Shalom Life | May 13, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Interview With ’12 Years a Slave’ Actress, Ashley Dyke

Dyke plays Anna in Steve McQueen’s latest masterpiece, ’12 Years a Slave’.

By: Anthony Marcusa

Published: November 14th, 2013 in Culture » Film » Interviews

While as an actress, Ashley Dyke naturally feels a responsibility to her cast and crew, the material, and the audience, there was another group she felt compelled by in her two most important roles: her ancestors.

The Fairfax, Virginia native is daughter to an African American father and a Jewish mother of Hungarian and Polish descent. In her young career, one that began when she ventured to Los Angeles, Dyke has already been a part of two productions most telling. In the first, she performed in a stage adaptation of I Never Saw Another Butterfly, playing a young woman in a concentration camp.

Dyke’s latest role sees her on the big screen playing another victim of historical scars that speaks to her roots, in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. Her preparation was both professional and personal.

“A lot of it was going inward to find out who I’m made of; it became a journey inward to be brave enough to understand the story, and to understand my place in my family,” said Dyke in a phone interview from her home in L.A., following the wide release of McQueen’s acclaimed feature.

“I was able to tell the story of my family, where I came from.”

Dyke worked hard to secure the role of Anna, a small but important character in this lengthy, harrowing journey of a film. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, a freeman who lives happily with his family in pre-Civil War New York until he is conned, kidnapped, and sold into slavery into the Deep South. It is this true story of his life, passed from owner to owner and subject to such horrendous hardships, which is told with such brutal realism and honesty.

Dyke’s character is just one of many that cross Solomon’s path, and while her scene is short and in fact without dialogue, it is an important moment and one filled with intense emotion. When Dyke read the scene for Anna, she was confronted with something unprecedented to her in her time: a two-page description about mood and setting, but without dialogue.

Ashley Dyke (Photo Credit:Vince Trupsin)

“Anna is someone I had to create for myself,” she said. “The moment is so brief and pivotal, and I had to understand what she was to me, and what she serves in the entire movie. She represents the stories we don’t know, the ones we haven’t uncovered. It honors the fact that we can’t tell all the stories. It was difficult to play her, but also very liberating.”

Read more of our exclusive interview with Ashley Dyke on the next page!

Bid Now on James Franco and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Disposable Cameras Trending Bob Dylan Makes U.S Art Debut at New York Gallery Trending Gender Swap and “Woody, C’est Moi” (Woody, It’s Me) Trending
 

10 Notable Female Israeli Leaders of Tech

May 12, 2014 | By Sophie Imas
10 Notable Female Israeli Leaders of Tech

A look at those women whose contributions to the thriving Israeli tech industry are more than worth noting

Read More

Two Torontonians Set to Excel in Israel This Summer

May 12, 2014 | By Dan Horowitz
Two Torontonians Set to Excel in Israel This Summer

Birthright Israel Excel names its first Canadian participants

Read More

The Nosh Pit - Kosher Recipes Starring Fruit

May 12, 2014 | By Sarah Bauder
The Nosh Pit - Kosher Recipes Starring Fruit

Summer may not be quite here yet, but the weather as of late certainly displays otherwise. In celebration of pending summer, take a look at these delectable recipes with fruit as a component.

Read More

Bid Now on James Franco and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Disposable Cameras

May 12, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Bid Now on James Franco and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Disposable Cameras

Several notable celebrities have submitted cameras to MIX NYC's Eye Celebrity Camera Auction

Read More

Bob Dylan Makes U.S Art Debut at New York Gallery

May 12, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Bob Dylan Makes U.S Art Debut at New York Gallery

40 drawings, limited editions and paintings are on display and available for purchase.

Read More

Jon Stewart’s Directorial Debut Gets U.S Distribution

May 12, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen

'Rosewater' is Stewart's directorial and screenwriting debut

Read More

2014 Helen & Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award Winners Announced

May 12, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
2014 Helen & Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award Winners Announced

The 2014 Toronto Jewish Literary Festival has announced its full schedule of events and winners in all categories.

Read More

Move over Jacob, Noah’s the New #1

May 12, 2014 | By Graham Sigurdson

After fourteen years as the number one name in the U.S., Jacob has fallen, replaced by the trendy Biblical name, Noah

Read More

More Headlines