Spotlight on Jamaican Actor Richard Chevolleau

I first met Richard Chevolleau years ago when I was taking an acting class with Paul Bardier. One day Richard and Desmond Campbell came to class. Richard was 18 and Richard and Desmond were some of the youngest people in a class that also included supermodel Monika Schnarre. It was Meisner Technique so I had a chance to work out and spar with Richard in the repetition exercise. We even mixed it up in patois once. It was clear that Richard was a naturally gifted actor with a focus and intensity that can still be seen in his work today. Richard plays Jammix in Sudz Sutherland’s movie Home Again, focusing on the struggles of deportees to re-adjust to the land of their birth.  If you’re based in Canada, you’ll recognize Richard from Flashpoint, The Border, She’s the Mayor, Da King in my Hair, and numerous other TV series. Americans will recognize him from Earth: Final Conflict, Street Time, and other work that we will discuss in the interview.

Tropicana:    Welcome to Richard.  You were born in Kingston, right? What do you remember about your life in Jamaica?
Richard:    I remember quite a bit actually, but the memories I have of family and friends are the most pleasant.

Tropicana:    How old were you when you came to Canada and what was it like for you to adjust to a new country?
Richard:    I was eight when I first came to Canada and the experience was both exciting and  bewildering.  It was exciting to be in a place with new types of people, buildings, clothing and languages.  I remember the first time I saw falling snow as I walked through the airport and thought to myself this country sure has a lot of dust in the air.

Tropicana:    How did you come to be cast in the role of Jammix?
Richard:    I was asked by Sudz Sutherland, the director, to audition for the movie.  I had worked with him on Guns and we both have a mutual respect for one another.

Tropicana:    You made some very specific choices for Jammix including the walk and the way you talked out of the corner of your mouth. How did you prepare for the role and come to make these choices?
Richard:    A lot of Jammix’s mannerisms came to me intuitively.  I was only eight when I came to Canada but I grew up around a lot of Jamaicans so the mannerisms and lingo was always prevalent. 

Tropicana:    I never realized your patois was so strong. In fact, in Home Again, your Jamaican accent was so pronounced that sub-titles were needed for foreign audiences to understand you. How did you manage to maintain patois all these years?
Richard:    I have a good ear for accents so getting the patois right wasn’t that difficult.  In fact, I speak that way with certain friends of mine.

Tropicana:    Did you require special dialect coaching?
Richard:    Not at all.

Tropicana:    What made you decide to become an actor?
Richard:    I just decided one day when I was very young that I could do what I saw others doing on television.  Fortunately I had some wonderful teachers along the way who encouraged me to follow my dream.

Tropicana:    How long did it take you to get an agent?
Richard:    Initially I was rejected by the first agent I approached fresh out of acting classes.  I was about 19 when I was finally picked up by a small agency.  Shortly after the agency joined with another and restructured a few times.  Along the way I met Debi McGuin of Mcguin and Associates whom I’ve been with for the past 25 years.

Tropicana:    How old were you when you got your first break which I remember correctly was on Inside Stories?
Richard:    That’s correct.  I’m surprised you remember that.  I was 19 I think.

Tropicana:    I remember. I was really happy for you. I was at the wrap party for the series and remember talking to you there. Tell us about how you came to be cast in the series The Women of Brewster Place co-produced by Oprah Winfrey? What role did you play and what it was like to work with her?
Richard:    To be honest I never worked with her directly.  I played a young church kid who was in love with an aspiring singer.  The singer was played by Rachael Crawford.

Tropicana:    What brought you to Montel Williams’ attention and what project did you work on with him?
Richard:    I first met Montel Williams when I was asked to audition for the lead in a new CBS series starring Montel.  They brought me to Los Angeles to meet the executives and was booked for the series Matt Waters.  I had to move to New Jersey where they shot the series.    I have a deep respect and admiration for Montel Williams.  It was unfortunate that the series ended prematurely but I learned a lot and had a lot of fun working on that show.

Tropicana:    What was it like to work on the TV Series Earth: Final Conflict and play the role of  Marcus ‘Augur’ Deveraux?
Richard:    Earth Final Conflict was like a family to me.  I loved working on that show.  I learned a lot about working on television series and experienced a lot of different places in the world because of that show.

Tropicana:    What do you do when you aren’t acting?
Richard:    Looking for work!  Lol.  I love all types of art so I’m always dabbling with music, video production.  I paint, sketch, and am currently writing a screenplay.

Tropicana:    You were quite young when you got your first break. What advice would you give to Jamaican teens hoping to break into the business?
Richard:    If you are sure you have what it takes and you are willing to work hard then give it all you got and go for it

Tropicana:    What’s next for Richard Chevolleau?
Richard:    I hope to become a writer/director in the near future.  My dream is to have creative control over projects so I can contribute our stories to the mix.  Bless.

Tropicana:    Thank you Richard. All the best for the future.
Richard:    Thank you Tropicana.