Written by Micah C. Beachy
Willa Bost is thrilled to make her WVPT debut. She is a seasoned actor/singer and a masterful arts educator. Founder of Inner Arts Productions ,innerartsproductions.com. PYT Theatre Director at Mind-Builders Bronx, NY. Select Regional: Alliance Theatre, Springer Opera House, Aurora Theatre, True Colors Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre. MFA, UNCG. @willabost
Interviewer: Can you tell our audience how you came to work with West Virginia Public Theatre this summer?
Willa: Mya Brown contacted me to let me know she was directing and wanted me to submit. I didn’t think twice. I love working with Mya as a director and I’ve always loved the script.
Interviewer: Can you tell us about your initial reaction when you first read the script for The Mountaintop and discovered the character of Camae?
Willa: The script and the character resonated with me personally on so many levels. It felt like home rooted in the deep south transcending to the mystical ancestral magic pumping through my veins.
Interviewer: Camae is a complex and enigmatic character who brings a unique perspective to the story. How are you approaching understanding her motivations and aspirations? Complexities?
Willa: Hmm… not to me. Enigmatic to King, perhaps. At her core, Camae is nurturing, down to earth, unapologetically true to self, etc. I am beginning with examining our commonalities, which align well so far.
Interviewer: The relationship between Camae and Martin Luther King Jr. is central to the play. How do you plan to develop the chemistry and dynamics with the actor portraying King Jr.?
Willa: That’s an easy one… Fortunately, Geoffrey and I share an amazing chemistry because we have previously worked together and have been colleagues in the industry for over 20 years.
Interviewer: Does Camae undergo a significant transformation throughout the play? How are you approaching capturing the evolution of her character and balancing the different facets of her personality?
Willa: Camae does not undergo a significant transformation throughout the play. There is however, a revelation of who her character is as the play progresses, and she remains true to who she is by living in each moment as it comes.
Interviewer: Camae has been described as a symbol of hope, strength, and resilience. How do you incorporate these qualities into your portrayal of the character?
Willa: Camae challenges assumptions. I love this about her! She matches King with quick intellect and wit. Even though an unconventional counterpart to King, her goodness overpowers her grit.
Interviewer: The Mountaintop has been praised for its exploration of important themes, such as race, identity, and the pursuit of justice. In your opinion, what messages does Camae’s powerful presence, in conjunction with her sanctioned role as both a partner and a leader of King within the play, remind us of the unspoken and unsung heroines of history, within and beyond the civil rights movement?
Willa: There is one of Camae’s lines that comes to mind, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired” When I read it, it was immediately familiar because I often portray historical figures. That quote was from a speech Fannie Lou Hamer delivered with Malcom X December 20, 1964.
Interviewer: As an actor, what personal insights or lessons are you gaining from playing the role of Camae in The Mountaintop?
Willa: I’ve had several reminders during this process, both on a personal and professional level. I’m a vessel full of power with a treasure none can compare! Continue to allow space for grace, especially for yourself. Do it afraid.
Interviewer: Why do you think audiences should come to see this production?
Willa: Seeing the humanity in this hero will hopefully spark the flame of heroism in audience members to ignite fires in the local community that spread abroad like wildfires. What do you hope they walk away with? All of us have the power to do great things. “All God’s Children Got Wings.”