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Mikele Stanfield

Posted on 01 June 2009

The Bridgehampton student and NAACP dramatics award winner on making a monologue her own, preparing for an emotional role and hoping to make it to Hollywood.


So what was the competition like?

It was pretty stiff. I had to go into a room with three judges who are teachers and professional judges and had to do my monologue. I chose Hell and High Water from the Katrina Project [written by Michael Marks and Mackenzie Westmoreland]. Another girl had done the exact same monologue before me; but when she did it, it was like she was reading out of a book.


How did you make your performance stand out?

I added lines to the monologue about how my own family was left alone in their homes [in New Orleans] for three days with no food and no water. I think adding lines helped me embrace the character. When I just read it normally people liked it, but it wasn’t as personal. When you read lines it just feels like you are reciting something; but when you get into your character it actually touches people.


What was the monologue about and why did you choose it?

It was about Katrina and how Bush didn’t do anything. It’s about how people were dying in the Superdome. I chose it because I did have family down there. I did have a great aunt who died. I was tearing up when I did the monologue. I think they saw how into it I was and how furious I was about what had happened.


How did you prepare for the piece?

I worked every day with my coach Jacqui Leder. She would come to the school and help me for two periods every day. The when I got home I would practice for another two hours. I had my friends help me rehearse and my mom would read me lines. I only had a week to learn the monologue but I think the shorter amount of time was actually better for me. Some of the kids at the competition had been doing the same monologue for two years. I did the monologue the way I felt it, instead of changing things about it. I did it free handed. During the audition I kicked off my shoes, but I didn’t think ‘oh now I am going to do this and then I am going to transition into this.’ I also did a lot of research. I asked people their perspective on what happened. I was born in the South, so when I was acting my down South voice came out.


How do you approach acting?

I don’t want to be stiff. I don’t want to seem over dramatic. My judges gave me a critique sheet and said that I move my body and paused in between my sentences perfectly. This is my first year in the competition, but I think I brought it.


What kind of reaction did you get being a sixteen-year-old girl who took on such an emotional role?

After I performed it for the judges, I went outside and a parent in the hallway asked me how old I was. When I said I was sixteen, they were like ‘are you serious? I have never seen someone go into character like you did.’ When I did it for the judges, their mouths were open by the end. One woman told me that she couldn’t believe that had come from me.


Which award did you end up winning?

I got the bronze in dramatics. I get to go to nationals, though I can’t compete, on July 8 and get to see how it is and take some workshops. I am taking one workshop called “Better Yourself” and it’s kind of like a meditation. They make you stop and think about your characters and how you will pursue them and what is the impact on you.


Are you going to compete next year?

Yeah I think I am going to do more categories. I am going to do a contemporary piece on my saxophone and do a little poetry. I write my own poetry.


Who has been helping you along the way?

The Bridgehampton Day Care center, especially Bonnie Cannon. She drove me up to the competition. The First Church of God in Bridgehampton and even people at Bridgehampton High School.


Could you recite a little bit from your favorite part of the monologue?

“How can my family be left alone with no food, no water, no help” and the last part “I bet if Bin Laden had attacked us then Dubbya would have showed up.”


It seems you have been bitten by the acting bug. Any plans to be an actress?

Yeah I think that is what I am going to do. My mom always said ‘You are going to take me to Hollywood.’ 


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