TNT got lucky when Sundra Oakley was cast on their show Legends. Not only did she train at NYU’s Tosh School of Arts, but she is also a trained martial artist. With so many skills under her belt, we are bound to see her in so many different roles. Her current role as Nisco Rice on Legends is in season 2 and going strong. We got the chance to talk with her about her role, what she thinks brings the viewers in, and what else she has coming up.
KRISTIN: Let’s start with your background. A lot of people move to LA and jump head first into entertainment. You actually have a Bachelor’s degree from NYU’s Tosh School of the Arts. How do you feel your education has prepared your for the entertainment business?
SUNDRA: If anything, I would say that there is never such a thing as learning too much. We can always delve deeper, and in fact we should!
KRISTIN: You are currently playing Nisco Rice, wife of Tony Rice in the TNT show “Legends”. Season two kicked off earlier in the month. What can we expect in season 2?
SUNDRA: It is a much grittier, edgier, and even more sophisticated show in terms of tone and content. Plus having filmed entirely in London and Prague, those two amazing cities go from being backdrops to almost character-like throughout the series.
KRISTIN: Specifically speaking about your character, what kind of drama might we see from Nisco this season?
SUNDRA: As a wife and mother who fiercely loves and desires to preserve her family, you will see what lengths she will go to, how much hurt she will accept to keep that family unit in tact.
KRISTIN: What do you think it is about “Legends” that draws the viewers in? There are so many other “cop dramas” out that people could watch.
SUNDRA: What I love about “Legends” is that it makes you pay attention and think. There is nothing formulaic or trite about the story which is such a welcome and awesome breath of fresh air. Some would say that the industry is under the impression that the viewing public needs to be spoon-fed when it comes to their programming, and in my honest opinion I do not think that is true at all. When I was just reading the scripts for “Legends” I found myself so captivated that I could not put it down to even eat my dinner! lol That kind of quality of television that keeps you on your toes and does not insult your intelligence is extremely attractive and overwhelmingly stimulating.
KRISTIN: What is it like working with this cast? The show has an incredible cast and crew behind it.
SUNDRA: This was a dream cast and crew to work with! For starters, let me just say this: Sean Bean and Morris Chesnut. I rest my case! Then, with all of us together it was like a UN summit–actors and crew from the U.S., England, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Serbia, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Romania, Jamaica (we definitely get around, I tell you!), and I am sure a few others that I missed. Anyone who knows me knows that being in that type of circle is completely up my alley; that alone made me pinch myself on several occasions to see if this was real or if I was dreaming. They were some of the most down to earth, ridiculously talented, and incredibly interesting people I have had the pleasure and honor of working with. Add to the mix being in the insanely masterful hands of directors such as Jamie Payne and our showrunner extraordinare Ken Biller, whom I had the pleasure of working with on another show, and you just have what they call ‘magic’, my friend!
KRISTIN: You have done a lot of different, very popular, projects. Do you have a favorite you have done so far?
SUNDRA: Each show holds a special place in my heart; however a couple do stand out. First would be working on the Sex and the City series as it was my first major job; little did I know how iconic the show and that episode would become! Second, I filmed an episode of Touch a couple of years back where I played a Jamaican transgender woman who was in a successful reggae duo with her brother when she was living as a man but had to flee Jamaica in order to truthfully and safely live as herself. It is not often at all that I get to play a character from my own culture, and this one was so complex, so loaded, so vulnerable, I was thrilled and most importantly honored to have the opportunity to bring her to life on the screen. Plus I was relieved knowing an authentic Jamaican and Jamaican accent would be represented!
KRISTIN: On top of acting you also train in multiple forms of martial arts, support domestic violence organizations, and you are fluent in Sign Language. How did you become interested in all these different hobbies?
SUNDRA: What is it they say about Jamaicans having multiple jobs?? LOL Jokes aside, I can only say that throughout my life, I have just gone after whatever it is that lights a spark within me. And once I get hooked on something, I tend to become a bit obsessive about it and have to take it to the nth degree. I must say I’m not 100% fluent in Sign Language, but I am working on it!
KRISTIN: Any other projects you have coming up that we can be on the lookout for?
SUNDRA: After I wrapped Legends I shot an independent film called Magnum Opus that will be released soon. Also being a martial artist for many years, it has become a bit of an obsession of mine to bring that part of my life to the screen such as what we’ve seen with actors like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Wesley Snipes, Michael Jai White, and of course Bruce Lee. Unfortunately the female representation is rare to none and the female of color representation is even rarer than that. So I have taken the “If the mountain will not go to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain” approach and recently did a bit of an experiment of me in action (you can see it at https://youtu.be/kO7jxhQWGwA). Also, I love languages (I speak French and Spanish and have been studying Russian) and accents; so one definite dream role would be being able to combine those elements into a character.
KRISTIN: Where can we find you online to stay up to date with your current projects?
SUNDRA: You can find me on Twitter and Instagram under @SundraOakley
KRISTIN: Thank you for coming on!!! We look forward to more from you!
SUNDRA: Thank you so much for having me; it has been such a pleasure!
Make sure to tune in to TNT for Legends featuring Sundra Oakley! Also stay tuned for more of Oakley’s upcoming projects by keeping up with her on Twitter and Instagram!