Renee McPherson, Youthlink Writer
For 18-year-old Laakan McHardy, acting provides solace and a playground where she can comfortably release her creativity and passion for the performing arts.
As the vice-chairperson of the Western Junior Theatre which falls under David Tulloch's Probemaster Entertainment, this witty and talented star on the rise outlined that acting allows her the freedom to be someone else, a great experience which borders on being therapeutic.
"I've always been a performer. For as long as I can remember I was dancing, singing and doing elocution and drama. It's what I love to do and it's the thing I'm most passionate about," Laakan said.
Find out more about this actress and Montego Bay Community College student who is majoring in the performing arts, displaying great promise in the field.
WHY DID YOU WANT TO BECOME AN ACTRESS?
"It truly takes talent to affect an audience in the way actors do - to bring them joy, laughter, sorrow and even tears by presenting a fictional story about fictional people and somehow make it so powerful and relatable that, to them, it becomes real. I've always wanted to become an actress because I have so much respect for the craft."
EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA OF A PERFECT CHARACTER?
"If such a thing exists, I think my perfect character would be one who challenges me the most, so probably someone mentally ill. I've always been very interested in psychology and psychiatry and I find it fascinating how powerful - and fragile - the human mind is. My ideal character would probably be a schizophrenic, because of the complex behavioral patterns associated with the disease. I think portraying that realisation and internal struggle would be extremely challenging, but very rewarding."
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO BE THE BEST PERFORMER YOU CAN BE?
"I don't have a single person or event that inspired me; it was more of a collection of experiences. I just always found myself in awe of actors' performances, even at a young age. I would scrutinise their performances and get chills when I saw the pain of their character flash across their faces or the pride twinkle in their eye and pull the corners of their mouth into a smile. I still do. Just seeing how persons can step aside from themselves and take on an entirely different persona is still inspiring to me."
WHO IS LAAKAN MCHARDY AND WHAT PLAYS AND FILMS HAVE YOU FEATURED IN?
"On one hand, I'm very playful - that's the side of me that's always wandering around going on 'adventures' in search of fun and inspiration. On the other hand, I'm kind of an introvert - I'm pensive and artistic. I have acted on stage in productions such as BLOCK 24 and On The Edge Of Desire - sponsored by MTV's Staying Alive Campaign against HIV/AIDS. I do hope to study acting professionally or simply to just continue being guided by some of the enormous talents I have already had the privilege of working with."
HOW DO YOUR PARENTS FEEL ABOUT YOUR INTEREST IN ACTING?
My parents are very supportive. They keep me grounded and focused and encourage me to work hard at everything I do. My dad mostly takes me to rehearsals and sometimes will sit in his car and wait for hours until I'm done. Also, he sells tickets for shows and markets every production that I am involve in."
In April, Laakan appeared in the original musical, Children of God, directed by David Tulloch. She also recently participated in Probemaster Entertainment's Western Schools' Drama Festival where she received trophies for Best Monologue, Most Impressive Performer and The Makeda Solomon Trophy for Best Actress in a Leading Role.