MISS INDEPENDENT: The talented Miss Kelly strikes a pose.
ARMED with a UWI Mona degree (Literatures in English/Political Science) and dreams beyond her wildest imagination, Shakira Kelly is wasting no time executing the big plans she has for her life. At 22, the Wolmer’s Girls alum is a full-time teacher in her native St. Catherine but Jamaican theatre audiences have been witness to the fact that her talents go way beyond the classroom. The rising actress, a super-fan of Taraji P. Henson and Viola Davis, ranks among the talented newcomers we’re raving about.
TALLAWAH: Last season you made your debut as Delcita’s granddaughter in Granny Del; this season you’re playing her nemesis Strawberry in Honeymoon. How have you been enjoying your theatre experience?
Shakira Kelly: I’d say I’m enjoying it and achieving growth as an actress. Last year I was playing the grandkid and everybody loved me. This time I’m playing the very vicious Strawberry and everybody hates me (Laughs). So it’s been a fun and a great learning experience.
TALLAWAH: How do you define yourself as an artist? Who is Shakira Kelly?
SK: I’m a fun, creative person. I’ve loved performing since I was seven. I started out in my church, and in high school I did the JCDC Festival, and then when I was in my third year at UWI I got to audition and started working with Delcita’s team. I’m now a full-time teacher.
TALLAWAH: Strawberry has such a mean streak. What’s her deal?
SK: I’d say she is the typical woman. We all have a little Strawberry inside of us (Laughs). So many of us have our good jobs and are climbing up the corporate ladder, and we’re so focussed on our careers that other parts of our lives get neglected. Some of us are lonely and grasping for affection. And sometimes in searching for that love we get rejected, and the vicious and vindictive side comes out.
TALLAWAH: To that end, what’s your take on where the global women’s empowerment movement has reached in 2019?
SK: I must commend it. I’ve always considered myself a feminist and being against the idea that women aren’t allowed to do certain things. We get bottled in, especially by the expectations of our male counterparts. There has to be balance. I have a lot of dreams. Growing up your career ambitions change frequently, and there are still a lot of things I want to accomplish and should be able to. It’s our world.
TALLAWAH: Father’s Day was observed last week. Are Jamaican fathers stepping up?
SK: I definitely think Jamaican fathers are doing a good job, but they could do more. My father has been a great supporter over the years, financially and in my dream to become an actress. But not everybody has been so fortunate. More girls need to be able to say their fathers helped them to achieve their goals in life.
TALLAWAH: Absolutely. What do you see in your future five, ten years from now?
SK: I want to act internationally. Hollywood is my dream destination. I have an entrepreneurial streak so tapping into that is also in my plans for the future.