No matter who you are, at some point in your life, whether it be in the shower or in front of a mirror with a hair brush, you’ve given an Oscar speech to an imaginary audience of your cohorts because that type of public acknowledgement is the ultimate symbol of success. It’s no wonder so many people have stars in their eyes. But given the high risk/high reward nature of the entertainment industry (emphasis on the high risk), it takes nerves of steel, patience and unwavering commitment to break in, let alone leave a mark. However, Ms. Xosha Roquemore, who currently plays Tamra on Fox’s The Mindy Project, is proving she’s in it for the long haul and is dedicated to her craft.
Location: Los Angeles, California
How did you get started?
I grew up in theatre. My dad was a director/writer and my mom is a managing director/producer. I did plays all throughout high school and then majored in Drama at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Shortly after graduating from Tisch I booked Precious. We shot in the fall/ winter of 2007. After shooting that I continued to audition and work as a waitress at night. Once Precious was released at the end of 2009 I began working with a manager and started getting bigger better auditions for films and roles on TV. Eventually, I started booking some of these roles and that’s still pretty much what goes on now. Audition, book, work and on to the next. Or audition, don’t book and on to the next. It’s the nature of the career.
What’s an average day like?
One of the gifts (and sometimes curses) of being an actor is having an unpredictable schedule. An average day on set at The Mindy Project usually starts with an early call time. Then I go through hair and makeup. Depending on the order of the scenes, I either go straight to set for a rehearsal or go back to my trailer until my scene is up. The food is ample; I spend a lot of time in Craft Services making juices. (We have a juicer. It’s amazing!) It’s usually an 8-12 hour day, depending on what types of scenes we’re shooting. When I’m not on set, an average, productive, “actor-y” day usually consists of working out, going to or preparing for an audition, working on material for scene study class, handling life business and on occasion going to fancy Hollywood events [laughs].
We’ve been following your red carpet hair styles. What’s been your favorite so far?
I have an ultra long ponytail that I live for! I wore it to the Essence Women in Hollywood luncheon and PaleyFest.
What’s been your favorite moment on set so far?
So many amazing onset moments. I guess my favorite would have to be in Precious. There is a scene in the classroom when Precious basically punches another student in the head and the punch wasn’t in the script. Lee just told Gabby to do it and none of us knew it was coming! I love everyone’s reactions in that scene. We were all sooooo shocked. Very authentic. Lee Daniels will always keep you on your toes. He’s the best.
How exciting was your Elle Magazine shoot?!
The Elle Magazine shoot was super exciting! I’m just happy and still shocked that I was included! I got to slink around like a model and wear a fly plaid Balmain outfit that made me feel like Rihanna, basically my fashion dreams come true.
Ups and downs you sometimes face on the job:
The hardest part of being an actor is probably the rejection, but it is what it is and it makes the wins so much sweeter! Everyone having an opinion on you can be hard to handle as well. I’m just starting to feel the pangs of that firsthand (on a very small level). I can’t imagine how it feels for actors with massive fame. But getting to do what I love for a living definitely outweighs anybody’s bizarre opinion of me.
Why do you do it?
I do it because I love it! I love performing and always have! I can’t really imagine doing anything else… I’d be a pop star, but that’s just a pipe dream.
Your greatest achievement so far?
My greatest achievement so far is being able to make an actual living doing what I love! It sounds simple, but trust me…
What might be next for you?
Hmmm, I’ve been wondering what was next too! Season three of The Mindy Project will begin production sometime in the next few months, until then I’ll be on the aforementioned “Productive Actor-y schedule,” haha.
For anyone reading this, thinking about becoming an actor, what advice might you give?
Jennifer Lewis was asked about what advice she would give to young actors. My favorite quote from her long and spirited reply was “The elevator to the top is broken; take the stairs.” That basically sums it up. Be patient; be talented; be true to yourself. Take classes; do your work; love it; live it and be confident. You have to have unfaltering confidence about yourself, your gifts and what you have to offer the industry/the world! Shoot, that’s advice for anyone not just actors!
What are your top five go-to hair tips?
- Invest in clip-in hair. When I have my natural hair out and pressed I love to change it up with my clips. I have so many in varying lengths.
- If you work in entertainment and your hair gets fried on a regular basis, consider a protective hair style like a full wig or weave.
- Condition. Condition. Condition!
- Know how to do your own hair in case you get caught in a bind.
- Change it up as much as possible! I love experimenting with different hairstyles. During my hiatus I’m going to get ultra long two strand kinky twists!
Fun Fact: Xosha’s dad, Cliff Roquemore, was the filmmaker behind 1970s cult classics like Petey Wheatstraw and The Human Tornado.
Photos via, via, via Getty Images, Xosha Roquemore