Thursday, October 27, 2011

Exclusive interview with one of Nollywood's leading ladies : Syr Law!!

Syr Law (born Crystal Porter) is one to watch. Hailing from Atlanta Georgia, Law is on a mission to take her talents globally appearing in both Hollywood and Nollywood films. Read on to find out about her experience working with industry heavy weights Tyler Perry, Van Vicker and why a beautiful woman like her can’t get a date.

Syr ( (pronounced s-e-e-r) is very interesting, how did you get that name?
Well, my birth name is Crystal Porter and that was taken in SAG. I turned Crys around to get Sryc and at first I thought Sryc would be kinda weird. Then one day my friend was like “you know what about Syr?, what about dropping the C at the end and we call you Syr?” I lived with it for a couple of days and I really just started loving the name. Law came cause I felt like I had moved to LA from Atlanta and it was a cleansing period for me. It was about doing it my way. It’s my law, it’s my way. So Syr Law was born out of that.

How did you get started in acting?
Originally when I graduated from Hampton what I wanted to do was music. That was my whole goal; I wanted to be like the female Sean Puffy Combs. I wanted to own my record label.  So when I went back home, I started working for a management company that eventually moved to Los Angeles. They weren’t paying me enough money to move to LA so I started working in corporate America.  I was there for about 4 weeks and I woke up one morning and I was like “this is not what I am supposed to be doing”.  I literally resigned. I quit my job even though I had never performed in college. I auditioned and got accepted into the Black Playwrights Festival and I studied with them for a year. It was amazing and that’s how I got my start.

So you’re in Atlanta working at the Black Playwright Festival, how did you transition into Nollywood?
It was a longer road than that. I ended up leaving Atlanta because I felt like everything that was coming into Atlanta I was booking. I had booked Tyler Perry’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” and it was a very small role but that was amazing. I just felt like if I am really gonna make a go at this, I needed to go West. A lot of the students (from Atlanta) had moved to California so I was the last one to move. So I told myself I had to try and go out to LA and make it happen. I was out here and I had been working for like 2 years. I had never heard of Nollywood…
Talk about divine intervention...
Yeah, so a really good friend of mine Jermaine (J)who is a stand up comedian ended up getting a call from Nigerian actor Chet Anekwe. Chet had a friend who was doing a concert who in Oakland, California and they had someone who was opening for the show who didn’t show up. They needed a replacement so they flew my friend J to Oakland and that’s where he met Koby the producer of Paparazzi. Koby happened to tell J about the Paparazzi script and that they were looking for a lead female American actress.  J said "I have the perfect girl for you", so he put me in touch with Koby and we talked for 3 months, I auditioned 4 times via video and I chopped it up with the director Bayo Akinfemi and we were in the same vein of about my character Pearl. We were very aligned with the direction we wanted to take her. They offered me the role and I flew to Atlanta. I was there for close to 2 months and we filmed there. It’s really God. It lead me to this amazing journey to find out about Nollywood, the players in Nollywood and to really want to make an impact on the story they tell there. I absolutely still work in Hollywood but I also feel like there is a whole other market that is open to what I have to offer as an artist and a story teller.

In Paparazzi you starred with Van Vicker one of Nollywood’s leading men. What was that like?
He is so funny and that’s thing that I loved about him the most. I didn’t have a ton of scenes with him but the scenes that I had, he would be in mid conversation cracking jokes. So we are literally going from cracking up to a serious scene. He was amazing, so much fun. I got to go on tour with him; we did a 28 city tour of the US. Van and I went to 10 or 15 of those together. He is the nicest guy and definitely a family man.  He just makes you feel so comfortable to be around him. I had never heard of him until we did the film together. I would have never known that he is as large of a star as he is; he is that down to earth. And he is fine (laughing)

Click in on to read more about Syr!

I profiled him as one of Africa’s hottest men, he is a cutie! So do you have any crazy groupie stories? I’d imagine women go nuts over him..
We were in Chicago going to the premiere and I will never forget it. These women came up and are literally trying to rip this poor man’s clothes off. We have security with us and I am like “Van do we really need security?” He’s like “trust me, we need security”. They were literally trying to rip his clothes off. I had just never seen this and they were screaming to the top of their lungs and he just looks at me and smiles.
That is too funny so let’s talk about your character Pearl in Paparazzi , did you have any influence on what she was wearing in the movie?
The director really allowed me to do a lot of play with her. I even had one of my girlfriends dress me, she owns a boutique called Pink Sky Boutique in Atlanta. I felt my character Pearl had a sense of style that was beyond someone’s girlfriend. Even though you never see on film that Pearl has a job or career, in my mind she wasn’t just the girlfriend of. .. The director gave me freedom to do that, he was open to my choices.

Tell me about your hair, what made you decide to cut it short?
I was coming out of a producer meeting and there were a couple of other girls that were in the lobby. They were being seen for the same role that was I going in for. I felt like we all looked the same. So I ended up taking a look at myself, where I was in my life and I just wanted to let the hair go. So I cut it. And the next thing I knew, my roommate suggested I go blonde. I fought it for so long and one day I woke up and said I’m gonna try it. I’ve been blonde ever since and I love it. I’ve booked more work as a short-haired blonde woman than I ever did with my hair dark and long.

You are clearly a beautiful woman so I have to ask, are you single or dating anyone?
I am single but I don’t go out on dates. The funny thing is, guys don’t really approach you because they think that you are busy or got someone.  I find that really to be true with me and lot of my friends. I don’t get approached

You don’t get approached that can’t be right! I’m sure that will change once folks read this interview..
The guys that approach me, it’s with such hesitance and precaution and their like “I know your probably with someone” and I’m like “no, I’m single” (laughs) and they just can’t believe it. I spend a lot of Saturday nights at home with my roommate. I’ll put it to you this way; this weekend is movie night with me and my girlfriends because none of us have dates.

What kind of guys do you normally go for?
I like men who are intelligent, who have really good conversation.  You have to be funny; you have to be able to make me laugh. Someone who’s funny is gonna win my heart every time. You don’t have to be were you are going on your journey, you just have to be going somewhere have and feel like you have some sort of direction or course.

Talk to me about working with Tyler Perry, was that experience like?
I had a really small role, I played woman # 1. It was my first studio film and I went to the first initial audition with the casting producer and then got called back 3 times. I remember I was in the room with Mr. Perry and Reuben Cannon and after I had done the scene he and Reuben were comparing my height to actress Kimberly Elise. I booked the role and played opposite Christian Keyes who proposes to me in the scene that they ended up using. So we are doing the scene and all I hear “I wanna see real tears” and I stop. Tyler is saying he wants to see real tears. I called my mentor and for advice and I went back and did the scene. Mr. Perry came up to me afterwards and he was so gracious and so wonderful. Kimberly also came up to me and said “really good work” which was awesome for me. A couple of years later I end up getting a call to replace one of the actresses for “What’s Done in the Dark” (a Tyler Perry production )and I ended up booking the role. They flew me into Detroit and I was up the very next day. That’s how Mr. Perry works. You show up and his expectation is through the roof. It allows you to stretch yourself beyond what you thought your limits were.

Lots of controversy about Tyler right now, critics usually speak out about the types of films he does. What are your thoughts on the matter?
He had a following of fans before he even got into film. Those people followed him into film and then he garnered more fans.  Here’s my take on this, if you like it go see it and if you don’t that’s OK too. Don’t knock someone for their artistic interest or direction cause it’s different from yours.

Lastly as an actor you are in an extremely competitive industry. How do you conquer fear and rejection?
I give everything that I have when I go into an audition. If there is a role or part that I want and don’t get it still affects me. I think the thing that I don’t have and the word you used was fear. I don’t have the fear of rejection. I have the disappointment when I’ve given my all but I know that there is something better for me and I move on from that perspective. I don’t have a fear of no. I don’t think you should be in any industry with a fear of no. You go out with the expectation of always winning. I always believe the universe is always on my side.

Make sure you watch the trailer of Paparazzi here.

Syr just wrapped another Nollywood film with veteran actor Desmond Elliott and she’s reading a script for her third Nollywood film. Ms. Law is also starring in a new animated feature where she plays  a fourteen year old Filipino girl. We look forward to seeing more of this rising star!

Keep up with Syr on twitter 

S/O to Aarum for the interview hookup!

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