Growing up in rural Alabama, actor André Holland spent countless Friday and Saturday nights sitting around on the front porch, listening to people tell stories. Looking back now, Holland credits those evenings — and the cadences he heard on the porch — with inspiring him to become an actor.
Holland, who appeared in the film Moonlight, is currently playing Othello in Shakespeare’s Globe in London — without a British accent. When he auditioned for a Shakespeare production earlier in his career, he was told by a casting agent to eliminate his “southern sound.”
There’s a sense, Holland says, that to do Shakespeare, you must “elevate yourself to meet the text.” But he rejects that idea; his grandparents were capable of expressing complex and beautiful ideas in their own way. “The way they told those stories sounded a lot like Shakespeare,” Holland says. “Even to this day, when I call home and speak to my father … [there’s a] rhythm that we communicate in, and I feel like that has as much a place on the Globe Stage or any stage as does any kind of well-spoken, well-trained, perfectly-delivered mid-Atlantic sound.”
Holland also stars as a lawyer who works with death row inmates on the Hulu series Castle Rock, which is based on the work of Stephen King.