Why She's On Our Radar: To theater buffs, Condola Rashad (daughter to actress Phylicia Rashad) is a known name, having snagged a recent Tony nomination for her Broadway debut in drama "Stick Fly." But for cinemagoers, Rashad is a fresh face whose big screen debut in "30 Beats," a loose and heated adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's "La Ronde," finally opens in select theaters on Friday after a long journey to the big screen. The low-budget indie centers on 10 disparate New Yorkers on the hunt for a sexual encounter during a summer heat wave. Jennifer Tilly, Lee Pace, Paz de la Huerta and Justin Kirk all star.
What's Next: She'll soon appear in Lifetime's anticipated remake of the 1989 weeper "Steel Magnolias," alongside an all-African-American cast that includes Queen Latifah, Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad, Jill Scott and "Pariah" breakout Adepero Oduye. Rashad is playing bride-to-be Shelby, the role made famous by Julia Roberts in the original.
You really couldn't ask for a better time for "30 Beats" to be coming out, considering the heat wave we have going on right now in Manhattan.
Yeah, I know! I said that to Alexis [Lloyd, the writer/director] last night. He always wanted it to premiere in the dead of winter so people would see it and long for the heat wave. But I think it's cool that it's opening now, because it feels like it's happening as you're watching it. It's so hot outside!
So you shot this in the summer of 2009. How hot was it on set, given that this was all shot on location?
The one scene between me and Justin Kirk, there was no adding the sweat. It was there. Folks had to dry us off because we were dripping so much. We were in a loft in Brooklyn, and there was no air circulation in there. The fans had to be turned off because of the sound. But luckily the scene took place in our underwear [laughs].
Are you from New York originally?
I am! I grew up in Westchester, in the suburbs.
So this marked your first onscreen role after graduating from the California Institute of the Arts in 2008. What was the learning curive like for you on this set?
It was a huge learning process. I didn't know what 'make your mark' meant! I was not accustomed to that world. In theater, if you don't get into your light, your voice still carries so there's still something happening.
How did you get into acting? Did your mother play a huge role?
It wasn't just my mother's influence. You're born with a certain love of something. Music was my first love, and that's the world I work from. Growing up I was surrounded by artists, so my upbringing supported this lifestyle.
Was your mother wary of you pursuing this path?
She wasn't wary. I didn't want to do it when I was a little kid. I think she felt a little more at ease; she wanted to make sure I had a normal lifestyle growing up.
Did she take you on set?
Yeah, I was on set all the time. When I was born, I think it was the third year of "The Cosby Show." She brought her baby to the set so she could do her job with me around.
How do you deal with the pressure associated with following in the footsteps of your mother?
I didn't have to. That kind of energy is going to be there, but I don't have to feed into it. People are going to think what they are going to think, but at the end of the day all I can do is be myself and trust that what I have to offer will stand on its own. And so far it has. I'm not worried about people comparing me to her. I will just keep on doing my work.
Moving on to "Steel Magnolias." People are no doubt curious to see a new take on the source material. Did you get Julia Robert's blessing to take on the role of Shelby?
No, I've never met her. It's so funny because in theater we do this all the time. When films are remade it often becomes a big deal. In theater it's called a revival. Julia Roberts played this role, this role is not Julia Roberts. It's a really interesting dynamic. It's not her role and it's not mine either — I'm just playing it right now. It's a role that exists. We're all just actors. When I went into "Steel Magnolias," I had to drop all of that do try and do it successfully.
You no doubt must have learned so much on that set by working with such an amazing cast.
The cast was really what held that together. Everyone was so supportive. I think the original was made in 53 days, and we shot ours in 18. So there was a lot of action going on in a such a short amount of time. It wouldn't have worked if it wasn't such a supportive ensemble. I realized that the most successful casts are the collaborative ones, where's there's no ego and drama. Everybody was awesome. There wasn't one bad seed.
You share the screen in "Steel Magnolias" with another breakout, Adepero Oduye. Did you two bond on set, being the newcomers?
I love her! She was the first person in the cast that I met, other than my mother obviously. We were on the same plane down there. We sat next to each other and became best friends. We're both foodies, so we both ate a lot down there. Also, she's just one of the most clear, open-minded and also still very focused people. I'm glad that she's my friend, because as another actor it's tough to find real friends in this business.