Five Questions with Rebecca S’manga Frank

June 20, 2017
Natalie Hulla
Meet Rebecca S’manga Frank, who makes her Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park debut in the world premiere of Jen Silverman's All the Roads Home.

S'manga-Frank-HeadshotOff-Broadway credits include Coriolanus (Red Bull Theater). Off-off Broadway credits include Romeo & Juliet (Wheelhouse Theater Company), Power Couple (Ars Nova Ant Fest) and The Broken Record (New York Times Critics Pick, New York International Fringe Festival Overall Excellence Award). Regional credits include This World in a Woman's Hands (Shotgun Players), ...and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi (Cutting Ball Theater), Twelfth Night (African-American Shakespeare Company) and Intimate Apparel (Alter Theater). New York University credits include Three Sisters, A Free Man of Color, The Mother F***** with the Hat and 5 Days till Saturday. Television credits include Elementary.

How long have you been acting, and where did you receive your training?

I have been acting for about eight years. I received my training from NYU's Graduate Acting Program at Tisch School of the Arts.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor, and what’s your favorite part of the job?

I fell into acting through a jazz improv class in my last year of undergrad. It's a long story but I ended up in a room with seven amazing actresses, a poet/playwright, my jazz improv teacher/composer and a director collaborating on a new "song play." I knew I'd been given access to a special world. I felt at home, accepted and grateful to be in such good company. Then I started seeing theatre outside of the piece we were making, and I was deeply inspired. I was surprised to find an untapped resource in myself and an outlet to channel my new-found passion. I keep getting newly inspired and wanting to grow as an actor. I love doing research and using music to tell a story, but my favorite thing still is belonging to a community of artists and making a new family with each project.

What is your all-time favorite role you’ve performed, and why?

Mrs. Warren and Vivie Warren in Mrs. Warren’s Profession. I split the roles with my classmate in our second year of grad school (we switched half-way through the show every night). It was awesome to experience both the perspective of mother and daughter. They are coming from opposite sides and are so strong and still so similar. My director challenged me with Vivie. She pushed me to this non-emotional place, which felt terrible but ended up being great. I learned a lot. Alternately, with Mrs. Warren it all just kind of spilled out like my insides had been pre-set to her emotional states. This is probably because I was basically playing my grandmother. Love you, Grandma! (Side note: My grandmother was not a hooker or a Madame. She was a tough cookie, though.)

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What role have you been dying to play, and why?

Cleopatra—Queen of Egypt; Shakespeare; the eyeliner.

What has been the most interesting part of working on All the Roads Home so far?

Dolly Parton is in this play. She is ridiculously hilarious and wise. I think we need a hashtag. And a movement: “All you got to do is want something enough to make it, take it or fake it. End of story.” #stuffdollysays.

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To learn more about Rebecca, follow her on Instagram @smangayahart. To learn more about the Playhouse production of All the Roads Home, visit the production detail page.
Rebecca S’manga Frank in All the Roads Home; Tina Chilip and Rebecca S’manga Frank in All the Roads Home; Libby Winters, Rebecca S’manga Frank, Tramell Tillman and Tina Chilip in All the Roads Home. Photos by Mikki Schaffner.