WE ASKED: What actresses inspire UA Little Rock theater students and why?

Researchers have long known that inspiration is important to a creative mind. In theatre arts, an actor’s work is often a product of many different inspirations.  Moving performances on the big screen can often set the tone for future aspiring actors, so in the spirit of the 2019 awards season, TheLRAngle.com wanted to find out what actresses have been inspirations to UA Little students who major in theater.


Akira Hudson

Akira Hudson
Akira Hudson (photo by Erica Harris)

Akira Hudson, 20, of Blytheville, said that Angela Bassett has inspired her the most. Bassett is known for films such as “What’s Love Got to Do with It” and “Waiting to Exhale.”  Hudson is inspired by Bassett because she has had a long-standing career in an industry that has been difficult for black women.

“Hollywood is not necessarily an industry that is kind to black women,” Hudson said.

Even though she hopes her career will be more focused on direction and production, Hudson cites Bassett’s acting as inspiration because she gives encouragement to black women working in the entertainment industry.

Some of Hudson’s favorite roles of Bassett include Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do with It” because her growth from beginning to end was “amazing.” Although she doesn’t really care for the movie “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” she still watched it to see Bassett play Stella Payne.

Hudson’s dream job is to direct a film similar to “Black Panther.”  She says she would want to make a movie with an all-black cast that becomes a phenomenon.


Jessie Ley

Jessie Ley
Jessie Ley (photo by Erica Harris)

Jessie Ley, 22, of Rogers, said that Cate Blanchett is an inspirational actress to her. Blanchett is known for her roles in  “The Aviator” and “Blue Jasmine“.  Ley says she is inspired by Blanchett because she likes actresses that “know what they’re doing.”

Ley says that she got into acting by accident. She felt invisible until she sang in her music class. She liked the way people were impressed by her voice. She went on to Arkansas Arts Academy in Rogers where she was introduced to acting. Although she still enjoys singing, acting became more important to her.

“I just fell in love with acting,” Ley said.

Ley’s favorite role from Blanchett is Carol Aird in “Carol,” a film about two women falling in love in the 1950s. Ley’s dream role is to play Ophelia in Hamlet because she loves Shakespeare. She would also love to play a lesbian in a play.

“I would love to have the opportunity to be that authentic side of myself on stage,” Ley said.


Thomas Jackson

Thomas Jackson
Thomas Jackson (photo by Erica Harris)

Thomas Jackson, 26, of Little Rock said Helena Bonham Carter is an actress who has inspired him.  She is known for role in films such as “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” Jackson likes the creepy and weird aspects of Carter’s roles.

“She has a way about her that’s just interesting to watch and be a part of,” Jackson said.

While he does not like the film “Sweeney Todd,” he does like Carter’s role as Nellie Lovett because she brought something interesting to the role.

Jackson has wanted to act since he was little, but he was too scared to pursue it. After three years of college, he finally decided to take an acting class and change his major to theater. Over time, he has learned that he enjoys the more technical side of theater such as building sets, but he still enjoys acting.

His dream role is to play the title character of the Shakespeare play, “Macbeth,” because he loves that play and thinks this role would be fun to play with.


Char Dupins

Char Dupins
Char Dupins (photo by Erica Harris)

Char Dupins, 20, of North Little Rock said Jasmine Guy is an actress who inspires her. Guy is known for her role in “A Different World.” Guy inspires her because her comedic portrayal of Whitley Gilbert is something she can relate to.

“That’s something I aspire to be,” Dupins said.

Dupins was inspired to act because of her family’s background in art. She says it was something she was drawn to. Being in her uncle’s productions helped her find her way. Her dream role is to play Charlotte Beck from the Marvel comic book series, “Displaced Paranormals 7.” Beck is an African-American superhero and dancer.

These actresses have inspired these theater students with their careers and portrayal of roles. Although, some are no longer interested in acting, they are still able to admire actresses’ work.


Is there an actress that has inspired you? We want to hear from you.  Contact Erica Harris at enharris [at] ualr [dot] edu.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply