Black Panther star Danai Gurira is making her mark in Chicago’s theatre world. This fall two of her plays have been in production on Chicago stages with the latest being “Familiar” at Steppenwolf Theatre.

Our team had a chance to chat with cast mate Celeste M. Cooper about this comedic and heart touching production. Read interview below.

BOC: How long have you been acting in Chicago?

Celeste: A little over 6 years professionally now.

BOC: Where are you originally from?

Celeste: Joliet.

BOC: Where did you attend school?

Celeste: Homewood Flossmoor High School, Tennessee State University (BA in Speech Communications & Theatre), DePaul University The Theatre School (MFA in Acting).

BOC: When did you become an ensemble member at Steppenwolf?

Celeste: February, 2018.

BOC: How has it been?

Celeste: AMAZING! I prayed & dreamed to become a Steppenwolf ensemble member, so this is truly a dream come true. I’ve always LOVED the work & the people that work here feel like family! Although I haven’t been here long, Steppenwolf has already blessed me tremendously. This has been a lovely home base!!! I am excited for my future with them and all Papa God has in store!

BOC: Tell us about the character you play in Familiar. Who is she?

Celeste: I play Nyasha in Familiar. Like me, she is the baby of the family flying in from New York to Minnesota for her older sister’s Tendi wedding. She is a passionate artist, free spirit, and proud Zimbabwean American. She just spent a month in Zimbabwe with her Auntie Anne and is invested in knowing more about her culture- that she wasn’t brought up knowing much about.

She wants to know more about her culture, history, & family in Zimbabwe. She also wants to be seen by her Mom & sister, because her artist lifestyle etc has never been appreciated. She consistently tries to hold her own, but she craves her family’s attention. Similarly to me, my most meaningful compliments always come from my family. I love knowing they believe in me and what I do.

BOC: What are you enjoying most about this production and why should people come to see it?

Celeste: Sharing the space with theatre legends like Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Jacqueline Williams, & Ora Jones has been WONDERFUL! I’ve looked up to these women for a while, so I feel honored to share the stage with them. This entire cast is BEYOND INCREDIBLE. I feel so close to everyone, like family. We laugh, joke, and are so playful with one another. Everyone fits their characters so well, that all we have to do is stay present and respond truthfully moment to moment. You’ll see exactly what I mean, when you see it. People should see this show for a unique beautifully layered story, Danya Taymor’s fantastic direction, and this stellar cast!

Click here to purchase tickets for Familiar.

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