Everybody in SoCal Theatre Knows Angie, Right?...Or Do They?
Get Ready for Some Intriguing Personal Insight and Surprising Facts on the Many Faces of Angela D. Watson
MARCH 8, 2022 — BY CHRIS DANIELS
Today, we’re going to examine the ever-expanding universe of Angela D. Watson. Angie is the actor you’ve been seeing all over. As every performer knows, an acting career is really all about the adventure and the journey of human emotions through storytelling. And nobody does that better than Angie. She’s a very multi-faceted player, whose credits include Bare: A Pop Opera, War of the Worlds, Pygmalion, Floyd Collins, and Raisin in the Sun. If you’re any kind of theatre buff, I’m sure you’ve seen her many times over the last few years. Due to her command of the craft, her work ethic, and her ability to become practically any character so effortlessly, she's found herself to be in the thick of demand and the darling to several revered directors in the area. But, from her perspective, she’s simply creating believable characters —the laughter is simply a bonus!
One of my most recent reviews of her many performances was in a show called “Sylvia.” You may have seen it:
“…Ms. Watson plays 3 very different roles. [She] makes them all distinct, excruciatingly funny, and believable, using different voices and clothes to set the characters apart. A very nice show of versatility indeed!" —Chris Daniels, The Show Report.
Let me just refresh your memory. Angie has performed for both The Attic and Costa Mesa Playhouse in the acclaimed, A Piece of My Heart, a truly, powerful drama about six women and their tours in Viet Nam. Other distinguished roles were in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Crucible, and Titanic. Last year she was in Hairpeace, by Janice Liddell at the Curtis Theatre. But Angie also enjoys performing comedy, entertaining, singing Pop/R&B/Jazz, and dabbling in voice-over and film projects. She might even be considered one of the hardest working performers in Southern California.
She was honored to receive a Nomination for the 2018 - Broadway World Los Angeles Awards: Leading Actress in a Local Play for her portrayal of Annabella in Gathering Blue with Phantom Projects at the La Mirada Theater. And, surprisingly, in her spare time, you can often find Angie drawing her favorite cartoon character: Girlcow the Moose @gcmoose, which she has been doing since grade school.
GIRLCOW on social media:
Follow gcmoose on Facebook
As Charlotte Wardle Cardeza in TITANIC
Can you spell versatility? She's an unforgettable hit for those fans who appreciate someone who can handle everything from quirky comedy to deep drama. But, whatever the project, it typically results in rave reviews. Just as adept in the film industry, a few of her most notable in her body of work includes Death Cat vs Christmas (2020), American Martyr (2018) and Rise Above My Pain (2019).
Now, she’s tapping into that breadth of knowledge and first-hand experience with even more passion and determination. She knows no limits and nothing seems to slow her down. Having just finished last month’s OC Playwrights Alliance stage reading of Bless This Divorce at Grand Central Arts Center, as well as The Studio Collaborative, Plays In a Day, at Long Beach Playhouse just this week, she is now set for Electric Company Theater’s Shakespeare in Love, The Play, opening June 22nd and running through July 6th at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton. Based on the Academy Award-winning movie, this enchanting, hilarious, romantic stage play reimagines a young William Shakespeare's creative process – and explores his inspiration (and muse) – as he writes his greatest romantic masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet.
So how did all this happen? Well, you might be able to get her personal story and a better glimpse of her personality through the following interview where she not only shares many aspects about her coming of age, but even gives some very solid advice to would-be thespians.
It wasn’t always clear sailing for Angie growing up. Overcoming resistance is no easy task for anyone. But it can be done if you shift your mindset, embrace your own walk of life, and name your next finish line. And that’s just what Angie did.
But let's find out how that all came about directly from the source. Angie, Thanks so much for taking time out to chat with us.
As Joe in THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE
THE SHOW REPORT — You were just in the Orange County Playwrights Alliance’s first new staged reading play of the season, “Bless This Divorce,” a bittersweet comedy from OC Register sports writer Mark Whicker, and from all the comments I’ve seen, you were fantastic. What was the best thing you liked about that play and why?
ANGELA —"It was a great experience. We did everything in one day: the first read, rehearsal, tech, and performance. I enjoy doing Play Readings. It’s a great way to get exposed to new shows, make connections with other artists, and perform interesting roles. “Bless This Divorce”, is focused on how the divorce process does not have to be a negative ordeal. In fact, the lead characters chose not to throwaway 28 years of marriage, yet, continued to work on an already well-established foundation of friendship. I appreciated how the story created a positive feeling, as you went on this journey with the divorcees. The dry wit between the couple was brilliant. There was such a beautiful chemistry between the couple, that you found yourself wondering why they divorced in the first place."
THE SHOW REPORT —How old were you when you decided to pursue a career in the arts?
ANGELA — "Initially, I wouldn’t say that I was 'pursuing a career' in the arts. In middle school and high school, I joined whichever artsy activities, I could fit within the school hours. Usually, electives, such as Show Choir, Art Club, or the school newspaper – never drama. Although, I was drawn to most creative endeavors, I was much too shy and much too afraid of the disapproval from my father, who didn’t support my interest in the arts. He gave me two choices: go into Law or Medicine. Either which would guarantee my ability to support myself financially."
"Well, Singing was something I could do, for free – without permission. Growing up, I also enjoyed Cartoons, found solace in drawing, and created my imaginary worlds on any type of paper I could get my hands on. But, despite my best efforts, to convince my Dad that a major in Communications and Arts was indeed lucrative, I entered college as a Pre-Med major and joined the AFROTC program. Needless to say, after my sophomore year, I had changed my major to Graphic Design, and thus began my real pursuit of the arts. Because of my love of cartoons, my plan was to graduate, become an animator, and work for Nickelodeon Studios or Dreamworks Animation."
"Then, life happened...a few bad choices later, and the dream of being an animator got away from me, and I was unable to complete my college degree. Always loved books and going to the local library. A few years later, I ran into a book all about Background Acting on the film sets. I was intrigued and signed up, at one of the largest background casting companies in Los Angeles. My very first background gig was a three-day call on the Warner Brother’s Studios lot, portraying a wealthy movie patron, in the Disney’s “Annie the Musical” (1999). I fell in love with the film process and have been doing background acting, on and off, ever since. Other film opportunities would come much later."
"Although I had sung in public performances as a singer for years, my very first Community Theater Role as an actor came through a Craigslist Ad in 2007. The Gallery Theatre, in Anaheim, was casting for the show, “Pygmalion.” “Here’s my chance!” I thought. I was always drawn to theater, and I loved the musical, “My Fair Lady.” I figured this show would be as close as I could get to actually having a role in “My Fair Lady.” Despite the fact that there were no “obvious” roles for my ”type” in the show, I went in and auditioned with the best British accent that I could muster. I was cast into the ensemble as “the exotic princess,” to fill the ballroom scene. I would end up spending seven year at the Gallery Theatre, playing various characters in musicals, skits, and cabarets. By the time The Gallery Theatre closed its doors in March, 2015, I had developed just enough confidence, and interest, in the theater world to look into auditioning at other venues."
THE SHOW REPORT — You also do film and already have a number of credits. If you had your “druthers,” would you be making more film projects if you could, or would you rather be on stage?
ANGELA — "Therein lies a conundrum...choose film or choose theater? I tend to focus on the Role being offered to me, and the experience I may gain from it. Not simply “work” experience, but how the role or show will help me grow as a person, and as an actor. It’s true that pursuing film takes a certain kind of resilience, hard work, and patience. Whereas, if an actor establishes themselves in the local theater realm, they may be more likely to get more work, as well as the accolades and validation as an artist."
"The stage is my training ground. Performing a full-scale show, in front of a live audience creates a sense of self, and develops my ability to perform under pressure. Which in turn, prepares me for film. I think, ideally, I would do more film...but, fun projects such as: Commercials, Sitcoms, Family shows, Sci-Fi and Fantasy films. But, I still would enjoy having the opportunity to do theater, whenever possible. There’s a special connection with your cast members and with the audience, that doesn’t always happen in the film world."
THE SHOW REPORT — Who has been your greatest creative inspiration, and what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
ANGELA — "I’m motivated by new experiences that come my way. I’m a “To-Do List” person, and I enjoy making progress on goals that I set for myself. I like to find out what surprises life may have in store for me. I enjoy writing and illustrating in my free time. I’ve self-published a few children’s books, based on a character I created as a child: “Girlcow the Moose.” I have plans of creating more books in the near future."
"As far as the “Who” inspires me, I grew up enjoying any of the greats who dominated (my favorite section of the newspaper) the Sunday Funnies, such as Charles Schultz, Bill Watterson, and authors such as Shel Silverstein, and Dr. Seuss. I loved watching Looney Toons, Scooby Doo, and Tom and Jerry cartoons, as well as many others who became creative influences for 'Girlcow the Moose.'"
"In the acting realm, I was inspired by strong comedic women (particularly those who played a range of
characters): Lucille Ball, Tracey Ullman, Carol Burnett, Ellen Degeneres, and Whoopi Goldberg, not to
mention a plethora of TV Sitcom stars."
THE SHOW REPORT — Angela, you are probably the most versatile actor in Southern California. It looks like you really love a challenge. In fact, it’s almost common knowledge now that you are the go-to actor for character roles (“the many faces of Angela D. Watson”). As an example, a few months ago, you were in a show called “Sylvia” at Costa Mesa Playhouse, playing three different roles! How are you able to change characters so easily, and how did you get so adaptable?
ANGELA — "One word...Imagination! I’m able to put myself into the mindset and the world of the character, that I’m portraying. For me, it’s like playing “make-believe” - as I did as a child, playing with my dolls or drawing my characters; making up stories and adventures. Sometimes I create entire backstories for the characters that I play, to help me to better connect. I’m not always completely married to any of the characters ideas I create. I try to stay flexible to any ideas or insight that the director may have, as well. Plus, being adaptable allows me to keep growing in my craft. Each character I develop is unique, and I want the audience to see the character...not necessarily see me “playing” a character."
THE SHOW REPORT — Tell me a little about GC Moose’s Complex City, and how that cartoon series came about.
ANGELA — "Girlcow the Moose is a fun-loving, peanut butter eating moose. With her best friend, Freddie Hare, she’s always up for an adventure in her hometown of Complex-City. I created Girlcow the Moose when I was a young girl (7 or 8 years old). I have no recollection of what inspired me to name her, “Girlcow.” As with any of the characters I created, I designed an entire world around Girlcow. As a kid, I even wrote my own storybooks, featuring Girlcow’s adventures. Her best friend, Freddie Hare, was inspired by a stuffed rabbit that my mom gave to me as an Easter gift. I created hundreds of characters, throughout my childhood, but Girlcow never left me."
"Girlcow has grown up with me over the years. Girlcow has one special characteristic that makes her unique among moose: an exceptionally long tail....which is definitely not a real moose feature. She uses it as a third hand, for balance, to hang upside down, and to bounce upon. She’s usually sporting a purple ensemble. Oh...and she absolutely adores peanut butter anything! She lives in the fictional city of Complex-City, in a 3-story apartment known as “The Complex.” The name of her town is sort of a play off of how life can sometimes be unpredictable and complex...thus, it’s 'Girlcow’s Complex-City,' where anything can happen."
"I have already published a few books, featuring Girlcow the Moose, which are currently available online. And, I am also working on illustrating two books, as we speak. The market for moose is still small; particularly female moose. I feel that I have complete freedom in developing Girlcow’s character and her world, because there’s nothing to compare her to. There are no rules, and I really enjoy creating and drawing her adventures in Complex-City."
THE SHOW REPORT — Out of all the theatrical characters you’ve played, who do you identify with the most and why?
ANGELA — "The characters that I identify with the most, tend to be the ones that encompass a lot of my own personal character traits, or those that have gone through similar life experiences. I find, as I get older, that’s becoming more and more true. I have had the pleasure of portraying the character of “Steele” (“A Piece of My Heart”) two different times, in two separate performances. Steele embodies so much of my work ethic, level of intelligence, interest in learning and self-improvement, and she carries a high standard of excellence. She makes me think (if I had graduated from the AFROTC program back in college) of how many of my experiences in the military may have mirrored her own experiences. But, even though not having served in the military, I can relate to so much of the internal struggles of being a woman of color, who doesn’t fit the stereo types placed upon her by the culture. It was difficult for Steele, who was constantly trying to prove herself worthy to her military peers — wanting so much to be considered deserving of respect, because of who she was as a person — not what she looked like."
THE SHOW REPORT — What has been your most favorite role to date?
ANGELA — "I wish I could pick just one role. I’ve had the pleasure of playing very unique roles: (Annabelle) “Gathering Blue;” (Joe*) “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance;” (Claire Roney*) “Floyd Collins;” (Sista Chantelle) “Bare: A Pop Opera;” (Tom, Phyllis, Leslie*) “Sylvia;” (Charlotte Cardoza) “Titanic;” not to mention doing impersonations of Whoopi Goldberg, Obama, Oprah, Wendy Williams, and even Flava Flav, for cabaret-style skits at the Gallery Theatre."
*Denotes roles originally written to be played a male.
THE SHOW REPORT — What would you say to the budding actors and artists out there attempting to make it in a career in theatre, and what tips can you give a novice entering the field?
ANGELA — "To an acting student who is already actively involved in classes, the next step is to actually apply what they are learning, outside of the classroom. And, the best way to do that is to actually audition for theater roles. Classes will give you the tools, but getting out there and getting involved in local community theaters will help them decide whether they’re well suited for acting. I would also recommend going beyond binging on Hamilton and Hades Town, and try to attend all kinds of plays and musicals (most shows you can see for free, if you volunteer). Acting students should expose themselves to different genres of theater. Become well versed in theater, by reading scripts by various playwrights. Also, it’s easy to get comfortable working under one specific director or working with only one specific theater — especially if they perform in a small region. I would encourage them not to beafraid to audition at different theaters. They’ll make more connections, which could lead to more roles, and they’ll grow as an actor."
"I run into a lot of people who simply like the 'idea' of being an actor, but really don’t understand just how much work is involved in the process of developing oneself. Too often they think acting is easy, because they watched someone do it in a movie or on stage. Or, often I meet people who just want to be famous. But, I would tell someone, if they are even remotely serious, to be prepared to do the work."
"Get your headshots, go to auditions, take acting classes, make connections with other actors, get involved in theater or act in student films and build a resume. They should be aware that the industry (theater or film) is fiercely competitive, and that they won’t necessarily have overnight success. Most of the time, it takes years to see any real progress. Also, be prepared to accept rejection...lots of it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. And, if acting is a true calling for them, never ever give up."
"For my visual artists, the goal is to get exposure. If no one knows who you are, then no one will buy your art; whether it’s photography, painting, sculpting, graphic design, illustrating, crocheting, writing, cooking, dance, or fashion design. Artists often worry too much about what others think. But, as the saying goes, 'Different strokes for different folks.' Your art will never appeal to every single person out there, but there will be many who will enjoy and appreciate what you create. But, most importantly, you should also enjoy whatever it is that you create. And, in this day and age, the internet and social media, make it so easy to get your work out in the public eye."
"PS: don’t forget to do a little research on copyrights and protecting your work. Nowadays, having a social media presence is the expectation, and it’s an easy way to show off what your talents."
As Tom in SYLVIA
As Tituba from THE CRUCIBLE
THE SHOW REPORT —Give us an example of a dream project or collaboration on your wish list.
ANGELA — "In the acting world, my dream projects would be: playing a character in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; a character in Picard or other Star Trak franchise; appear in the Avatar franchise (James Cameron); a role in the Star Wars franchise; and/or play an Aes Sedai on the Wheel of Time series. I also think, Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, or Jim Carrey would be interesting to work with. I’d love tom watch their process. For Girlcow, I’d enjoy watching her developed into a household name and maybe eventually having her own televised series...or maybe even her own video game in the Metaverse."
THE SHOW REPORT — And finally, Angela, what’s something you are really good at that few people know about?
ANGELA — "It’s not something I do very much these days, but there was a time period where I was doing sign language interpretation. I was never certified, as I was doing it on a volunteer basis for about 8 years. I wouldn’t say I was really at it though. But, what I lacked in technique, I made up for by being super animated, which really helped me to convey the majority of the concepts to the person I worked with."
"I was only mildly trained in SEE (Signing in English), and I incorporated PSE (Pidgin Signed English) with a lot of facial expressions. Trust me, no self-respecting ASL facility would have hired me, but for the lady who relied on me, it got the job done. Some of the most challenging things for me to sign were play productions (especially children’s shows), big words that had to be spelled out (i.e. San Juan Capistrano, Nebuchadnezzar), long scriptures from the Old Testament, and sarcasm/jokes (humor does not always translate well in the deaf community)."
Thank you Angela D. Watson! firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: Angela D Watson (Angie)
As Sister Chantelle in BARE: A POP OPERA
As Mama in RAISIN IN THE SUN