A natural born storyteller and thespian at heart shared with us some of her love and passion for what she does and why she continues to strive to be happy with it. A native of Botswana by way of D.C., the energetic and enthusiastic passion of such a lovely actress, Phalana Tiller won me over within a few minutes of being able to chat with her.
Parlé Magazine: I’ve heard a great deal about you and your career, but I’d like to know more about how you got into acting?
Phalana Tiller: Well I’ve always wanted to tell stories ever since I was little. I’ve always had a passion for acting and performing and the theater. Also my father was an amateur theater actor and he would take me to plays and ask me to help him rehearse his lines. It’s kind of funny now to think about a time when I’d read the lines of George as he read the lines of Lenny from Of Mice and Men.
Parlé: I could see why, LOL it’s such a mature role for a young actress to be. Would you say that was the start of it all for you?
Phalana: You know, I’ve always loved to do it, but for a very long time I didn’t think I could make a living from it until I was in college. Even though my father had been an actor I just didn’t think it was possible. But in college I started acting in plays and shortly realized “I Can Do This”.
Parlé: I know that since beginning of your career you’ve been on the stage and in film, what would you say if any have been your favorite roles or characters or parts of being an actress?
Phalana: I’d have to say acting in general! I love being able to tell the story and convey a message, but if I had to pick one it would be when I was a part of a sketch comedy group. It was so much fun and each time you performed you were able to feel the audience’s involvement and adlib. It was great.
Parlé: Since moving into film from your stage performance days you’ve completed several projects including your work as Christine in the feature I Will Follow. Can you tell us about that experience?
Phalana: It was unusual but great, the actors were more connected than normal and what I really appreciated from the director Ava DuVernay was that she let us practice and rehearse which made a world of a difference as its very un-common in film.
Parlé: How was it working with Ava, from what I understand she was very connected to the story personally?
Phalana: Oh, I think she energized us. She had so much trust in the selection of the cast and our abilities that we felt responsible to do the best we could for her.
Parlé: And how does your character connect to the story? Who is Christine?
Phalana: Well I play Christine who is sort of an unorthodox character who visits the main character, Maye played by Salli Richardson after the passing of her aunt. Like most of the characters Christine helps Maye to deal with her feelings. But right away there’s an instant connection between the characters a connection on a sisterly level.
Parlé: Keeping with the tradition of unorthodox, how has this role/film differed for you compared to your previous work?
Phalana: I can honestly say because of the character, Christine is very different. She’s a bald cable woman who happens to come in and share something meaningful. It’s also great because it was only one day of filming. It’s what most actors wish for; to play a pivotal role in an outstanding film but not needing to be there for every shot.
Parlé: You seem to have such passion for what you do and you work, what keeps you motivated outside of enjoying what you do?
Phalana: For me it’s just the honor & privilege to tell human stories. I keep doing it because I love it. Its like teachers who love what they do and some people will say, “Oh you must have it hard” but you respond ‘no, because I love what I do.’
Parlé: Where will your fans be able to find you next?
Phalana: Actually I just received a script called “Truth in Magic” that’s a true story based on the life of Ruth Batson and her work . SO hopefully that comes into fruition.
Parlé: I hope so too! It was a pleasure speaking with you and I look forward tro chatting with you in the future!
Phalana: Same here and thanks!
Parlé: Thank You!