There is a law of Physics that says that energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only change from one form to another. For artists, the same can be said about their creativity.
Their tendency toward expressing themselves creatively never goes away. It merely metamorphoses. Baltimore born and raised actress Tiffany Boone got to a point a few years ago when acting no longer felt fulfilling. “For about a year I stopped acting. I was feeling kind of drained and I wasn’t super-excited about projects that I was auditioning for,” she tells the AFRO So she stopped acting but the impulse to create was still there.
Tiffany Boone as Jerrika and Jason Mitchell as Brandon in THE CHI (Season 1, Episode 05 ). – Photo: Matt Dinerstein/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: THECHI_105_1771.R.jpg
Living in downtown Los Angeles at the time, across the street from a flower market, gave her all the incentive she needed to express herself in a different way. She embarked on a new career in flower arranging. “It wasn’t a super lucrative thing,” she says, “it was just something creative for me to do. It was small events and I did it out of my house and there was word of mouth.”
When Boone started acting again, her first audition was for Lena Waithe’s new series on Showtime, “The Chi.” Set on Chicago’s South Side, the multi-generational dramedy follows a group of residents as they navigate the triumphs and pitfalls of life in a challenging environment.
Boone plays girl next door Jerrika and the love interest of Brandon played by Jason Mitchell (“Straight Outta Compton,” “Mudbound,” “Detroit”), an aspiring chef trying to walk the straight and narrow path. Although Boone says she never met Mitchell prior to doing the show, the chemistry between the two characters is off the charts. Though we don’t know what choices the writers will eventually make, from the looks of the pilot, Jerrika and Brandon have the potential to be one of the great stories of young black love on screen.
Boone was already familiar with the show having unsuccessfully auditioned for a part in it prior to her hiatus from acting. “It’s kind of crazy how I got involved with the show. It’s had a couple of iterations. A couple of years ago I auditioned for it and I was obsessed with it. I didn’t get it. And here a couple of years later I was able to be a part of the project. I’ve been obsessed with this story for years and to finally see it come to light, finally be able to share it with people, it is so exciting.”
Sonja Sohn of iconic crime drama “The Wire” also stars in “The Chi,” playing Brandon’s mom. She is a complicated, combative character with a tendency to clash with everyone with whom she comes into contact, including Jerrika. Boone was familiar with Sohn prior to shooting but not just because of Sohn’s acting. “Her daughter went to the Baltimore School of the Arts with me and then I went to California Institute of the Arts for college and her daughter went there with me too.” Boone and Sohn have become fast friends who text back and forth even when they’re not filming.
“My father was murdered when I was three,” Boone says. “My mother kept me super busy. She made sure I always had the opportunity to go to a class or do this or that even though she was a single parent. I think that being a part of the arts really saved me. It’ such a powerful healing tool.”
Boone began performing at age eight when she did her first play but focused more on singing and dancing prior to middle school. Once she auditioned and successfully got into the Baltimore School of the Arts, she had to make a choice. “I auditioned for the dance and the acting program and I got into both and you could only choose one. Since I had been dancing for so long I was like, ‘Now it’s time for me to get some real acting training. I never went back to dance after that. It was just so freeing for me.’”
Boone remains grateful for the nurturing environment she found at Baltimore School of the Arts. “They are a haven. The school is amazing and they really nurture children and I’m so blessed to have been able to go to that school and h
ave the career that I have today.”