Actress excited by Bermuda Fashion Festival
All eyes will be on Essence Atkins next week as she walks the red carpet at the Bermuda Fashion Festival.
The American actress has chosen the event to premiere her made-for-TV movie, Girls Getaway 2.
The 43-year-old is best known for her roles in the films Deliver Us From Eva and Haunted House and also the television sitcom Smart Guy.
At the moment, she’s excited to discover whether Bermuda lives up to its reputation.
“My girlfriend actually lived there for a while and was giving me the low down on Bermuda and telling me about some of the local things I will have a chance to do,” she said. “I’m just excited to be here for the event because it’s such a great time and fun. I’m excited to be around all the fashion and meet the designers. It’s going to be thrilling.
“For me, yes there’s Paris, New York and Milan. I’m not knocking any of those events, but I’m an island person and looking forward to being on an island with the talented actors among a beautiful setting.
“My husband is coming as well. We don’t get to do stuff just the two of us often so this will be a nice break.”
Girls Getaway 2 also stars Melinda Williams and Terri Vaughn. It’s about a successful businesswoman whose life is turned upside down when her boyfriend unexpectedly ends their relationship and moves to another town. The woman turns to her friends for help.
“The first movie was shot in Trinidad and Tobago. It’s about four friends who go on vacation and mayhem ensues,” Ms Atkins said.
“But what comes across on screen is the love and camaraderie between us women. There is conflict and sometimes the truth is a hard pill to swallow, but it’s all done and said in love and that’s what the women in the audience loved so much about the first film.
“Maybe you can’t relate to being kidnapped by a drug dealer, but you can relate to your girls having your back and trying to find time between commitments and daily life to reconnect with your girlfriends. I think that’s something people really identify with.
“This one happens a year later and we have moved forward with a lot of things having changed as characters in good ways and some bad. We have to deal with a new set of issues and challenges in Puerto Rico.”
Ms Atkins has been acting since she was a child. Roles in The Cosby Show, Family Matters and Saved by the Bell: The College Years are all part of her bio.
“I’ve worked on so many things that have challenged me and things that taught me and grew me,” she said.
“I guess what I’m most proud of is the longevity that I’ve had in my career and that’s a compliment to the people who have supported me all these years from project to project and I’m grateful that a lot of the people I’ve worked with have hired me again.
“I think there are so many incredibly talented actors out there so you have to distinguish yourself in some way and form. I try to do that through kindness and gratitude and try to remember that every project as actors — on stage, film or TV — is a collaborative effort. I try to make sure everyone feels included and appreciated for the craft that they do, from producers and writers to the director. Even if they’re giving me notes at 2am and I’m tired, I still try to make sure that I’m giving them my best.”
One of her most memorable acting experiences came when she got the chance to work alongside James Earl Jones in the 1995 series Under One Roof.
“That was a great one-hour trauma series I did and I remember watching James Earl Jones work in a scene with a young actor who was playing my brother and [Mr Jones] stuttered. He stopped and took a deep breath and got really quiet and said, ‘I’m acting’.
“Anyone that knows his story knows he used to have a very severe stutter but he would overcome it by reading Shakespeare aloud.
“That someone who is world-renowned and recognised for their auditory skills and voice used to have an extreme stutter, it was beautiful to watch and one of the most wonderful memories I have. It’s still crystal clear to me and I could feel the electricity in the room.
“I have had other great experiences and worked with legends like Diahann Carroll, Lynn Whitfield and Loretta Devine. When you have an opportunity to be in a scene with women who were pioneers as black actresses, it’s humbling.”
In her spare time, Ms Atkins likes to workout, ride horses and salsa dance.
But these days the real “thrills of [her] life” aren’t so much what activities she does, but who she does them with.
Having a meal where she can laugh with friends is something “you can’t put a price tag on”, she said.
Girls Getaway 2 kicks off at Speciality Cinema on Friday at 1pm. It’s an invitation-only event, but people are encouraged to come out to greet the celebrities as they arrive around noon.
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