A Star Is Born: Keara Jones

HerCampus CAU: How old were you when you decided you wanted to become an actress?

Keara: I think I was about 16 because I was a sophomore in high school. It started out with me wanting a summer job and a part of the program was public speaking. The public speaker gave me the poem, "Alone" by Maya Angelou, and she told me I had a great voice so she gave me a monologue. That monologue turned into me performing at my church often. The public speaker took note of my potential and told me about the Mississippi School of the Arts. It is different than other schools in the area because you apply and audition your sophomore year of high school. If accepted, you attend your junior and senior year. I auditioned for the discipline of theater and out of 70 people that auditioned, I was one of the chosen 20. With no experience in theater at all, I realized this was something that I should take seriously.

HerCampus CAU: Which actress inspired you or who did you watch frequently growing up?

Keara: Oh, I've watched so many and honestly when I was younger I didn't think I would be majoring in theater arts. My plans and inspirations changed almost every day. At one point I wanted to be a real estate agent, then a psychologist and then a band director. I think once I actually started getting into theater, I took notice of Audrey McDonald. A lot of people know her from A Raisin in the Sun but she is a Tony Award winner and is mainly on Broadway. So, that's someone I watched a lot.

HerCampus CAU: Do you have any traditions or rituals you do before you go on stage?

Keara: I do a lot of warm-ups, of course. For me, personally I'm a Christian, so I believe in God. One thing I do is pray. I always pray and I ask God to elevate my craft, work through me and allow me to perform for him and not the audience. That's something I always ask of him right before I walk on stage–well not before because I have to get into character–haha, but 10 minutes before I go on stage I might pray and then the last 5 minutes I try to get into character and into the world I'm entering.

HerCampus CAU: How did it feel being cast as Miss Julie your freshman year?

Keara: THAT was wild because coming in as a freshman, I was excited to do anything and everything. I didn't think I would be cast as the lead. I was completely speechless. I remember the phone call I got after auditions. Gabrielle Ambeau called me and she said "Keara how would you like to be the assistant stage manager?" because she was the stage manager. In my head I was like oh dang I didn't get it but I  said, " I'll be assistant stage manager because I still want to work on the play". She told me " Oh well that's great but you can't because YOU'RE MISS JULIE." I couldn't believe it because I was cast as a lead as a freshman. It really set a bar for me and after that a lot of people were like hmm maybe she's someone to look at.

                                                                                                                                                                        Keara's poster for the play Miss Julie

HerCampus CAU: Besides acting, what are some hobbies you like to do?

Keara: Instead of acting I like to watch acting. I like to go to different plays and shows. I like to hang around with my friends and I like to do fun adventurous things. I plan on going skydiving soon. How soon, I don't know, but soon.

HerCampus CAU: What's it like juggling school and homework with late rehearsals and performances?

Keara: It is really hard and can sometimes be very draining for me but that's because I get sidetracked. I become so engulfed in my script and my character to the point where my work dwindles a little. Sometimes when I get out of rehearsals I'm too tired to do my homework so I have to scramble and do it right before class. I would say my professors understand because they are actors but they still let me know that I need to learn how to juggle both. I have a lot of late nights and a lot of early mornings but I get it done. I still maintain my GPA so I think I'm doing pretty good so far.

HerCampus CAU: What other campus organizations are you apart of?

Keara: I am President of CAU Players (Theater organization here at CAU), Vice President of Alpha Psi Omega (National Theater Honor Society), NGAP (Next Great American Poet based at Morehouse), Spriggs Borough (theater organization based at Spelman), and FemDelaCreme (mentorship program here at CAU).

HerCampus CAU: You've recently been on a vegetarian diet, what made you start?

Keara: I just started, so it's only been a week. At first, it was no beef and no pork, I've been doing that since high school. Then, I said to myself "come on Keara you're strong enough to go vegetarian". So, I finally worked up the courage and became mentally prepared for it. The thing is, I had already started weaning myself off of meat but it's been a long week haha. I've learned to make meals, but girl I've been craving some mild hot wings and lemon pepper on it. I really did it because I am in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf (I have to say the whole name to not get it confused with the Tyler Perry movie) and so this is a very demanding show. Not even mentally and emotionally but physically because we're doing a lot of movement and I want to be in tip-top shape for it. So, I decided this would be the time where I can maintain being a vegetarian because I have a goal to reach. I will most likely continue after the play, but I just wanted to start now so I can be in shape before the show in April.

                                                                                                                                                                           Cast list for the upcoming performance

HerCampus CAU: Speaking of For Colored Girls Who..., you starred in The Lady in Green. How do you mentally and emotionally prepare for a role such as this?

Keara: I prepare for this character by closely relating the things in this poem to things in my life. So The Lady in Green is known for the monologue "Somebody Almost Walked Out Wid All My Stuff' and that's a metaphor saying this man took everything I had. To me, that can be anything so I listed things that I feel have been taken away from me. For example, this man almost ran away with my love or this man almost ran away with my mental. For some girls it can even be this man ran off with my virginity. So I'm trying to closely relate the poem to things girls, and myself, have to deal with on a daily basis.

HerCampus CAU: What type of roles do you prefer: dramatic or comedic?

Keara: I'm usually not cast in comedy shows as much as I am in dramatic shows. That could be because people love drama, so not so many comedic shows are being produced. Since I have been in so may dramatic shows, I would say that they are my strong suit. However, I would like to crossover into comedy because I'm not super funny but I have my funny moments. I laugh at myself a lot and I'm not Kevin Hart hilarious. But, I can make a few puns here and there. I do think being in a comedic show would push and challenge me because you have to be natural in order for it to flow.

HerCampus CAU: So, when you graduate would you rather continue performing on stage or move to film/tv?

Keara: I would definitely want to do both.

HerCampus CAU: If you had the chance to work alongside any actor or actress, who would it be?

Keara: See, I don't want to discourage myself because I want to roll with the big dogs, but I know I'm not on that level right now. Honestly, I would like to work with Lakeith Stanfield, he was in Get Out and Atlanta. He is an underrated actor. For actresses, I would love to work with Issa Rae. I know I would have to work to get with her. When I feel like I'm ready though, I would definitely like to work with Viola Davis and James Earl Jones.

HerCampus CAU: So, you were accepted for the Summer Training Institute at Shakespeare & Company?

Keara: Shakespeare and Company is located in Lenox, Massachusetts. They have this program called Summer Intensive and I submitted my application and talked closely with the director. Fun Fact: she is the sister of my old principal from my hometown. I swear the world is so small. She told me I had to submit a video saying why I wanted to attend and I had to perform two contrasting Shakespearean monologues. It was a long process filming that video. However, I submitted it and was awarded a full scholarship to attend. So I will be in Massachusetts from May 28th through June 25th.

                                                                                                                                                                            Keara with her acting instructor in London

HerCampus CAU: How did your family react when you told them acting was something you wanted to pursue?

Keara: When I told my mom and my grandparents they were and still are very supportive. They didn't ask me "well what's your backup plan?" but instead they had faith in me and still do. They support me in whatever I do and whatever I choose.

HerCampus CAU: Okay, bonus question: If you had control of any element (fire, water, earth, air) which would it be?

Keara: Well, I wouldn't choose fire because I have an attitude and would just burn everything. Maybe I would choose water so I can sail myself across countries.

HerCampus CAU: Which brings me to my next question, you recently went to London how was that?

Keara: London was amazing! I definitely plan on going back. It was a theater field trip so I watched nothing but plays. I watched Dreamgirls at The Savoy Theater and it was amazing. I took a few acting classed there and I do want to live in London for a year or two and hopefully attend graduate school there as well.

HerCampus CAU: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go?

Keara: If I could go anywhere I would go to Bora Bora. It is so pretty and looks like a nice vacation spot. I need it and I want to sleep in those little huts by the ocean.

                                                                                                                                                                        Keara in front of the theater in London

If you want to see more of Keara Jones, you can catch her in the upcoming performance For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf in April. You can also follow her on Twitter: @iamkearaa and Instagram: @keara.jones.