Curtia and I met at a workshop at the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham.
The moderator gave us a parting directive. "Make sure you connect with someone." Curtia and I chatted for a bit, then exchanged numbers.
Curtia—now 25—has been studying acting since she was 17. She’s performed in a number of different regional theater productions. She's landed some TV roles. She was a featured extra on "Sleepy Hollow" and "24: Legacy" on FOX. She also had a leading role in the show "Fatal Attraction" on the TV One Network.
As we got to know each other better, I started thinking, "Wouldn't it be cool for her to give a reading?"
I tend to be drawn to people who put themselves in shoes that aren't their own. When people are acting, their real-life persona fades away, and usually what you have on stage or screen is a different life altogether.
Before we actually filmed in Montgomery (where Curtia is from), we talked a little bit about how we might approach the video. I thought we'd just keep it simple while filming Curtia—as an actress on an empty stage—using the stage as just that, a stage for just her and her craft.
Curtia describes the experience of reading on stage as a collaboration. "When we were onstage, we were throwing [ideas] around," Curtia said. "[Looking for a way to] offer a view into my world as an actress."
We had Curtia try reading the verse in a number of different ways. Read it like you're upset. Read it like you have a secret. Do it again. Again. Again.
Curtia said that initially she didn't mean to get that emotional—breaking into tears at points. It's just that the more she leaned into an emotion, the less the verse became about the words, and the more it became about how the words made her feel.
Acting is something that's always been intimidating to me personally for that reason — the vulnerability of trying to portray emotions and people, or your ideas of emotions and other people, sincerely and believably. When you're acting, you're using your body as a vessel and exposing your efforts to an audience.
But for Curtia, it's just another day at work.
"Honestly, it's our job [as actors] to be emotionally connected," Curtia said. "I'm kind of used to it."
To see more of Curtia's work, visit her website.
by filmmaker Jennifer Crandall, as told to writer Liz Hildreth