ANGELL CONWELL IN LOOT & RIOT MAGAZINE
Let’s start with you. Before we get into your busy career, how are you young lady? What have you personally been up to? You know, I really appreciate you for asking that. You get into a fast paced industry like this one I’ve been in for so long, you get used to questions being more about when are you going to be finished with that project, or when are you available for the next meeting, or when are we paying these bill (Laughs!)? So thank you, and I’m doing very well, so pleased with where I am right now in life. I was 10 or so when I entered the business and booked my first job, and ever since it’s been auditions, readings, and time on set; appearances, media engagements. You really and truly must keep your mind right, and your spirit right, or none of the rest would matter. I am happy and feel blessed that my mind and spirit are in such a good place.
How would Leslie Michaelson and Lisa Stallworth get along? Would those two ladies be able to coexist? They would learn a lot from one another. Honestly they would. Leslie was 99% business, reserving that tiny 1% for love and family and self-reflection, she scarcely did any of that. All business, all the time. Leslie had a lot of masculine energy. Lisa on the other hand is like this divine feminine being. She is all about love, family, togetherness, and she stands on solid spiritual ground. They would balance each other out. They’d become besties.
You know, it’s interesting. “Family Time” is the first original series on the Bounce TV network. Now you are entering your sixth season. Reflecting back on that first season, were you and Omar feeling any added pressure to pull this off in a big way? The fate of the channel was essentially in your hands. Thank goodness I did not feel that pressure. When we filmed Family Time, it didn’t have a home. Not initially. We shot six episodes, and then Bentley and Trent shopped the show. They pitched it, did the producer thing (Laughs!), and we got the call a year later. That’s when Omar and I found out. Up until that time I believe Bounce was airing classic films. So it was divine timing, everything lined up perfectly. It generally will when it’s supposed to. I’ve found that to be true.
Much of your work has been as a dramatic actress, like your “The Young and the Restless” role for example. How were you able to make such a seamless transition from dramatic roles to a comedic one? My first jobs were sitcoms, and I am such a fan of lighthearted entertainment because I feel the world needs more of that. Laughter is healing, I was aware of that at a young age. And my friends tell me I’m a nut basket (Laughs!). I’m silly. Sometimes if you are not a specific kind of funny, like loud and aggressive for example, people overlook your humor. As if humor can’t simply be funny but must be packaged and delivered in a certain loud way with certain mannerisms. The producers came to me personally and let me know how funny I was on set. I find the subtleties funnier. I’ve always naturally been drawn to comedy and I’m a huge fan of the sitcom genre.
Having entered the industry as a professional actress in the early 2000’s, talk about Hollywood’s growth, specifically regarding women and people of color. What significant changes have you witnessed and experienced? There’s been a lot of growth, so much expansion in a beautiful way. I remember when actors were actors and producers were just producers. And then after the writer’s strike in ’07 a whole new surge of creativity came about. Ever since then things have changed drastically and dramatically. I also feel Hollywood benefitted from technology, some industries did and others didn’t; Hollywood definitely did. YouTube, Podcasts, Instagram, creatives are finding new ways to become famous.
Fame has never been a goal of yours. Never. You are absolutely right. My goal has always been to be a good actress and put out good projects. It’s pressure for people who had gained fame the old way to try and keep up with this new form of fame, but it takes time to learn and make the adjustment. No matter what type of job you have, you have to reevaluate your skills and update accordingly. No matter what agent you have you still must represent yourself. I like the new platforms and the opportunities they are creating. And I see people doing a better job of supporting each other; less crabs in the barrel. More of us are pulling each other up instead of trying to climb over one another. That’s new for Hollywood.
How about your growth in Hollywood. What have you grown to know and understand about your personal life and career over the years? Reinvention. I’m in a place of reinvention. It’s so easy to get caught up in the particulars. It’s easy to lose yourself, to let your sanity be determined by forces beyond your control. I’m like the palm trees. You know how they say no matter what kind of weather palm trees are subjected to they will only bend but not break? That’s me. I stand firm on who I am and cling to what I believe in. It’s waiting season for me. I’m so fortunate to be in the position to do that, because this business can leave you high and dry.
What does reinvention consist of for you? There were certain beliefs I had about the industry, but things have changed for the better. I found myself maneuvering in a way that was necessary before, but not now. For so many new people coming into the industry how things are now is all they know. I have very particular standards and I don’t compromise them. I like to do things in a way that is best for me. And I feel that’s why we are here, to live our life in the best way. I feel that’s the whole purpose. I am waiting for the best work right now while going through my own process of reinvention so I am open to receiving that work when it arrives.
Even though it’s Family Time are you still Young and Restless? I’m working on balance. Another epiphany I’ve had recently about myself is that I’ve always been 100% one way or another. We have to keep the heart and soul nourished so we can be as effective as possible in multiple ways, and that requires balance. I’m young, and restless, and I understand the importance of family time (Laughs!).
You always seem to be uplifted and in a comfortable space, there is a zen-like peaceful quality to you. What is your process for spiritual refinement? Genuinely, I have to say that some of it is my nature. That is who I am. I’m excited about life. I don’t try to distract myself from who I am. I don’t go out and network as much. I spend a lot of time listening now, and I’m not afraid of what I hear. I pray for personal strength and the strength of others. I go to church and feed my soul but I don’t consider myself to be a very religious person. I have friends who are very spiritual and they don’t even know it (Laughs!). I don’t tell them. They know me to be very spiritual, but many of them are, too. We are spiritual beings doing the human experience thing. I also don’t shy away from meditation. It’s not a scary word to me. You have to find your thoughts and assess things. I read a lot, spend time with myself and God. We’ve all seen a lot of darkness in our lives. There is so much of that surrounding us. It is unhealthy to spend too much time paying attention to it.
Once upon a time a teenaged Angell Conwell could have chosen to do something else, something safe, the college or corporate route, perhaps. Instead she took all of her talent, and ambition, and drive, and risk taking into the entertainment world – took she and her gifts and gorgeous to Hollywood and said I am going to make a name for myself – and damnit she did. In a major way. Looking back now, as a young woman, what would you say to your teen self for the successful decision she made years ago? I would probably say to her, I see you and I love you. I would give her a huge hug. So much happens in a hug because I wouldn’t want to risk saying the wrong thing. Wow, what a moment that would be (Reflects)… And I would also just say to her, take it one day and one step at a time. Everything she is hoping for will happen. And I’d look in her eyes, hug her again. Girl I love you so much you just don’t know!