Georgia Hollywood Review March 2020

ACTORS

Karen Ceesay Mixes Fame and Family By Ca ro l Bada r acco Padge t t

like that is a blessing,” she notes. “The sheer number of characters that have come and gone in those seasons… maybe 200+… has been unbelievable.” Since the cast members change so often, Ceesay says the personality on set changes as well. “Are we talking politics [today] while pulling our props or getting mics? Is today the day a country music star (Zach Brown) teaches us how to throw knives? Is it show tunes day? Is that Marilyn Manson?” With The Walking Dead , Stranger Thing s, and so many other to-die-for roles on her IMDb profile, it’s easy to miss the fact that Ceesay is not the only one in her family that’s working in the film industry. “I’ve been married for 24 years to my chef husband who alsoworks in on-set catering from time to time. Our teenage son is a budding director who wrote, starred, and directed his very own project this past summer,” she says. “Like many working moms, I have had to balance what I do for myself with what I have to do for my family.” What’s next on the horizon for Ceesay? “2020 is also the year I turn 50 and celebrate 25 years of marriage—so that will be massive,” she shares. “The end of 2019 also marked the return of my character Veretta on Black Lightning (CW) and introduced a new character, Nadine, to the Greenleaf (OWN) audiences, much to my mother’s delight. 2020 has already kicked off for me with the pilot episode of Deputy , a new drama on FOX starring Stephen Dorff.” In addition, Ceesay will tackle a number of her own writing projects. “Career-wise, I am also a writer and a coach/instructor,” she says. “I have also been an active part of the entertainment community in Atlanta for a long time... with Women in Film & Television Atlanta (WIFTA) and Georgia Production Partnership (GPP), as well as our local SAG/ AFTRA office.” But most dearly to her, Ceesay’s family remains in the spotlight. “A major change this year for us was sending [our son] off to boarding school for his first year of high school. It has been a big adjustment to early empty-nesting, but he is thriving and continues to make us proud. This newly wide open schedule has left a lot of time for Mom to focus on herself and her career, which is something many moms don’t get a chance to do. For that, I am thankful.”

Actor Karen Ceesay

A tlanta resident and actor Karen Ceesay was already a fan of Stranger Things before she booked the role of Mrs. Sinclair in Season 2. “It’s definitely my most recognizable role, especially with kids and teens,” she says. “My son and I got Netflix FOR Stranger Things (and Luke Cage ).” In fact, while in the running for the popular part of Mrs. Sinclair, Ceesay says SNL did a skit about “where were the black kids’ parents?” “I booked my role less than a week later,” she shares. Aside from the pure fun of joining the cast of the ultra-popular series that she and her son enjoyed, being on the set of Stranger Things and playing a role in that time period was wildly familiar. To embody the role of Mrs. Sinclair, Ceesay says she channeled a little bit of her own mom and added in a dash of Clair Huxtable. “Bringing Mrs. Sinclair to life was so easy because I knew that life,” she notes. “I was a teenager in the ‘80s, and my hair is almost exactly like I wore it back then.” On the flip side of Ceesay’s role in Stranger Things is her work on another hugely popular long-running series, AMC’s The Walking Dead , where she portrays a Hilltop resident, Bertie. “When I first started [at] the end of season six, I never thought my character would still be alive more than two seasons tops,” she says, adding, “I just completed my fifth season.” Among many amazing things about working on The Walking Dead , Ceesay says the series’ behind-the-scenes It has been an absolute blast working on the The Walking Dead in so many ways, one being how enormous the show is in every way— fan base, cast size, crew size, props, and lots and lots of blood.

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Photo by Aaron Romano

On set with Priah Ferguson

The Walking Dead castmates

Photos courtesy of Karen Ceesay

size and complexity is nearly unfathomable. “It has been an absolute blast working on the The Walking Dead in so many ways, one being how enormous the show is in every way—fan base, cast size, crew size, props, and lots and lots of blood. It’s EVERYWHERE, and to be part of something

Follow Karen Ceesay on Instagram and Twitter: @karenceesay

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