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Cynthia Addai Robinson: On “Texas Rising”, “Arrow”, and “The Accountant”

For those Viva Glam readers who will be enjoying a relaxing weekend at home, we have a must-see recommendation for you to watch Monday night. On Memorial Day, the highly-anticipated History Channel mini-series “Texas Rising” will be premiering at 9pm. Catch stars such as Bill Paxton, Ray Liotta, Olivier Martinez, Brendan Fraser, and the leading lady, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, whom you may also know as Amanda Waller from “Arrow”. If you will be jet-setting this weekend, make sure to DVR as the story will continue for four consecutive nights and you don’t want to miss a thing.

Q&A with Cynthia Addai-Robinson

What was the casting process like for your role as Emily West in Texas Rising?

I had been considered for other projects before with [this casting director]. This particular project came up and I got excited about this description. I thought wow, this is a once-in-a-lifetime role. For me, it was really just a matter of doing everything I could do to prepare my best version of what I thought this character could be. I auditioned for Leslie Greif, the executive producer, and the director, Roland Joffe, and for me, I really recognized early on that this had the potential to be a great role and a great project. I’m just really lucky that it all worked out for me.

How did you have to prepare for your role? Did you draw inspiration from historical fiction or real-life stories?

Well, I think when you’re preparing for a role that takes place in a historical context, you can go through the history books, you can read up on what’s happening during that time period, all of that is important and informs the character. But when people are watching a story, they want to see the emotional element of these characters, who these people were, and what they were feeling at that time. For me, it was just about honing in on who was this woman and what were her motivations over a course of the story. She really experiences quite a lot, not only before you meet her, but also over the course of miniseries, all of the things she has to face, there’s a lot of emotional heavy lifting for me, but it adds up to this really amazing powerful character.

“Texas Rising” has a great cast. What was it like on set with all of that talent?

It was an incredible opportunity.
When I saw the people who were going to be attached to the project, I was excited. I knew I was going to be working closely with Bill Paxton and Olivier Martinez [as] there’s something of a triangle, not quite a love triangle, but you see her relationship specifically with each character. They just so happen to be leading their armies against one another. So we have this interesting set-up where you see these two leaders and you see who they are in the context of their relationships with this one particular woman. You learn a lot about [a man] in seeing how they relate to a woman they care about and have feelings for. I think that’s really interesting, especially for a western, [as] you think of it as a male-focused genre. You are going to see a lot of battle scenes and images of men on the front lines, armies gettings together, but [we also show] what happens when you introduce a woman into the mix.

You are also in “The Accountant” which comes out this fall. Your character, Cynthia, has a heavy secret to keep that keeps her from advancing in her career. Why were you particularly excited about this role? Have you ever been through anything similar?

What was great about this project and this role specifically is seeing a very smart capable female watching her unravel this huge puzzle piece. It’s really focused on that, on seeing her work and intelligence. It doesn’t have anything to do with her love life. Not to say that stories shouldn’t focus on those things, but it was a nice change of pace to make it be about watching somebody at work. In the movie, I do a lot of work with J.K. Simmons; in the film, he plays my boss. Getting to share screen time with him, we were filming right at the time when he was winning all of his awards for “Whiplash”, so it was incredible to witness that in a way. But once he was at work, he was ready to work and really humble . You would never know that he was having this other experience. He’s an incredible actor, I’ve always been a fan of his, so I felt very fortunate to go toe to toe with him in all of the scenes that we have.

You are also known for playing Amanda Waller on “Arrow”.
What did you draw inspiration for your character and what do you love about the show?

For whatever reason, I play these fierce, tough female characters. I mean I would like to think that I’m not like Amanda Waller because she’s cutthroat. In my day-to-day life, I’m pretty easygoing, but I think it’s wonderful [as] those are the juicy meaty roles where you have a lot of room to play. Before I was on “Arrow”, Amanda Waller was a character that existed in a comic book since the 80s. There have been a few versions of that character over the span of time they’ve been doing the character in DC Comics. I think it’s really cool when friends of mine found out that I was cast in that role, they were very familiar with her. What’s great about it being on the CW, it has introduced [Amanda Waller] to a lot of people. A wide variety of people come up to me and say they love “Arrow”. It’s a really broad audience which is great and it’s satisfying to get to be a part of the DC Comic universe.

As you play a lot of strong women, it must emulate from the real you as well and in your personal style. How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style has evolved. I used to live in New York. When I lived in New York, it was definitely much more in line, a lot of black and gray, that kind of city style. Now I live in California and that’s a different vibe altogether. I feel like Angelenos tend to be pretty laid back in their dress, but still put together and stylish. But if I don’t have to be in a costume, if i’m just at home, I’ll wear something easy-breezy with a lots of color.

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