Award-winning actress and dancer Nathaya Whaul, who is currently playing the kind character Susan in the hilarious and entertaining television comedy “Days Like Dese”, has been in the entertainment industry since 2005.
The actress shared that although she started dancing at the age of four, she was never enchanted with theater, other than being in the audience. However, that all changed in 2005, when she went with a friend who was enrolling for a course in theater arts. Nathaya recalled sitting in the audience while two of Guyana’s experienced actors: Henry Rodney and Jennifer Thomas, did a skit. She enjoyed it so much that she was inspired to take part.
The next year, after Carifesta, she said, Jennifer called to invite her to join the Theater Guild and she did. It was one of the best decisions she has made, she said, because it has molded her to be more disciplined and courageous.
The actress recalled that her very first dramas were nervous-wracking and even as she spoke, Nathaya admitted that she still gets nervous from time to time and hopes that she doesn’t forget her lines. Working alongside the “right” actors, he says, helps with this. By “right”, she means an actor or actress who embodies his character so well that someone feeds out the drawn out positive energy.
In 15 years in theater, she has won the Best Actress Award once in 2011 for her performance in the folk drama Makantali, written by Harold Bascom. She won Best Supporting Actress at the National Drama Festival in 2015 for her role in The Last Chapter. Some years before, he found himself among the nominees for Shoe’s Blues in 2010.
Noting that acting is never easy, he noted that roles and the amount of time and effort put into them seem to be taken for granted. Since most arts careers in Guyana do not bring attractive recognition, most, if not all, actors have full-time jobs elsewhere. Because of this, any free time is used to perform perfection roles. Many times, Nathaya shared, actors spend the late afternoon rehearsing late at night.
Challenges include having roles that require a departure from someone’s comfort zone; having to play characters that are very different from someone’s real life persona. Sometimes, Nathaya found herself playing roles that required her to use abusive or smoking language. She noted that while some actors were actually lighting a cigarette, she had tried her best to pretend by buffing away in powder wrapped in paper; after all, he is acting. While playing difficult roles, Nathaya tries even harder to fit the character presented.
The actress believes that people in Guyana who choose to enter the theater do so only because she has a passion for them, as she could never be for the money. Although she has not personally tested it, she shared that others involved in theater have talked about receiving next-to-nothing payments. Quoting an example, Nathaya said that it is not right for an actress to get $ 25,000 to make an ad, when that ad brings in a lot more money. Actors and actresses need to be appreciated, he reiterated.
But while acting has its challenges, there are still benefits. “Being recognized is one of the benefits. Once you are recognized, people would recommend you for ads that are extra income, though not much …, ”he said.
“I do it for the love of it and knowing that someone is watching has had a long day and is looking forward to a time where they can relax and enjoy a show.”
Another benefit, says Nathaya, is incredible travel experiences. Hers include visiting Antigua twice along with several other actors through Bean Entertainment. The first time was in 2014 where he performed in the play Snapped. She returned next year, taking on a role in Woman-in-Law. In 2017, through the Ministry of Tourism, Nathaya was part of a group that visited Kazakhstan for the World Energy Expo where it showcased Guyana culture through dance and poetry. “It was quite an experience. I was able to see the many different cultures through their performances, ”recalls.
Over the years, Nathaya has had roles in: Watch De Ride, Watch De Ride (Part 3), In Prison (2012 one-act drama), The Ritual, The Tempest, Before Her Parting (one-act drama), Cracked Jokes (written by Odessa Primus), Summer Breeze (written by Linden Isles), The Ex (2016, written by Sheron Cadogan-Taylor), Green Card Marriage, Planned to Perfection (written by Mark Luke-Edwards), and Shoe’s Blues (2009 ) among others. Her first starring role was in 2009 when she was cast in The Vigil by Ladislas Fodor.
And, while she enjoyed all of them, Nathaya shared that her favorite play to date was the Guyanese adaptation of To Sir With Love written by Mosa Telford. The actress said it was an honor to not only land a role in the beloved drama, but also perform for the late Guyanese author ER Braithwaite, whose book was adapted into the popular 1967 film.
As already mentioned, Nathaya plays Dave’s wife Susan in “Days Like Dese”. Her character is native, approachable, and someone that people rely on for advice. Susan is the mother of Kylie, a character played by Nathaya’s seven-year-old daughter, Shanadia Ferrier. For fans of the sitcom, it can be noticed that the little lady inherited her mother’s talent for acting. And this is not Shanadia’s first forum to act. She made her first appearance not so much in Snapped while Nathaya was pregnant with her; the character was also a pregnant woman. When she was a year and a half, the little actress appeared in two Fathers Sunday productions at the Guild Theater hosted by Horizon Arts Productions.
Shanadia now knows that it’s important to remember her lines and sometimes when she is shooting the wrong lines for the child, Nathaya said, Shanadia lets her know that they are not correct.
Nathaya has a full time job but has been working from home due to the pandemic. This is a blessing as she looks over Shanadia who attends school more or less. Sharing a tip for mothers who help children be better
prepared for school, Nathaya said Shanadia initially attended her online classes wearing casual clothes. But once she began to notice her flawed attitude to school, Nathaya began to wake her earlier to prepare for school by getting dressed in her uniform. This, she noted, has improved her child’s attitude and is worth trying for mothers who are having the same trouble.
Currently, in her limited free time, Nathaya is learning French and Spanish. She is also studying for a diploma in Computer Accounting and hopes to be at the University of Guyana next year where she will start studying for a degree in Communication or Business Management. He plans to spend the next decade improving himself in whatever way he can, as well as being a mentor to others. Recently, Nathaya assisted students with their SBAs for theater arts.
Nathaya and Shanadia are members of the School of Creative Arts. Nathaya is well versed in contemporary dance, ballet and Latin, and spent her earlier years doubling in Hip Hop.
Describing her personality, the woman born in Sagittarius shared that she was God-fearing, authentic, open and down to earth.
An avid reader, Nathaya is currently in two books, The Power of a Praying Woman and When Faith Happens. Her favorite novel to date, which she has read five times already, is Flowers in the Attic. She also enjoys Lifetime movies or any movie with an interesting story line, travel, going on adventures, and sleeping.
The actress loves eating bunjal chicken curry with dhal, rice with coconut husk, and cooking.
Nathaya is also part of the Merundoi Street Theater, which visits communities on conducting plays outdoors that highlight various social issues. However, due to the pandemic, the Merundoi Street Theater has been put on hold for the time being.