Essence Atkins Plays the Leading Lady in gmc's Newest Original, a Story About Trust
Essence Atkins stars opposite Leon in From This Day Forward
I recently sat down with the talented Essence Atkins, who plays Patrice in gmc's upcoming original gospel play, From This Day Forward, to discuss the new venture. Essence is not only beautiful, but humorous, intelligent and grounded. You don't want to miss her multi-faceted performance this Saturday at 7, 9 & 11 pm et on gmc.
Archer: It's such a pleasure to talk with you this morning. Congratulations on your marriage, newborn, and your career that spans more than 25 years.
Essence: That is so nice. Thank you.
Archer: With your acting longevity, what draws you to a project?
Essence: There are several things: the people, story, or a new, young director. I enjoy working with people who are beginning their career and are telling their story – directors, writers or just artists. I love characters who are flawed, imperfect, have afflictions and impediments, and are beautiful and broken as well. This is my way of connecting to mankind.
Archer: How did you get involved with this project?
Essence: I have worked with the production company, World Films, before and they were commissioned to do a series of projects for gmc. The producer wanted me to read the script, which was good, and the character
Archer: Tell me about your character, Patrice.
Essence: Patrice is a 30-year-old, successful married woman who has a long list of accomplishments, and probably just as long a list of insecurities. Any Type A woman who is accomplished can relate to this character. Women, like Patrice, have every reason to feel good but often wrestle with whether they are good enough, priorities and balance.
Archer: Do you think this is just what happens to professional women?
Essence: No. I think that everyone wrestles with work/life balance. For men, it is do I build the kingdom and then go find a queen. And for women, it could be I want a family but do I build the kingdom before the family. Everyone has his or her own journey and this play will be relatable to everyone.
Archer: What would you like people to take away from Patrice?
Essence: That the best person to communicate about your relationship is the other person in the relationship... and not your friends.
Archer: How important is trust in a marriage?
Essence: Trust is earned. But it really starts with you. When I talk to people, I ask them 'do you trust yourself?' When you trust yourself, then you trust yourself to choose people who are good for you. I was at a dinner party once and someone’s boyfriend made a comment. The person responded, “He’s so ignorant.” All I could think was “Well, he was your choice.” You must choose who is worth your trust.
Archer: Point made. How important are your friendships when you are married and your friends are not?
Essence: I have single friends who are accomplished, intelligent and funny; however, I don’t go to my single friends about my marriage because they are not married. We often make the mistake going to our “girls” or “boys” when that may be a detriment.
Archer: What are your thoughts when your friend in the play Corrine is presented with a prenuptial agreement?
Essence: The Prenup is not even about fiscal; it’s about expectations. We must be clear about our expectations up front. I am a fan of premarital counseling and The Absolutes - what do I absolutely need and what I absolutely will not put up with.
Archer: As an actress of your experience, how was it working with aspiring actress Vanessa Simmons?
Essence: Vanessa did a great job. She came to the set with humility and well prepared. Those are traits for a season and aspiring actress. My advice for aspiring actress is to be humble and curious looking to evolve and grow. I still take acting classes when I am not working. I love acting so much; and iron sharpens iron.
Archer: Tell me about your upcoming project, Dysfunctional Friends.
Essence: I had just finished shooting episodes of Are We There Yet when a casting director called said 'I have a little movie I want you to consider.' I saw one scene and the one-page script and thought, 'how fun!' The director said, 'we have no money and we shoot tomorrow.' I said ok and am so glad that I did. I was in the opening scene as some mean, screaming, anger management needing director, and I loved it.
Archer: What do you hope audiences get from this gospel play?
Essence: The importance of communication.
Archer: Do you think it could become a sitcom?
Essence: I don’t see why not. The characters are so involved, like layered and complicated Patrice, that people would enjoy seeing their journey.
Archer: That’s exactly what Leon said.
Essence: That’s what happens when you work well with someone.
Follow Essence Atkins on Twitter @EssenceSays.
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