More than an actress — Daphne Kinard aspires to tell ‘all sorts of stories’


Reporter’s Note: Each summer, Chautauqua Theater Company and Chautauqua Opera Company invite young actors and artists into its program for a fully-funded fellowship. This summer’s program consists of seven actors and five young artists. To better connect readers to the actors themselves, Q-and-A interviews will run regularly throughout the rest of the summer. 


Who: Daphne Kinard is from Dallas, Texas, and currently lives in New York City. She is currently pursuing her master of fine arts in Columbia University’s acting program. She started her undergraduate years at Carnegie Mellon University and completed at the University of Texas at Dallas.

How did you find out about Chautauqua Theater Company?

I first heard about Chautauqua at Carnegie (Mellon University) a long time ago. I had always viewed it as this prestigious thing that the really good kids from these schools go to, and it was always really inspirational for me. But then last year, they came and visited my school for in-person auditions, right before the pandemic hit. Six kids from my school ended up getting in and (I realized) this was a very real possibility for me. This year, even though it was just a self-tape, I put a lot of energy into it and was very committed to taking a chance. It’s been something I’ve been wanting for a long time this year, it felt very possible, and I managed to make it work. 

What is a performance that you saw recently that wowed you?

Florence Pugh in “The Little Drummer Girl” hit me very hard recently. It’s a British spy television series, and she plays an actress who’s recruited by Mossad agents to do spy work in the 1970s. There’s something about actors playing actors that always strikes me. There is real beauty and a real simplicity to her work. I had been a fan, but it really kind of started me on a kick of watching all her work. (She has) a really beautiful filmic way of acting that doesn’t shrink the reality of life. People can get so big, but it’s easy to get big and theatrical. It’s nice to see somebody get big with it, while still feeling intimate and vulnerable.

What is your go-to comfort movie?

“Howl’s Moving Castle.” It’s a Studio Ghibli film, the same people that did “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Spirited Away.” It’s about this little girl that wakes up one day and she’s an old woman. She decides to leave home and go out on her own and ends up in the middle of the wilderness and encounters this magical moving castle with this wizard, and a demon played by Billy Crystal. It’s just a really, really beautiful, meditative movie with a very slow plot. There’s something about it that really makes me think about my life and puts things into perspective and calms me down. 

What TV shows have you been binge-watching?

I just finished “Loki” when it had its finale. I’ve been really liking the Marvel shows so far; I think they’ve hit them out of the park. I’ve been watching the Harley Quinn show on HBOMax. I feel like I do so many intense dramatic roles that I can’t handle anything dramatic anymore. I just rewatch my old favorite sitcoms and watch superheroes while I’m in school. Then, over summer break normally is when I go watch all of the Oscar winners and cry.

What have you been listening to?

I went through a big phase of listening to it when it first came out, but I’m going through a second phase of Folklore by Taylor Swift. It’s such a good, well-rounded album, and I’m a big Taylor Swift fan in general. I love the turn that she has taken lately. Other than that, I love Clairo’s album that just dropped, and I’m enjoying Lorde’s new singles and excited for that album as well. 

Do you have a dream role?

As a queer woman, I’ve always wanted to do queer roles in period pieces, because I like this idea that we’ve always been here. I feel like so many of those stories are so lost to time. Pieces like “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” “Carol,” and “Ammonite” really speak to me in that way. It does help me feel far more seen than this idea of all of a sudden, LGBTQ+ people exist out of nowhere. I am also just a sucker for getting to wear period clothes in general. 

Who inspires you?

I don’t like them as people necessarily, but I’ve always been really drawn to figures like Walt Disney, Jim Henson and Mel Brooks. These people manage to see the bigger picture. I always think about that quote, that if Pacific Railway realized that they were a transportation company, not a train company, they’d be the biggest airline in the world right now. I find that very inspiring, because I aspire to be a storyteller more than an actress. I aspire toward directing, writing, producing, discovering new talent and getting to help tell all sorts of stories — not just my story — and do it in all sorts of ways.

After a long day of rehearsal, what are you eating?

If I have it made already, pasta. I love pasta and making new types of pasta and exploring regional differences in various types of pasta. After a long rehearsal, I just need to carb load and that’s the best for that.

What has been the best part about being in CTC?

The community of CTC is just amazing. Living with the actors has been such a gift. I feel so close to all of them. We’ve become very close, very tight friends, and I know we are going to be friends forever. You’re always friends with your cast, but it’s rare that you get that feeling.

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David Kwiatkowski

The author David Kwiatkowski