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Rashieda Awan: Nell

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Rashieda Awan is a friend I just made during the shooting of A Perfect You. I can’t say enough about her. She’s a great actor who I suspect has a wonderful career ahead of her. She’s been nominated for best female actor in a short in the Southampton International Film Festival in the UK. When I held this interview we hadn’t heard yet about the nomination. As of the posting we don’t know if she’s won. Suspense!

 

Sue: Rashieda, how did we meet?

Rashieda: We met at your casting! I drove an hour and a half, yet it was worth it. Your warmth is incredible. It allowed me to be comfortable and quickly get in character.

 

You quickly helped me get more vulnerable and wanted to see how I could transform into Nell in the casting process. So I took my hair extensions out. Quickly gave you hopefully what I thought the true essence of what Nell was about.

I remember walking out thinking…”Well I gave my all and took off my hair, lol.”

Sue: That’s so funny. Yes, you took off your hair when I asked you to. And instantly you were transformed into Nell. And you got the part!

Do you usually wear your extensions when you’re acting? Do you often get asked to become a plain person?

Rashieda: Lol, “plain person.” Remember I would say “I’m so chill?” That’s my way of saying I’m down to earth, plain as you say, and easy going.

Yes, I normally wear them to keep the look of my headshot. Plus I like to change it up and protect my hair from excess heat and styling when not auditioning.

Sue: What’s your favorite character that you’ve played?

Rashieda: I have to really think about that. I don’t think I’ve truly stepped into that role yet. The roles so far that put me out of my comfort zone, which I like because it’s a challenge, was Nell and when I played Mrs. Bergman in Spring Awakening. I would love a role that is a colorful character. Has layers, makes one hate her but then love her. Maybe a role that was intended to be for a guy!  I would love that!

Sue: Oh, yes. That’s a big problem. Not many roles for strange or colorful women. Women are so stereotyped, even by women writers themselves. There are too many societal rules about the proper behavior for a woman. I rarely see women in movies that are anything like my friends. And my friends are not weird or kooky. It’s just women in movies are dull, dull, dull. I’m going to write a screenplay for you where your character is an axe murderer. Will that be cool? Or maybe a dictator.

Rashieda: As long as it’s not dull, I would love to. When should I expect the script? I know your a woman of her word!

Sue: Oh dear. Another assignment. I will not give you a date at this point. But let me ask you this: are there any roles you would not do under any circumstances?

Rashieda: I will not do a role where I’m nude just for the sake of showing skin and attracting viewers. Also because I represent women of color (half black/pakistani), I won’t do roles that have no depth. I will not be cast as a filler or a character that does not stir some type of emotion.

Sue: I’m with you. Really good stance. I wish more female actors were like that. I sometimes wonder why actors insist on taking roles that clearly denigrate women. I had no idea you were Pakistani. I guess I should have guessed from your name. How did your parents meet and how did you wind up in Philadelphia?

Rashieda: I was born and raised in Philly. I’m an only child (no not spoiled, I wish lol). They met in New York through friends. I learned he was not ready for kids at the time and wanted to focus on school. So mom was on birth control. I guess I’m that 2% chance they say birth control won’t work. Haha! My joke is, I probably saw the pill floating around with me and I ate it thinking it’s candy!!! Hehehe! Girl, I love my sweets!! Anyway, I also learned he wanted to ship me off to Pakistan to be with grandparents there. Now Sue,…. (dramatic pause). …what mother you know will just ship their baby away? I don’t think so! Anyway, while I was baking in my mom’s tummy, they departed ways and divorced. On a better note, lol I’m happy and healthy!!

Sue: What an interesting story! I get the feeling that I don’t know the half of it. Have you ever been to Pakistan?

Rashieda: I have not been to Pakistan. Thought about it, yes. However, the world can be scary, and I need to see more peace first!

Sue: You’re probably right. At some point I would hope things settled down there enough for you to go. Something to look forward to maybe. What have you been working on lately?

Rashieda: I’ve been working on myself. Self development is key to anything we do. I have 2-3 projects so far starting in September. A web-series that had gotten tremendous views and requests for us to deliver more episodes. A feature film and maybe one other project. So I’m focused!

Sue: True about working on yourself. Tell me about the web series.

Rashieda: It’s about a young man from the inner-city who is pulled towards a life on the streets. “Oldhead” tells the forgotten tale of, what else, the “oldhead”—those wise, old mentors that take younger men under their wings in an attempt to offer sage advice to someone who would finally get it.

My character Imani was introduced as the best friend and was tipsy when the audience met her. Now this season, we will all get to really see how my character expands and see her true colors play out.

Sue: Great. A true-life drama. Good luck with that! I look forward to checking it out. Anything else you have to say before we wrap this up?

Rashieda: To anyone reading this, don’t stop, don’t give up. You have to plant seeds. Plant seeds on your self-development, on your passions in life, on your mind-set. Only you are in the way of your GREATNESS! That no just means seeds are planted and they can’t see the rewards of your labor yet. If I want an orange tree, I will plant those seeds specifically for it! I won’t see oranges the next day, let alone a tree just yet. But the seeds are planted! Nurish it everyday. Reep your harvest everyone!!! Much love everyone.

Sue: Beautiful! Thank you, Rashieda. Stay in touch!

Rashieda: Thank you Sue for this opportunity! We will meet on the red carpet soon!