Before the Scene with Sela Ward

by AJ Buckley on October 5, 2011

Before the Scene is where we all start. In a small town with our families. In front of a mirror with our friends. The days spent sleeping on a couch. The nights working at a bar. Living the unknown and surrounded by uncertainty. It’s about the times that define us. It’s about the just darkness before the limelight.

Sela Ward is a veteran actress who has twice received the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, first for her role as Teddy Reed on Sisters and then as Lily Brooks Manning on Once and Again. She now stars as Jo Danville on CSI: NY

What made you become an actor?
I really hadn’t found my passion yet and I had moved to New York City. I was drawing up storyboards at an audio/visual production company. Somebody said, “You should model.” And the very first things I started doing were TV commercials. And to really try to hold my own when there were other actors in the spot, I started taking acting lessons to help me get confidence for that. One-on-one I was fine but the moment you had another actor come in, it would just disappear. So I took this class and it was just like I had dropped into this magical world. Like a little club. And we all did each other’s sets for showcases and worked on everything from costumes to props and did plays as showcases to get agents and we would go out after for a beer and a burger. It was just like nothing I’d ever quite imagined.

What was your biggest fear?
Then? I didn’t really have a fear then (laughs). I was fear-less! So much so that, after being offered a daytime spot on one of the daytime soaps, I said, ‘This is not what acting is about for me. I want to go to L.A.’ So I hopped on a plane, checked into a hotel and said, ‘Okay I’m here.’ And had the name of an agent. Had to go there. Had to jump through hoops and do monologues for the agent, and monologues for the other agents in the office and they finally decided to give me a shot. There’s more!