‘First Lady’ star Jayme Lawson flourishes from stage to screen – The Hollywood Reporter

As production began on her first feature film, Jayme Lawson had a question. “I said, ‘So, will there be food on set? Do I need my own packaging? ‘” Lawson laughs recalling from her Brooklyn apartment, about her on-screen debut in 2020. Farewell Amor. Lawson was already a seasoned performer at the time — she spent the summer in drama camp, attended DC-based High School of the Performing Arts, Duke Ellington School, and continued on to Juilliard , graduated in 2019. But her question reveals a touching innocence about the entertainment industry. . “I just remember [director Ekwa Msangi] look at me like, ‘Yes, honey, there will be. We will feed you. ‘ ”

In the nearly three years since, the actress has become familiar with craft services, as a career has taken her from Gotham City (Batman) to the White House in Showtime’s First lady, premieres April 17.

Lawson, who grew up in Maryland as the youngest of six siblings, claims to have little to do with her seemingly glamorous rise. “Honestly, I don’t give myself much credit for how things turned out,” the 24-year-old explained. She says she doesn’t follow any kind of master plan, instead relying on her gut to make her main career choices.

She was faced with such a decision shortly after graduating, when she was offered a role in the 2019 revival of Ntozake Shange’s. For girls of color who once considered suicide / When the rainbow was an image at The Public in New York, held for the first time since its 1976 premiere at that theater. A few days later, she received offers for two major studio films. “We’re talking about money I’ve never seen before,” she said. “[For] someone just graduated from college, we’re talking about money I’ve never seen before. ” But the movies would shoot during the stage show, forcing her to choose. In the end, she went along. For girls of color, which she considers a more artistically worthwhile role. “I don’t know the next time I’ll have the opportunity to stand on stage with six other women of color,” she explained. Lawson optimistically envisions that at some point another big pillar will emerge.

Her gut turned out right – and it didn’t take long.

After For girls of color opened, Lawson partially landed in Batman, a supporting but integral role was as the elected mayor of Gotham suffered from crime. Other big movie projects next: Chinonye Chukwu’s Until (opening October 7), Emmett Till’s mother story, in which Lawson plays journalist and activist Myrlie Evers, wife of Medgar Evers; and epic period of Sony Queen (September 16) facing her First lady co-star Viola Davis.

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Lawson plays young Michelle Obama in First lady.
Courtesy of Jackson Lee Davis / SHOWTIME

First lady Director Susanne Bier offered Lawson the role of young Michelle Obama without auditioning. During the call with Bier, Lawson had a question: “I said, ‘Are you sure? Isn’t that a process that I should be doing? ‘ She said, ‘Well, I’m the director, so of course I’m sure.’ Lawson stared at Obama’s memoirs, Become, and diary entries are available from around the time the former first lady met Barack Obama. She also spoke to Davis, who executive produces and plays Michelle in the White House, over a nerve-wracking Zoom before the summer shoot: “She talks to me like a peer. age, that makes me flutter. I was not prepared for that.”

The actress said she’s “lucky” to be her lover in the entertainment industry at this point: “This is a new era we’re entering, where young women of color begin. have the right to decide their own stories in Hollywood.”

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter April 13 issue. Click here to subscribe.

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