Enlightenment Issue MADE Magazine - Page 9

MADEXXXX MADE TO WIN Merle Dandridge MADE BY KRIS D. WILLIAMS She’s not just a pretty face. Humble and hardworking, Merle Dandridge, is grounded in faith and rooted in a strong upbringing. MADE Magazine had a conversation with Merle to discuss how she made it from an aspiring actress to a television star as Grace “Gigi” in the Oprah Winfrey/ Lionsgate produced hit series “Greenleaf.” PHOTO CREDIT Theo & Juliet MADE: How did you get started in the arts? Tell us about your journey. Merle: Well, the funny thing is that in high school, when I was growing up in school, you got the opportunity to choose your electives. A girlfriend of mine, who was a year ahead of me, said, “Did you choose your elective yet?” And I said, “I don’t know. I have absolutely no idea of what I’m going to do.” She said, “You should take Drama. It’s easy.” So, I signed up for Drama in high school and just found myself with this fun, crazy tribe. In the summers, we went to the International Thespian Festival where everyone auditioned for colleges and that kind of thing. I ended up with a full ride to school out of that. Because I grew up on a military base with a military father, I was very disciplined. So once I got to school and found a trade and something that I enjoyed, I put my hands to the plow and just dug in and did the work. I got better all the time. The other thing about it is that I really felt that God had laid out a path for me. Every time I felt that I had a achieved something, he would open a door to something else. It was just a roller coaster effect that tumbled into this long career that I am so blessed to have. I’ve just kept working hard and pushing toward the next thing and trying to get better at everything that I do. And, it’s always opened new doors. MADE: What challenges have you faced as an aspiring actor? Merle: The word “no” is a word that you hear the most. Every time I felt like, “I got that job” or “This job is surely mine,” there was some heartbreaking made-magazine.com | 9 disappointment. The only thing I can say about that is get up one more time. “No” is the thing that separates you because it brings you growth. I remember I was cast as a regular on a show that ended being very successful. As soon as it was picked up, my character was cut. Because that experience happened, I worked harder, found other opportunities and became a better actor. It was a period of time where I was grinding harder than I had before. It prepared me to play Grace Green. I did the work and I grew, and now I have this wonderful opportunity being a lead on a T.V. series. And, I never even dreamed it was possible. MADE: That’s amazing! Can you tell us more about Grace and how you’ve connected with her character? Merle: When you take on a MADEXXXX MADE TO WIN Merle Dandridge MADE BY KRIS D. WILLIAMS S he’s not just a pretty face. Humble and hard- working, Merle Dandridge, is grounded in faith and rooted in a strong upbringing. MADE Magazine had a conversation with Merle to discuss how she made it from an aspiring actress to a television star as Grace “Gigi” in the Oprah Winfrey/ Lionsgate produced hit series “Greenleaf.” MADE: How did you get started in the arts? Tell us about your journey. Merle: Well, the funny thing is that in high school, when I was growing up in school, you got the opportunity to choose your electives. A girlfriend of mine, who was a year ahead of me, said, “Did you choose your elective yet?” And I said, “I don’t know. I have absolutely no idea of what I’m going to do.” She said, “You should take Drama. It’s easy.” So, I signed up for Drama in high school and just found myself with this fun, crazy tribe. In the summers, we went to the International Thespian Festival where everyone auditioned for colleges and that kind of thing. I ended up with a full ride to school out of that. Because I grew up on a military base with a military father, I was very disciplined. So onc RvBFD5$TD@FVbVƖW@66BfVBG&FR@6WFrFBVVBWBגG2FFRpBW7BGVrBFBFPv&vB&WGFW"FRFRFRFW"Fr&WBB2F@&VǒfVBFBvBB@WBFf"RWfW'FPfVBFBB6WfV@6WFrRvVBVF"F6WFrV6RBv0W7B&W"67FW"VffV7BF@GV&VBFF2r6&VW FB6&W76VBFfRञ( fRW7BWBv&r&@BW6rFv&BFRW@FrBG'rFvWB&WGFW BWfW'FrFBFBN( 2v2VVBWrF'2F6FVBFRǐFr66&WBFB0vWBWR&RFR( ( Ц2FRFrFB6W&FW2P&V6W6RB'&w2Rw&wFऒ&VV&W"v267B2&VwV"6rFBVFV@&VrfW'7V66W76gV062Bv26VBWא6&7FW"v27WB&V6W6PFBWW&V6RVVBv&VB&FW"fVBFW 'GVFW2B&V6R&WGFW"7F"Bv2W&@bFRvW&Rv2w&Fp&FW"FB&Vf&R@&W&VBRFw&6Pw&VVFBFRv&Bw&WrBrfRF0vFW&gV'GVG&VpVBBb6W&W2BWfW"WfVG&VVBBv076&RDSvB6VvW0fRRf6VB27&p7F#W&SFRv&B( ( 0v&BFBRV"FP7BWfW'FRfVBƖR( ĒvBFB.( "( F0"27W&Vǒ֖R( FW&Pv26RV'F'&VpFRvR6DSFN( 2r6৖RFVW2&R&WBw&6PBr^( fR6V7FV@vFW"6&7FW#W&SvVRFR