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  • Writer's pictureAugust Sorenson

Life After The Academy: Genevieve Ngosa

Updated: Apr 19

Genevieve Ngosa completed the two-year program in 2023 and was invited back for Company the following year. Below, Genevieve shares when the acting bug bit, what makes her tick as an artist, and insight into her burgeoning “Life After The Academy.”


The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.


Let’s just start with your journey as an actor. Was this always something you wanted?


I always wanted to do it, but I didn’t think it would be possible. I’m originally from Georgetown, Guyana, and I migrated to Barbados. Sometimes, our culture within the Caribbean tends to value professions that are deemed a bit safer and can provide a sense of financial stability. A career in acting is a bit more uncertain and up in the air.


I was interested in art as a child. My father is a videographer, and my mom is a florist and interior designer, but even with that exposure to art, it still felt like something I could only watch on television. Now, I’m part of a world where I can see it’s possible, and not only is it possible, but it is the core essence of my being, and it makes me a better human.


What parts of your culture or parts of your home are still with you? How does it shape your work? How does it inspire and drive you?


In a number of ways. I am grateful to have a community that has supported my journey in such an unconditional way and encouraged me to step out on faith in what I do, and that is something I try to bring to my work: generosity and community, the notion that “I am because you are” which is based on a concept in Africa known as ubuntu. I bring into my work the way I present as a woman of color with locs, which is reminiscent of my culture and familial ties. The way I speak is often commented on. People always wonder where I’m from. My voice is so rooted in where I’m from. There are parts of me that jump out when I’m in certain spaces; I think my greatest asset is the fact that I stand out in the ways that I do. It makes my work more special, and I bring a sense of vibrancy to the spaces in which I show up.


Was there an “a-ha” moment for you when you knew you needed to be in the arts?


I love telling this story. It’s actually how I came to The Academy. As a child, I was enrolled in gymnastics, dance classes, and all of these different activities. When I got to high school, I had to focus more on academics…I moved to Barbados for college. I was in a few theatre productions on the island, and there was this specific moment when I knew that this was what I wanted to do. 


I love Moonlight; it’s one of my favorite movies. I was watching The Actors’ Roundtable and listening to Mahershala Ali talk about what acting has done for him… and he was so vulnerable.


Do you remember what he said?


Not exactly. I think it was just his vulnerability in the moment. He tapped into this sincerity and spoke about the craft so passionately. It was something that just really hit me, and I remember I started to cry. I was like, “This is what I need to be doing.” If I don’t pursue this with all of me, if I don’t give it a chance, if I don’t fail, then I’ll never know. I got an email from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts reminding me that I still have time to apply, and the rest is history. 


Do you remember your acceptance moment?


I do. I was sitting there waiting and waiting. I did my interview with Maggie Low, who said something about how passionate I was. That gave me such confirmation that maybe this is what I should be doing.  When I got the acceptance letter, I was like, “Okay, this is it!” and cried. I was so excited.


Was getting to New York an exciting moment? You flew in…what do you remember from that?


When I was flying in, there was supposed to be a snowstorm. I’d never seen snow before, so I was really excited. I fell asleep during the plane ride and woke up in New York. There was no snow on the ground, but there were these ice blocks. I was like, okay, at least I know that snow will happen. 


The very first day at The Academy was nerve-wracking. I hadn’t fully settled in. I drew directions from Google Maps on a piece of paper. I walked by The Academy five times before I realized it was where I was going [laughs]. I had this whole adventure in New York City that day. It’s so interesting; places that didn’t look familiar then have now become my home. I can walk around The Academy and have my eyes closed now because it’s so familiar.


You spent three years as a student at The Academy. How was the final day of Company? 


It was one of the warmest days ever. We had a lot of guest faculty and faculty from the school in attendance. It was beautiful to see everyone in such a celebratory spirit. They were so grateful and proud of all the hard work that our Company had done. It didn’t feel like an end but a new beginning. We moved from a teacher-student relationship into more of a mentor-mentee one. Janis Powell was one of the many who gave us advice, and it’s one of my favorite bits of advice: she told us that when you get to the edge, don’t be scared, but jump and fly…fly to new beginnings, new opportunities, and all the things that await you. That story is nestled in my heart.


Tell me about the few weeks of being out of The Academy. The challenges and the exciting parts of it.


It felt like coming out of a fish bowl and now being in the ocean where there are so many other fish in the sea. I feel like a tiny baby in this big pond of creatives and artists who’ve been working longer than I have, and now, I’m showing up to the party, but I’m not gonna get intimidated or scared because I know I belong in these spaces. We’re all creative and passionate about what we do, and there’s room for all of us to swim. There are so many wonderful people you meet on the way and learn from people in the process.


What about your day-to-day? What does Genevieve Ngosa, professional actress, do each day?


I let the birds wake me up these days around 6:30 or 7. I do some journaling and meditation to get myself centered. Depending on the day, go to the gym in the morning or evening. Around 11, when I feel like everyone in the apartment is awake, I do a full vocal warmup. I don’t want to wake anyone [laughs]. Then I’m at my computer, submitting, looking for gigs, and sending follow-ups. I’ll prep for auditions, work on monologues, read new plays, and find new monologues to work on. Around 4PM I get up and watch something funny, do some stretches, and dance or sing…usually dance. Then maybe read some poetry or a book and keep myself active and engaged. I keep myself inspired as best I possibly can, even with what can seem like little mundane tasks. 


Back to your time at The Academy. Are there any roles you’re especially fond of or proud of?


I feel like I'm going to be biased and say all of them [laughs]. I’m a firm believer that roles find me; I don’t find them. Whatever story needs to be told at that moment, that is the story I tell. Everything I’ve done up to this point has been a moment for me to reflect or to learn something deeper about myself and the world. 


I most recently worked on Everybody, an adaptation based on Everyman by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and directed by Ryan Quinn. I played the character of Death, which allowed me to reflect a lot about life. Sometimes, it’s easy to get consumed with the weight of the world and the things we’re doing. Playing Death reminded me to live–to live intentionally. I’m a lot more grateful for every day that’s given to me.


With the few minutes we have left, I wonder what you’re most looking forward to. What is most exciting about the career that awaits you, and what is sort of “anxiety-inducing?”


I’ll start with the anxiety-inducing part and finish on a positive note. I think what makes me anxious is the uncertainty. The fact that I can be waking up every day and going after something and not knowing when you’re going to hear back, or if you’re going to hear back, and having to let it go and move on to the next thing. It’s a fact that I may not be accepted into some spaces, and I’ll have to create my own work. The spaces that I want to be in…there are so many theatre companies I would love to work with, but it’s saturated. I try not to think about that too much and focus on the positives instead. 


What I love about this career is the passion it brings. I get to be part of a community of creators and actors, writers and dancers, and we all get to come together and collaborate. It reminds me that I’m human. I forget how connected we all are…we don’t always connect to the core of love. It might sound cliche, but I feel like acting reminds me to love. To refrain from judgment and pointing fingers, to be open, to be curious and vulnerable to change, to listen with love. I’ve become much more compassionate and more understanding of the situations and circumstances people are in. Instead of moving from a place of being so rash, I can move from a place of love, a space of grace.


I feel acting requires you to honor your humanity so that you can honor another person’s humanity. That’s what we do. We tell stories from a place of truth and authenticity, and a lot of times, we hold a mirror up to society. Sometimes, we have to hold that mirror up to ourselves and take inventory. I try to navigate in that way so I can connect to my heart, which can connect to the heart of the character, which might connect to the heart of the human sitting in the audience. I think that’s going to create a better world. 


That’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing, and keep in touch. I’d love to chat again.


Absolutely. Thank you so much for reaching out, August.


My pleasure. Be well.

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