Actress Maryam Basir stars as the title character in the ALLBLK legal drama, Lace.
Photographer: Aston Watson. Hair: Nicola Augustine. Makeup: Safi
Stylist: Rahco Thompson
In the acting world, there’s always a lot going on. Auditions, call backs, network and chemistry tests and then you hope you get pinned! (“Pinned” is where the casting director and production team really liked your audition and believe you are right for the role, so they want you to hold the shooting dates.)
But what’s it like to be tapped to play a role without even having an audition?! Maryam Basir gives us insight into her character and how she got the lead role!
You were chosen to play the lead, Lacey McCullough, a prolific Los Angeles lawyer who constantly blurs the lines between good and bad as she fights to get the best possible outcome for her clients. It must’ve been quite a shock not to have to audition. What was the conversation between the producers and your manager?
The creators / producers of the show, Katrina Nelson and Michelle Ebony Hardy called my manager on his cell phone on a Friday. It was a nor’easter storm and they told him to pull over immediately, because they wanted to book his client, me, as Lacey McCullough. He called to tell me they knew I was their Lace and were ready to lock it down. My manager sent me the script, I read it over the weekend and instantly fell in love. That Monday, I had a Zoom meeting with the ladies and we discussed the role. I was so excited. They negotiated the terms and I was elated to sign on the dotted line.
There’s been a ton of shows with the same type of character as Lacey. How do you make Lacey stand out from all the other same-type characters?
Lacey McCullough is a new age attorney with whom millennials and Gen Z’s can relate. She is strong and powerful in the workforce, yet vulnerable, which exposes her humanness. She understands what is needed to succeed and is willing to do anything to ensure the victory of her high-end clientele. She is good and bad, depending on how you look at it. My take is that she’s a woman who does what she has to do to get to her ideal outcome. Plus she’s not stuffy just because she’s a lawyer. She wears short skirts. I’d say there’s no one else like her on TV.
After university you relocated to New York City to hopefully start your own business, and then you caught the acting bug. What happened that made you change your entire plan and become an actress?
I changed my plan because I felt like acting was the path of least resistance. As soon as I started, I knew it was my calling. It was the thing I could do without it feeling like work – and I was good at it. I get so much pleasure from acting. After I got the acting bug in my system, I couldn’t stop.
What steps did you take to find an agency?
I went on the site for the agency where they listed their open calls. I went to one, and they signed me.
Tell us about your first red carpet experience.
I’ve always loved the red-carpet experience. It’s a regal way to celebrate an exciting new film or TV show. My first red carpet was so exciting, the flashing lights and cameras and paparazzi calling me to look toward them. Nothing like it.
I had friends who were wardrobe stylists and they helped by lending me a dress. I happened to have a magazine shoot the day of my first official red carpet, so my makeup was already done – woohoo. They didn’t send a car that time, so I arrived on my own
What is your take on actors doing their own social media as opposed to hiring a media company to do it for them?
Social media is definitely a must in this business. As far as doing your own vs hiring someone, I think people should do what makes them comfortable. I do my own Instagram and social media. I make that part of my routine because it’s 100% necessary. Even for bookings, a lot of times the client goes straight to your IG to get a sense if (not only your physical appearance), but your aura, your vibe and your personality, before they book you. That’s why it’s important for me to do my own posts and engagement, because it reflects my genuine perspective, no one else’s. I’m not against having others run your social media, as long as that person or company understands and can portray your brand and personality. It can also help you have consistent content and free up your time during a busy schedule. Overall I’m a do-it-yourself-er, but hey, that may change one day. Whatever works for you, I say do that.
How often do you get new headshots? What’s involved?
I think every six months to one year, get new headshots. Unless you have a drastic hair change, for example, then do it before. As long as you have a headshot that looks like you, on a really good day, that’s the goal. I usually collect pictures of headshots that I like from Google, to get inspiration. I’ve had both studio and outdoor; my current headshot is in studio. I pick out my own clothes. I try to wear something simple, yet flattering. Not too distracting. It should be about your face and personality, not the outfit.
Ever tell a little lie? Do tell!
Who me? I never lie
You have amazing skin and hair. Please tell us your beauty regimen.
Aw, thank you for the compliment. I keep my routine fairly simple. Face wash, toner, moisturizer. Weekly exfoliation, and an occasional hydrating mask. With winter coming, I am actually looking forward to upgrading my beauty regimen to add way more moisture. The cold weather can be so harsh on skin and even hair. My hair changes as much as my mood does! Hair is so much fun to play with: colors, styles, lengths. My hair is natural, and curly, and requires a special kind of love and TLC. Sometimes I wear it curly and sometimes I do protective styles – I wash and deep condition about twice a week and braid it to keep it healthy and growing.
What career advice do you have for women looking to get into acting?
Go for it! If acting is really what you want, do it. Know that if you keep going, and don’t give up, you will make it to your destination. Also, this life isn’t for everyone – it takes an incredible amount of grit and confidence to stay in the game and make it to the top.
Lastly, treat every audition like you’re on set working.