Chris Dwan, Tony Yazbeck, Will Blum, Shayne Kennon, Will Taylor, and Douglas Williams in the Alliance Theatre’s 2013/14 production of Harmony – A New Musical. September 6 – October 6, 2013. Photo by Greg Mooney.

Interview with Actress Toni Trucks

Toni Trucks

Toni Trucks is a celebrated actress of stage and screen.  She has been seen in such films as "Ruby Sparks" and "Breaking Dawn: Part 2" of the Twilight Series.  Her new TV show "Hostages" premiered last week on CBS, and her character, Angela Nix, will appear in the show for the first time this Monday, September 30.  For a limited time, she will also be seen on the Alliance Stage in the title role for our production, "By the Way, Meet Vera Stark."  We had a chance to chat with Toni about her career and the importance of this role.   

Q: We are so thrilled to have you in Atlanta! For folks who don’t know you yet, what might they recognize you from?
A: I am thrilled to be in Atlanta! It's my first time so, I'm excited to get to know the city and people here. As far a where folks might recognize me, I tend to look very different in the roles I play in TV and Film. We have a lot of fun with creating new looks for each character. Vera Stark will be no different. I think I have counted 5 different wigs so far.  People might recognize me from the final installment of the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 where I played "Mary" one of the new vampires introduced into the Cullen Family Circle. You can also find me in the FOX Searchlight film Ruby Sparks. Television has been a major platform for me. My first series was Barbershop on SHOWTIME where I played the razor tongued female barber Terri Jones. Since then I have worked on Veronica Mars, House, CSI:NY, Do No Harm, Made In Jersey, the Soul Man and many more. Starting Sept 23, I invite everyone to watch the new CBS series Hostages staring Toni Collette where I have a recurring role.
 
Q: You are playing Vera Stark in "By the Way, Meet Vera Stark."  Tell us about this character and what excites you about this role?
A: I am so honored to have the opportunity to play Vera Stark in this production. Vera is such a special character.  An unconventinal but true heroine of her time. What some people may not know, is that this play spans from 1855 to 2003. This sort of period and genre expanse in a play is an actors dream.
 
Q: Lynn Nottage, the playwright, is Pulitzer Prize winning for important social commentary.  This play is not different, wrestling with themes of racial and gender identity.  How does this story resonate for you personally?  Why do you think it’s an important story to tell? 
A: Racial Identity is a wildly complex topic that is ever changing and continues to ignite people today. I am so excited to be able to tell the story of a Black Actress in Early Hollywood. It was during this time that images of African Americans and many people of color were by and large, dominated with submissive roles that ultimately produced caricatures and damaging stereotypes. YET AND STILL, these images were important and crucial to the growth and healing of our nation and beyond. It is easy and tempting to judge the actors that played these submissive roles in early film making. Rarely do we hear about the actual people. We just end up scrutinizing what we saw on screen. Vera Stark tells the story of a young hungry actress determined to work in a field that was impossibly plagued by its time. We get a glimpse at the person underneath these sort of roles and in the process explore one of these beautifully complicated tales. I have no doubt it will fascinate and intrigue your audiences.
 
Q: I know it’s early in the process, but tell us about your cast mates.
A: I can say confidently after only a short time of rehearsal, that I am in brilliant hands and in top notch company. Any actor would be thrilled to be playing with this group on stage. I should also thank the good city of Atlanta for providing our cast with the talents of Courtney Patterson, Andrew Benator, and Daniel Triandiflou. All of our understudies are also Atlanta Natives. So... Thank you Atlanta!!
 
Q: Do you have any previous experiences in Atlanta?  Any good Atlanta story?
A: This is truly my first time in Atlanta. Please know that I am happily taking suggestions for Atlanta Adventures as well as food recommendations. Just leave a comment below with your thoughts. ;)
 
Q: If you weren’t an incredibly successful actor, in another life, what would you have wanted to be?
A: It's hard for me to imagine what my life would be like outside of performing. That being said, I do take great joy in baking. So I think if I wasn't an actor, I'd like to believe I would spend my days covered in flour and sugar making sweet treats for the people. I am currently exploring the limits of the toaster ovens provided in our Hotel. If our show was here during Thanksgiving, I think things would have gotten very interesting. For now... Cookies are a green light!
 

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Without using the words in your job title, what do you do at the Alliance?
"I guess you can call me the theatre therapist."

To mark the end of the Alliance Stage as we know it, and to welcome the new era with the start of the big renovation, Pearl Cleage, our Mellon Playwright in Residence, wrote a piece to commemorate this special occasion.

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