This was posted on Monday, September 25, 2017 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk
Going from the reality show world to acting is a leap only a handful of people have pulled off successfully.
One of them is Lawrence Washington (AKA Miss Lawrence), who made occasional appearances on "Real Housewives of Atlanta," then hosted three seasons of "Fashion Queens" on Bravo. He played recurring character Miss Bruce last season on the new Fox show "Star" and was upped this season to a regular role.
"Star," which is set and shot in metro Atlanta, returns for a second season Wednesday at 9 p.m. For the uninitiated, it's about three young women trying to break into the music business as the next Destiny's Child.
Lee Daniels, creator of "Star," knew about Miss Lawrence, a hair stylist and singer, through "Fashion Queens." Bevy Smith, host of "Fashion Queens," knew them both. One time, soon after Daniels' "Empire" had come out, she taped Miss Lawrence goofing around pretending to be Cookie and sent it to Daniels.
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Soon after, he had heard Miss Lawrence could sing and wanted him on "Empire." Miss Lawrence taped himself crooning "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" by Sylvester and he ended up on the second season debut of the show. After rubbing shoulders with Jussie Smollett and Gabourey Sidibe, he said, "they made me feel right at home and this is what I'm supposed to be doing."
Then Daniels asked him to audition for his next show "Star" and booked him in a recurring role as a gender non-comforming gay hairstylist and commander in chief at Carlotta's shop, essentially playing Queen Latifah's character's best friend. Daniels liked him so much, he decided to give him a regular role this season, which means he's virtually guaranteed a speaking role in every episode this season and given a major boost in pay.
"I know the hairstylist culture," he said in a lunch recently at the Four Seasons in Midtown. "But it's a different dynamic. I've been part of a more upper echelon style beauty salon. The one of the show is more 'hood. More 'round the way. It's fun. It really makes me challenge myself and hone in on my acting."
He said he began acting in high school but never fit into "hetero normative. I was never the type to conform." So he entered the beauty industry, which "has been freeing space for individuals to be themselves. That was where I was able to be Miss Lawrence. Now it's come full circle and I play someone in that industry."
As a man who enjoys playing with gender norms, he is glad to see the world accepting of all types of people, whether they are gay or transgender or bisexual. "This is perfect timing," he said. "I feel humbled. I feel privileged being part of the movement."
Miss Carlotta season two is dealing with the fact her daughter (played by Amiyah Scott) is transgender. Plus, she is taking care of two of wannabe singer-star girls as a promise to their dead mom and will soon be their manager as well.
Miss Bruce is Miss Carlotta's sounding board, her primary support system. He wouldn't say whether they'd start digging into Miss Bruce's back story and love life but that could very well happen at some point now that he's a regular.
What Miss Lawrence knows is Miss Bruce was into drugs and alcohol and was a mess before Miss Carlotta found her.
"I grew up working class on the south side of Atlanta," he said. "A lot of my friends were from the projects. I hung out with them. I know who Miss Bruce is."
Given this opportunity with little acting experience has been a gift, he said. Becoming a series regular was a "boost to my confidence. Being a rookie, I often question myself. Am I delivering my lines right? It makes me know I'm doing the right thing, that I'm going in the right direction."
He now watches TV with a different eye as an actor, absorbing Shonda Rhimes' shows, Ava DuVernay's "Queen Sugar" and Starz's "Power." "I'm also a CNN junkie," he admitted. "Don Lemon. That's the best realiy TV there is!"
"Star," season 2 returns Wednesday at 9 p.m., Fox