Adapting to external circumstances tends to stem from an internal place, allowing us to tap into our full potential, if we so choose to utilize it. Rising actress Gail Bean undoubtedly has employed this inner-most fuel, as she gives partial credit to her ever-growing confidence in fostering her acting career's achievements. Through honing her natural-born talents while uplifting herself and those who surround her, Gail can now be seen in the FX drama series, Snowfall, playing the role of Wanda Bell. In this exclusive interview, Gail discusses where she draws inspiration from when preparing for each role, how her early years impacted her infatuation with the arts, and what she has planned next.
Megan Morgante: Did anything/anyone, in particular, inspire you to pursue acting?
Gail Bean: I thoroughly enjoyed my senior year drama class at Stephenson Highschool. That's when acting started looking desirable. However, when I went to college for Accounting, my professor Dr. Wanda Casseaux told me that my future was so bright, I'd need shades. I knew whatever she saw, it wasn't me as an accountant or CPA. That confirmed it for me. I believe in omens, and her vision was an omen that inspired me to pursue acting and never give up.
MM: Can you give an overview of your past in the entertainment industry and how it led you to where you are now?
GB: I'm just a girl from Stone Mountain who went for it! My foundation is theater, and it'll always be my first love. I moved to Los Angeles in August of 2013 with several theater credits, but no tv/film experience (except student films). My first agent dropped me because I moved, so I submitted to a southeast agency. Carla Hough was located in the Carolinas. She spent an hour on the phone getting to know me before she moved forward with representing me in January of 2014. So there I was a few months in LA with a new agent and wide-eyed. I only received four auditions that year, but they were all quality. The last audition invite was for an indie film, UNEXPECTED. I booked, it went to Sundance, and I started getting some traction. The Hollywood Reporter included me on the highly coveted next-generation ten breakout actors. Variety, The New Yorker, and several other notable platforms did write-ups on my performance. So now I'm going into significant casting rooms super green.
I think auditioning is something you practice until it becomes natural. So for about a year, it was room after room, negative and positive feedback. Generals that led to more auditions, and eventually, I found my flow. Nerves still kick in sometimes, but that's just because I want it, not because I don't feel I shouldn't be there. In the beginning, I felt like, “...How? Why me? I can't believe it.” Now my mindset is, “Why not me?” I prayed for this, I worked hard, I'm my Ancestor's wildest dreams and a child of God. I bring that confidence into the room with me, which makes a world of difference. Consistency, being respectful, and having a positive attitude on every set, no matter the role, and proper preparation has led me to where I am now. I trained for this, I specifically asked for these moments, and the Ancestors are delivering. To be honest, it's just favor that led me to where I am, and it will continue to take me further. I'm humbled and grateful.
MM: You star in the FX series, Snowfall…. Congratulations! Can you give us some insight into what we can expect from the season finale?
GB: Thank you! Honestly, it's a whirlwind. The finale ties up loose ends and sets everyone up to win. But winning doesn't always look how we imagined it would.
MM: What has your experience been like working with the cast and crew on this project?
GB: I'm grateful. The Snowfall family taught me a lot. I grew as an artist and as an individual. I've seen several sides of the industry in my years on Snowfall. We went through the diversity inclusion movement, the Me Too movement, race riots, injustices, and the loss of our beloved John Singleton. It wasn't all bad though, as we've experienced several wins together. I'll remain supportive of everyone in the cast and crew, as they've poured so much into me unknowingly.
MM: You play Wanda in the series, what was your experience like playing such a complex character, and truly bringing her essence to life?
GB: Portraying Wanda Bell is a dream role. It's not often we see complex characters that transform within a season. However, it's also disheartening to know that Wanda is an actual human, my aunts, uncles, representative of neighborhood addicts. We pass by "Wanda's" on the street and have become desensitized to the state of other humans. Playing such a character allowed me to shift my perspective and better understand when those who suffer from the disease of addiction are coming in. Wanda opened my mind and my heart, not just to those who fell victim but to my actions. We are no different than addicts. A single decision is what separates us from someone on drugs, so we have to be mindful. Move with intention, do not judge, and have compassion. I now understand how all things work together, how my choices affect others and my future.
MM: Do you have any new or upcoming projects that you’re particularly excited about?
GB: I do! I'm currently preparing for a huge role, which I can't quite share yet, but, I can say this role is a complete 180 flip from Wanda. It'll showcase my versatility, and it's one of the most challenging roles I've played. It's full-body, mind, and spirit. I'm very excited about it. Aside from that, I've written a pilot and a feature I'm pitching, so hopefully, those will land somewhere and go into production sooner than later.
MM: Do you have any hobbies you enjoy partaking in when you’re not acting?
GB: I love traveling! When productions wrap, you can catch me out of the country for sure. Preferably, Africa, as I'm building a home in Ghana. Covid-19 got the best of my travel plans this past year, but hopefully, in 2022, things will be back in motion. Locally, I love hanging with friends and family. Cookouts, game nights, bike rides, skating, this and that. I recently went to a friend's birthday cookout at Gresham Park, and we were double-dutching out there. Man, I haven't experienced that in about a year, so it was a highlight. Anything that's filled with love and laughter is a hobby I enjoy when I'm not acting. Also, I enjoy pool days with loved ones.
MM: Have you ever experienced any notable challenges throughout your career?
GB: I've experienced a lot outside of acting. My life has been pretty adventurous [laugh-out-loud], so I'd say nothing that has surprised me. At least not yet.
MM: Where do you hope to see yourself within the upcoming years?
GB: In the next few years, I hope I am still learning and loving this industry. I hope to have transitioned to more behind-the-scenes work. I want to be known as a triple threat writer/producer/actor. Also, I have a passion for uplifting the Black community, so I would hope to have broken several barriers and make it easier for the Black girls coming after me in the upcoming years. I also hope that I'm able to encourage and inspire the Black community through my non-profit.
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