Cheryl Hamada in Chimerica
Actress: Cheryl HamadaPlay: Chimerica by Lucy Kirkland at Time Line Theatre until July 31, 2016.
I never dreamed it could be possible but I am a Chicago based performer fortunate enough to have supported myself as a working actress for most of my adult life. In addition to hosting 4 seasons of Extreme Homes on HGTV and ongoing work hosting both local and national PBS pledge drives, I perform in theaters, commercials, corporate industrials, movies and the TV drama series shooting here in Chicago. I'm a Japanese American Sansei and have enjoyed tremendous support from my family who have always come out to see my shows from my earliest efforts at Northern and Northeastern Illinois Universities, to performances at Lookingglass and Goodman, to my current work at TimeLine in CHIMERICA.
I have several characters in CHIMERICA. Some who live in China and some who live in America. All are great fun to portray but one which is a particular delight to play is Meihui. She is a Chinese immigrant now living in New York City and working her family's business. She was living near Tianamen Square at the time of the student protests and apparently, moved to New York very shortly thereafter. I love her embrace of both Chinese and American values. She is proud of her family and family business but at some point after coming here, apparently, has renamed her adored China born daughter, "Jennifer", which is one of the most common given names in America for her generation! That speaks to the duality of Meihui's passions and reminds me of my own family experiences growing up among a generation of Nisei who had been held in the WW II internment camps of our western states and still raised their children to embrace America.
You see Meihui only briefly but it's a testament to playwright, Lucy Kirkland's amazing script that all these kinds of specific details have gone into her creation of the dozens of characters you'll meet in CHIMERICA. It makes each brief scene not just another price of the CHIMERICA puzzle but also, a vivid encounter. As one of the actors playing multiple roles, part of the challenge we face, is communicating a sense of that character's backstory even when you have only a few pages of script within which to make that happen. Honestly, it's been as much fun watching my fellow actors conquer that challenge as it has been working on it myself. I have been so proud and delighted to be a part of this magnificent TimeLine production!