Name: Judy Brown-Steele
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Current Location: New York City, NY
TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Brown-Steele: I’m not sure I can pinpoint any moment that I stopped and said, “I’m going to be an actor,” but I can remember the first few times I was on stage and I felt like I was the most alive and wondrously human. The connection between an audience and the actors is a feeling beyond words and expression. Once you feel that, I think it’s impossible to choose to do anything else.
TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Brown-Steele: When I was kid, I wanted to be Brandy. In my mind, she had it all. She had a TV Show, many albums and was Cinderella. What more could you want?
TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Brown-Steele: There was very little preparation; honestly. I just knew then and know now that this is something I want to do for the rest of my life. As an actress that prefers stage performing to screen, I knew New York was the place to be. So the first step was to get here and find ways to stay here.
TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Brown-Steele: If I could have left home at 12, I would have, but my mother had other opinions about that. I graduated high school at 17 and started my college programs that summer after graduation. I just couldn’t wait. I remember counting down the days. It was 13 days from graduation to the first day of school again.
TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Brown-Steele: From the beginning, I was so green and excited to be “in the place where it all happens” that I didn’t even focus internally about how I felt. I am from a large family and of course missed them, but was so focused on being the best student and absorbing as much knowledge from the superiors that I didn’t focus on missing them. After college, I moved back home to take care of my family and once the opportunity arose to move back to New York; that was a difficult transition. Many of my previous contacts had moved or really formed their lives in New York, so I had to play a lot of catch up again. Even now, who knows how to make adult friends? Funnily enough though, through an old school contact, I was introduced to the Theatre 68 Company and it has helped me grow leaps and bounds to be around like-minded actors at varying levels in their careers, but to have the most important thing in common; a love of doing theater.
TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Brown-Steele: In 2015, I had the honor of working on brand new material, in it’s first performance venue. “The Lost” by Keelay Gipson was an experience that I will treasure because it was challenging and thought-provoking material. All the characters doubled roles, so the chance to delve deep into more that one character was incredibly enriching. This play also gave me the opportunity to sing, one of my other passions, as well as play characters so far removed from myself, that I learned a lot.
TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role you’d like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Brown-Steele: This is one of my favorite questions and I’d like to state clearly that I’d love to play an incredibly interesting, complex, vulnerable, non-stereotyped, strong woman. I’d love to play this character in whatever form she takes; whether she be a person from history or a spaceship captain. Unfortunately, these roles, for women, are seldom, if ever, written and even more are not written for women of color. I’d love to break this cycle.
TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Brown-Steele: Be able to laugh and feel joy. If you are able to appreciate and recognize all of the forms that joy can take and laugh at yourself, with others, and just because, the quality of your days, weeks, and years will improve, regardless of how often you book a job.
TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Brown-Steele: Ultimate dream? Ultimately, I have very low standards. I’ve never wanted to be extravagantly famous or wealthy. I’d love to be able to do what I love every day and make just enough money to pay my bills and hit happy hour once a week. All kidding aside, I love to travel and would be honored if on stage or on screen my work took me around the world to experience different cultures.
TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Brown-Steele: Do it. Do it. Do it. Yes, it will be terrifying. It will also be the best thing for you to experience other people and a different place. These experiences will make you a better actor and more enriched person. Just jump because then you’ll always wonder what if, if you don’t.
TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Brown-Steele: Please check me out at Theatre 68’s night of One Act Plays coming soon, be on the lookout for my website launching soon and feel free to contact me directly.