Hello Acquah. I am so glad you can do this interview. I know actors usually keep a very busy schedule. For those of you who don’t know you, can you please introduce yourself? Where are you from and where did you go to school?
Certainly, Hello world! I’m Acquah Dansoh. I was born in Virginia and raised in Miami so I had a very eclectic and interesting childhood. I went to undergrad at Shenandoah University where I received my B.A in theatre, I then moved to middle America and got my Masters in Acting at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Crazy I know. Did you know Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska?!? I didn’t until I moved there for college. And now I live in California, it’s just been a nice slow trek west.
What drew you towards acting and how did you get into it?
When I was younger I always wanted to be a pilot, I thought flying was the coolest thing on earth. Then as I grew older I thought maybe I wanted to be an ATF or FBI agent, and then maybe an architect. It wasn’t until one day I was watching T.V and it hit me, if I was an actor I could be all of those things. And I loved the idea of that, being able to change professions as many times as you want. Everyday is a something new when you’re an actor creating a character, it’s like you’re living a double life. There is your real life, and then the life you create on stage or on camera. For me I think that’s what drew me in and has kept me.
Is it always easy to leave a personality behind if you are really into a role? Especially about dark roles I heard that actors have a hard time getting it out of their system.
You know to be honest every actor is different one that one. I can recall a few roles I had in college that were light and fun characters and certain traits or “isms” that I had developed for that particular role did carry over in my actual life for a week or two after the show. But it was again, fun and silly stuff that got laughs from everyone around nothing to crazy. However, I did play a role in Grad school that was by far the darkest role I have ever played, and that character never left the theatre. And I mean I had a blast being this evil and cynical guy, who said the most outlandish and hurtful things with the biggest smile on his face. I mean I left the audience stunned. I think it says a lot about the personality of the actor, and who the actor is as a person. I mean this guy (the character) was the complete opposite of me; he was racist and narrow-minded among a long list of not very positive things. I had no desire to allow any of those things into my life. You have to be able to turn it off when the lights go down. It’s like an actor friend of mine once told me while we were working on some stage-combat after another actor hurt himself. “Keep one foot on stage, and the other in reality” Don’t get so deep that you lose sight of what is going on and you injure yourself or worse someone else.
What would you say was your fist big role?
Hmm… My first big role was in graduate school. I played the lead Trissotin in The Learned Ladies. Up until that point, I had always played older than my age due to my height, a gift and a curse. But during my second year there they brought in a guest director who casted me to actually play something in my type and I was like FINALLY! It was such a joy to not have to play the father figure, but to actually be in a role that I would play in the real world. I had a blast doing that production, one of my top 5 memories as an actor.
What is the best thing about acting? And the worst?
The best thing about being an actor is being able to leave your life behind when you’re on set or stage. You become someone else, to be able to transport yourself to another time or place and take the audience with you. To know, for the next however long you are performing, that you’re sharing a journey not only with the people on stage but the audience as well is pretty amazing. Acting has the ability to change people’s mood or mind depending on the show or subject matter. I think that’s pretty cool. The worst part, people don’t realize how hard it is to be an actor. There is no guarantee of a paycheck, so if you’re in it for the money this is the wrong profession for you. There is no guarantee you’ll be famous or loved, so if your doing it for that you should quit now. There is no guarantee in this job, and that can be hard at times, like at the end of the month and the rent is due. There is no guarantee of anything in this job; you really have to love to act to stick with it.
Who is your role-model when it comes to acting? Who inspires you and why?
My role models, wow there are some many I look to. To begin Ira Aldridge, I know you’re wondering who is that!?! He’s was an African-american actor who left America to go over to England to do Shakespeare. He’s also the only African-American actor to have a bronzed plaque at the famous Shakespeare memorial theatre at Stratford upon the Avalon. He was a brilliant actor, and he came from nothing to make something of himself in very discouraging and racially charged times. That gives me inspiration; I’m also a huge Sidney Poitier and James Earl Jones fan. To do a project with either of those guys would be an honor, they respect the craft of acting and put so much work into it and it shows in the performances. I’m also a big Sir Anthony Hopkins fan, he’s another actor who puts in so much work into building his characters, and it’s awe inspiring how brilliant these guys are. I could go on, but I think those are enough.
Can you tell us a little bit about the last movie you were in last year: You should meet my son? What role did you have? Was it fun to do?
You should meet my son was my first indie project. I played a drag queen name Fantasia Extravaganza who helps the lead Mae and her sister Rose find a husband for her newly out gay son, it’s a great comedy. Can I just say I have a whole new level of respect for women and what you go through to look good for us men. I had never worn a dress or heels I mean that stuff is hard, and uncomfortable. I’m still baffled on how women can wear a bra for more than an hour! But it was a fun project, and it was great to be apart of.
Wasn't it hard to find your inner woman? I heard Jeff Wright once say that he had a hard time with that. You really have to go a certain place to let loose and wiggle hips that make you feel like a real woman.
Hahaha! Finding your inner woman. Hmmm, you know I had to do a lot of research to find my inner woman. I watched a few movies where straight actors had played drag queens, to get an idea of what had been done already. I also watched a few drag shows live to see what kind of…fierceness for lack of a better word would be required. And I also spent sometime with some ladies that had qualities, which I felt my character would have and or strive for. And that was just the begging in terms of building this character. Ultimately, it was a combination of those things plus some improv and the direction I got from the director that lead to my inner woman. I wouldn’t say I had a hard to creating the character, but actually being her in heels. HA! The hardest thing ever, for the majority of the movie I wasn’t wearing heels because 1. I could barely move in them and believe me we worked on my walk for days and 2. Those heels added an extra 2 to 4 inches on an already 6’4 frame so I really towered over everyone. Saved by my height on that one.
Who is your favorite female actress?
Favorite female actress…good question, I love the old school actresses to be honest. Audrey Hepburn, Liz Taylor killed it in Cat on a hot tin roof, Rita Hayworth, Ruby Dee was brilliant in A Raisin in the sun, Phylicia Rashad. I wanted to marry Phylicia when I was like 5 and Cosby had just hit the airwaves, even as a little kid I knew she was beautiful. Truth be told I want my wife to be like Claire Huxtable. I know I need help. As far as modern actresses, I say this with no disrespect, but I don’t really have any that jump out to me. I don’t think we have any iconic women just yet. There are those that I admire, but none that I would just stop whatever I was doing and watch there movie instead of going outside for a run you know.
Favorite movie? And the worst movie you've ever seen?
I don’t have a favorite movie, there are movies that I love though. Like, Cat on a hot tin roof, to catch a thief, in the heat of the night, pursuit of happiness…only movie where I cried in the end. I also read the book, way more heart breaking the movie if you fancy a good read. 8 mile, Lord of the rings the entire series. I mean I could literally go on forever. So yeah, short answer I have to many favorites. As far as the worst movie I have ever seen, I can’t say. Not that I cannot think of it, just that as I’ve lived out here in LA I’ve begun to make friends with actors from A-listers to actors just starting out like myself and the last thing I want is for them to see this and know I hated their movie. So I’m gonna plead the 5th. Does that make me a bad person? In all honesty if I ever met the actor of a movie I didn’t like I would find a polite way to say that to him IF he ever asked my opinion of said movie.
What would you say your strengths are as an actor?
Do you prefer certain roles like comedy, or are you open to anything? What role would make you shine even more?
My strengths, I would say I have a knack for comedic timing. It’s all in the timing as they say and I find it fairly naturally. I do prefer a good comedic role to a dramatic one only because I think people don’t realize how hard it is to write a good dramatic script. A good drama will keep the audience on the edge of their seat, and bad one sends them running home at intermission. And there is nothing worse than being stuck on stage trying to perform a horrible drama. I’m pretty open on the roles for the most part; I mean I wore a dress and make-up with heels, I’m a pretty open minded actor who is secure enough with myself to be able to handle just about any role.
Ok just switching to hair now for a moment: What was your worst hairdo ever? Worst hairdo ever…My dad tried to cut my hair once, and I say once because I’ll never let it happen again. It was so bad I had to shave my head the next day! I mean kids we’re picking on me hard. I earned the nickname Rainbow tape, because my dad had screwed up the front tapeline so bad it looked like a rainbow across my forhead. You can’t have a jacked tapeline in Miami, more importantly you can’t have one in Richmond Heights where I went to junior high. So I went bald the following day.
Many Black women think men don’t like nappy hair that’s why they straighten and weave their hair but often enough I hear men say that they don’t like weaves.
What is your opinion? I never dated a girl with weave to be honest; all the black women I’ve dated were natural. But they did straighten their hair. I’m not a fan of weave, only because I’ve seen so many go bad over the years. I think an Afro would be hot, but the girl would have to know how to rock it right. Wearing an Afro from the 70’s may not be a good look. But something small and manageable is sexy I think. And if she can find one of the sweet smelling hair oils, man it’s a wrap! Men love the smell of women, and since I’m 6’4 I inadvertently have smelled many a woman’s head. So ladies please choose you hair products wisely.
Do you date, have a girlfriend or are you married?
Nah I’m taking a break from dating.
How important is a (or your) woman’s hair to you?
I’m not gonna lie, as an actor my appearance is everything. When I step out the door I need to look at the very least decent. And I expect my girl to do the same. I’m not saying her hair has to be fresh to death every time we step out, but when we hit an event I need her on point.
How about locs? Do you find locs attractive on women? Have you ever tried locs yourself?
Ohhhhh locs! My mother for the longest time had locs and she is the most beautiful in the world to me, followed by Beyonce of course. Listen locs are beautiful if maintained! My mother wore them as did my grandmother, and they both took great care with their hair. With that being said we have all seen the locs that have gotten out of control and look like well…I don’t need to say it but you know what I mean. CUT THAT OUT! LITERALLY. You are going to have to cut it off and try again. Have some respect for your hair ladies. I did try locs when I was in junior high, but my hair was so short that all my aunt could do was twist for the moment. It was cool, but it didn’t last. I lacked the discipline needed to let it grow to locs.
Every person has at least one hairstyle gone wrong. Would you please share yours?
Do you have a picture? Hairstyle gone wrong, I haven’t had many. I can count them on one hand. When I was younger, I had a barber give me a high top fade. Remember when those were cool, they’re coming back! Anyway he gave me the most jacked up high top fade ever. The box wasn’t straight, and to make matters worse he used dirty blades when he cut me, which gave me an infection and I had a boil on the back of my head. Talk about losing all your cool points in one haircut. That was the worse month of my life, and I was in maybe 4th or 5th grade so kids had jokes for days. I remember not even wanting to show my face in church because it was that bad. You know it’s bad if you can’t go to church.
Do you think Black hair is an issue in general? Do you think Black hair is an issue in Hollywood? Please elaborate.
I think black hair is an issue to a certain extent in Hollywood. The Afro on men and women gives off a certain look, the kind of look that would keep them off of the Wall-Street movie or Hospital T.V drama. At the same time, that same look is what gets them the urban movie or the beach summer flick. The same with dreadlocks, it’s like you have found yourself a niche with this look, but at the same time this niche is all you can do. It’s a catch 22, although I would like to think once you get famous enough you can wear whatever you like, and yet somehow I don’t think that is true. You look at the black actors working, they may have had cornrows or dreadlocks at one point but they are not kept for long if they want to seriously work.
Where were you when President Obama was elected? Did you believe he could win from the beginning?
I was in a little dive bar in East LA celebrating a friend’s birthday. I was standing with my best friend and I remember this feeling of joy and disbelief. We both we’re in such shock and kept asking each other did that just happen?!?. The whole bar was celebrating the new president. It was crazy. I didn’t know if he could win it from the beginning to be honest, but if the last guy could get elected twice than anything is possible you know. I do remember swearing to all my friends and my then girl friend that if Obama didn’t win I was moving to Canada, I meant it to.
How did electing a Black President impact you?
Did it change your view on America, on race relations or live in general? Barack being elected impacted me in such a profound way. It let me know as a country how far we had progressed. I mean there aren’t enough Black people here to elect him by our selves, other races also had to agree that he was the best candidate. And that honestly made me smile and think the world is actually getting better.
What was your hardest role up until now? And why was it so hard?
My hardest role was my thesis role in grad school. I had to play three different roles, and while that in it self can be a challenge. When the script gives you no real plot or character ark you’re left on your own. Normally, that wouldn’t be that big of a deal except the play was such an ensemble intensive piece. So, I really had to make sure that whatever I did or created would still sync to the storyline we were trying to create. Again, when you get bad dramatic writing it makes you want to head for the hills.
Theatre or film?
Film. Only because the sets are more elaborate and your able to really push the envelop of ones imagination with the new technology of film. And I can also buy my mom a house with film money, theatre money not so much. But in all honesty, I started on the stage and I would like to end my career there. The writing is stronger I feel, and you have a live audience there with you. There is nothing like a live audience there to share those moments with. So Film for money, but the theatre will always have my heart.
What is your goal as an actor?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to have a little bit of that fame and fortune. So let’s get that out of the way. My real goal is to have had a successful career as an actor. One that I can look back on and say I played every role I wanted to and loved it, and while doing it made memories that I can share with others. And at the end retire as a college professor helping other young actors as I was helped.
If you could choose to play any role in any movie or any play what role would it be and who would you choose as your fellow actors?
I’m a huge sci-fi guy so anything in that realm. I guess if I were a little younger I would have loved to do Harry Potter. It’s a great story filled with action and suspense and it’s something that will be around forever, as iconic as Star Wars. As far as my counter parts in this movie, I wouldn’t be too picky, just happy to be in the movie.
When and where can people see you next?
I’m currently working on a few web projects with some friends. We hope to have them up and on the web this summer.
How come people don’t speak on elevators any more? It’s amazing the silence that goes on in those things. People start checking their phones even though they don’t get service in there. Awkward! Next time try something new like saying Hi. You’ll be surprised by the response I promise. Peace and Love.