With a career that spans stage, TV and film, Dahlia Harris seems to have showbiz in her blood, but her appeal is firmly rooted in the emotional maturity she brings to her craft, and never has this been clearer than in her latest outing as actor/director/producer/writer of the award-winning play Judgement, one of the year’s finest. Now older and wiser and delivering the best work of her life, Harris remains resolute to keep that fire burning. TALLAWAH speaks to the energetic thespian about goals, projects in the pipeline and the vision behind her hot career.
How have you been handling the overwhelming response to your writing/directing debut Judgement, both a critical and commercial success?
It really is beyond my expectations. I had a vision for producing a piece of work that would be thoroughly engaging, and I think I achieved that. Initially the plan was not to direct, but it worked out for the best because it got the treatment necessary to bring out the nuances and sensitivity of the piece The pressure is now on for the follow-up piece.
What about the awards nominations - the entire cast is up for Actor Boy awards, you're up for Best New Play, and you just won a Thespy. How do you feel about all that?
I am so proud of the team because Judgement happened over a very short period, and despite lots of challenges we pulled together as a unit to get it done. It was my pleasure to provide additional exposure to Andre Morris and to see Deon Silvera show the mastery she has of her craft. Awards to me are a show of faith in my abilities, to continue to improve those abilities is my way of saying thanks.
I notice that you are at a new point/phase in your life. Are you done with broadcasting, with your attention now fully on theatre?
Broadcasting will always be one of my great loves, I can never be done with that. At the moment I just had to focus most of my efforts on theatre, but I hope to continue growing in both areas.
What's the kind of contribution you ultimately want to make to the arts in Jamaica?
I really want to see audiences, especially youngsters, exposed to different genres of Jamaican theatre so that they develop diverse tastes and, in turn, more productions that reap larger audience numbers. A project to expose secondary schools to various productions is high on my list. I also believe that the world is longing for larger chunks of Jamaican theatre, I hope to be part of that thrust to drive international recognition and exposure.
You also have the upcoming talk show, Woman 2 'Ooman that your are producing. What do you hope it achieves in the long-term?
Insight into some of the issues we generally face as women but believe that they are unique to our own experiences. We often try to go it alone when tested and proven solutions are available. I also believe that there are national issues that are not given the prominence they deserve because they are gender-related. Discussion may motivate action.
Is motherhood a state you hope to one day enjoy?
What is your idea of perfect happiness? What is your outlook on the future from where you are now?
Happiness is being at peace with yourself. Everyday I meet individuals who succeed not out of luck, but with determination and lots of hard work. I am fixed on my goals.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Harris and Judgement co-star Deon Silvera will vie for Best Actress at the March 28 Actor Boy Awards.