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The Five: Theater


3. The Next Stage-to-Screen Star

Condola Rashad, daughter of Phylicia, The Trip to Bountiful co-star, and acting-powerhouse-in-search-of-outlet.
First in Lynn Nottage’s Ruined (in which she played a victim of rape and mutilation in Congo) and then again in Lydia R. Diamond’s Stick Fly (as a working-class teenager who learns the dark secret of her parentage), Condola Rashad has shown mastery of two great assets: patience and focus. She can play deep pain without squirming, leaving that to her audience. She can play high dudgeon at low entropy—a rarity in an art form that too often rewards histrionics over sincerity. And she can dive deep inside character and stay right with us—uncomfortably close, in fact. That’s a precious commodity in her field. Holding a room with a look isn’t the same as holding a screen, which is why there’s so little crossover from stage to film. But with her economy and intensity, Rashad could play any movie lead she wanted (there’s a hint of early Angelina Jolie about her), though she’d be best deployed in a complex, ambiguous role. Who’s writing anti-heroines for black women these days? Whoever you are, here’s your muse. She can level with us. And then level us. —Scott Brown

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