Kontrol had the opportunity to catch up with Anya Engel-Adams in lieu of her busy schedule. Still feeling the high from the success of the animated feature film, NBA 2K ‘Livin The Dream’, Adams has not even began to fully soak it all in before her second film of the year – the highly controversial titled, ‘Chiraq’ – begins its nationwide promotion. How does a fresh face with no agent get the opportunity to star in not only one, but two films, directed by veteran Director, Spike Lee? Adams gives us an inside look into what sparked her to pursue acting full time, why she was hand chosen by Spike Lee, and appreciating her growth over the years.
How many people feel lonely without actually being alone? Too many to count. Adams is no exception to the rule. Dreams in tow, and boyfriend in hand; Adams’ put action behind her desire to want more out of life. The big move to Los Angeles finally came and went, but three months in, as most things do, her relationship ended. Young, and feeling alone, with her family in Florida and Upstate New York, she had to pick herself up and keep working towards her end goal, acting.
“I traveled with the Los Angeles Lakers for 4 seasons as a massage therapist, it paid the bills. During those years, I built a tough skin and strong sense of confidence – I learned to navigate in a man-dominated industry and gain respect while doing so. But, I moved to LA for a reason. If I wanted to actually purse acting head on, I had to quit my job.”
“I’m really into manifestation”, she explains. Two years ago started the beginning of her thought transformation and surely enough, her dreams began to manifest into real life results. “I came across an audition for an untitled project. Kim Coleman was the casting director, so I knew it was legit”, Anya explains. Leaving the comfy cushion of her side gig, as a massage therapist, she attacked the audition head on. After numerous call backs, Coleman informed her that Spike Lee would be apart of the last stages of auditions. Rightfully entitled, the ‘Boot Camp Audition’, it would consist of five rounds and the role Evette, for NBA 2K ‘Living the Dream’, would be up for grabs by five contenders. Adams’ was the first to act out her scene. Upon entering the room, Spike questions, ‘Where are you from?” Anya, with bright eyes, smiles and says, “I’m from Upstate NY”. Spike responds with playful disgust, “That’s not NY”. Although, Spike begins the reading with a smile, he is far from a best friend during the rigorous audition. The nuggets Spike threw each competitor was all in tough love, but only the strong survive. Thankfully Anya was the last girl standing. Maybe it was her can-do attitude or the fact that Upstate New Yorkers have something to prove!
“Right! New Yorkers always have something to prove. The character, Evette, was misunderstood, taken for granted, and overlooked because she was dating a basketball player. That’s one thing we had in common right off the back. Spike was trying to see if he could find Evette in that room.”
After building strong relationships and confidence with the cast from NBA 2K ‘Living the Dream’, Spike gave them a heads up about a film he would direct the following year, Chiraq. Adapted from a fifteen century Greek comedy – Lisa Stratta – it tells the story of a modern day Chicago. Rasheeda – supporting lead role – played by Adams and Lisa Stratta – leading lady – played by Teyonna Parris, organize women from all across the city of Chicago to protest the violence and advocate for peace by withholding sex from their men. That is, until a positive change is made. The title of the movie caused quite a stir, mainly from those who seem to be judging a book by its cover.
“People are worried that it’s glamorizing violence and killings in Chicago. That’s just not the case. The politicians are more worried about money, people whistle blowing and shining a light on something that they have been neglecting for years. Given the times, the movie is a relevant topic.”
So what does a twenty-six year old young woman tell herself when she moves half way across the country, goes through a break-up, feels alone and challenged, and still has desires to beat the odds?
“Write your goals and visions down, attack them with a vengeance and when you think you’re almost there, keep going. It also helps to look in the mirror and simply tell yourself, you’re doing okay.”
To stay up to date with Anya follow her Instagram and Twitter page: @WhatsAnyaMind