Friday, 2 January 2015

THE NEW GIRL: On-the-rise actress Monique Ellis is keeping her eyes on the prize

A PLACE IN THE SUN: "I'd love to work with Tyler Perry," says Ellis, photographed at the Knutsford Court Hotel.

In person Monique Ellis exudes the same kind of fire-in-the-belly energy and youthful spunk that connects with audiences during her stage performances. But, by her own admission, it's the craft of acting she's most interested in mastering these days. "It's been a dream of mine to learn how to act from I was little and doing small skits in church," explains the 23-year-old, who grew up in Wait-a-Bit, Trelawny, where agriculture quickly became a primary passion.

But even with her green thumb and an abiding love of the soil, this self-professed daddy's girl had bright lights in her head and stars in her eyes. So after graduating from Albert Town High, she moved to Kingston to enroll at EXED, where the dramatic arts figured prominently in her studies. However, there is no substitute for the real thing, as she's been discovering of late through her work with RBT Productions.

Having made her commercial debut in last year's The Prophet, she's currently hamming it up with the crew in Bashment Granny 3, a rigorous experience, she admits, that's put her mettle to the test and challenged her to rise to the occasion. "We rehearsed every single day for the last month and a half, because we were on tour for The Prophet and the opening for [Bashment Granny 3] was getting closer and closer," says Ellis, who is, as she tells it, a nervous wreck before show time and a perfectionist who neatly arranges all her essentials in the dressing room before curtain night after night.

The rising actress has nothing but glowing admiration for industry colleagues like Bashment costar Keith 'Shebada' Ramsey ("When I met him it wasn't what I expected; he's a very humble person.") and Camille Davis ("She can play anything.") and feels right at home with the RBT team. "We quarrel all the time, but we are like any other theatre family," says the singing-dancing fanatic, who banked screen time as the mischievous Delores on TV's Shebada in Charge, taught drama to special-ed kids at a Mandeville-based institution, and took part in the LTM's special Emancipendence presentation in 2011.

But when it comes to her future as a serious thespian, Monique Ellis has no doubt about what she wants to accomplish, having the clear-eyed outlook of an ambitious dreamer who knows that success is hers for the taking. "I don't want to waste any time with my career," she tells me with utter conviction. "I'd love to work with someone like Tyler Perry. I want to do everything movies, theatre, sitcoms. I want to be well-rounded."

> Review: Bashment Granny 3 delivers outrageous humour, explosive action

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