Shartiera Wilkerson

by Sherif Awad

Shartiera Wilkerson

I grew up in a very close knit household at a rough neighborhood. My parents created an upbringing that was well-rounded...I was protected but not sheltered, exposed to but not entrenched in the lifestyle that was around me. I am still in contact with my mother, father and both of my sisters daily. My father was a college graduate and former furniture store owner who also spent several years of my youth in prison during which he was still an active parent. My mother took care of my two sisters while he was away. They are still married to this day. My mother was a recent breast cancer survivor and also my father just survived a heart attack. I got my tenacity from my parents. Being in the entertainment industry requires a certain level of resilience, grit and belief in self that too many cannot maintain in the face of constant rejection. I have my parents to thank for that.

-I had a lot of anger issues growing up and my middle school drama teacher, Chip Caldwell, encouraged me to redirect that energy. I started as a board op in theater and later transitioned to acting. It’s a constant learning process, you will never know it all. Every role is an opportunity to learn, embrace it. Always be teachable and never stop learning .

-I believe my race coupled with my gender make it difficult in this field. I am a double minority, we are underpaid more than anyone in the industry. On top of that, regularly deal with overt and covert racism in the industry and in life overall. I just try to champion these challenges by constantly working on my craft so that I am able to secure the platform I need to be an advocate for minorities and create opportunity where it has been scarce.I love to research my characters. I find what is similar between myself and the character and amplify that. I funnel my emotions through the lens of that character to make them dynamic and bring them to life.

-The arts and entertainment industry is in a very pivotal time where a wave of change is occurring. More independent filmmakers are getting recognition for their work because of the internet which has opened up doors for so many. People are creating their own content, doing their own marketing and cutting out many of the other previously required steps in order to get visibility. This is one of the best times in history to break into entertainment.

-I am a mother of a nine years-old and I am also pregnant now. I have a family whom I prioritize them over film at all times. I try to find ways to include them in my passion when my work permits so we can spend time together and they can empathize and even love the work I do. They are my muses.

-I just completed a series called REAL LIFE which will be on Amazon Prime. I am in pre- production for a project I wrote and am directing we are in the casting process.