For the past several months we’ve posted episodes of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, and it seems the male cast Lyman Johnson (White Jay), Madison Shockley III (Fred), Andrew Allan James (A) and Tristen Winger (Darius/Baby Voice) have developed quite a fan base here. I thought it would be fun to catch up with the guys. So first up, are Tristen and Andrew.
Are you anything like your ABG character in real life? Do you draw anything from your real life experiences to play your characters?
Tristen (Darius/Baby Voice): Fortunately for me I’m not too much like my character “Darius”; I have a normal (better yet above) average voice but I do laugh LOUDLY with no inhibitions and I am not a vegan, I enjoy any and all of the meats. Similar to Darius however I am an aspiring musician of sorts. I produce my own music and do a little bit of DJing on my iPad and as we saw in the first part of episode 10, I share Darius’s passion for dancing ladies.
Darius’s characteristics come from different people I’ve met when working as a supervisor; people who have little to no expression when helping customers, oddly high pitched voices and shy/creepy mannerisms like looking just slightly off to the left or right of making eye contact and flaccid handshakes.
Andrew (A): I’ve never considered myself nerdy but I have been told that I am, to my surprise. I have been called, ‘off-beat,’ ‘quirky.’ Am I awkward? Definitely! I’m much more of chill, artsy, introverted kind of guy. For ‘A’, I mainly try to draw on how it feels to be different, misunderstood, oblivious… which I think we’ve all felt at some point.
You all fit your roles so perfectly! Can you give us some insight into the casting and character development?
T: I know Issa from high school where we acted in a play together and knew of her acting talent and humor. I really wanted to work with her because I would always see her posts on Facebook regarding “The Fly Guys” and that was something I wanted to be apart of. I saw that she just begun Awkward Black Girl (around episode 3) and I told her on Facebook that if she ever needed any help on her series that I would love to be apart of it. She was really enthusiastic about the idea and soon sent me the script for episode 4 with my role as Darius being introduced.
Darius was described in the script as “Quiet Office Guy” who spoke in a soft, quiet, baby voice. When I read that about my character I immediately thought about Michael Jackson’s speaking voice which was very soft and angelic… Like baby hair in audio form. So I took that angelic/baby hair voice idea, recorded myself playing Darius and posted it on my Facebook page. Issa loved it and filmed episode 4 a few days after.
A: Issa and I were friends from undergrad (Stanford University). I expressed to her that I had been exploring acting further after booking some auditions. A few months later she presented me with this project. I immediately said I would do it based on the work I’ve seen her do. Upon reading the scene descriptions I was immediately entertained. I thought it was really clever and I just felt a good vibe from it. A few weeks later we shot the first episode. I thought Issa was hilarious so I immediately started sharing the vid not knowing that I was the first ABG fan! haha…
I think ‘A’ has developed over time. Initially, all I knew about him was that he slept w ‘J’ and she really had no desire to communicate with him very much afterwards. By the way Issa played ‘J’ I just got a sense that this guy was really, really annoying and so I just tried to make him a pest who couldn’t take a hint. I remember asking to borrow my friends glasses before we shot on a whim. I learn more about ‘A’ with every episode. With any character I think he’s evolved based on the writing, Issa’s direction, and how I feel could best play him.
One of the reasons we love J is that her hair is natural. Are you feeling natural hair?
T: Whether or not it makes it into the storyline, J is actually my type of woman; she daydreams about performing dance routines from movies, slapping the tar outta rude ass supervisors, and is an aspiring rapper. Who could wish for anything more? I definitely adore J’s choice to rock the short, natural hair. I feel it requires a ton of confidence for a woman to wear her hair short and I love a confident woman. As long as she’s confident and comfortable, we’re good.
A: I am. I think you gotta rock whatever works for you. I think natural hair looks amazing on some people (e.g. Issa). Short, long, natural, ‘processed’… whatever. One shouldn’t be afraid to explore.
Are you single?
T: Yes, I am single.
A: Haha… single is as single does? Haha… yes, I am.
Describe your ideal girl.
T: My ideal woman doesn’t have a specific skin color, body type, height, or religion. My ideal woman is confident with herself, reapectful of everyone, supportive of me, loves to cook, challenges me to be the best man I can be, and loves to try new things and see new places.