Sunday night is the Tony Awards, and up for best featured actress in a musical is of course, Renée Elise Goldsberry – who plays the eldest Schuyler sister (Angelica) in Hamilton. While we love the other two Schuylers, we have to admit that the self-confidence and badassery of Angelica Schuyler (who was no doubt way ahead of her time) struck something in the modern woman in all of us. We couldn’t think of a more appropriate day to throw back to our interview with Goldsberry, who likes to eat her way through Harlem, prays before each show, and says to believe in something bigger than yourself…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
My ideal food would be a mix of restaurant and home-cooked meals. I would start with my Mom’s pancakes, eggs and turkey sausage. I would then restaurant crawl around Manhattan for the rest of the day and night, spending the better part of the day in Harlem enjoying all of the new and delicious restaurants that are gracing my neighborhood. If I had any room left before bed, I would slip into bed with a bowl of cereal!
Any pre and post show routines? What are they?
Before the show, we ‘circle up’ in our green room and pray, looking each other in the eye, holding hands, sending up thanks for the opportunity before us, and affirming belief in each other and the work we are about to do. There’s no better ritual to start a show.
What foods and drinks are good for your singing voice? Bad for it?
Just eat. Feed yourself. Feed your soul. Feed your body. And if you feel you need to sing better, suck on some ginger.
What are some spots to eat and drink in Times Square that aren’t so square?
I am most often working when I am in Times Square, so I frequent the places that serve healthy/filling food, quickly. You will always see NY actors and singers at the Pax on 42nd street and 7th Ave. It is right next to New 42, our rehearsal space, and the breakfast and lunch options are reliably good. Daniela on 8th Ave, smack dab in the middle of Times Square, feels like a small neighborhood spot with delicious Italian food. Across the street is Kodama, another friendly neighborhood spot. To me, they serve the best sushi in Manhattan. At the end of the night, the cast often goes to Glass House Tavern. They have great drinks and the most delicious late night menu. They treat everyone that walks through the door like stars.
Why did you ask to shoot in Bier International over every other restaurant in Manhattan?
We live in Harlem. Bier International was the first restaurant that kept us in our neighborhood when we wanted to go out and celebrate, have a great meal, or just hang – any time, day or night. For us, it heralded the influx of great restaurants into South Harlem that now make up what is called the ‘New Restaurant Row’. Frederick Douglas [Boulevard] is where it’s at! Bier International is everything that I love about my neighborhood. It is authentically international, owned by German and Senegalese restaurateurs, Ousmane Keita and Chris Pollok. The experience is everything I want – a diverse crowd of families, students, lovers, locals, and tourists. Great food, great beer, and always a warm hello.
What’s been your most memorable experience on Hamilton so far?
The best part of Hamilton is the privilege of introducing this powerful show to a new group of people every day. Doing that with this group of people is a dream come true.
Why do you think the show has resonated so much with people?
It is the perfect storm. Alexander Hamilton is the story of a life lived so fully and so impact-fully that it is shocking that we don’t know about it. It is told by a master storyteller, Lin Manuel Miranda. Every song is the jam. Every song moves the plot and exposes the core of the character that sings it. Every movement serves and heightens the drama. Every character is soulfully cast. I think the resonance with people is a result of the power in the message: Forgive and live a life worthy of your story being told.
Best advice you’ve ever received.
Believe in something bigger than yourself.
Advice you have actors looking to break into musical theater…
Follow your passion. If anyone ever tells you to put any time and energy toward something to fall back on, run the other way. There is no guarantee of work in any field, but you will work hard if you are inspired. Let your passion fuel you toward employment and fulfillment.
What can’t you stop listening to right now?
I can’t stop listening to Hamilton, because it sounds like the perfect Pandora station! We are recording the album now. I am so excited about people having access to this music. Not only will you learn about your country, but you will bebop your way through your day!
What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
New York, Houston, Chicago and San Francisco are my favorite cities for food because you can’t survive as a restaurant there if you are not bringing it. In these cities, you can walk into what looks like a dive and have your life changed.
In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s the new potato in terms of musical theater?
Something Rotten is a new gem on Broadway. It is a spoof of a prequel of musicals, if you will. It is just hilarious. You should always be able to go to the theater to feel good and have a great time!
*Renée Elise Goldsberry, photographed at Bier International in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann.