by JEWEL HARRELL
Excited, grateful, appreciative, hopeful, inspired, proud–all these words describe how I felt during my sit-down interview with actress Renee Lawless, from the hit television drama from the Opray Winfrey Network, The Haves and the Have Not’s. Renee plays the role of Katheryn Cryer, who is the matriarch of the wealthy Cryer Family. In Season One Katheryn Cryer, who represents high society, has her share of demons to slay ranging from her troubled marriage, to her emotionally unstable kids. She fights to maintain her “got it all together” image while secretly battling a chronic illness. Financially, Lawless’ character is a Have; however, Mrs. Cryer faces some dark, lonely situations that can suggest otherwise.
Renee Lawless spoke candidly about her spontaneous decision to answer an ad by simply sending in her headshot and contact information. She admits once she found out the advertisement was for a television series directed by Tyler Perry, she almost lost her nerve to follow through. Nevertheless, in spite of her nervous doubts, she did, and a few weeks later she was requested to send in an audition tape and then later invited to audition for the show in person. After competing with several other actresses for the role, she was hired, and the rest is history.
Renee took a break from her musical theater career to embrace this television role. She truly loves her current job, as well as working for the successful writer, director and playwright Tyler Perry. She describes Mr. Perry as a kind, giving person and as the hardest working man she’s ever known.
Renee Lawless is a Jacksonville native and graduate of Sandalwood High School. It was there that she began her journey as an actress. After auditioning and getting a part in a Theater Jacksonville play, she realized she had a passion for the stage. Renee is also a singer; she attended Stetson University and Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music where she mastered in vocal music. In addition to her theater roots, she is known for competing in several pageants back in the day, including The Miss Florida Pageant.
Renee took a moment to reflect on the difficult times, rejections, and her hard work through the years, all of which have led her to the blessed life and dream she is now living. She quotes, “I don’t regret any of my blood, sweat and tears. They made me who I am; they made Katheryn Cryer who she is.”
For young people and talented individuals looking to live out their dream, Renee Lawless offers this advice: get out and get going, even if it means being out of your comfort zone and beyond the walls of our great city. She encourages local talent to use resources on the web, such as acting sites that list information about casting calls.
Renee Lawless is definitely a hometown great that the City of Jacksonville can be proud of! Her warm spirit and bubbly personality are no doubt going to take her to even greater heights.
The Haves and the Have Nots is primetime soap opera, written, produced and directed by Tyler Perry. The show premiers the first episode of Season Two on the OWN Network, Tuesday, January 7 at 9 pm. The cast consists of Tika Sumpter, Crystal, Renee Lawless, Tyler Lepley, Jaclyn Betham, Aaron O’Connell, Peter Parros, Gavin Houston, Eva Tamarigo, John Snyder and Angela Robinson, who is also from Jacksonville. Tune in to see who is a Have and who is a Have Not this season.
by JEWEL HARRELL