Known for her role as ‘Karen Mott’ from the hit television comedy-drama series on BET Sistas – a show that follows the lives of a group of four single black women and how they navigate and balance their romantic, career and friendship in present times – Ebony Obsidian is a star actress that aims to knock out every challenge that comes her way. Born in April of 1994, the New York native has made her way from studying Journalism to being a character on the widely recognised and nominated film If Beale Street Could Talk. We chat with the Hunters actor on her experience acting during a global pandemic and her plans for the future.
Can you tell us about your character, Karen Mott on Sistas? How did you prepare for the role?
Karen is an outspoken independent businesswoman looking for a lot more fulfilment in her personal life. She has a great set of girlfriends, but she’s in a love triangle with an ex, their story is equally pain and pleasure, and a new man who has it all but brings a whole lot of outside baggage to the table. Fortunately, Karen was a woman I related to, specifically in how misunderstood she is. Preparing to walk in her shoes consisted of diving into our similarities and our differences, that’s what makes a person who they are.
What was your experience like filming season 2 of Sistas (right in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic), compared to shooting the first season?
Being among the first large scale production to start, and complete, was incredible. If the first season felt monumental, and it was in its own right, then the second season was that with a dash of history in the making. A lot of preparation went into the undertaking, so I was well aware of what I was stepping into and the part I played in making the second season come to fruition. It was an especially sweet accomplishment to have attained alongside a majority Black cast and crew, including Tyler Perry.
You’ve worked as both a stage and TV actor. Which do you find most challenging and why?
Both offer their own challenges, logistically I suppose, but the real challenges come in the character work. Understanding how I want to present a character after interpreting all that is on the pages and all that isn’t.
As an actor, what would you say your proudest moment has been, so far?
That’s difficult to say. I’ve had the honour of working with some of the most talented individuals in this industry, bringing pages to screen and people to life. Every experience feels so special in different intimate ways. But the one thing that makes my heart skip a beat, is when someone who watched a performance gets it. Human beings are so complex and it’s safe to say we don’t always agree, but when someone interprets where a character’s pain, love, joy, etc., comes from – that’s gold.
Do you have any ambitions to work behind the camera at some point in your career?
Absolutely. For me it isn’t a matter of if but when. My fascination with people, circumstances, and the world we live in has never been limited to acting. In fact, acting joined the party late. Writing is the foundation of my creative expression, which turned into reading my pieces out loud, which turned into performing for an audience, leading up until now. I’m very excited to share my next form of artistry with the world.
If there was one single thing you could change about your experience as a young, Black actor in Hollywood, what would it be?
A singular change wouldn’t be enough, since Hollywood, just like society, is a system. Built to operate and perpetuate ideas through storytelling, and more often than not, it’s a mirror of America. What I can say is, the things that are shifting in front of my eyes, the things I am very much a part of shifting, is the authenticity of the Black experience here in the states. So many brilliant writers, directors, producers, and actors, many of whom have been championing us for decades, are receiving the shine they deserve and continuing to create stages to tell our stories.
Going back to the start of your career, is there any advice you wish you had received?
So many gems of advice have come my way. From Barry (Jenkins), to Lena (Waithe), to Regina (King), all encouraged me to forge ahead in my own path and know that I was always on the right track even in times I thought I’d gone off course. Though I’ve always stood firm in my career choices, this type of advice is priceless reinforcement I’ll continue to carry with me.
What kinds of projects are you looking to take on in the near future?
My goal is always to be something I have never been before. That will never change. If it’s a challenge, it’s on the list.
Editorial Photograph Courtesy:
Photographer: Hamadi Price
Styling: Angelina Scantlebury
Makeup: Tarence Anderson-Polen
Hair: Helene Marie