Dominican actress Disnie Sebastien shares her acting journey


Never give up on your dreams.

What was your journey like to become an actress?

My arts journey was a journey of courage. Coming from a small island, Dominica, where Film and Theatre wasn’t booming, I had to trust my instincts to move to New York and immerse myself in the arts. This was a stark contrast to the introverted child with a secret passion for acting.

I began my acting journey by writing down and memorizing the scripts on the TV and acting them out. I further discovered my love for Literature and Shakespeare. I later moved to New York to study Multimedia & Performing Arts. It was one of the best decisions I had ever made. I was in awe, arts was fascinating! I trained in acting, on-camera techniques, speech and movement, All of these are necessary skills for actors.

Being an artist often means that you are your own business and I found that I needed to have a wide range of skills. I learned how to edit videos and films on industry standard software, which is helpful for doing self-taped auditions. I took directing courses, sound design for the stage and much more. I was grateful to have been part of a well rounded Bachelor’s program during a time where Multimedia grew significantly. It is it’s own art form.

When I started off, I was a Theater intern, getting as much experience as possible. Urban Stages, an award-winning theater in Manhattan was my very first home. The Artistic Director, Frances Hill, now my dear mentor, noticed me right away, not just for my abilities as an intern but as a strong actress. I jumped on board with several of their productions which helped me rise to a professional level. I took every opportunity I could get.

I made connections with many industry professionals, including Trazana Beverly, who won a Tony award for her role in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide on Broadway. I had the opportunity to train with her, she thought that I was talented and encouraged me to continue to pursue acting. There was no stopping me!

I audition constantly. When I am glued to my phone, people sometimes think I am just texting, but I’m literally submitting to hundreds of auditions. I understand the competitive nature of the industry. For every role you book, you might have faced five times the rejection. Pursuing a career as an actor is not easy, however, this does not get me down. Acting is my passion.

Disnie Sebastien, actress

Who do you look up to and inspired you the most?

I always mention Keke Palmer as my biggest inspiration where acting is concerned. She gave me hope to pursue my dreams. Often times when I watched TV growing up and even now, there were not a lot of actresses who looked like me and in lead, major roles. When I say like me, I mean black, African-American and even Afro-Caribbean, I identify with the latter. Keke was one of the few actresses, I felt that I could connect with, a young, African-American actress who is doing great things. My mindset was that if Keke can make it, I can too! We didn’t come from privileged backgrounds but determination and passion has helped see us through.

I also look up to my parents, they inspire me. I am grateful for their unwavering support throughout my acting journey. My parents are in the science field and surprise, they had an artistic daughter! Not once have they discouraged me from my acting dreams. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

How do you prepare for a role?

I start by reading the script over and over again. Repetition is so important because every time I re-read a script, I pick up on a new detail that was not glaring at me previously. This also helps me understand the flow of the dialogue and get a feel for the character. Then, I identify my character’s needs and wants, what is their purpose? Every character has a purpose or something they want to achieve. It’s the actor’s job to discover that. It is also necessary to do research and have the proper knowledge of what the play is about. I also develop my character’s speech, physicality and personality. If I’m playing a doctor, for example, my movements or even speech pattern would not be the same as if I were to play the role of a drunk woman on the street. It’s really about stepping into the shoes of someone else, embodying the character and making the performance believable. Sounds easy enough? Not so much! Haha.

When I did improv training, my professor, Amy Larimer made us observe the people that we see every day. Each week in class, we would re- enact one of the characters that we saw. I learned to observe and be in tune with people and my surroundings. I still use this technique when I prepare for a role.

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

Having to work with text that is not your own can be a challenge. Often times when we read a script, we each may take away a different message. I might have my own interpretation of what I read and my acting will reflect that. As actors, we have to make active choices. If I went on stage in my best Elizabethan costume and recited a Shakespeare monologue, that would not guarantee that the writer’s words would come to life. We have to be believable as well. The choices we make as actors and the clarity of their execution with the right emotion is what will bring a script to life. There are many ways to deliver a line and finding the right way to do so on stage or film is my job. Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” Very profound.

Disnie Sebastien, actress

Any future projects you’d like to tell us about?

This year has started off with a bang! I will be starring in a film called Butterflies, Christine Stoddard is directing and the film is part of a huge collaboration with Poets and Filmmakers who come together to create “movie magic.” This is going to be a lot of fun! It’s a two-fold project, so I will be recording voiceovers in the studio as well as performing as the lead actress. The film will be heading to a few film festivals.

This month, I also have an upcoming show, Donna & Darilyn’s Pitbull Lounge at the Broadway Comedy Club in Manhattan. I will be doing improvisation throughout the play. My character is an absolute nutcase, but I love it. Rehearsals have been going well.

I just received news about a play that I was cast in, but I’m not allowed to share the good news yet. I’m very excited for the release of the films I have been a part of as well. Stay tuned!

Disnie Sebastien, actress

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