We got a chance to catch up with Renee Lawless who’s an amazing actress and mostly know for her character “Katheryn Cryer” in Tyler Perry’s The Haves and The Have Nots. We had the opportunity to find out what’s going on in the new season, which will premiere in June 2016.
- When did you become interested in acting?
Oh goodness I think I acted my way out of the womb. I was a small child taking part in all the school plays and I also took ballet, jazz and tap. But when I was younger, we didn’t have television like there is today, so growing up I didn’t think I could be an actress. It wasn’t until my early junior high years that I started acting.
- I know that you also can sing, are you looking into starting a career in singing or is it just more of a hobby you enjoy?
Well no, I started out singing. I was in Broadway The Beauty and The Beast, in 2000-2001. I lived in New York for 15 years and made a very good living off singing. I did the Broadway musical Wicked for five years, and I’ve done tons of musical theater. I just did a sold out concert in February in Florida that was more classical music. I also have a gospel cd that my church sells that I did years ago.
So, I’ve been [singing] for a while, as a matter of fact when we finish our interview I have a voice lesson (starts laughing.) I’m not going to be a concert artist, but it doesn’t mean that I [will] rule it out if someone wants me to come sing for them. It’s just that music was a focus so long now I’ve kind of shifted over to really concentrating in to television, but music will always be there and is always there and I’m always singing.
- Was it hard transitioning from live plays to film and television?
Actually the hardest thing really wasn’t the transition from stage to television because acting is acting, it’s just the size of your audience. It is a whole different set of rules, which was a new way of learning. I had already been familiar with it because I done my research, but to go from stage to a series regular on television is like bam! I had to learn a different vocabulary where as stage was second nature to me, I don’t think about things. Whereas in the first year of The Haves and Haves Nots, during the first season of shooting, I had to think differently, I had to use different words and learn different terminologies. Then slowly it started becoming second nature. So, that was the biggest shift.
- How is it working with Tyler Perry?
Well, not only is he a remarkable human being and I can’t emphasis that enough. He is an actor’s director, I’ve learned so much from him and I don’t necessarily [know] about television. But, he’s had so much stage experience; he knows how to talk to me to get what he needs in my language. He knows what to get from the actor and direct them in a way that he’ll get a really good end result. I admire him, his work ethic, he is a lovely person and he is a respectable person and it’s nice to be respected and see how he treats others as well. He is the hardest workingman that I’ve met in my life in any profession period. I don’t know when he sleeps, he spends 16 to 18 hour days when we’re filming and then gets on a plane on a Friday afternoon and for the last two years he’s been [doing] plays on weekends. I’m honored to not only know him, but to call him a friend.
- We are getting to see a different side of “Katheryn” this season, can you tell me what made “Katheryn” so different this season than the others?
In the past she’s been on an emotional roller coaster, but you are seeing the power come out in this season. You’re going to see the fighting back, people already got a glimpse of it these past few months. But, when we come back in June, I don’t want to say that she’s going to be free of pain sadly, but she’s going to handle a lot of stuff [and] it’s going to be monumentally different. In the finale, her husband who always seems to be in charge says to her “ Let them see who Katheryn Cryer really is” and that’s exactly what you’re going to see. You are going to see the person that has always been there, but she’s been keeping it hidden from the audience.
- She is such an intense and emotional woman would say that you can relate to her in any type of way?
Yes, a little more in the earlier seasons than now. I relate to her that she’s a woman who gets lonely, she gets frustrated with her appearance. I related to her in her inter turmoil, her frustration with her children and husband. The things that the public would’ve never seen, I think I related to that because I get home sometimes and those struggles are real for a lot of women. The big different between “Katheryn” and I, I think our priorities are the same but they’re just in a different order. I am a Christian, so I feel my moral compass of my life is based on my faith, “Katheryn” is not. So, while I might have the same values, they’re going to be in a completely [different] view from her.
- Do you have any other projects coming up this year?
Yes, I go back tomorrow and film the new season of The Haves and The Haves Nots for next year, so that’s the biggest thing on my plate. I have a couple of speaking engagements that I’m doing at a few women organizations. I actually have a possible film thing, which I can’t talk about, but it should be coming up possibly soon. It is in the works.
Reach Renee Lawless on all social media accounts @MrsReneeLawless.
She will also be at Sheen Magazine’s gala in Atlanta on April 30th.