COVID may be putting a kibosh on live performances these days, but that’s not stopping actress Brooklynn T. Solomon from getting creative. Perhaps best known for her recurring role as local journalist Ginger Rutland in Rutland’s autobiographical play, “When We Were Colored: A Mother’s Story,” the midtown resident says she’s currently on a “creative kick, branching out, making my mark in as many realms as I can”—meaning everything from modeling to helping a friend who has a photography business. “I want to lift up as many of my fellow artists as I can,” says Solomon.
But heck, let’s be real: She’s dying to get back to work. “We’re all itching to get back on stage,” says Solomon, who turns 37 this month. Until COVID-19 hit, she was busily bopping around on a bevy of local stages, including Celebration Arts, Big Idea Theatre and Sacramento Theatre Company. Doing plays via Zoom, she says, isn’t the same.
Born in Germany to military parents, Solomon was nearly 5 when she moved with her family to California. The acting bug bit while she was attending Woodcreek High in Roseville and never let go, as she shared during our recent phone interview.
Tell me about your early experiences with acting.
They had a really great drama program at Woodcreek. The first show I did on stage was “To See the Stars.” It was such a rush! In my senior year I got into our drama class, which was like a professional drama class. I think we did six shows a year. [The late] Tom Fearon was our director, and he was the toughest director I ever had. He ran a really tight ship and instilled so much discipline, focus and professionalism in all of us.
Sounds like he laid a great foundation for your career path.
He did! I had been planning to go to college to study criminal justice but changed my mind in my junior year of high school. I went on to get my theater arts degree at Sac State in 2007.
Which have been some of your most memorable roles, and why?
Definitely one of my favorite roles was Claudia in “The Bluest Eye” at Celebration Arts. It’s just such a powerful show, and it was an amazing cast and an absolute blast to do. I’ve also been in Ginger Rutland’s play “When We Were Colored” three times! In fact, we were putting it on at The Guild Theater earlier this year when the quarantine started. But we only had to cancel one show, so we were very lucky. It’s a great show because it’s a local story, about a local family, and it’s one of the most feel-good shows I’ve ever done. It was also great to be a part of the evolution of that show, because from the first time I did it to the last time, Ginger made dramatic changes to the script.
Tell me about playing the part of Ginger. Why do you think you were selected for that part?
Ginger is the narrator of that show, and I kind of thrive in narrator roles, so I really connected to it and I connected to Ginger in general. She found me through Celebration Arts. I had done a staged reading there and I believe she asked James [Wheatley] for my email and she reached out and said, “I’d like you to play me in my show.” And I auditioned and was hired right away. Ginger was there for most of the rehearsals, and to play her as a teenager, college student and adult was just amazing.
You’ve also done a few films, including “Crème Brûlée” and “Whirlpool.” What can you share about those experiences?
It was really fun, and I’d like to do more film work. But stage is still my main passion. With filming, it’s a lot of stopping and starting, and I just love the continuity of stage work. I love being fully in the moment. You can’t beat it.
Any thoughts about local theater organizations that are expanding programming to include more Black voices and stories?
I think it’s amazing, because it’s traditionally been hard to find roles that really speak to me. The main place I’ve been able to find that locally has been Celebration Arts. When I do a production there, I know I’ll be doing something powerful, something that will teach the audience something about the Black experience. But now some of the other local theaters seem to want to make this a priority. I’m excited to see where it goes.