Tuesday, July 16

Q&A: UCLA alumna Chauntae Pink discusses starring in play ‘Bulrusher’

UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television alumna Chauntae Pink plays the character of Vera, a troubled teenager from Alabama, in the Skylight Theatre production of Eisa Davis' "Bulrusher."
(Austin Yu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television alumna Chauntae Pink plays the character of Vera, a troubled teenager from Alabama, in the Skylight Theatre production of Eisa Davis' "Bulrusher." (Austin Yu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Chauntae Pink’s professional theater career started with an unexpected Facebook message.

After hours of volunteering with Lower Depth Theater Ensemble in Los Angeles, Pink finally got her opportunity to perform onstage when one of the theater’s founders asked her via Facebook to audition for the company’s newest production, “Bulrusher.”

A 2011 alumna of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, Pink debuted last month at the Los Angeles Skylight Theatre in “Bulrusher,” a play written by playwright and actress Eisa Davis and directed by Nataki Garrett, associate artistic director at the CalArts Center for New Performances. The storyline centers around a multiracial orphan who comes of age in a predominantly white town in the 1950s and enters a journey of self-discovery with the help of Vera, a troubled black girl from Birmingham, Alabama.

The Daily Bruin’s Pauline Yang spoke to Pink about her early interest in acting, her involvement in “Bulrusher” and her experiences as an actress, from being a guest star on “2 Broke Girls” to a co-star on “Franklin & Bash.”

Daily Bruin: How did your experiences growing up lead you to choose a career path in acting?

Chauntae Pink: I actually started acting in Atlanta, Georgia during church plays, and I really liked it. From there on, I transferred schools and started going to the School of the Performing Arts in Atlanta, and decided I would major in theater. That’s when I moved to California to major in theater at UCLA, and it just kind of took off from there.

DB: What was your experience at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television like?

CP: It was awesome. I studied restoration and Shakespeare and anything and everything that I could get my hands on.

DB: How did you hear about “Bulrusher?”

CP: I heard about (it) through Lower Depth Theatre. I was actually a huge fan of theirs when they started their company a few years ago. I tried to volunteer for every event they had going on, and I was fortunate enough to do a stage reading with them. It was about a year later that I got a Facebook message from Yvonne (Huff), one of the founders of the company and she asked me to come out and audition for the role of Vera, and I happily accepted and was blessed enough to get the role.

DB: What was it like to be a part of a theater production for “Bulrusher?”

CP: Oh, it was so cool. I hadn’t really done much theater since I graduated UCLA in 2011. It was like a brand new experience and I really appreciated the journey of it because it was so challenging and amazing to work with such a talented cast. It was cool to get to really know my character and have to dig deep and figure out her background and what she’s trying to do in the play. It took a long time and I really appreciated the process.

DB: Can you tell me a little about your character, Vera, in “Bulrusher?”

CP: Vera is a Southern young lady from Alabama. She’s 18 years old, and a bit more on the reserved side. She’s seen some things and been through some things in Birmingham at a time where there was a lot of unrest going on due to the civil rights movement. She was discriminated against … she comes into the “Bulrusher” story having fled Birmingham to escape (her past).

DB: How were you able to relate to your character?

CP: I think everyone knows what it feels like not knowing how to take the pressure of life, and to feel like there are things about yourself that you have to hide. I really feel like it’s a coming-of-age story for Vera because she’s running away from herself, from her past and from her situation.

DB: How would you compare performing in front of a live audience, like in “Bulrusher,” versus performing on television, like in “2 Broke Girls” and “Franklin & Bash?”

CP: Theater and multi-camera shows are really similar in the rehearsal process and, at the end of it, there’s a performance and audience that gets to laugh with you and cry with you. That’s why I love doing shows (like “2 Broke Girls” and “Franklin & Bash”) so much, because it’s like, ‘Ta-da, look at what I did.’ It’s an exchange and that’s the best part about it. It’s like a communion of sorts. The difference is that in theater, the process is a little longer.

DB: In the future, would you want to do more theater, or film and television?

CP: I’m a businessperson, but I’m an artist first. And you do theater for the love of it, the love of the craft. I personally get so much more joy and fulfillment and satisfaction from theater because it has so much more to do with the art, whereas with television, in my personal experience, has a lot more to do with techniques and angles. I want to do film, television, theater, musicals, anything that I can get my hands on that gives me a creative outlet.

Compiled by Pauline Yang, A&E; contributor.

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