Fresh off ‘Real Women Have Curves’
Dedication to one’s work is important; but a positive and humble attitude in the acting industry is a rare gem, treasure, and speaks to a winning attitude. As an artistic director with the Willie Agee Playhouse in Inglewood, actress Shelli Boone embodies all of these aforementioned qualities with a light-heartedness that bodes well for the entertainment industry.
Boone is most well-known for her starring role on “Saints & Sinners.” Currently, she is ecstatic following the critical success of the play “Real Women Have Curves,” written by Josefina Lopez and directed by Virginia Novello, which completed its local run at the Willie Agee Playhouse on Sept. 24.
Boone became the artistic director with the playhouse in 2017. The Inglewood resident loves her hometown. She fondly notes that Inglewood is the city she’s lived in the longest after over 40 years. Boone’s fondness is due largely in part to her consistent relocation during her childhood. Boone says once the Willie Agee Playhouse was renovated she inquired about the then-vacant director role and quickly offered up her brilliance in exchange for becoming the new artistic director.
Since beginning her role at the playhouse, Boone has made several appearances on popular shows such as “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Why Women Kill,” “S.W.A.T,” “CSI: Vegas” and “All-American Homecoming” which is one of Boone’s favorite roles to date. Her most notable theater production is “The Cell Block Seven” which earned an NAACP nomination for Best Ensemble. Her first starring role was in the 2006 movie “Holla.”
Boone was born in Norfolk, Va. with both of her parents being teachers. At the age of five, Boone’s mother joined the Navy, resulting in the family relocating until she entered high school. Boone has lived in Hawaii, Scotland, Florida, New York. Boone comically notes the accent and the nuances of the DMV area never leave you and she’s quick to fall into that persona when she returns.
Shelli has her mother and grandmother to thank for her love of theater. She fondly recalls attending productions at a young age. The first play she recalls seeing was “The Wiz.” She had the pleasure of seeing “Starlight Express” at the West End in London amongst many other shows. During the summer, Shelli attended the City of Peace theater camp and developed her love for theater. Her first callback was for the play “Rent” at the age of 16. The thrill of a callback led to her and her mother spending a memorable weekend in New York.
Boone attended Hampton University in Virginia and studied Mass Media Communications. She dabbled in college radio. Early on, she considered a career in broadcast journalism but disliked it. She laughingly recalls going undercover for many assignments. Eager for her first big break she wrote to Oprah. She persisted and continued to call BET for weeks, and finally got her big break. Boone became a production assistant at BET, worked in finance, and large events, and continued to gain promotions. Soon Boone relocated to California to host Mad Sports. Immediately after, Boone began working with acting coach Aaron Speiser and quickly found an agent.
Boone says of her current role at the playhouse, “It’s tough because it’s mostly me doing everything and I am super hands-on. I can develop things. As an artist that’s something where I can say I was proud of that. People still to this day remember my one woman show.”
Boone is now an LA County Arts Recovery Fund Winner, but isn’t shy about her humble beginnings, noting that she’d previously been on a provocative liquor store banner. She had no issues with it saying, “Your sexuality is something to be celebrated. First of all that body is not going to stay with you forever, so if you’ve got the body and you love your body, God gave you that body, like there’s nothing wrong with celebrating it and you know showing it off. And you know, as you get older there’s less and less and less of that. That’s something that I’m dealing with now as an actress reaching middle age.”
The LA County Arts Recovery Fund was bestowed upon 44 lucky recipients. The fund was given to different artists to create new projects. Shelli notes she feels very blessed to be in the position that she is in and hints that she wouldn’t mind being on a show similar to the CSI franchise.
In closing, Shelli says;“ I feel very blessed-- I can do work on many levels. When the strike is over I hope to continue working in film and television. I would love to be back on a show as a regular. It’s a blessing to get up and be able to do what you want to do. I hope to continue to meet and work with great people, continue to be healthy, and continue to be alive and in love with my wonderful wife. Work is work –it’s only a little part of your life. Your life is so full and I’m just happy that my family, my friends, and my faith, it’s all here.”