Monday, 16 June 2014

PLAYING THE PART: Actress Sakina Deer makes the leap to award-winning thespian

FLASH BACK: The stage star cuts a stunning figure at the April 14 Actor Boy Awards in Kingston.

Sakina Deer, in the midst of her pre-show ritual, is hosting TALLAWAH in her modest dressing room at Centrestage when the conversation suddenly turns to her shoe obsession. "I literally have over 80-odd pairs of shoes," she confesses without missing a beat. "As long as my child is taken care of, outside of that shoes is the priority," she adds, primping before the expansive wall-to-wall mirror.

As it turns out, the radiant 29-year-old actress has musical theatre to thank for her shoe thing. "When I was in third form [at Immaculate], I started travelling a lot with Father HoLung & Friends, and I remember everybody getting a stipend. I would spend all of mine on a pair of shoes," she explains. "And that was it. Always shoes. I wish I could own a pair of Lou-boos now. But one day." A girl can dream.

But don't be fooled by this seemingly superficial admission on Sakina's part. This is a serious young actress, deeply passionate about her art, who excels at portraying complicated women torn between opposing courses of action. 

To Sakina's mind, building a solid body of work is key. "It is important for me as an actress to make sure I leave something behind, so I can be remembered for contributing something meaningful to the theatre fraternity," says the stage star and mother to one-year-old Sonja, who has worked with everyone from Basil Dawkins (Uptown Bangarang, Uptown Bangarang 2) and the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (Once on this Island) to Jambiz (Diana) and Keiran King (the acclaimed period drama Last Call).

She continues, "I want to follow in the footsteps of a Leonie Forbes. And if every night I focus on that then I must get there." She's well on her way, with an Actor Boy now under her belt. Which brings us to her second confession: "I did not think this was the role that I would have won [the award] for," she says of her supporting performance in Jambiz's still-running If There's A Will, which secured her the statuette. "I didn't think this was as powerful a performance as I have given in the past." 

Still, playing Etta to Glen Campbell's Abe was walk in the park. "It was very challenging," she admits. "My directors and I knocked heads over it. It was rough getting it to this point."

And did I neglect to mention that the actress is hitting the books yet again, working to earn a place in Med school? "I'm taking an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) course now. You have to keep working while you get there," says the UWI alum, who is re-reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings on her Kindle. "I wanted to do medicine initially. I started out on that path years ago, so I feel like I'm taking a U-turn and coming back to it." Who knows, when Sakina Deer exits stage left, theatre's loss could be science's gain. 

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