Q & A with Darlene Violette
BB: You were trained in a conservatory program. What makes a conservatory program unique versus a university/college?
DV: The conservatory that I attended was unique because it is part of a Tony Award Winning Repertory Theatre, Trinity Repertory Theatre and Conservatory in Providence, RI. Being around professional working actors while studying was an inspiration and invaluable part of the education.
BB: (If you’ll forgive me, I amended this question slightly.) You basically work in all aspects of the performing arts world. From theatre to tv to your (the Mae West Show is not a solo show, we have a cast of 15 plus two musicians) (I teach private acting classes.) How do you juggle it all?
DV: I don’t have a day job or children. I am always impressed and in awe of actors who work a full time job, take care of families and have careers. They are my inspiration. I love what I do and like keeping super busy. If I take more than a few days off, I get very antsy and cranky. Work is good for me.
BB: In New York what do you feel are things an actor should continue to cultivate to successfully pursue a long term career in the biz?
DV: One of the many things I love about acting is you can always get better. The possibilities for growth are infinite. If you are fortunate enough to be an actor and live in New York City, you have access to all sorts of inspiration and learning opportunities. My advice is to continue to study the craft, you are never done learning. Don’t rest on your laurels, good enough is not good enough; go to art museums, read everything you can get your hands on and work on being a happy, well-balanced person. Keep your body, mind, and spirit healthy; show gratitude for what you do have and keep positive. But most importantly, every day remind yourself in some way what you love about being an actor. Focus on the joy it brings you, live in the moment and don’t let any negative thoughts about yourself or the business take even a moment of your time. Negativity, fear and self-doubt are our only enemies. They rob us of our joy. The good news is we have the choice to think positive thoughts and ignore the negative. It is within our control if we work at it.
BB: In working with many casting/directors and agents, what is one piece of advice they have to give that seems to show up all the time?
DV: They are on our side and want us to do well.
BB: You also have created a one-woman show all about Mae West. What was the inspiration behind that? Do you find that, as creating your own work as far as the solo show, has added a whole new layer to your career? And where do you see this show going in the future?
DV: The show does center on Mae West and her unbelievable rise to success in Hollywood in the 1930’s, but it is not a solo show. We have a cast of 15 plus two musicians. The show is structured in a Vaudeville style and is inspired by the structure of Mae West’s films.
I saw a documentary about Mae West called “Mae West and the Men Who Knew her Best” or something like that . . . and I was blown away by her journey and what she was able to accomplish. I began reading and watching everything I could get my hands on about her, and the more I learned, the more fascinated and impressed I became with her. She was revolutionary both sexually and professionally; an average looking person from a working class family who became a legend because of hard work, perseverance and CONFIDENCE.
BB: Any words of advice and wisdom? Perhaps any advice on performers creating their own work?
DV: Find a subject that you are fascinated by, be it The American Revolutionary War, Spelling Bees or Mae West. The reward for your work is the work itself. If you work on something you are passionate about, it is a privilege to be able to learn about it, bring it to life and share it with others.
The most valuable thing I've learned is this; don't wait until you are "on Broadway, on a TV Show or a Big Movie Star" or whatever our ideas of success are, to be happy. Enjoy what you have now. Being an actor is wonderful; there is a lot of joy and happiness that comes with it along the long road. It's a great way to spend your life. Even if you are in a community theatre production, taking an acting class or reading a book about acting, there is magic there; don't take it for granted. It's beautiful and wonderful and should be appreciated and celebrated whole-heartedly, all of it. I wouldn't trade a second of my journey for anything. I'm very fortunate. I'm an actor.
Darlene Violette is a New York City based actor, writer and comedienne. A native of Taunton, MA, she is a graduate of Trinity Repertory Conservatory in Providence, RI. After moving to NYC, she continued her studies with Elizabeth Kemp, Joanna Merlin, Brian Murray and Studio Dante, led by Michael Imperioli.
A much sought after and hard working actor, Darlene's extensive television credits include appearances on Louie, 30 Rock, Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, and opposite Kate Winslet in the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce.
Her many film credits include the Sony Pictures feature Premium Rush directed by David Koepp, Two Days in New York, starring Chris Rock and directed by Julie Delpy as well as several National Lampoon films.
She has also appeared extensively in NYC theater productions, indie films and national commercial and print campaigns. A gifted comedienne, Darlene is a veteran of the standup circuit where she has performed regularly at venues throughout NYC and up and down the East Coast, including her own shows at Carolines and Don't Tell Mama in NY.
Darlene resides in Brooklyn, NY with her musician husband Brian and their dog Sparkles.