Interview by: Lauren Sanchez | Photos by: Ben Ritter | May 11, 2022
Actress Anabella Raye chats with Hazze Media team journalist, Lauren Sanchez. Raye appears in a mystery drama Long Slow Exhale presented by Spectrum/BET’s back in April. Raye shares her love for acting, auditioning for the show, and her role as ‘Kate Ford’ in the series.
Lauren: So, what attracted you to begin a career as an actor?
Anabella: Well, I first started acting when I was a young kid. I kind of found my love of acting through local drama programs in Los Angeles. I felt from a young age that I wanted to do it professionally. I later attended the Los Angeles County High School for the arts where I majored in theater and then continued to study acting and film at Brown University. I think what really attracted me to acting from a young age was just kind of a love of performing and then also the really amazing community that is filled around every project, and as I grew older and continued studying, I think I also realized what I really loved about it was kind of rooted in a deep love for like human psychology and connection and storytelling.
Lauren: So did you for the psychology part, did you major in psych at Brown?
Anabella: No, I actually didn't major in psych specifically, but I took a lot of psych courses while I was there. The cool thing about Brown's curriculum that really attracted me to this school initially, was that they have a philosophy called open curriculum, which allows you to kind of sample basically any discipline you want, rather than having a set core curriculum. So, I was able to really combine my love of acting and film and psychology and was really able to sample from all those different fields.
Lauren: That's really cool. So I guess like when you try to prepare yourself and research for a role, you take in all those aspects to make sure that you make the role your own. So like, what do you think is the first thing you do to approachable to make it your own?
Anabella: Well, the first thing that I probably do is just really try to take in the character's story and their emotional life. I try to think about how I instinctually relate to the character and the feelings and experiences that I've had in common with them. I feel like even when I'm going to play a character who seems on the surface totally different from myself, there's always common ground to be found. And there's always a piece of myself that also belongs to that character. So, I like to think about that piece of myself and try to expand it. I mean, specifically when I approached the role of Kate, her story really immediately pulled me in. I mean, just reading her dialogue and how she talks about her relationship with her father. It feels like it was so emotional to even read. To get into her character, I feel like I thought a lot about what I would be feeling in that position and thought about my personal experiences with regret, and that kind of helped me get into her role.
Lauren: Oh cool. So like, how did you come about this role on the actual show? Like was the audition process scary, exciting? Did you feel prepared enough?
Anabella: I mean the audition process was both scary and exciting. I mean, first of all, it happened in the middle of the pandemic, so everything was remote. It was just self-tapes and zoom sessions rather than, you know, going to a room in person. Um, so that audition process was definitely different, but it kind of feels like the new normal now. Before the audition, I remember feeling both nervous and excited, but my callback was a one-on-one Zoom session with Erica Bream, who was one of the casting directors on the project, and she was really wonderful. I remember feeling very at ease when we started working together and I was kind of able to find the joy in acting, which I feel like sometimes is a rare thing during the audition process, which can always feel stressful and I remember really coming excited to dive into the material when we started working together in that session. And then a few weeks after that zoom session, I got the call from my manager that I got the role and I was with friends and we popped a bottle of champagne.
Lauren: As you should. I mean, congratulations on getting a role like that. Even getting the call would be, or like a callback, would just be so exciting. So, how was it like to be on set? Were there any interesting highlights or things you learned, like in a professional setting?
Anabella: I really loved being on the "Long Slow Exhale" set. I hadn't spent that much time in Atlanta before, so that was a really exciting place to film. I feel like I really got a chance to explore the city. And then, the set itself was really beautiful. Everyone was like so welcoming and I really enjoyed the conversations that I had with the other actors and the crew members that I worked with. I remember on set, the directors that I personally worked with were Pete Chatmon and Crystle Roberson, and they were really helpful in terms of stepping into the emotional place of the character. Obviously, the scenes that I was in, just because of what Kate is going through, were very emotionally intense. So, it was really great to have those directors to kind of work with me and dive further into my imagination and explore what those circumstances would be like. But yeah, overall being on set was really, really awesome and exciting.
Lauren: That's so cool. So, speaking of your character, Kate, do you mind telling us a little bit more about her, to like someone who hasn't seen the show?
Anabella: Something specifically interesting about Kate is that the audience only knows her, like in the context of grieving her father. So, she basically comes into the show under those circumstances, which was a really interesting thing to play with, because it made me think a lot about her identity and how the circumstances change how her identity shines through and just shapes the way she behaves during such a difficult time, so that was definitely an interesting thing to play with.
Lauren: How do you think your role of Kate differs from other previous characters or acting experiences that you have had?
Anabella: Kind of what I had just described feels like it was different because I was really thinking about how grief changes the way one behaves and changes their identity and trying to kind of balance who she is and who she is in these circumstances and how she's kind of questioning so much of her life and her choices. So, that felt very unique.
Lauren: I think, from what I'm gathering is that like, the character has really helped you process how to convey emotions and stuff like that. So like, how has this role changed the way you view acting as a whole?
Anabella: I feel like actually the role and the onset experience, it almost did the opposite. It almost reinforced the way I viewed acting, it reinforced the idea that so much of acting is really just connecting to those circumstances and really listening to the person in front of you and I think part of what reinforces that idea wasn't just the role itself, but also was working with such incredible actors. Like my scenes were with Rose Rollins, Lyriq Bent, and Brent Sexton, I really felt like working with them was such a great opportunity because I just kind of had to like listen to my scene partner. They were giving me so much of what I needed, and just I listened and responded to them in the circumstances, which was really wonderful and definitely reinforced that idea for me.
Lauren: Speaking of working alongside the other actors like Rose Rollins, how did it feel to be able to work alongside them throughout the whole thing?
Anabella: It felt like such an incredible opportunity to work with them. I mean, they all had such incredible careers, which is both inspiring and exciting. They're dream scene partners.
Lauren: Absolutely. In the email I got, it was all about following in her mother's footsteps, Anabella brings her acting skills and talents to the show, and with your mother already being such a name in the television industry, how do you want to decide to shape your own career and make your own?
Anabella: I feel like I am planning to make my own path just kind of by being myself and seeing where my career takes me as I learn and grow as an artist. It's sort of funny. I feel like I found my love of acting fairly independently of my mom. You know, through doing theater as a kid, but then having grown up, watching her have such a successful career, kind of made me feel like it was possible for me to pursue it as well. She's always been so beyond supportive of my acting and I really appreciate her, as both a part of my support system and also as a resource. It is awesome that she'll be there as I continue to chart my own path in the industry.
Lauren: Oh, I love that. I really do love that. We love supportive parents. What can I say? But I think that's all the questions I have for you.
Anabella: Awesome. I think these are all really great interview questions. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this.
Lauren: Yeah of course! Thank you for sitting down to talk with me. I really loved getting to know you. Congratulations on the role.