Date of publishing: 24th
Born in London, CYNTHIA ADDAI-ROBINSON, whose mother
is from Ghana and father from America, moved with
her mother to the United States and was raised in
a Suburb of Washington, DC. CYNTHIA fell in love with
acting at a very young age, performing in all her
school plays and local productions. She furthered
her love of the Arts when she went on to pursue a
degree in Theatre at the prestigious Tisch School
of the Arts at NYU. After performing in several plays
in New York, CYNTHIA moved to Los Angeles, and appeared
on show such as CSI: NY, CSI: Miami, and Numbers.
Her recent recurring roles include the F/X show Dirt
and ABC’s Flash Forward.
She can currently be seen on the big screen in the
Sony film Columbiana. CYNTHIA will next be seen on
the hit Starz show Spartacus playing the series regular
role of ‘Naevia’.
Nuytens: Hello and
nice to meet you! Firstly I would like to know what
drives you in life?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: What drives
me in life ... that's a tough one! I am definitely
someone who pushes myself, and as a result, I try
to grow and learn along the way. So I guess I'd say
my curiosity and my constant desire to learn and be
open to new things.
Gilles Nuytens: I
see that you fell in love with acting at a very young
age. Can you tell us more about this love for acting?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: My passion
for acting is really about my love of being a storyteller.
I come from a family of really animated storytellers!
I think it may have somehow come from that. I was
a really shy child, but being on a stage - having
that platform - gave me permission to be outgoing
and loud. I liked the fact that I could be the shy
, quiet girl laying low and then surprise everyone
with a performance that seemed so unlike me. I would
say that holds true to this day.
Gilles Nuytens: To
follow up the previous question, what made acting
more than a simple hobby? Why did you choose this
profession instead of something else?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: My first
experience with the "craft" of acting was
when I was a teenager. I was looking for something
to do one summer and applied to a pre-college program
at Carnegie Mellon University. It really opened my
eyes to the history and technique of acting, and it
was exciting to be with like-minded people who were
as passionate about acting as I was. After that I
knew I wanted to go to college and pursue a degree
in theater, and I still can't believe that my mother
went along with it, but I am extremely lucky that
she did. I could have taken a "safer" route
and studied something practical, but nowadays that's
no guarantee that you'll have it any easier than a
starving artist. Better to starve for something you're
Gilles Nuytens: As
an actress, what is the part of the job you are the
less at ease with? And what is the one you are the
most at ease with?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: I'm still
navigating the world of social media. It's something
I'm trying to embrace because I recognize that it's
a great way to connect with people who are fans of
your work. But I'm also a very private person, so
I'm trying to find my comfort level in terms of what
kind of information I share. I'm most at ease when
I'm actually acting; as an actor, you're doing so
many other things that are business-related, that
sometimes acting becomes a small part of what you
do. The rest of the time is spent reading, auditioning,
doing press, etc. The other aspects of the job can
be fun too, but acting definitely gives me the most
Nuytens: Which actresses
(their work, play, etc) have influenced you so far?
Anyone in particular that inspire you?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: I'm influenced
by many actresses past and present, but think I'm
more influenced by everyday women in my life. I also
just like to sit back and observe and take in the
world around me; I love to travel any chance I get,
and everything I've observed over the years inspires
and influences my work.
Gilles Nuytens: And
what about directors, any favorites or anyone you'd
like to work with? And why?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: I hope to
be lucky enough to work with a variety of directors,
because often the director is the element that really
dictates the work experience. I recently saw "Shame"
directed by Steve McQueen, and it was a intense movie
that could have gone any number of ways, but I think
the subject matter was really deftly and artfully
handled. And the working relationship between director
and lead actor (Michael Fassbender) was obviously
one strongly rooted in trust. I would love to have
an opportunity to work closely with a director, build
a character from the ground up, and then just "play".
So McQueen, or any other director that works in that
style, would be a really exciting challenge.
Gilles Nuytens: Which
is the role you preferred to play at this point, the
best one, the one that most marked you?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: I'm having
a lot of fun at the moment playing Naevia; it's my
first major role on a television series, and I'm really
happy that I'm being given the opportunity to do things
with this character that I've never been asked to
Gilles Nuytens: Similar
question, not about a particular role, but the best
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: It's hard
to pick just one, but for now I'd say when I left
home for college in New York. I have really fond memories
of my time in New York, and it shaped a lot of my
views on acting and life in general. It's an inspiring
city and most of my closest friends are people I met
while I lived there.
Nuytens: You are
born in London but lived in Washington. Do you feel
a little British or not at all? What do you think
about British cinema/TV?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: Ha ha, sure,
we can say I feel "a little" British. I
still have some relatives over there, so I get to
London quite a bit. I absolutely love London, grey
weather and all . Whenever I'm there, I really identify
with the city; it gets me and I get it. I'm very much
a city girl at heart. As for British film and television,
I'm a huge fan of projects that feel distinctly British
in tone, especially comedy. I love Ricky Gervais and
Simon Pegg and that brand of humor, but then I also
crack up when I watch Mr. Bean.
Gilles Nuytens: In
Spartacus, You are reprising the role left by Leslie-Ann
Brandt. Reprising the role left by someone else isn't
an easy task, there are many points that are very
important for the continuity of the show (same for
the role of Spartacus himself). How did you prepare
this role? And how do you generally prepare yourself
to be in the role?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: It really
depends on the role. Playing Naevia in "Spartacus:Vengence"
was a particularly daunting task, for many reasons.
I had to go back and watch the first season to see
what the previous actress had established, and then
I had to fill in the holes and make some personal
choices to bring the character to where the audience
finds her in season 2. In some ways, it helped that
I was a bit isolated; we shoot in New Zealand, so
I was very far from home. I was away from my life,
so I didn't have many distractions . But that can
be a blessing and a curse. I tried to make sure that
as I mentally prepared to take on the weight of what
this role required, I could also get out of that mindset
and be myself again, which was tricky. Some days,
that proved easier than others, but I really wanted
to fulfill what the writers had created on the page
and bring as much truth as I could to the role.
Gilles Nuytens: What
would you say are the differences between your portrayal
of Naevia and Leslie-Ann Brandt's?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: We are portraying
Naevia at two very different points in her journey;
in the first season, as well as the prequel, Naevia
is a young, naive house slave whose path would have
been pretty straightforward if not for her love affair
with Crixus. The love story had an innocence and purity
to it. Unfortunately the circumstances at the end
of season one set Naevia on a very different path,
and in this second season I portray Naevia in the
aftermath of a violent, and I would even say near-fatal,
exile. I would also say that Leslie-Ann looks a lot
cleaner than I do, ha ha!
Nuytens: How did
you enjoy shooting in New Zealand?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: Getting the
opportunity to live and work in a part of the world
I had never been to was a dream come true. The people
are lovely and the city of Auckland is great. I'm
hoping to travel a little bit more the next time I'm
there. The only downside is being so far from home,
but Skype helps keep me sane.
Gilles Nuytens: Spartacus
is getting a 3rd season! Are you going to be part
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: I believe
so - you never know with this show!
Gilles Nuytens: What
are the best memories you have from the show?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: We work really
hard on the show, and sometimes have really long days,
but some of the best moments are in between set-ups.
We have a lot of personalities amongst the cast and
crew, so there was always a lot of laughter.
Nuytens: Any good
anecdote you want to share about Spartacus?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: Um, what
happens on Spartacus stays on Spartacus :)
Gilles Nuytens: Colombiana,
tell us about your experience on that movie.
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: I had a lovely
time working on Colombiana. The film was shot all
over the world with an international crew, and I worked
with the film in Mexico City. It was another opportunity
to see a new place which I loved. Working with a French
and Mexican crew, with all the languages flying back
and forth, was really just a testament to the power
of the universal language of film.
Gilles Nuytens: Same
question for FlashForward, what do you keep in mind
from that show?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: I was just
happy to be involved in a project that had such a
cool concept and amazing talent both in front of and
behind the camera. It was unfortunate that it only
went for a season, but television is a tricky medium
in that way.
Gilles Nuytens: How
far would you go to get a role you really want, even
if this role isn't bringing you money?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: I would try
to prepare as much as possible and get as much information
as possible in terms of the project, but I would never
do something that I would later regret. It's just
a role, after all.
Nuytens: If you
were offered a role you dislike, but offered a lot
of money to portray it, would you accept?
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: Some of the
most highly regarded actors and actresses have taken
roles that were obviously for the money. I'm sure
everyone has there own reason or justification for
it because it is a job, but hopefully the financial
stability from a large paycheck puts you in a position
to do roles in independent films , plays or even pursue
a passion outside of acting. So if it were for those
reasons, I would say yes as long it wasn't something
that I felt was demeaning.
Gilles Nuytens: Thank
you for this interview! Anything else you'd like to
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: Phew, I think
that's all I can manage; great questions!
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