Actor Douglas Wade Talks About Life In Film and Theater
Wade pictured on the left with hand resting on his leg and a look of hope dancing in his eyes...
Sitting in the New York version of rush hour traffic (gridlock), Douglas Wade joked that circulation is very different than what’s experienced in Charlotte, NC. Therefore, he didn’t mind participating in an audio interview while waiting.
Wade said that he wanted to do two things growing up, which was acting and making it big in the NBA’s. While getting only as far as the semi pros, he caught a severe case of the acting bug.
He studied theater at Ernie McClintock’s workshop in Harlem.
“I was really young and rambunctious at that time. I was all over the place and I didn’t have discipline. McClintock saw something great within me, and he pushed, mostly by yelling at me,” he chuckled.
Wade also studied theater under Earl Hyman in his late teens. Hyman actually played the father of Cliff Huxtable, Grandpa Russle, on the Cosby Show.
“Studying under him and letting him mentor me was the best thing that I could’ve ever done,” said Wade.
“I still take his lessons with me, on any project that I’ve ever worked on.”
The New York native took what he learned and glided into the Black Spectrum Theater in Queens, New York, under the resident director, Ben Howard.
Wade did a lot of background work as well— “If you blinked, you’d miss me,” he laughed.
“It’s the experience though. I had the biggest pleasure in shooting “Mo Better Blues,” with Spike Lee, and I was background in the bar scene.
I got so much education watching. I mean, Denzel was on the right and Wesley Snipes was on the left, Bill Nunn was in the back, and Spike Lee was there.
Robin Harris told jokes for 3 days and none of them was the same… You can’t get a better onsite training than to sit there and just watch everything that’s going on,” he spoke reminiscently
“I snuck backstage, behind the production lines, and listened to how they talked and planned. Oh, it was phenomenal, phenomenal! This is where you make your bones and learn things. I was blessed to be afforded that situation.
I have tons of stories that I call “background stories,” and I cherish them all.”
Wade appeared in “Return of Super Fly.”
He said that the only reason that he got the role is because he wore a tuxedo. “They were looking for someone in a tuxedo that could be a ventriloquist.
“Yeah, I don’t direct people to look at that often,” he scoffed lightheartedly.
“I’ve done "Green Cards," "Mo Better Blues," "Vampire," and I did a little work on “Law & Order.”
Most of my work has been in theater. I’ve done the “Blacks” by Jean Genet,” a play called "Spooks," “Once in Lifetime, and Amen Corner.”
Last year, I was asked to play as the leading role, Troy, in "Fences." We won the Audelco Awards for Best Ensemble. I was very proud to be part of that project.
Wade is currently featured in the latest adaption of "Two Trains Running." August Wilson wrote the original screen play years ago, and now the Black Spectrum Theater’s founder, Carl Clay, is bringing the stage-show back into production.
“There are seven characters in this play. Memphis is the proprietor that owns the restaurant where all the action takes place. Holloway, my role, is probably a good friend of Memphis as well as one of his longstanding customers.
So the story is really about community, and in a lot of August Wilson’s pieces, it’s about society—the neighborhood of people.
The story takes place in 1969 at the Hills restaurant in Pittsburgh. Holloway is this old guy who pretty much tells his story about injustice that’s happened over the years, and the way he sees life. He talks about his spiritual life and Aunt Esther and the prophet Samuel.
During this time, blacks were struggling, and they were experiencing a lot of pain.
Holloway is that philosopher that tells the story about the history in the community and he is the educated one out the group,” he explains.
Not only is Wade in Two “Trains Running,” he’s also in a recurring performance called “Piano Lessons.”
Wade said that the whole theater company is in love with August Wilson’s writings, profound poetry, and his whole message within the community of actors.
As for the playhouse, the theater has a rich 47-year history, and it was started by Carl Clay.
“I’ve been performing with Black Spectrum since the early 90’s, so it’s a great place for actors of all grades and doesn’t matter how experienced or inexperienced you are—it’s a great place to hone your skills…Black Spectrum is a gem in the South.”
If there were a such thing as taking a break, Wade doesn’t plan to find the aisle of leisure anytime soon. “I don’t know what rest and relaxation is,” he said. “
“I try to give it all I got with whatever time that God blesses me with. Leaving behind that body of work is very important to me.
Everything I do, I put my all into it and I try to find time for every faced of my life, whether it’s the play, rest, or grinding.
“Listen,” he said. “I’m not the first to do it, and I won’t be the last. I just want to be in the mix and in the conversation. That’s all that I ask.
I encourage anyone that has aspirations of getting into the business, I encourage you to do the work. Don’t just get up there onstage and declare yourself as an actor. Do the work and go through the process!
There is so much that can be learned along the way, that you can grasp and attach it to your career.
As for the future, I want to get to that next level, and I want to branch out. I’d like to look at recurring TV roles or something.
If I wasn’t acting, I’d be teaching,” he said.
“I love sharing my talents. Whatever God is giving me; I’d love to share it with anyone that would take the time to learn it. I would gift it to someone else.”
If you’d like to catch the comical and yet frankness of Douglas Wade, he’ll be in “Two Trains Running.”
The play premieres tonight at Black Spectrum Theater in New York. The stage adaption is running from November 4 through November 20th of 2016.