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A Moment With Tristan D. Lalla

Words + Interview By Corletha Norman, MSW, LCSW

Integrity, longevity, gratitude and focus. All are key adjectives found within the works of Tristan D. Lalla. Mr. Lalla shares his experiences of incorporating these adjectives within the sets of “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”, the “Assassin’s Creed” video game franchise and the new medical drama, “Nurses”.

Mr. Lalla, in reflection of your lifetime thus far, are there any items specific to you as an individual that you are particularly proud of? 
Integrity sometimes seems hard to come by. I know that I can look myself in the mirror daily and know that I lived my truth. My circle of close friends is over 30 years strong. They don’t make them like that anymore. 

What was your reaction when you learned that you had been granted the role of Mr. Jordon Green in the film, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”? 
I was really happy when I got word. Although the film was shot in Montreal, not many Canadian actors had roles in it so I was grateful to be part of the mix! 

Who is Billie Holiday to you personally? 
I have always loved Lady Day’s music. I’m a big lover of the blues and jazz. Her voice was so connected, yet so haunting. To hear her sing Strange Fruit gives me chills to this day. 

What was it like working with Lee Daniels? 
It was a great experience! Lee is so detailed and meticulous. I definitely enjoyed how focused the environment on set was. Overall, I’d definitely put it in my top 10. 

You have quite a few roles under your belt. Thus far, what would you say has been a major highlight in your career? 
So far I would say my top three highlights have been: Playing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in The Mountaintop by Katrina Hall, (for which I earned a META – northern equivalent of a TONY award), playing Agent M in LONG SHOT alongside Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen and my work in the Assassin’s Creed games. Doing voice acting is amazing and very different from acting on film. 

What is the significance of your role in the video game, “Assassin’s Creed”? 
In the Assassin’s Creed franchise I play Adéwalé (AC IV: Black Flag, AC: Freedom Cry, AC Rogue), I play Taharqa (AC Origins), I play Agaté (AC III: Liberation) and I play Jumao (AC: Pirates). 

Adéwalé has become a favorite of the fandom. How did you approach this role in particular? Explain the process. 
Adéwalé was and will always remain a huge gift in my life. The casting process was a great one where I really clicked with writer, Darby McDevitt and director, Kama Dunsmore. They fully trusted what I brought to the table and it was really a collaboration bringing Adéwalé to life. The character is from Trinidad (like my entire family) so I got to bring a love of my roots to the performance more than I ever have. I love being in a MoCap suit. I’ve done about 45 or 46 games to date. 

Are you a gamer? If so, Playstation or Xbox and why? 
Yes. I have been my whole life! I currently prefer Xbox but for no particular reason. 

You have a role on the original medical drama series “Nurses”. How has this role changed your perspective of the medical field? 
Yes, I play Damien Sanders on the new medical drama Nurses. I have always known that nurses are real life heroes but having the chance to embody that on set daily has really brought to light how amazing they truly are and (sometimes, sadly) how unappreciated they are as well. No hospital can function without the incredible nurses who are on the frontlines. We all owe them so much! 

Speaking of the medical field, how are you maintaining during this Coronavirus matter? What is your take on it, overall? 
It’s really important that we as a society do everything that we can to stop the spread and flatten the curve. Stay home, wash your hands and do whatever you can to be as responsible as possible. Also, when “leadership” looks like it’s dwindling, think about this: Our grandparents and great grandparents were being called to war. We’re being called to stay home. I think we can do this. 

Mental health is both a very important and popular topic these days. What do you do to keep your mental health in tip top shape? 
If it brings you joy and you aren’t harming anyone else then go for it. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures because I refuse to feel guilty for that which brings me pleasure. Not everyday is a bright one. But, when it is dark it is good to have some light to reach towards. 

Follow Tristan D. Lalla on Instagram and Twitter @tdlalla.

Photo By: Jeremy Cabrera

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