Her name isn't one that's mentioned much when general discussions about up-and-coming young black actresses are had, on this site and elsewhere; but, as I said to our Twitter and Facebook followers yesterday, she's definitely one to watch, if not THE one to watch right now, as she garners lots of critical acclaim for her performance in Stick Fly, the stage play currently running on Broadway, which we've given lots of coverage to here on S&A.
She's Condola Rashad, daughter of another well-regarded actress, Phylicia Rashad, and former NFL pro and sports anchor Ahmad Rashaad (father and mother divorced about 10 years ago). She's also Debbie Allen's niece.
And I say that her name doesn't come up often in discussion about next-gen black actresses, likely because she's cut her teeth primarily in the world of theater, and has consistently delivered revered performances; most notably, prior to Stick Fly, she appeared in Lynn Nottage's acclaimed stage play Ruined, and a theater critique for the New York Times called her performance an "utterly transfixing turn."
Oh and she's also just 25 years old (meaning she would have been 23 when Ruined had its first run in NYC).
Keep in mind that her mother and aunty both are theater veterans, both nominated for the stage's highest honor, the Tony Award, with mother Phylicia winning it in 2004, becoming the first African American actress to win the Best Actress (Play) Tony Award for her performance as Lena Younger in a revival of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun.
So it should be no surprise that Condola has chosen a similar path, and has apparently already excelled in it at such a young age.
Although she HAS done some on screen work, both for TV and movie theater screens. She's had peripheral roles in episodes of Law And Order: CI, The Good Wife, was cast in the pilot of a new ABC series titled Georgetown, the second Sex & The City movie, and a few others, but not a lot; her resume begins in 2009, just 2 about years ago.
And browsing over her IMDBPro page yesterday, it looks like she might be getting her first shot at a big screen starring role in an upcoming movie titled 30 Beats.
Curious, I did lots of digging around to see what I could find out about 30 Beats, and learned a bit.
Here's the gist of it… first, its synopsis:
In Manhattan, everybody is connected by less than six degrees of sexual separation. A first encounter sparks a series of intimate and comedic moments linking ten New Yorkers in a chain reaction of love and desire. Inspired by Arthur Schnitzler's play "La Ronde" and set in present-day Manhattan, 30 BEATS explores a series of encounters between ten people connected by the laws of sexual attraction and spans across ten different neighborhoods of the city.
So, it's essentially an ensemble piece, written and directed by Alexis Lloyd, with a cast that also includes: Jennifer Tilly, Paz de la Huerta, Lee Pace, Justin Kirk, Vahina Giocante, Thomas Sadoski, and several others.
La Ronde has been the basis for several past films, some using the title of the original work; others not.
I should note that Schnitzler also wrote a novella titled Dream Story, which was the literary work that Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut was based on, given you some idea of what his proclivities where.
La Ronde, the original play, was set in the 1890s in Vienna, and consisted of ten interlocking scenes between pairs of lovers, with each of its ten characters appearing in two consecutive scenes, as you will see in the title of each scenes below:
1. The Whore and the Soldier
2. The Soldier and the Parlor Maid
3. The Parlor Maid and the Young Gentleman
4. The Young Gentleman and the Young Wife
5. The Young Wife and The Husband
6. The Husband and the Little Miss
7. The Little Miss and the Poet
8. The Poet and the Actress
9. The Actress and the Count
10. The Count and the Whore
Will Lloyd's film take on a somewhat similar structure? I dunno. I couldn't tell from the little I found about the film. The synopsis does say it's *inspired by* La Ronde, and not that it's an adaptation of it. So we'll see.
I couldn't tell exactly what character Condola plays in the film either.
I did learn that it's actually been at some stage of production since 2009, and according to one of its producers, Highbrow Entertainment, a cast and crew screening of the final cut of the film was held in November 2011, just 2 months ago; AND that the film is scheduled to premier in Paris on March 21, 2012.
Why Paris? It has a French distributor, oddly enough – Studio 37 – but nothing is set for any other territories right now.
I couldn't find much media on it, except for the still images you see at the bottom of this post, both with Condola Rashad in them. A trailer might exist somewher, but I couldn't find one. No clips either.
I did send off a few emails requesting further info, so once I have more, you'll know more.
In the meantime, keep an eye on Condola Rashad from hereon, if you're not already; she's clearly got the talent, as well as the looks, which are always a healthy combo to have in this business. And she's also got the roots and connections (her mother, aunt, even father) that might help give her a leg up above other up-and-comers.
Though nothing's ever guaranteed in this business. If anything, she seems to have found enough success in the theater world while still very young, that she very well could be successful enough there, so much that even if Hollywood doesn't quite embrace her, she'd still be just fine.
There are the usual names that often come up when we discuss young up-and-comers of African descent, but in recent weeks, we've written about a few that aren't as well known, but may actually be the actresses whose careers eventually really take off, like Condola Rashad, and Brit Zawe Ashton, who's currently starring in the docudrama Dreams Of A Life, which has been much talked about in the UK, as the film gets set to make its debut Stateside.
Check out the on-set photos from 30 Beats with Condola in action, below: