Who: Octavia Chavez-Richmond, 29, CTC conservatory actor.
She opened the season with the Young Playwrights Project and can currently be seen in Airness as Astrid “Cannibal Queen” Anderson. In the traveling production of As You Like It, she also plays Touchstone, the fool who tags along with Rosalind and Celia as they escape to the Forest of Arden.
“He’s a bit wiser than the people around them,” Chavez-Richmond said. “The story that I came up with for him is that he had to bring himself up on his own, and he basically made his way in the world with his wit.”
Where she’s from: Chavez-Richmond is from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She just graduated from Brown/Trinity Rep MFA program in Providence, Rhode Island, and said that she came to Chautauqua to get more experience with Shakespeare and learn from others in the conservatory.
“Chautauqua was the perfect bridge to the real world from school,” she said.
First theatrical memory:As a girl, Chavez-Richmond remembers being excited by the first movie musical she ever saw, “Evita,” starring Madonna. Since then, she started auditioning for plays and got involved with John Robert Powers, an acting company in New Mexico.
“I stepped away from (acting) for a while and came back to it in high school and then stepped away from it again and then came back in college and then stepped away again,” Chavez-Richmond said. “It was something I thought, ‘I don’t have to do this. I can be practical,’ but I can’t. I just love it so much.”
Proudest theatrical moment: In her first movie role for “From Nowhere,” Chavez-Richmond played an undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic. She said she was having a tough time accessing her emotions until her more experienced scene partner asked the director if he could help coach her.
“That’s what acting is, it’s helping your partner in a scene,” she said. “It kind of blew my mind that he could just turn off and on and forget about his performance and help me do better. Ever since then, I’ve looked at acting differently.”
Dream role: Having previously played Desdemona in Othello, Chavez-Richmond said she would love to play the manipulative Iago.
“Iago is so fun and weird and awful. I love playing villains. I love gender-bending Shakespeare. I think I can be more free in a character that’s further away from myself.”
-Octavia Chavez-Richmond, Conservatory actor, Chautauqua Theater Company
What she’s watching: “Big Mouth” on Netflix.
“It’s hilarious and problematic, but also progressive,” she said.
What she’s listening to: Jarina de Marco, Tank and the Bangas and French musical duo Ibeyi.
Dream superpower: Chavez-Richmond said she wishes she could turn invisible so she could “spy on people.”
What’s next: In August, Chavez-Richmond will see the premiere of her play Capsized at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City. In the spring, she will go on to work with one of her favorite playwrights, José Rivera, on Marisol.