Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
My name is Mashawn Robertson and I am a Washington, DC native. I am a mother of 2, EntrepreneuHER, and now SAG-AFTRA actress.
Acting is my passion. I first got the bug in 7th grade. I would sign up for school plays all the time. I watched I Love Lucy and Martin every day like it was homework.
I didn’t want to be a comedian. I just wanted to laugh and tell stories because I didn’t grow up with my parents. Laughing was both my medicine and defense mechanism. It started as my therapy and then I just fell in love.
I sacrificed a lot to get here. During my journey, I have helped others turn their actions into a business and become an entrepreneur too. And I will continue to help others leave corporate America and do what they love.
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
The qualities that make me different and unique from everyone else in the industry are that of flexibility, humility, understanding human behavior, and my favorite motto of all “working smart not hard”. I’m flexible with time, criticism, and change.
Before I left the 9 to 5 world, I would never put in leave to take off unless I had an audition or filming. No matter if it was in California, I was there. A day early always. If I didn’t get the gig I would ask for feedback almost always so I know what I needed to change.
People always asked, “Well Mashawn, how did you start getting gigs if you don’t have an agent”. I would always reply by saying watching the shows I wanted to be on. I mean watching until the credits rolled and all. At the end of each show/movie, I would wait to see who was the casting person. I would search Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. See what casting companies they worked for or checked them out on IMDBpro for an email address to introduce myself. That is how I started getting background work.
From there I would travel to Atlanta and New York for acting classes. I only studied at the DC Theatre lab back home in DC for discipline. I used theatre structure as a foundation and the other markets for classes and networking.
“Working smart not hard” got me far.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
I’m from Washington, DC and I was raised by everyone but my own parents. I had big dreams. I believed in myself regardless of what others thought was impossible for me.
With no connection to Hollywood, I worked endlessly pounding the pavement, negative bank account, missed flights, long bus rides, going days without being with my two children, while constantly being told no and how I just wasn’t right for the roles I so badly wanted.
Discouragement stepped in at times, but in my gut, I knew acting was ingrained in my soul. That moment I said I would do this for FREE was the moment I knew ACTING was what I was born to do.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
My biggest challenge wasn’t money, time, or distance.
A lot of people look puzzled when I say that. I’m like I worked two jobs in high school to pay for acting classes. When you want something you work for it. When you were a teenager and you wanted your hair done or a new outfit you did chores or babysat for money. It’s the same thing.
My biggest challenge was REPRESENTATION. I would always hear from CD’s or Associates, “When you get repped come back and see me.” I mean I was angry at one point. No sweetie, you’re not. You need consistent training, rep, and to BUILD A NETWORK. Plus have professional credits. People do not know you. So when I realized that I started working every set I could get on.
I want to shout out Anita Gibson, Department head of Hair/MUA and Executive Producer of Power Book III: Raising Kanan. I met her on the set of Girls Trip 2016 in New Orleans when I was an extra for that movie. I sat in her chair and we talked. She dropped so much game and gems to get booked and busy.
Here it is December 2021 and everything she told me I did and followed to become SAG-AFTRA and repped. And we are still friends. I love her to death. She’s like a big sister figure and I was blessed to have sat in her chair.
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
The top 3 people I’d like to meet are Denzel Washington, Phylicia Rashad, and Taraji P. Henson. Uncle Denzel, as I call him, is a veteran, as well as Phylicia Rashad and they entered the industry at a time African Americans were not the popular choice for TV. They both are ebullient and personable.
Taraji too is ebullient and personable. What they do is natural because they actually study the craft so I don’t call what they do acting. I could relate to Mrs. Huxtable. I wanted Mrs. Huxtable to be my mother. I didn’t grow up with mines. I could relate to Frank Lucas. He was not a bad person he was just trying to survive and take care of his entire family. He did not want to stay in poverty. My father, uncles, and other family members were street pharmacists too.
Taraji’s real life was me. Working, going to school, public assistance/food stamps, and barely making it. All while pursuing a dream of becoming a great actor. Even when people said, “Girl chase a real career, you wasting your time.” Yvette was relatable because I dated boys, street guys, and not men. I accepted the bare minimum and that was not ok. They all have in common that personable quality and being relatable.
I study their auditions and the same energy they give in the audition room is the same on film and stage. I want to learn that. I still go in the audition rooms with butterflies. I am confident but still nervous in front of CDs. I would really love to spend a day or even an hour with these 3 brilliant thespians. I have substitution and previous circumstance down pact but I would love to work with these 3 on making those two acting techniques even stronger and more natural as they do.