Actor Spotlight: Neketia Henry
JESSICA: Neketia, you’ve done all kinds of performing—you started onstage doing musicals as a kid and now you’ve appeared in numerous film projects, countless commercials, national print ads and, for the past seven years, you’ve been a Marketing Ambassador for KQCA My58, which ultimately landed you the role of weekend field reporter for KCRA 3. How do you prepare for a project?
NEKETIA: No matter the platform—theater, TV, commercials, even just a monologue—first and foremost, I create a backstory for my character. A lot of times when we get scripts or excerpts or monologues (to work on), that’s just a 60-second glimpse into this person’s life and situation. Before any lines are spoken, I want to know who they are—where they’re from, what class they’re from, are they a single mom? I want to know their thought process, why they say certain things. You also have to know what you’re saying, so I read through any script a few times and then try to retell the story the best way that I can. You have to be in tune with the actual story.
JESSICA: Performing for a Zoom audience is different than performing for a TV audience, which is different than performing onstage. How do you navigate those differences?
NEKETIA: The key word is “energy.” Whether I’m in person or behind a camera or computer, I give the same energy. Yes, we’ve been thrown into this virtual world—I do gigs from my office with my husband and son walking back and forth—but the audience should not feel any different. Whether there are two or 45 squares on the Zoom screen, whether you’re in a theater with two people or 2000 people, the energy should feel the same from the performer. The audience needs to feel like they’re connected. Art is about connecting, seeing some of yourself in someone—that’s what entertainment is, no matter the platform or how many people are in the audience.
JESSICA: Why do you love performing?
NEKETIA: I’ve always had a bubbly, outgoing personality. Even as a kid, I’d get together with my little cousins and force them to be judges for my “talent shows,” or I’d reenact movies. I love being able to entertain, to make people laugh, cry and feel. Acting is definitely not an easy job—and not a consistent job—so you really have to have a passion for it. I love to make people see a reflection of themselves, make them think twice and ultimately, make them feel something.