Felicia Curry is a rising star in the DC Theater scene. She has appeared at all the major theater venues in our area and garnered five Helen Hayes nominations.

Felicia will next be seen at the Arena Stage production of Nina Simone: Four Women, opening Nov. 11 and playing through Dec. 24. The show is built around a song that Nina Simone wrote in which four black women talk about their bitter experiences with racism.

How is your character Sweet Thing, who is a prostitute, both alike and yet different from the others—Sarah (played by Theresa Cunningham) who was a slave, and Sephronia (Toni Martin) who is light skinned—as well as Nina Simone herself (Harriett D. Foy).

Sweet Thing is loud and crass, carries a knife, clearly doesn’t mind showing off her body, and always tells it like it is.

The beauty of what we are learning as we delve deeper into the material is that what seemingly separates these women—appearance, circumstance, opportunity—all comes from the similar burden they all carry: being a black woman in America in the 1960s and how the world perceives and responds to us.

It is the very thing that has brought them to this place, on this day. All curious how to “fight,” how to move forward after a tragedy that has taken the lives of four little girls who had their opportunity to become four women taken from them simply because of their appearance.

How much had you known about Nina Simone before and how has being in this production enhanced what you know of her? 

I was familiar with her music, even had the opportunity to perform some of it, but admittedly, this production has opened my eyes to all of who Nina is and was, the scope of her music and the battles she fought using her greatest weapon: music.

What has been the most exciting part of rehearsals?

Bonding with these four women. Learning that our experiences, our stories, our journeys are incredibly similar … having the freedom to have this frank, direct, open conversation about things we as black women have been conditioned to keep to ourselves.

And the icing on the cake: weaving Nina’s music and voice through the conversation and allowing her words to have new life in 2017!

When did you know you wanted to be an actress? What advice would you pass on to children who want to be in show business?

I’ve been performing since I was five years old. I think I’ve always known, it is in my blood, it’s who I am!

Here is my advice:

One: Don’t be afraid to look silly. That’s part of the process, a fun part if you truly allow yourself to go there.

Two: This business is about collaboration. All of the pieces are necessary to create the art. Be kind, respectful, generous to your fellow collaborators, and make sure you’re doing your part to give all you can to the group and the project.

Three: Probably the last thing young people want to hear: Continue to do your homework. … Research, ask questions, watch movies, ask more questions. All of this will help you develop as an artist and enrich each character, each line, each lyric you have the privilege of embodying.

By: Sheila Wickouski

 

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