Whether it was the breakout role as Faith Duluth on Lifetime’s UnREAL, playing Victoria in Betas, or her work on the drama series Mr. Mercedes that first caught your attention, the lovely Breeda Wool is hard to miss. A unique style has landed the actress her own UnREAL spin-off – The Faith Diaries, as well as roles in the horror anthology series XX and feature film AWOL. More recently, you can catch Breeda making appearances in NBC’s Midnight, Texas and HBO’s hit comedy, Vice Principals.
We were lucky enough to chat with Breeda, as she prepared for this year’s Emmy Awards. The actress took time for a delightfully deep conversation to share how she finds beauty in the balance of work and life.
Sari: What first made you fall in love with acting?
Breeda: Playing make-believe was my absolute favorite game as a kid. I had a rope swing in my backyard and I would have Olympic-style battles. So, I was either going to be an Olympic gymnast or an actor. Now that I’m an actor, I can play an Olympic gymnast. *laughs* I also liked being on stage from when I was [a young child]. There was a time in my life when I wanted to be a professional dancer. My mom used to take me to these beautiful modern dance pieces and I would see this sort of physical expression. My parents were both professors. They used to have these fun, cool, academic parties and I would organize dance pieces with my friends that I would perform. Then there was a hot second when I thought I was going to be a physicist. I entered college as a Physics and Theater double major.
Sari: Wow. So, what was it that made you switch?
Breeda: As an actor, you know you’re in a service position to something else: a story, a writer, a world that you didn’t create on your own. When I was in college, I felt like being in that service position [meant] not having my own voice. So, I wanted to be a director, I wanted to be an activist, and I wanted to have a platform where I was expressing my own voice. Eventually [I thought], what’s wrong with being of service to a story? Also, it’s hard to realize that your favorite childhood game is your life passion. There was a lot of judgement around that for me. I don’t think that way anymore. I think if you could figure out how to make your favorite childhood game your passion, it’s a weird feeling, but it’s pretty awesome.
Sari: Let’s talk more about your experience on UnREAL. Did you expect the kind of fan reaction that you’ve gotten from it?
Breeda: Sarah Shapiro, the creator of UnREAL, made this beautiful, incredible story and I just wanted to be able to tell it as creatively and truthfully as I possibly could. So, to have people react the way that they did, I felt like it was a testament to truth, I guess.
Sari: Let’s discuss your spin-off, The Faith Diaries. What’s been your favorite part about playing that character?
Breeda: I think the most interesting part was discovering religion, what it means to have a relationship with God, and what it means to live in a culture that says your private, beautiful, secret thoughts are a sin; and coming to terms with that. All of that was so illuminating and interesting to me. Just sort of navigating and trying to be a good person, but having these grandiose expectations that aren’t in line with what you truly think and feel at all. In that story, I go on a heterosexual reality TV show when I have a secret love for women. I couldn’t be trying to escape my true thoughts more, you know.
Sari: How does it feel shifting gears with your role on Mr. Mercedes? What’s been the most exciting challenge for you?
Breeda: This story is really fascinating to me; just how a violent act can cause so many people’s lives to be ruptured. I mean, you want to talk about secret thoughts. In UnREAL, my secret thoughts were coming from a place of love. It’s fascinating to have Mr. Mercedes, where so much of the internal life of Brady Hartsfield is based on a very nefarious kind of mindset. I also think that right now, living in this United States environment where there are a lot of people lashing out, we should examine why people are the way they are. Understanding is the key to all things – educating yourself and bridging the gap where you don’t make people ‘other.’ Maybe then we can have a better understanding of why people commit violent acts to begin with.
Sari: What advice can you give to those who are looking to pursue a career in the arts? What could you offer from your experience?
Breeda: Don’t complain. You’re not entitled to anything, so don’t feel bad when you don’t get it. The biggest thing is that nobody can control how good you are at your art – only you. You’ll get jobs. You won’t get jobs. That will fluctuate continuously. The only thing you have control of is mastering your own art. So, that’s all you should be looking at and evaluating.
Breeda’s additional advice: Investigate James Baldwin’s work. Watch Ava DuVernay’s 13th. Support Munroe Bergdorf. Listen to the band the Brinks. Watch lady-made projects. And, of course, go check out AWOL and XX.
Photographer Yasmine Kateb
Makeup Ashley Rudder
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