Introducing Makeda Declet, Twinkie Byrd’s Hollywood Monologue Slam 2015 Winner

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Introducing Makeda Declet, Twinkie Byrd’s Hollywood Monologue Slam 2015 Winner
Posted by Wilson Morales

November 26, 2014

Twinkie Byrd Hollywood Monologue Slam poster

Earlier this month, casting director Twinkie Byrd held her 4th Annual Hollywood Monologue Slam, held at TCL Mann 6 Chinese theater in Hollywood in conjunction with Producers Jeff Byrd, Joseph Alvarez (Indienight) and Kim Ogletree.

Bryd, whose had put together the cast of notable films that include Stomp The Yard, Notorious, Jumping The Broom, Filly Brown, Sparkle, Fruitvale Station, Black Nativity, and BET’s Being Mary Jane, created the event as a platform for upcoming Actors to be Showcased to the Entertainment Industry. Byrd points out that “Producer Reuben Cannon has described me as The Diamond Finder after he watched my #1 Hit Film, Stomp The Yard, and I’ve been blessed to continually bring new Faces of color to Film & Television.”

For this year’s event, there were over 200 applicants and 12 finalists were chosen to compete in front of celebrity judges James Pickens Jr., Aisha Hinds, director Nzingha Stewart & Michael Ealy. Among the guests in the audience were industry reps from HBO, BET, New Regency, and etc.

Makeda Declet 4The 2014 winner was Makeda Declet, a Brooklyn, NY native who moved to LA just a few years ago after her she completed her studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She received numerous prizes (listed at TwinkieByrd.com and has had several meetings with Studio execs and Casting Directors due to her win. Michael Ealy stated “see you on set” to Declet prior to her win.

Blackfilm.com recently spoke with Declet on her win and her continued pursuit for more work in the business.

What was the attraction to doing this?

Makeda Declet: I actually just got on Twitter (@whosmackiemarsh) and started my website at makeda-declet.com recently and I’m trying to get better at it. So, I got on and started following some people and Twinkie Byrd was one of them. I saw her tweet about the monologue slam and I had been working on some monologues on my own just for practice and I had one written in my back pocket and I felt, “This is convenient.” I didn’t write the monologue I submitted. It was from a movie called Drunks. .

Twinkie Byrd Hollywood Monologue SlamWhat did you change from you had written to what they wanted you to do?

Makeda Declet: They were looking for a monologue that was put on video. The thing that changed from the video to what I performed was doing the extended monologue from the movie that ended up really showing the range of the character. I spent a lot of time prepping for a two minute dialogue. The day before the actual monologue submission, Twinkie sent out an email that included a twist. I was like, “Don’t do this.” She said to bring in a contrasting monologue from film or television. To bring in something, classical or contemporary, which is what I ended up doing. I had a Shakespeare monologue but it wasn’t totally cold, but fit it in the parameters of what she was looking for. The second monologue I did was from a Midsummer Night’s Dream. I hadn’t done that in a really long time and spent all night polishing that up as much as I could.

Makeda Declet with judges

What has the monologue win done for you as an actress?

Makeda Declet: The biggest thing that’s happened to me is exposure. Being up on that stage felt familiar because I grew up doing theater but it was the people in the audience and the caliber of guests in attendance that really stepped the game up. I was in front of the stage in front of the guest judges such as Michael Ealy and Aisha Hinds, two actors that I really admired and Twinkie, the casting director who I had never been in front of before and now all of sudden, I have this intimate relationship. As well as other actors in the audience and agents and things like that. I’m unrepresented right now and I don’t have a manager so it’s really hard to be seen and hard to get in front of people and that night was all this exposure that could have been months of backbreaking and grueling work. I got all of that in one evening. People got to see me work and figuring out these characters and say, “I’m Makeda Declet and this is where I’m at right now in my craft and trying to figure out these pieces and let me show you the things that I made and let me see how you respond to it. This is what I have been working on and let me share it with you. ” Afterwards, there was a party and I spoke with Michael Ealy and James Pickens Jr. and getting feedback and getting tips and advice. I’ve garnered some mentors out of it. I’ve garnered Twinkie as a mentor. I got all the things that an actor needs to get a boost because it can get lonely in an apartment in Echo Park. That was a great night.

Makeda Declet with Michael Ealy, Nzingha Stewart and Twinkie Byrd‏Prior to the Slam event, what did you do to keep your spirit up?

Makeda Declet: I got in acting class and it’s a bit easy to practice your craft when you’re in school but not so much so out in the world. I go to Michael Woolson Studios once a week to work on those muscles. I feel that actors can get very lazy very easily. In class, you have to constantly be working at it because it’s very easy to fall behind. I didn’t want to get into a safe place where I play the same characters and it’s actually very hard for me because a lot of kids in my class are bringing materials that they are auditioning for and I’m not necessarily going out for many roles i want right now so I have to be very patient. I created my own web series called ‘Just Makeda.’ It’s basically my answer to my own struggles after moving to LA and not having family here and feeling torn between my New York family and my LA new life. I’m this girl who has this alter ego who represents this part of us that grows and start to splinter off from ourselves. I thought that was interesting. I made a 7-part web series on that. That saved my butt because when you’re not doing anything, it can be really easy to feel bitter and jaded, and working on my web series was so helpful in combating that. When you’re actually doing something and creating momentum for yourself, you have little time to feel bad for yourself.

Makeda Declet and Twinkie ByrdIn meeting with and working with Twinkie, what are you learning about yourself as an actress?

Makeda Declet: I got really lucky. I booked a Tyler Perry show straight out of college and for a while, I didn’t know where that would lead me in my career and through talking with Twinkie, I’ve realized that a lot of this business is about patience and community. Twinkie is a great person to know because she has a great eye for talent and is very smart in her selections. I’ve seen the things that she cast and she’s called me in for some things already. It just opened this whole other door. It’s effective when others can see how hard an actor is working at growing. I definitely have gained confidence in that way.

Makeda Declet 3

What’s next?

Makeda Declet: I really want to reach out to those who were in the audience and continue to build on those relationships. I also just wrote a play that I submitted to the Sundance Theater Lab and I’m continuing to explore my artistry, which includes storytelling. I know that acting is my number one passion but there are so many different aspects to the craft that I’m excited to let myself be challenged by.

 


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