Updated: May 6
Name: Octavia Reese.
Plays Character Isabelle
BSM: Which type of person will be attracted to the character you play named, Isabelle? This is an excellent question - I would say that anyone who appreciates a strong, no-nonsense black female role model will enjoy Isabelle. Isabelle embodies and portrays a similar character who was called Dominique Devereaux, from a show called "Dynasty", played by Diahann Carroll, Lady Mae Greenleaf from Greenleaf, played by Lynn Whitfield, and Cookie Lyon from Empire, played by Taraji P. Henson. Isabelle is Queen of the castle and will not allow anyone to forget it.
BSM: How is the character like you? Different? She’s like me because she takes charge when necessary and even when she’s reserved, she’s strategically reserved. However, she’s more like my mother and grandmother than me. In their world, your class, color and status defined your place in America – how high you could climb and how much money you could make. While that is still institutionally true and unfortunately woven into the fibers, soil, and bricks and mortar of this country, in 2022 it’s a lot easier to be yourself and pursue your own dreams and goals. It is not easy, but it is certainly not as impossible as it seemed more often than not in their world.
BSM: Is it easier to play this character or to be yourself on screen? I’m comfortable in both roles. I’ve spent the last few months getting to know Isabelle, and like I said, she’s very similar to my mother or grandmother. I feel very connected to Isabelle, and she comes naturally to me even though I am not too similar to her in real life!
BSM: What do you love about this character? I love her ambition. She might be unlikeable in a lot of ways, but she’s not here to be liked – she’s here to be somebody important and to raise her children into adults with money and power, which feels like the only thing that matters in America. Not much has changed in that arena in the last hundred years, and she’s doing her best to prepare her children for the world.
BSM: What do you hate about this character? I can’t say I hate anything about her, but I do wish she had more people, places, and events in her life that bring her joy. Every time we see Isabelle, she’s working, stressed, and generally miserable.
BSM: What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role? The biggest challenge is doing her justice. I need to be as fierce and intimidating as she is, with no cracks for compassion.
BSM: Without giving anything away, what is your favorite line of dialogue? I love Isabelle’s exchange with Troy at the front door of the manor!
BSM: Besides yourself, which actor in this production is going to blow people away? It might be a tossup between Justine and Jorie – they are both incredibly powerful actresses, and Jorie in particular can play multiple roles and be unrecognizable in each. I’m so proud of the talent we have in this cast.
BSM: What makes a good scene partner? Acting! Because we’re a podcast, we have the privilege of not having to memorize (or forget!) our lines. But that means we’re reading our lines. It can be easy to just read, and not act. A great scene partner makes you feel like you’re in the world, not at your desk reading a script.
BSM: Who’s the funniest person in the cast in real life? I think it’s Jorie. Not only because she’s one of my best friends, but also because she’s one of my best friends. We are usually laughing to tears any time we get together.
BSM: If someone was going to make your life a movie, who would play you? Regina King!
BSM: When did you first perform? I started dancing when I was two years old and playing the cello when I was three, so I’ve been performing since before I can remember. You might have to ask my mother what I did for her to recognize I was a performer.
BSM: What is your favorite comfort food? I love Korean food, especially banchan, the side dishes that accompany pretty much every meal. Right now, I really can’t get enough kimchi stew and bibimbap.
BSM: Who inspired you to become an actor/actress? I’m a natural performer, so I can’t say there was an actual inspiring event or person. It must come from a past life or be imprinted in my DNA!
5. BSM: Who do you look up to (family/friend/mentor/actor/actress/director/etc?
I don’t like this question! I try not to elevate any one human above another because humans are flawed, and we can easily be disappointed in our heroes. I try to glean lessons from as many sources as possible. I will share one particular lesson that does stay with me, though: when Eartha Kitt said, “Compromise? For what?”
6. BSM: In Life, what is most important to you? The most important thing for me is to be my best self, which includes investing in my talents, my joy, and my peace so that I can reflect that out into the world and ultimately be the best I can be as a mother, as a colleague, as a lover, as a partner, and as a friend. When seek mine own wholeness and peace, I have that much more capacity to offer empathy, compassion and kindness to others. I think we all have an obligation to the Universe to discover and cultivate our unique gifts to contribute to the unifying energy that flows through all of us – we’re all different yet we are all connected, and we all need each other in some way.
BSM: Growing up did you attend any Art Institutes or Academies? I started learning cello at Center for Creative Studies (CCS) in downtown Detroit. I continued to play music and study and perform dance with various dance and music schools, pre-professional orchestras, international symphonies, and immersive summer camps.
BSM: Are you part of a big family or small family? My everyday family is small – just me and my three boys – but my extended (and chosen) family is expansive and international.
BSM: Where do you see yourself in five years? Life? Goals? Career? In five years, I’ll have published a bestselling book, and will have more than doubled my annual income. I’ll also be running a few extremely successful companies.
BSM: What do you do in your spare time (jogging, working out, yoga)? There’s no such thing! When I’m not on this podcast, I’m completing my Master of Science in Healthcare Informatics Administration with an emphasis in global healthcare technology and UX design, I work for a growing health tech start-up, I’m the author of a book series and finishing up two other manuscripts, I’m a visual artist and am exploring the world of NFTs, and I compose and perform music – book scores for my own writing. I’m also raising three boys and an energetic goldendoodle, and every so often, I try to go on a date or take a nap.
BSM: Besides acting, do you have another passion or job? What do you do or what is your passion? ABOVE
BSM: What attracted you to begin a career as an actor? Mikey invited me to participate, and I immediately accepted! I love working with him and this project is just the (extra!) creative outlet I needed.
BSM: What sort of acting roles will you be seeking in the future? To be determined…