Serena Reeder – Beautiful, Intelligent and Talented
On April 8, 1983, a star was born. Her parents named her Serena Reeder. Serena was born in Washington, D.C. Her given name is Serena Olanthe’ Reeder. Serena attended illustrious Duke Ellington High School. Duke Ellington High School is a highly-ranked school and it’s no wonder this talented young woman is one of their alumni.
Serena grew up with a love for soccer and played for ten years (from ages 8 to 18). She was not a professional athlete but she had a passion for the sport. Serena has always been the athletic type and, being raised in D.C., she had many options. In remembering her soccer days, she said, “I was a left forward on a team called the Purple Pros. There is a part of me that wished I went to college and played on a soccer team. To this day I think about it fondly.”
When asked how she got started in acting, she replied, “I’ve been a dancer all my life but, at the last minute, I decided to audition for acting. It wasn’t well thought out. I just wanted to go to school with my friends.”
After high school, Serena applied and was selected to attend the prestigious Juilliard School. She graduated from Juilliard in 2005 and was immediately selected for her biggest role—as Katrina, the mother of 50 Cent in Get Rich or Die Tryin’,
Serena was 21 at the time and remembers being “super excited” about being selected for a major film right out of Juilliard. She thought she wouldn’t get the part. She recalls thinking she would be on stage in a theatrical play or maybe on TV, but she never expected to be in film. She was happily surprised and excited when she got the news. Being selected for a major film right off the bat, she felt gratified that all her “hard work” had paid off.
When asked how it was working on set with 50 Cent, Serena said, “He was great. He had a level of professionalism that I appreciated. It was his story but he was humble and very open. I remember everyone on that film being very close.”
Shortly after her role in Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Serena played in an episode of the TV hit series Medium. When asked about her appearance on Medium, Serena responded, “It was a fun experience, it was very different than anything I had done in the past.”
In 2007, Serena took a role in the hit movie, The Bucket List starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. “As an actor, you have to pay your dues. You have to work with the Morgan Freemans and Jack Nicholsons, so they can get to know you. It was a great opportunity for me to learn from the masters.”
After The Bucket List, Serena was determined not be cast in a role that she didn’t like. She wanted to portray black women in a more positive light. She said, “Roles for black women during that time weren’t what they are now. Because I was secure financially, I didn’t need to accept any role. I was able to choose what I wanted.”
Motivated to do and learn more, this talented young lady turned her attention to directing. She wanted to be creative and not just in acting. She wanted and has expanded her talent and creativity. When asked about directing, Serena said, “I wanted to write some pieces and see them through.” In 2012, she did just that.
Serena wrote and subsequently directed a short film called The Tea Party. The synopsis of the story concerns a young woman named Melanie. Melanie shares little in common with her ten-year-old daughter. As both parties struggle to accept the terms of their role in their family, a deep, unsettling tension reveals itself. The Tea Party is a film of darkness and mystery, where reality is bent and explanations linger frighteningly off-screen.
After tackling the directing role, she decided to get into the role and challenges of being a producer. Serena met this challenge head-on. She took on producing aggressively and with courage. “I think there is something wonderful about being a liaison (producer). I learned how to bring my business acumen into a project. I love helping people. Producing projects is a nice way to help other people move their dreams forward.”
Currently, Serena is back into acting full time. She is starring in a film called Bolden. Bolden is about a jazz performer named Buddy Bolden (Gary Carr) set in 1900 New Orleans. Wynton Marsalis did the music and the soundtrack will feature 20 of his original pieces. Serena was quoted as saying, “I first heard of the name Buddy Bolden many years ago. It’s a name that is repeated by one of August Wilson characters, Hedley, in Seven Guitars. I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say, ‘Here go the money, King.
Take it away…’” I knew Hedley was talking about a trumpet player but other than that I didn’t know too much about Bolden. He was a real person and a predecessor to Louis Armstrong. There isn’t much literature about his musicianship and life but he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and the movie chronicles his decline. It’s a classic time period with corsets, top hats, and Southern heat. It was wonderful being in a classic movie like Bolden. It’s a movie that hasn’t seen African Americans featured in roles like this. I think audiences will be really surprised.”
She continued by saying, “I play Mavis, one of his muses, that accompanies Buddy to all of his shows. Perhaps, Mavis is the life of the party but she is also searching for meaning—She ran away from home to join Buddy Bolden. She is looking for love from him.” Bolden is expected to be released in Winter 2019. “I encourage everyone to go see it.”
I closed my interview with this amazing young lady by asking her about the movie Black Panther. Serena said, “Black Panther is going to smash the records. It will be one of the greatest superhero movies of all time!”
Interesting Facts About Serena
Q: What were your best/worst subjects in school?
A: English was best. Spanish was worst.
Q: What do you like doing in your spare time?
A: I love doing Pilates. Since I don’t play soccer and dance anymore, I do this to stay in shape. Travel, museums, fine dining are also some things I love to do.
Q: What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever done for you?
A: I get a lot of respect coming my way. It’s very shocking. No one has done anything weird. Most people always say you’re really amazing or good.
Q: Who is your celebrity crush?
A: Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther). Fun fact: We shared the same acting professor, Professor Katz, while he was at Howard University and I was in high school at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. One of my first shows I saw at Howard was one that he wrote/directed called Hieroglyphic Graffiti. He’s so talented.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: I love all movies. I can’t pick just one!
Q: What is your biggest/weirdest fear?
A: No idea.
Q: What’s your one biggest pet peeve?
A: Loud restaurants.
Q: Do you get used to being a celebrity?
A: I don’t consider myself a celebrity. I consider myself an actor. I hope to get better as an actor. I’ve done a good job at avoiding the celebrity stuff. I appreciate that I can play roles that are not just for fame. I just want to play roles that are inspiring for black people.
Q: Who is your inspiration?
A: My grandmother.
Q: What is your favorite song?
A: “Rockin’ Robin” or “It’s Been a Long Long Time” by Kitty Kallen. 50s songs.
Q: Where would you like to visit?
A: South Africa.
Q: If you weren’t an actress what would you be up to now?
A: Museum curator.