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L. Scott Caldwell: Douglas Turner Ward, The Fugitive, Tony Award and More…

Exclusive Interview by Karen Beishuizen
Photo courtesy of L. Scott Caldwell

L. Scott Caldwell is an American actress best known for her roles as Deputy U.S. Marshall Erin Poole in “The Fugitive” and Rose on the television series “Lost”. She became a member of The Resident Acting Company of the Negro Ensemble Company where Douglas Turner Ward, the founder, became her mentor. In 1988 she won the Tony Award for the role of Bertha in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s “Come and Gone”. She has two new projects coming out later this year: Neil Gaiman’s “The Anansi Boys” for Amazon and “Bad Monkey” for Apple TV.

KB: Did you always want to be an actress as a kid?

As a young person I watched a lot of movies and was drawn to actresses like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford playing dimensional strong characters but because I saw nobody that looked like me except Hattie Mc Daniels playing “the maid”, I never dreamed that being an actress was a viable possibility. Around aged 13 I joined my high school drama club and that is when the spark happened.

KB: I read you were a teacher. What did you teach?

I taught Drama in the English Department of a performing Arts High School.

KB: Douglas Turner Ward: How big of an influence was he for you when it comes to acting?

I had gone to New York City to audition to study with Uta Hagen. The whole trajectory of my life changed when Douglas Turner Ward invited me to become a member of the Resident Acting Company of the Negro Ensemble Company. Everything I learned about acting happened in that space with all the great actors in the company. Douglas Turner Ward, the founder/director of the company had a profound influence on my life and career. His guidance and support shaped me in ways I could have never imagined. And… This became my full circle moment as Douglas Turner Ward’s play “A Day of Absence” marked the first time I saw professional black actors on stage when my high school drama class attended a performance of their touring production.

KB: How did you get the part as US Deputy Marshal Erin Poole in “The Fugitive”?

The television show “The Fugitive” was my obsession in the 60’s, so I was over the moon when I got the opportunity to audition for the movie. Because there was not much dialogue in the audition sides for the US Marshalls, I chose instead to read the Gerard scenes for my audition. When I found out I was in the running, but there was nothing on my reel except me playing judges, I took the extra step of making a home video of me ‘handling a gun, chasing down and cuffing and arresting my mate. I think that helped.

KB: How did you get the part as Rose Nadler on “Lost”?

It was moving day for me when I got a call from my agent” could I get over to Warner Brothers to meet with the producers of a new show. Just a meet as there was no script for the part I was being considered for. So, I dashed over in overalls and a head scarf to meet JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof. The meeting was a blur, but I guess they liked me. Later that day I got the Call “would I be willing to move to Hawaii? Duh?

KB: You won a Tony in 1988 for your role in Joe Turner’s “Come and Gone”. How did you feel?

Winning the Tony Award for the role of Bertha in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s “Come and Gone” directed by the great Lloyd Richards was absolutely surreal experience. I felt like Cinderella at the ball. Theater is such a collaborative art; it was an absolute honor to accept the award on behalf of all the artist that worked on the show.

KB: What does theater give you that TV and movies don’t?

I enjoy acting in all its forms and each medium offers a different experience, but I would have to say Theater remains the most special. The rehearsal process is my favorite. The collaborative work with the actors, the director and designers allow for a deeper connection, and you become a community, a family when you’re in that creative space together. Then of course when you add the audience to the mix, that energy and connection is when the real magic happens.

KB: Are there people out there you would love to collaborate with or wished you had?

There are so many tremendously talented actors and wonderful directors working today that it would hard to pick. So, I’ll just say that I am looking forward to my next experience whatever it may be. I know it will be challenging, fun and exciting because that all I’m going to say “Yes” to.

KB: You star and can decide whether it will be a movie or theater play, the director and 2 co-stars: What is your decision and who do you pick?

If I could create a dream project it would be for either stage or film but would include Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington, with Spike Lee directing.

KB: What are you currently up to in your long career?

I have started working on a couple screenplays and have two projects I’m excited about coming out later this year. The first is Neil Gaiman’s “The Anansi Boys” for Amazon and “Bad Monkey” for Apple TV from the team that brought you “Ted Lasso”.

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