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Tsilala living a life of drama in New York

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On song: Tsilala Brock performing in Russia(Photograph by Pavel Korbut)

Just getting across New York City can be a trial for newcomers.

Tsilala Brock found that out when she moved there to pursue an acting and singing career.

“The hard part hasn’t been getting the jobs, but navigating yourself in a big city,” she said. “New York is such a hustle and bustle. Even just getting on the right train at the right time can cause a lot of anxiety.”

She moved to New York two years ago after graduating from Pennsylvania’s Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in musical theatre.

“They made the transition to New York very smooth,” she said. “After graduation they held a showcase in New York. Graduates had two minutes to perform before agents and industry professionals. That’s how I got an agent. The alumni community in New York is very supportive.”

The 24-year-old, who has US and Bermuda citizenship, has settled in.

“I am at a place where I feel much more in control of my surroundings,” she said. “I have a support system; I know I have to take the train at the very end if I want to make my transfer.”

Ms Brock started dancing with United Dance Productions when she was 3. As a teenager her interest swung more to musical theatre, she also has an interest in film.

“I have been on the stage my whole life,” she said.

She feels fortunate to have had small roles in TV shows — NBC’s Mysteries of Laura and Comedy Central’s Broad City. She’s also performed in plays and sung with a band.

“I am really grateful I’m able to be working because it is really hard for people to get anything,” she said. “It is about hard work and consistency and being prepped for the next job or role.”

Last summer she went to Russia, part of a 15-day tour with Migguel Anggelo and the Immigrants. The US Department of State funded the trip.

“Normally, we perform at Joe’s Pub in New York,” she said. “I am vocals and dance captain. We were the musicians for the US ambassador’s house in Moscow for July 4. We also spent 15 days beforehand going to nine different cities around Russia and really getting to know the country.

“It really brought a lot of humility to me. I had this idea of Russia being so negative, but that’s all political. To see people get united because of music and the fun and the sway of a Latin song was really, really fun.”

The hardest thing about life as an actress — not getting a role.

She auditioned for Broadway’s The Colour Purple and “got some callbacks which was exciting”, but didn’t get the part.

Still, she’s putting that experience to good use. Ms Brock will take the lead role in Troika’s musical The Colour Purple when she returns next month.

“I played the lead in Troika’s Beauty and the Beast in 2014,” she said.

“When they did The Colour Purple in July, I was in Russia.

“It blew up and so many people on the island enjoyed it. It is a really important story.

“They called me and said, ‘Tentatively, would you be available if we do it again?’

“I said, ‘Of course, no problem’. When I saw the video of the last show they did, I screamed in my little apartment in New York.

“There is so much talent here and it is awesome to see that.”

But she said it was a huge challenge coming into an already established cast.

“They know it, but they also have bonded together as a cast,” she said. “I am stepping in and meeting a lot of people for the first time.

“Doing this show in Bermuda is really big because the role of Celie is such a huge role in the industry.

“Being able to have on my résumé proof that I am able to lead a show is really important.”

The Colour Purple will run February 3 and 4 at 7.30pm and February 5 at 3pm, at the Ruth Seaton James Centre for the Performing Arts.

General admission is $70; patron tickets are $125. Buy them at www.ptix.bm. For more information e-mail info@troikabda.com

Tsilala Brock (Photograph supplied)
Tsilala Brock (Photograph supplied)
For Russia with love: Tsilala Brock delighting a Russian crowd
Tsilala Brock (Photograph supplied)
Tsilala Brock (Photograph supplied)
Tsilala Brock (Photograph supplied)
Tsilala Brock performing in Russia (Photograph by Pavel Korbut)