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Moses Ingram knows you wanted more of her in “The Queen’s Gambit”


Voting is underway for the 73rd Primetime Emmys, and this week, we’re chatting with several first-time Emmy nominees. The awards will be presented on September 19 on CBS.

Moses Ingram realized how huge “The Queen’s Gambit” was going to be when someone tattooed his face on his body. Netflix published the series on October 23 and around November a Brazilian had sent Ingram a photo of his new tattoo.

“I mean, I know it’s not about me; it’s more about Jolene, ”said Ingram. “But it’s still my face. So it was like, ‘I’m glad you’re happy with this?’ “

Ingram plays Jolene, a rebellious teenage girl from Methuen Home, a girls’ orphanage, who becomes the protagonist’s closest childhood friend, Beth Harmon (played by, at different ages, Annabeth Kelly, Isla Johnston and Anya Taylor-Joy ). The performance earned Ingram a Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Film, her first major award nomination.

She said she was shocked when she received the call regarding the appointment. She wasn’t watching the Emmy ad, nor did she know it was happening that day. She had just come to work.

His reaction was perhaps best captured in his Instagram post of that day: a photo of Ingram returning to his childhood, looking absolutely flabbergasted, with the caption: “They said what I am 🤯. “

Ingram attended the Baltimore School of the Arts and made class trips to local productions of plays like “A raisin in the sun»Showed him that acting could be a career. After earning an associate’s degree from Baltimore City Community College, she attended the Yale School of Drama. She auditioned for the role of Jolene fresh out of drama school.

While viewers were drawn to the character, many wanted more – and more nuanced stories. Some critics saw Jolene as firing “dangerously in the territory of the tropes “guardian angel” and “magical negro”», Referring to black characters whose sole apparent purpose is to help and enlighten the white protagonists.

A monologue in the last episode seemed to anticipate this criticism. As Jolene offers to lend Beth the $ 3,000 she needs to go to a chess tournament in Moscow, she explains, “I’m not your guardian angel. I’m not here to save you. Hell, I can barely save myself. I am here because you need me to be here. This is what the family does. This is who we are. Corn some viewers still saw a black woman with too little screen time and not enough character development.

Ingram has remained busy since the release of “The Queen’s Gambit”, scoring roles in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” by Joel Coen (debutant at New York Film Festival this fall), the action thriller directed by Michael Bay ”Ambulance“And the” Star Wars “miniseries” Obi-Wan Kenobi “.

Speaking on her way to the set for “Obi-Wan Kenobi” in Los Angeles, Ingram opened up about her first love, her first audition, and her first major role. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

You said that plays like “A raisin in the sun” and “Wounded village“Made a strong impression on you in high school because they did”the beautiful hood. “Have they changed your view of acting and theater?

Certainly, because I had never seen plays. It wasn’t normal for me until I went to a school that required us to go to live shows.

And until then, all I had seen were white people. It was like “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and Tennessee Williams and all that stuff. So to see people who looked like me, who seemed to live on stage, I didn’t even know.

I mean, I knew I liked acting, but I didn’t really know it was a possibility until I was like, “Oh, people really do that! I could do that.

How did the transition from Baltimore City Community College to Yale go? Have you experienced impostor syndrome?

Absoutely. For a really long time I walked around like, – I don’t know, I just felt like I had to work really hard. And I think I put more stress on myself than I needed because I felt I had to prove that I deserved to be there. Like, whatever was offered to me, I had to do it because I had to be grateful.

So I spent a lot of time this first year – and the second year, honestly – being very exhausted. Because I was pushing a lot harder than necessary. But I also had fun, so it wasn’t that bad.

“The Queen’s Gambit” was your first audition after drama school. How did it feel to find success so quickly after such a difficult journey?

I felt really blessed and I felt really relieved. Obviously, I had no idea what the show was going to do. I was really happy to have a job and to work, and to go to Germany on top of all that. It was nice not having to worry because I spent a lot of time worrying about going back to where I was before. So that really freed my mind, for a little while.

The first part of the show is set in Kentucky, and Jolene has a very distinctive voice, both literally and figuratively. Have you had any models or studied anything to make it more authentic?

One of the main things our vocal coach wanted to push, at least for me, was to open up the vowels more. But it wasn’t something I had to think about very hard because my natural tendency is southward. So she just wanted to take him from south to west.

Unlike Beth, Jolene is played by the same actress from start to finish. What have you done to reflect his advanced age?

I think especially with young Jolene, it was more about freedom: the freedom of what you say and your mouth and your way of thinking. Really just unrestricted. And then also freedom in the body, just loose.

Having no real structure, you are hunched over, you bend over and you don’t really know what it is to really be in your body yet. So I think the main distinction between adult Jolene was really to be solid and firm in that body and to be with confidence. women.

Do you see yourself someone in Jolene?

If anything, I probably see myself more in young Jolene. At least at one time in my life. Just kind of rough around the edges. And, like, even if the way you do things doesn’t seem like the best for others, it’s like, “Well, it’s my way, and it’s working for me now, and I’m going to let it work. until it doesn’t. And you should be fine. I think at one point I was really that younger version. I think I’m still working on the older Jolene pizazz.

People have very mixed feelings about Jolene. You have recognized in previous interviews that she’s a supporting character while also saying that we still need more stories where actors of color don’t just support. Did you find this in any of the current projects you are working on?

It’s hard for people to accept that Jolene is a secondary character, I think because she’s black. If Jolene was white, I don’t think that would be so much of a talking point. I think because of the story my skin is telling, there naturally has to be an extra layer of care around the storytelling and how certain things look. Optics play a huge role because when I go into things there are just certain realities.

I’m not the one saying that supporting characters aren’t for people who look like me. This is not what I am saying. But the point – that over time I was able to articulate better because I just watched this all unfold – is that you have to be very careful with the storytelling with black bodies.

Since you left drama school, it’s one series or one movie after another for you. Do you plan to return to the theater at some point?

This is absolutely my first love. And when I started, that was my only intention. It wasn’t until I got to school that I was like, “Oh, there’s more” – I mean, obviously I watched TV but my way, before I went to school, was the theater.

So I like the theater. This is my first home and I hope to return sooner rather than later. I don’t want to stray too far from it. I think I’ll be scared if I wait too long.


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