When we watched the History Channel remake of the mini-series Roots last year, we were riveted by actor E’myri Crutchfield, who plays the young Miss Kizzy. This issue, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to talk to 16-year-old E’myri and her mom, Erica Crutchfield, about her teen dreams of becoming an actor.
An Interview With The Young Miss Kizzy
When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
E’myri: Well, I’ve always been very outgoing. When I was six years old, my mom and I would go to the mall. I would stand in the jewelry section in a store and try to sell jewelry to the customers. People started telling my mom to put me in acting class because I was so outgoing.
Erica: Before we went anywhere, I would threaten her and say, “Do not open your mouth. Don’t talk to anyone. Don’t do anything.” She’d promise, and then as soon as I turned my back, she’d sneak off and I’d hear her voice and find her with a crowd around her. Constantly.
Where do you go to school?
E’myri: Now I am in a regular high school, but when I first started auditioning, my mom was home-schooling me. And when I’m on set, then I’m also home-schooled.
Is it hard for you to go back and forth?
E’myri: Socially it isn’t hard, but academically it is. When you’re home-schooled or on a set, there’s not a lot of structure. This is my first time in years being in a structured school. So that’s been difficult.
Erica, what worries you as the mom of a 16-year-old actor?
Erica: E’myri will leave me soon and be in the world doing this by herself. I just hope she carries on what I have tried to instill in her. I want her to have a discerning spirit of who she is, what she is, and where she is, and to keep her head focused.
Do you have set rules with E’myri?
Erica: This is my first teenager, and this is the hardest time of my life. I either want her to go back to being a child or hurry up and be 18 and go to college. Like other teenagers, she thinks she’s a grown-up or that I’m wacky and don’t know anything. I do have rules and she does get punished. I’m trying to teach her that it doesn’t matter how old she gets, there are rules—in my house, at school, college, when you walk out the door. But sometimes she thinks she shouldn’t have to follow the rules, and that can be frustrating.
What would you say to the many others out there who have teen dreams to do what E’myri is doing?
Erica: Everyone thought I was crazy to follow teen dreams. I left my work, drained my account, and flew her to California two years in a row. My husband would say, “Erica, everybody out there thinks their kid can act, what makes her so special?” But I knew in my heart and so did E’myri. So, we took a risk. And if we hadn’t, she probably wouldn’t be here. She wouldn’t have done all this. So I say to anyone who has a talent or a passion, go for it. Do it. Keep going. You might get a million no’s, like we did for the first two years. But it only takes that one yes, that one person to discover you.
What would you add, E’myri?
E’myri: A lot of times, I wanted to give up. I had friends who started acting at the same time as me, and they were booking jobs right and left. It took me two years to book my first job. I was just very discouraged, and my mom and my acting coach kept me on my course. So I just say, “Don’t worry about what other people are doing because you are who you are.” God has something in place for everyone. Just because someone else is doing or getting something does not take away from you or mean you won’t get there, too.
Interview by Susan Borison