen written for television, and their interaction is actually one of the most honest depictions of female friendship I’ve seen on screen.

You play the role of Nina Holiday. What are the good and bad sides of Nina and what do you enjoy about playing her the most?

Nina is brilliant. Her brain works like lightning and she can handle a lot of responsibility. She isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and think like there IS no box to get things done. However, because she knows how capable she is, she thinks she can do it all, and tries. She doesn’t delegate much at all, and she is pretty hard on herself, particularly about a moment in her life when she couldn’t be there to save the life of the person, she loved the most. She hasn’t yet figured out how to heal that pain.

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As the season comes to an end, what can fans expect to see from Nina and the rest of the cast?

Nina begins to open up a little more and starts to get a bit more involved in other aspects of the Boston Police Department. Because she was escaping a life on the streets of Chicago, she really did intend to keep a low-profile in this new city. But, she proves to be far too valuable to the team, and they are starting to become her friends. She slowly starts to become one of them. On their end, they are just getting over the loss of a loving partner and friend. So, by the end of the season, you can begin to see that pain resolve and everyone open up more to the idea of having someone new in the family. Somehow, although it isn’t spoken, I think all of them mourning their own losses separately and simultaneously brings them closer together.

You’ve come a long way and we’re sure that you’re not turning back. But, if you weren’t working as an actress, what career path would you most likely have?

I would either be a writer or a rancher. I respect the work of writers so much, and my father was one. I feel like I would want to pick up the torch. I also like the fact that they create worlds, get to live in the essences of other people, all within their mind, and that they understand the human race so well. Either that or a rancher, because I love horses.

We look forward to seeing how things end up on the season finale of TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles. What other projects do you have coming up?

I also play the character of ‘Abigail’ on the AMC show TURN: Washington’s Spies. It’s a show about a group of friends that form America’s first spy ring, and it’s set during the Revolutionary War. We return for Season 2 on April 13, and I’m so excited because things move really fast this season. We travel, get introduced to new societies and ‘Abigail’ has to make some major, life-altering decisions. It’s the complete opposite of Rizzoli & Isles, set in the 18th century, and I love every minute of it. It’s nice to have that balance, and to jump back and forth between worlds.

Twitter: @IdaraVictor

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Photos: Courtesy of Nate Taylor

10 Things with Idara Victor by Regard Magazine