Wednesday, 26 December 2012

FEELING CHANGE: Powerhouse actress Maylynne Lowe is back in stride and at the top of her game

Excited about returning to the bright lights and live performance, the prize-winning thespian gets real about her self-imposed break from acting, working again with Basil Dawkins, and recognizing what’s truly important in this circus called life. Story by Tyrone S. Reid.

Looking supertrim and bursting with infectious enthusiasm, Maylynne Lowe’s sunny disposition announces her arrival inside the Little Little Theatre on a golden Thursday afternoon. After a quick hug and the exchange of pleasantries, we waste no time in getting down to the business at hand: capturing her uber-chic, easy-breezy look in a series of stunning photographs for our cover shoot. Pose after lovely pose, Maylynne proves she’s a natural, fully alive and present in the moment and giving full rein to her inner free-spirit. 

The Thespy-winning actress has been doing precisely that for years, rendering vibrant and memorable performances that compellingly suggest Cate Blanchett-meets-Naomi Watts – all the while building a solid body of work that has positioned her in the pantheon of contemporary Jamaican thespians that directors would kill to work with. But as is so often the case with hardworking artists, feverish dedication to one’s craft can take its toll, requiring you to step back and take a breather. Maylynne, who’s not appeared on stage in well over a year, knows all about this. 

“After I did Ghett’Out with Shebada, I was extremely exhausted,” she tells me, as we settle into seats at the back of the near-empty theatre. “It was a fun experience and we toured extensively, but I knew I needed to take a break. I was really tired. And I did get a lot of offers for scripts that I didn’t take. Some of them I’ve regretted just because I would’ve liked to see what I would have done.” Spoken like a true workaholic. 

Now fully rested and refreshed, the Actor Boy winner is poised to make a triumphant return this month as a down-to-earth Jamaican woman caught in a thankless relationship in Dangerous Ambitions, Basil Dawkins’ scathing look at power, fantasy, and gender politics in our supercharged age of power struggles and increasingly harsh realities. “It’s a glorious show. It’s funny, funny, funny. Every scene and every moment,” Maylynne gushes about the production, helmed by Douglas Prout and co-starring the likes of Volier Johnson and George Howard. “I’m so happy to be back in mainstream theatre. Excited because it’s been a while. It feels good, It feels right. And what’s also nice is that in coming back I am the only woman in the cast, and I have a lot to live up because it’s such a tight cast with years and years of experience behind them.” 

At 36, Maylynne knows she’s been inordinately fortunate in an industry where actresses have to fight to land the really gratifying roles. “I feel grateful,” says the actress, well-known for her decade-long portrayal of Tanya Blackburn on TV’s Royal Palm Estate and The Blackburns and her frequent collaboration with Mona’s University Players. “I feel sort of scared of my own potential sometimes. I feel like I hold back, and sometimes I withdraw and take myself away. Sometimes it gets so overwhelming.” 

When Maylynne speaks it’s with an unselfconscious candour that holds you riveted. She buzzes with a garrulous energy that speaks volumes of her passion for the topic at hand. “When you try to reach a certain status and achieve certain awards, and not in vain, I’ve come to realize that after getting through with those accomplishments, it’s not really about winning an award or getting the nomination,” she says with the requisite seriousness to match. “It’s about am I enjoying this. Am I enjoying the process? Am I growing? So sometimes you really have to just step back, take a deep breath, and assess.” 

>>> PART 2: Maylynne dishes on her new play, her blissful romance, and the epiphany that changed her life

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