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Toni Deaver, Award Winning Actress -- An Interview
Life can be too short to meet MOST of the wonderful people from the FILM industry through the magic of the Internet. Sorry Charlize Theron, but Toni took the challenge to talk to LDC. Just an email and a website made the magic. Flabbergasted enough to know that Toni has a warm southern accent; just like our beloved Faith Reaper. Yeah, but Toni is from sweet home Little Rock, Arkansas.
We did contact her, and she was available from the start. She was kind and open to answer some of Lord's questions. She was polite and wise beyond our imagination.
Toni told us that she had to make a hiatus in her career in order to raise two beautiful daughters as it should always be. Family was first and now she is returning to get her biggest break with all her talent, and her unique charm.
Here she is. Thanks Toni! We owe you the Presidency of the U.S.A.
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Michelene-Philippe Heine is an accomplished actress with a lot of style and engaging charm. Impressive in dramatic roles, she also has considerable musical ability with a hauntingly sweet voice.
At what age did you find out you wanted to be an actress?
I didn't actually DISCOVER I wanted to be an actress...
Ops! My bad! Sorry for interrupting you Toni!
Is okay. However, I can say that when I was 9 years old I discovered the great potential to impact people's lives for good through the incredible power of live action storytelling. Understanding that I have a gift to communicate people's stories came slowly from others' observations of me.
Any mentor or mentors?
I had favorite school teachers who impacted me in various ways. My 5th grade teacher and the principal of the school I attended in Gadsden, ALA, who's names escape me now, were instrumental in instilling confidence in myself as a singer and entertainer at an early age.
Then at Forest Heights and at Little Rock Central High, my principal, Mr. Morris Holmes helped me understand at a heart level that color doesn't matter.
Mr. Morris and others deserve an applause! (my camera was not charged)
You are right! He taught me to be impatient with militant factions based on color, gender, or sexual preference who think only of themselves.
Then in 12th grade I had a wonderful English teacher, named Mrs. Higginbotham who taught me to appreciate language and the written word more than I'd ever done before.
She also encouraged my writing which I really loved until I found out my subject matter, "Camelot" was really based on myth and not reality at all. I was greatly disappointed.
My college years at UALR and at BCM (Boston Conservatory), were full of teachers too many to name that trained, encouraged, and challenged me on all levels.
- Sergio Michel, The Genuine Serge From Jersey...!
In the course of our journey, we've bumped into all kind of people and situations. We have been lucky in getting some answers
What can you tell us about Betty Garrett?
Betty Garrett was not only a consumate performer but a wonderful Musical Theater teacher as well. I knew her through Theater West where we were both active members. She knew more music and understood how to communicate it better than anyone I'd worked with before her. She was generous with all the actors she worked with at Theater West and is greatly missed.
Do you think children could save this world? I ask THIS because they are sincere, direct and loyal like my own pet.
Wow, that's a loaded question. I absolutely agree that children are sincere, direct and loyal. I am very sorry to say however I don't think our children can save the world. It's no secret we live in a microwave, fast food society, where disposable marriages, disposable lives are common.
(She really went all the way...)
Our children today, of course with many exceptions, are not being reared to think for themselves, to work for what they want nor are they being made to understand that most worthwhile things like respect, love, and deep friendship have to be earned over time. The meaning of the word commitment has changed, to mean " as long as I feel like I want to".
This needs to be read THREE times Toni. WOW!
You think so? Unfortunately the sincerity, and loyalty most young children exhibit gets lost as they grow older. And that threshold has gotten younger and younger. It used to be we worried about our high school kids, then we learned our junior high kids were being exposed to dangers we were experiencing as adults. Now it's our elementary aged kids.
No, I don't think our children can save the world. I honestly don't think loving parents and caring adults have equipped them properly to do so. It's become the norm to abandon parental responsibilities in hopes of being their friends. However, it's not friendly to turn them loose on the world without the emotional, mental, psychological and physical training to be productive members of society. Everyone, including them suffer.
From Little Rock to Boston? What, or how did you feel moving to the east coast?
I always wanted to experience living where I could walk among the historical places of our country. I also understood that if I wanted my career in acting to be taken seriously sooner rather than later, my diploma should read something other than UALR (University of Arkansas at Little Rock), as much as I loved what I was getting at that school.
As a mother, do you think we need to value moms more than we do, like in more powerful movies with all the drama out there? If I messed up again, I apologize...
No worries Joseph. I would say not as a mom, but as a woman in a world where most of the population is female, I think movies need to value/explore the roles of women in general. We are explorers, inventors, healers, leaders of families, tribes, countries, armies, great supporters and generators of art, and more.
The best characterization of your life? Any role that was hard for you?
I always think of playing the role of 'Maggie in The Shadow Box' when I was 20 years old as the hardest and best characterization of my life. I was way too young, I had a 12 year old boy playing my 12 year old son. However, the director saw me in a production at UALR and invited me to read for him.
It was his approach to bringing truth to the play that allowed me to really explore the person of Maggie and the truth of her immediate loss as well the truth of Hospice Care on the survivors. Because of the guidance of the director I was able to give one of the most truthful and best performances of my life. So of course I always look back at that experience fondly.
Toni in action!
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Wrapping up and learning from her...
Can you imagine yourself with no kids, just being married with no kids?
I love my kids. That said, I really can not imagine what my life would be now, married this long with out kids. I have no idea what we may or may not have done.
Do you believe in miracles?
I absolutely believe in miracles. I've personally witnessed too many to deny them.
If you were 18 again, meaning right now with this wisdom of yours, what would you do tomorrow?
If I were 18 in 2013 and if I still was an actress/director with the wisdom I have now, I'd get out of California asap and head to Louisiana, North Carolina or Texas where so much more production is happening and seek work there where I'd be in a smaller pool of talented people.
Now you made me think... how influential were your parents in your life decisions. For instance I am what I am because my dad used to read a lot, and loved writing.
My mom took me at 9 years old, to see the show that set me on the path to create worthwhile content that I'm on today. So I'd say "pretty influential".
Where do you see yourself in five, ten years?
In 5-10 years I see myself living closer to my kids, still working as an actor/director, with published books to my name.
I heard of your daughters involvement in Theater. Can you share with us?
Both of my daughters have pursued acting and both showed ability. Just as both of them sing and write songs and both write on the piano as well as guitar. My older one is a prolific writer, and chose to quit acting early on, to establish her individuality as writer while continuing her music. My younger one, has continued in acting and has proven to posses an exceptional gift. She is also a prolific singer/songwriter now in her first year of college.
You are involved in two feature films in development. How wonderful! That is a dream come true for me. So you are heading into directing and producing?
Because I went to film school, I met a number of producers. When I decided to return to acting, most producers wanted me to continue to help them produce. So I do that, as it turns out some of them have offered me roles because they know and trust me.
I hear ya! Born on April 15, that makes you an Aries. Do you care about zodiacs?
Yes, I was born on April 15. It wasn't the original tax income deadline, but now that's how my birthday is remembered.
Re: Zodiacs, I don't put much faith in horoscopes but at the same time, I do believe the study of the universe and the stars can tell us much about our creator, our history and in some forms, our future.
That was really close to our credo and writing. Thanks so much Toni!
Thanks to you Joseph!
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