Welcome to the latest edition of the INTERVUE! On this interview, I am talking to a local actress from Baltimore who stars in the upcoming Amazon Prime film, Selah and the Spades, this Friday.
Set in the closed world of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school, the Haldwell, where the student body is run by five factions. Of the Haldwell student body’s five factions — The Spades, The Sea, The Skins, The Bobbies, and The Prefects factions — Selah runs the most dominant, The Spades, who cater to the most classic of vices and supply students with coveted, illegal alcohol and pills. As the school year comes to an end, Selah has to contend with the reality that she will lose control of The Spades, with sophomore upstart Paloma making waves. As the student begins to outshine the teacher, Selah becomes determined to reassert her power, no matter the cost.
For those of us who haven’t seen the film, can you tell us about your role of Paloma and what got you interested in playing her?
So, Paloma is a new girl in school. She’s entering this new world of this sporting school where there are groups of students called factions who perform different services for the student body. She kind of enters in this new school not really looking for anything but keeping her head down, taking her photos and she gets wrapped up in this world of Selah.
I was interested in her because I was also at the time entering a new social situation. I was a freshman in college. So, there were a lot of parallels with what we were experiencing. I was like “Oh, I understand this girl because she trying to think where she fits in and who she is and I am doing the same thing in college. So, we have some things in common at the time.
The film is amazing, and it focuses on power, how to power to control it and dominate. Why do you feel that high school is the superior way to show the power dynamics in humanity?
That’s a really good question. I think that in high school is a really great way especially in boarding school to show these emerging power dynamics because you have a group of kids who are together all the time especially in boarding school situation. It brings out a lot of things that are intrinsic to human nature. Everyone wants to have friends. Everyone want to be in control of their lives. People want to have influence over other people. I feel that being in a boarding school and looking at the dynamics and relationships between young people that are figuring out who they are and they are all in one small space together all the time. It’s a really good way of looking at some of these larger aspects of human nature, power, control and all these things.
Definitely true, I remember my time in high school. Now, what scene in the film resonated with you the most and why?
I don’t know if resonate is the right word for this but the scene where Selah and Paloma are on the stage and Selah wanted Paloma to teach this kid a lesson and to take care of him. I think that was the one scene where I read and I was like “Oh my God, this is going to be so difficult.” I have never punched anyone before. I have never been in a situation like that. I think that scene really stood out for me as an actor because there are just so many emotions and so many different dynamics are there where Selah clearly has the upper hand and she was clearly using her power in using Paloma for what she wanted.
She didn’t have Paloma’s consent for the very thing that she was asking her to do. So, that scene was really powerful and really said a lot about the dynamic between the two characters. It was also really scary (laughs) for me to feel and access these different emotions.
I bet it is but you pulled it off so well.
Thank you, thank you. I appreciate that.
You’re a native of Maryland like me. Whats the one thing you will miss about our home state?
I will miss Downtown Baltimore. The feel of city, the character, the grit and all the people who live here. I feel like when you go downtown and when you’re in the city, you can feel that and see how much character that Baltimore has. Its really unlike any other city since I got to travel a lot. Its funny because I grew up here and I didn’t want to go to college here. I didn’t want to stay in my hometown for college but the more that I travel, the more I am happy that I can come back to Baltimore because it really has a special place in my heart, for sure.
What was it like working with Tayrisha and the cast?
Awesome (lite laugh) Tayrisha was such an amazing director and a big sister. It was such a great experience to be able to make this movie in particular and tell this story with the people that I help tell this story with. I can’t imagine a better crew or a better cast especially for this story because we developed really strong relationships and friendship with each other. I am so blessed to say the Lovie and I are great friends. I talk to Tayrisha all the time. It was awesome and I made some lifelong friends.
That is the best part of working on a set. You have been acting in a few films so far. What is your dream role?
That’s a good question. My ultimate role model is Angela Davis. I take a lot of my personal principals and politics from her. So my dream role would be to play a young Angela Davis in a movie.
As you know, we are all affected with the lockdown, What have you been doing to keep yourself busy?
So, I’m still in school. I have been taking all of my classes through Zoom which is like super weird but at least I have something to do to keep me busy.
If you were to describe Selah and the Spades in a few words, what would they be?
It’s a story about power and relationships, that’s it!
Check out Celeste in her new film, Selah and the Spades, on Amazon Prime – THIS FRIDAY!