‘Inside The Black Box’ Host Tracey Moore On The Significance Of Seeing Representation On Screen

If you haven’t signed up to watch TV shows and movies for free on Crackle TV, now is the perfect time to do it! As we all wind down for the holidays and have extra time to binge-watch something new, check out Season 2 of the award-winning series ‘Inside The Black Box’, which premiered on December 1. Hosted by Emmy and NAACP Image Award winner Joe Morton and celebrity acting coach Tracey Moore, ‘Inside The Black Box’ spotlights the greatest artists of color, from actors to producers to directors, writers and musicians, and allows them to reflect on how the color of their skin affected their journey to success.

Season 2 of ‘Inside the Black Box’ continues the important conversations from last season with a new set of black artists, with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. ​​Talent featured in the second season includes Debbie Allen (Grey’s Anatomy, Fame), Keith David (Nope, Armageddon), Jeffrey Wright (The Batman, Westworld), Malik Yoba (First Wives Club, Designated Survivor), Wendell Pierce (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, The Wire), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Billions, Castle), Rob Morgan (Stranger Things), and Naturi Naughton (Power, Queens). 

Host Tracey Moore has quite the story of her own in the entertainment world. She arrived in New York City in 1983 with two hundred dollars, a one-way ticket and a trunk from San Francisco, California to pursue a directing career on Broadway. One of her first jobs she created was a practical joke company for hire called “The Joke’s On You!”. Tracey wrote, directed and cast her unemployed actor friends in customized joke scenarios. One of Tracey’s first casting jobs was a show for MTV. The search was for comedians, and during Tracey’s scouting at comedy clubs, she discovered Dave Chappell. She cast Jon Stewart’s first MTV show “You Wrote It, You Watch It” and found Lisa Gay Hamilton and Donald Faison.

Tracey has had her hands on a plethora of actors including Jamie Hector, Michael K. Williams, Kerry Washington, Jeffrey Wright, Mike Epps, Adam Rodriguez, Naturi Naughton and many, many more. Since then she has become a renowned casting director for feature films such as Miramax’s awarding winning, ‘Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.’, ‘New Jersey Drive’ and ‘A Brother’s Kiss’.

Tracey spoke to us about ‘Inside The Black Box’, her podcast series The Spirited Actor, and the significance of seeing more actors of color and their stories on screen.

Where did you acting and coaching journey begin? 

My acting and coaching journey began at the age of 12 years old in San Francisco, CA. My mother took me to the theatrical performance of ‘For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Was Enuf’! I was completely blown away. I knew whatever was happening, I had to do it! I didn’t pursue acting as a career. It was more of an understanding. I always knew I wanted to direct and acting gives me an opportunity to understand actors.

As a Casting Director I was pushed into coaching because I would “coach” the actors in their auditions. The coaching became more specific when I cast ‘New Jersey Drive’ directed by Nick Gomez, and I auditioned every Rapper from Tupac to Biggie! They needed help transitioning to film and TV. I found a niche and filled it. It was timing.

Who were your role models in the industry growing up, and how important was representation to you as a young girl?

My roles models growing up were Cicely Tyson, Ruby Dee, Lena Horne and Richard Pryor. That’s the short list. It was extremely important for the images I saw of people on TV to look like me. I loved movies growing up and I felt like our stories were limited. I wanted to be a part of bringing more people of color on scene.

Tell us about your podcast series The Spirited Actor – why did you decide to launch this, and what have been some of the most interesting conversations you have had so far? 

The Spirited Actor Podcast was launched because I wanted a broader platform to speak to actors all over the world. Another goal was to share information about preparing for your Zoom audition to breaking down your character. It is also a place for actors to stay motivated and inspired on their journey. My friends in the industry stop by and share their stories or insight about the entertainment business.

Season 2 of ‘Inside The Black Box’ debuted on Crackle Dec 1st and we can’t wait to watch! What can viewers expect to see this season? 

The viewers can expect more powerful and dynamic advice from our stellar Guests of Debbie Allen, Keith David, Rob Morgan and Kellita Smith just to name a few. Ruben-Santiago-Hudson engages our audience in a hilarious improv with our actors. More excitement and stories that fill your soul.

Who were some of your fave guests this season, and what were some of the most eye-opening stories they shared?  

I loved every single guest this season! Some of my take aways were from Naturi Naughton sharing how she still trains and the value of studying your craft or Jeffery Wright sharing how brave and courageous actors are. Condola Rashad spoke about taking time for your mental health to put you toes in grass and hug a tree.

While Hollywood is slow to change overall, we are seeing progress in a number of ways in terms of representation of people of color on screen and behind the scenes. Can you explain why diversity matters more than just a checked box? 

Diversity matters because that’s what brings a richer world of shared stories. We may be different culturally however we all know pain, joy and grief. It is about being inclusive. People of color have a plethora of stories that need to be shared and experienced. The more we embrace our differences, the better chance we have of changing the world.

As a celebrity acting coach, who have been some of your past clients, and what projects did you work with them on? 

As a Celebrity Acting Coach, I have worked with Eve, Brandy and Naturi Naughton on ABC’s ‘Queens’, Cardi B on ‘Hustler’ and I was on the road with Eve and Busta Rhymes for 6 years doing everything from ‘Shaft’ to ‘Barbershop’ 1&2. I also coached Terrence J on ‘Think like a Man’.

When you work with an actor for the first time, what do you look for and what kind of guidance do you give them? 

When I work with a client for the first time, I want to know why they want to pursue the journey as an actor. I want them to know that they are patient and have a great work ethic. Training is key to your success as an actor. It builds confidence and community with other actors. I say trust the process and do the work. Don’t get distracted by the noise. And define your own success!

As a Black woman, how has the color of your skin affected your journey in the industry on the road to success?

As a Black woman in the entertainment business I have had my share of challenges. However I did not let them deter my goals. The biggest challenge is being equipped with the talent and knowledge however my white counterpart has gotten the job with less credits , I’ve seen promotion that I felt qualified for overlooked. I learned early to create my own opportunities because they were very few available. That was empowering to me.

Reflecting on your career so far, something we like to ask many of our interviewees – what makes you a powerful woman? 

What makes me a powerful woman is that my journey is design to be of service to others, subconsciously. I truly enjoy helping people believe in their dreams. I become their own personal cheerleader. I am passionate and I love my gig!

You can watch Season 2 of ‘Inside the Black Box’ on Crackle TV, and listen to The Spirited Actor podcast by clicking HERE.

Tracey Morgan (C) on set for ‘Inside The Back Box’

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