I’d like to introduce and welcome Cece Abbassi, who is originally from London England.
Cece has come to New York to follow her dream of being an actor. This is not Cece’s first time in New York. Her experience in England was not inspiring or successful. She was not getting any auditions. She noticed all the best actors of color like Idris Elba left England and are making it in America. She wants to create her chance.
Cece is my niece and she’s out talking to people, making contacts so that she can learn what she needs to know about working in NY. Cece is Jamaican and Iranian. She stands 5’6” and has a shiny energy. She is described as bubbly and charismatic. She walks into a room and her energy takes over.
She’s in New York City pursuing her dream of becoming an actor. So without further ado, here is Cece’s interview.
Idris Elba is a popular British actor, what do you think about him being the new James Bond?
I love this man, every time I pass the Mandela posters that line the walls of my local subway station I’m filled with much pride. Now, Idris Elba as James Bond? I think it’s great that Idris is a candidate but I’m somewhat torn between tradition and the character evolving further. For me, Bond is Roger Moore. I wasn’t best pleased when Daniel Craig was cast as 007. There’s an infinite amount of room to create and establish strong and new 007-esque inspired characters. Come on, let’s get creative.
What do you think of American Men and are there any differences between men here and men across the pond?
Comparatively it’s hard to say as we’re all individuals and have all had various levels of cultural conditioning especially if I’m to compare two major cities that are as culturally diverse as London and New York. I feel there are probably far many more similarities than differences especially if we are considering television and film as our cultural gage, as our exposure is essentially the same. Having said that though one distinct difference in character is confidence; an American doesn’t need the help of three or four pints in order to tell you that they think you’re gorgeous.
You have been in Brooklyn before what is it that brings you back?
Apart from me loving New York’s infectious get up and go energy, I’m here to further my career as an actress as you have a hell of a lot more opportunity for actors of color. Television and Film is usually a medium that reflects its society and in the UK the African Diaspora makes up something like just under 2 million of a population of 63 million, so obviously there would be more opportunity over here as the African Diaspora in the US makes up a much larger percentage of the population.
When did you realize that you had this burning passion to become an actor?
I had always wanted to try my hand at acting but it took me a while before I expressed it. As a child, I went to a performing arts school in London called The Brit School and my priority back then was art and music. The realization happened when I was living in Madrid and I saw an advertisement for a bilingual theater production. I fell in love with acting, the city and its people – a pretty significant part of my heart is still there.
What fears and concerns did you have to give up in order to pursue your career?
That annoying internal voice that would preach social conformity, yes that used to concern me – it’s terrified of me now so it knows to stay away.
Who and what inspired you to pursue your dreams as an actor?
My creative practice inspires me to connect and help people connect with themselves. As an artist the best feeling for me is when I help someone connect with a part of him or herself that they wouldn’t usually give themselves access to.
I know that I’m fortunate to know exactly what it is that I want and because of that I’m on a relentless pursuit to make it happen. I know for many this isn’t the case and if you’re reading this and you so happen to be one of those people the best advice I can give is to go and try something new, something out of your comfort zone, even if its volunteering for a few hours a week. I see it as a process of elimination in the shape of a life sized sieve. Eventually you’ll figure it out and when you do you won’t be able to imagine yourself doing anything else. I love acting, it feels like every experience I’ve ever had makes sense and can be put to use. Also I recommend getting yourself a life coach – hire Noreen Sumpter – she’s brilliant.
In one year, where would you like to have your career to be?
Lead in a feature film.
What do you believe is your right as a woman to be, do and have the life you want?
I believe as a human for me to have complete rights is for me to be autonomous, achieved by educating myself mentally, spiritually, physically and by having financial independence. Unfortunately in most parts of the world financial independence equates to freedom.
What kind of actor are you? And what inspires you?
Every person I’ve come into contact with. I believe that every person you meet whether it is for all of five seconds leaves a little fragment of themselves with you. So to answer your question connecting is what inspires me.
What is the most difficult thing that you have overcome and what is the mindset that you created to get over it?
Choosing to no longer facilitate a relationship with a family member based on my relatives’ terms. I believe how you do anything is how you do everything. I carry that philosophy into every aspect of my life.
You describe yourself as colored; do you know that this is a reference that African Americans no longer use to describe themselves? Knowing this, why do you describe yourself as colored? Are you confident enough to deal with the backlash that this could cause?
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a black person nor a white person. We come in many shades and I feel like the word “colored” is inclusive of our various different forms (my father is Middle Eastern and my mother is Caribbean). To answer your question about whether I can deal with any backlash that my using the word colored might cause, like everything in this world, words are no different. They take on their own evolution but also stand as a reference point to what they once stood for. I feel we could view this once derogatory word and see it as marker to how far we’ve come. I’m a paradigm shifter, what can I say?
If you were to describe yourself, what are some of the key adjectives that you would use?
Lovely – thought I’d throw it in there for you Americans. Boundless, creative, adventurous, dynamic, smart, loyal, fun and kind.
Acting is not an easy career, there are a lot of rejections, and what do you do to keep yourself grounded?
I see every audition a bit like dating: You could go on a date and you’re both exactly what the other is looking for. Sometimes it’s one sided, and other times there could be just no chemistry at all. Now, I love dating and I’ve experienced all three scenarios. Am I going to give up on creating new possibilities because I fear that every audition or date may not land me the role or have me not meet one of the big loves of my life… absolutely not.
What’s the most helpful piece of advice you can offer to anyone wanting to pursue his or her dream?
The answer to that is in the question, to ask for help, there’s no shame in it. We can’t achieve anything alone, we need each other so ask, and you might just be surprised at how willing people are to help you. I was given that piece of advice by my life coach Noreen Sumpter and it’s constantly in action.
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