Photo courtesy of Tisha Brenee 

Michigan-native, Shondalia White is a super talented actress whose first love is stand-up comedy. She has starred in “Animal Kingdom,” “American Horror Story,” and most recently plays the no-nonsense lawyer in the Starz crime drama series, “BMF.” White joined “Wine Up” to discuss what it’s like transforming into Karen Jones and playing a character from her native city.

How did you get the role and how was it playing the lawyer?

I got the job the very traditional way my reps sent me the stuff, I auditioned and they liked me. I was really happy because it was finally — I got to play a role where I’m a Michigander and I’m from Michigan. So I was like, “Yes!” I used to teach art to kids in Southwest Detroit. So, it was just an honor and a really nice experience and then playing the lawyer, I mean I did a lot of preparation, because, as you can see Karen is on her stuff. I had to do a lot of legal research, so I understood what happens when there’s a malpractice suit and not bring in my Detroit/Flint slash attitude too much to it.

What hat or what mask did you have to take off and put on to transition into this role?

I did so much to find out who the actual person was and I couldn’t find out … I literally was looking for months…But it was very different from “Animal Kingdom” and all those other roles because they are shorter roles. Those roles are just to kind of move the story along. … I’m a part of history and also a part of the show.

I love what they did with your character. They put you in character, with the outfit, hairstyle, and all. Tell us a little bit about it.

That was one of my favorite parts, just transforming into Karen. It really helped me get into character and I’ll say I came in there with a fro and I was like, “What? Is she about to do to my hair?” She had a brand new wig and she cut [it] to my face. That’s why it’s so slayed. … She was literally cutting and curling and I was really happy that she was able to kind of capture that because I had cousins that wore hairstyles like that. Karen, like I said, she’s so put together. The wardrobe department, they were so amazing, just finding the right ensembles to bring her to life, but keep her conservative.

Watch the complete interview here.


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