For The Last Shift’s HBIC, acting was a bit of Da’Vine inspiration.
“I’ll be honest, every time I book a job, I’ll be like, ‘Forreal God?’ We still doing this? You know?” Da’Vine Joy Randolph told us as her newest movie currently shows in theaters. “Because I didn’t “choose it.” [Acting] chose me. So it’s a blessing. It keeps me grounded and humble.”
Philly birthed a creative hustle that played in the streets of Randolph’s childhood neighborhood. It was the most popular around, even more so than a water ice on a hot summer day. Even Randolph found solace in its company. Her parents were open to it as long as academia got a turn too. They made sure she went to the best schools possible—and when possible. Growing up, Randolph transferred schools often and developed, as she dubbed, “an army brat mentality.” Yet, she remained in her same Philly neighborhood where arts too had made its home.
“I remember at an early age, my parents made it clear to me that ‘this is cool over here and this will get you what you need to get—but don’t ever, ever, never turn your back on or forget where’ you’ve come from and your community because it’s because of them that you’re able…to get where you need to go.’”
And Randolph plunged into a career in the arts. After a dare, she ended up studying opera. She then switched to musical theatre at Temple University. Before she moved to New York City to follow her dreams, she obtained a masters from Yale’s drama program. She credits her theatre education in establishing a needed foundation for her and encourages aspiring actors to seek out some type of training too, formal or informal.
Another secret she raves of undergoing a complete metamorphosis into the role from the moment you audition. “It’s strange what we do, said Randolph. “We become these other people within 24 hours until the audition ends and then you have to ‘let it go’ and be okay with like—no we’re crazy. If I get an audition and it’s like I’m a doctor, the moment I get that audition I’m a doctor. You can’t tell me otherwise.”
The mixed collection of roles she’s held on stage and on screen prove that: “Lady Reed” in Dolemite Is My Name, “Cherise” on High Fidelity, “Rhonda” in On Becoming a God in Central Florida, and the Tony-nominated “Oda Mae Brown” in Ghost: The Musical.
Her current role tackles ageism, sexism, classism, and racism. In The Last Shift, Randolph plays the manager of a fast-food joint. She must decide who to discipline for an incident: an older, longtime, white employee or young, black newbie. Being in “It’s very interesting to watch the [film] in which,” she said, “like the world that we live in now, you have something which is poverty, which is the grand equalizer—and how people still try to assert themselves in ways of status.” Randolph noted this film really makes you look at the Covid-19’s economic effects differently. Unemployment and lack of upwards mobility have been shared experiences through the pandemic, and this comedy-drama depicts the shared financial struggle and resulting dynamics of individuals from two different worlds. “It’s humorous and it’s also—it tugs at your heart because you can’t help but have empathy [for] people who are more similar than they think.”
Catch The Last Shift in selected theaters. Trailer below: