It’s a given that most television and film actors are philanthropic, but Sonja Sohn – guest starring as Agent Olivia Riley in two episodes of Burn Notice – takes the proverbial cake. The beautiful Sonja, who starred as Detective Kima Greggs on HBO’s super successful The Wire, is the CEO and founder of reWIRED for Change, an outreach program in Baltimore that rehabilitates and influences at-risk-youth. She is a Superwoman who not only survived impossible difficulties in her youth, but who also used her acting skills to change the lives of thousands.
In 1998, Sonja wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed Slam – a film about a young man’s passion for poetry and how he needs to overcome impossible odds to reach his dreams. Sonja was awarded a Gotham Award for Best Actress, and Slam received the award for Best Film at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Awards. She was also nominated for Best Debut performance for her role at the Independent Spirit Awards. Sonja continued on to star in such films as Perfume, Shaft, and G, but in 2002, Sonja received the role of a lifetime when she was cast as the tough Detective Kima Greggs in the multi-award winning HBO drama series, The Wire. When the five season series ended in 2008, Sonja took on the role of Sarah in Step Up 2: The Streets. She also guest starred as Trish Evans in four episodes of the super successful ABC drama, Brothers & Sisters. In 2011, Sonja was cast as Samantha Baker in the ABC medical drama, Body of Proof, and remained as top billing until the end of the second season. Her most recent role, however, will see her take on the mean streets of Miami alongside Michael Westen and his burned team of rogue operatives.
Celeb Dirty Laundry had the great honor and privilege to chat to Sonja about her special guest gig on USA Network’s most popular show. Her first episode will air on the 15th of December, 2012, so be sure to tune in!
What, in your opinion, sets Burn Notice apart from other shows you’ve acted in?
Oh. It’s such a fun show. You know, it’s not just the procedural. It’s not just the drama. It’s not just an action show. It’s not , you know, its comedic, you know, it’s a little bit of all of those things, you know, it’s a procedural, it’s a drama, it’s comedy, it’s action. You know, the action is, yes it’s got a lot of different elements to it. Yes, I would say that’s what sets it apart really. And the fact that they have so many rotating, you know, guest stars and villains that I think are high caliber actors, you know, not including myself. In that, I mean, I am just saying they just – they have had so many great people on the show. I think it keeps the show really fresh. I think the story lines move so quickly and you just don’t have time to be bored in that show.
Is a special guest role any different from a permanent role and what are the obvious differences for you?
For me, a, you know, a principal role generally speaking, if you are on a, you know, a show that’s on the air for an extended period of time, there is a different kind of – you have a lot more time to understand that character and to develop that character.
You come into a show for a set number of episodes, you have to pretty much get in that doorway, and not only just get in the door, but, you know, get in that door and get into the interior of the character. But you’ve got to try to know as much about that character and be able to communicate that without the luxury of the time to develop it. And, then, you know, I kind of go back to the comment – to what I said before – the comment I made before which is I think a lot of guest roles, especially those that you have an opportunity to play over the course of a few different episodes, those generally speaking I think are meatier. A lot more – you are given a lot more to do and your story line a bit more of a feature. Sometimes in a long term show, especially if you are an ensemble cast member and not the “me” of the show, it’s easy to sort of get into a bit of a rut as well.
Asked by Jamie Steinberg of Starry Constellations – What is it about these action roles that really draw you to them?
Besides the fact that they are jobs? They are acting jobs and I am an actor. You know, it’s almost as though, I mean I would almost pose that question a little differently – not that I am going to step on your territory – because I am approached with these opportunities to take these role, right? And these happen to be these roles that, you know, I am offered, that I am landing. And I think that there’s something about – think there is a strength, you know, I think every actor, I think every actor, and even every person really, you know, walks around with a certain essence. And that essence is perceived, you know, through, you know, in a sensorial way, you know, whether it’s conscience or unconscious by everyone that they come in contact with. And I think there is an essence of a certain kind of strength that I put out and, you know, certainly, you know, the basic, you know, toughness. No nonsense, you know, kind of energy that I think makes it easy for me to portray those rolls.
Remember to catch the sixth season of Burn Notice on USA Network every Thursday. Check your local listings for more details!
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