Written by. Chalise Macklin
Idara Victor is making her mark on stage and the small screen. The model, singer (musician), and actress has landed big roles on some very popular shows including: Rizzoli and Isles and Turn: Washington Spies. If you don’t know her work, you should get familiar with it.
“I love to perform, in every capacity. I always wanted to act. I just never really knew if I could do it as a job. My parents are Nigerian immigrants, so they were definitely encouraging the more secure paths of law, medicine, and business. They were also very liberal, so they exposed us to a lot of different hobbies and interests growing up, and always encouraged us to do what we loved, “ said Victor.
She started dancing and playing the piano at age eight and fine tuning her skills from that point on. After graduating high school, the beauty attended and graduated from an Ivy League school (Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania) where she got her start in plays and transitioned into film. Victor performed in plays in parks with friends and privately studied acting outside of her academic studies.
“Wharton curriculum was tight, so I did everything I could to get my creativity out. I would endlessly read plays and perform Shakespeare in parks around the city, I also reconnected to my heritage by joining performing arts groups like our dance troupe, African Rhythms, which performed at different venues and held a huge show at the school twice a year. I went to Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute when I graduated from college, but it was when I got onstage in a professional show for the first time that I knew I was home. I think that maybe performing onstage and in public in all of these different capacities got me acclimated to living with an audience,” Victor said.
Idara made history as the first African American woman to play ‘Cosette’ on Broadway in the 20-year history of Les Miserables. It was not only a historical moment, but one she will never forget.
“That story is incredible, and one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. I sang it for them, knees shaking. They told me in the room that I got it, and on the first day of rehearsal, John Caird pulled me aside and told me that when I go on as ‘Cosette’, it will be the first time an African-American woman would ever do the role, worldwide. I cried. It’s such an iconic musical, and to be a part of that legacy that has touched so many just blows me away. I also got to sing at the 2013 Oscars with the cast of the film, which brought it all full circle,” said Idara.
Victor did not limit herself to stage acting, she started pursuing film roles and it paid off. She has also landed roles on Grey’s Anatomy, Castle, and Law and Order.
“That (auditioning for TV roles) was a challenge, and I was told it would be. When I was in New York doing theater, I got to do some TV work. I hopped on a plane to LA, and with help from friends, got on my feet, got representation and started auditioning,” said Victor.
Small parts came first, but then she landed two recurring roles on two hit shows.
“It was beautiful. I loved that I got to live in such different worlds, and I was blessed with the two shows having exactly opposite schedules. So I could live as ‘Nina Holiday’ through the spring and summer and as ‘Abigail’ through the fall and winter. And having the chance to go to different eras, jumping from modern day to the 1700’s was great for me as an artist. I got into this because of my curiosity about different worlds and how people cope, so to be able to delve into lives in such varying circumstances really makes me happy. I would get bored staying in one world, or as one person for too long – I like the variety,” said Victor.
As her star power continues to rise, she has dreams to fulfill.
“My dream role would be to play a queen, a la Cate Blanchett’s Elizabeth. I want a role that tells the story of an African queen in that way. How she steps into her destiny. I would also like to do something completely original and new, preferably something sexy and slick with big physical demands,” said Victor.
The year is coming to a close, so as 2017 approaches you can expect to see more of Idara as an actress and an activist.
“As far as a social issue, I would solve racism. I think it goes beyond racism into compassion and empathy. Because those qualities open us up to listening and educating ourselves so that we truly understand how deep these roots run, which is the only way we can firmly implementation solutions. It all has to start at the root, and I feel like we’ve been hacking away at the branches for years. Joy DeGruy-Leary has this great lecture you can look up called “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome,” and I think unless we talk about it at that level, its roots in slavery and how it’s still woven into our lives, or deal with affects of slavery on white owners as well, the way Steve McQueen did in 12 Years a Slave, we’re just putting Band-Aids on symptoms of a much larger problem.
The sky is the limit for Idara Victor. She recently completed a role in an American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win? Make sure to check it out.