NAACP Image Award Nominee E’myri Crutchfield Talks About Her Role In The ‘Roots’ Remake

Photo: Adam Intriago
20 Jan2017
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Growing up in New Orleans E’myri Crutchfield always knew Hollywood was the path for her. As a child she used her flare for the dramatics where ever she would go. She often pretended to be a sales person at stores and tried to sell jewelry to customers. Naturally her family decided to develop  E’myri’s creative nature and put her in acting classes.

The young starlet has been acting in one way or another since the age of 7 and recently started getting buzz around her name. You may have seen E’myri in the short-lived Amazon series The Kicks, playing Zoe Knox, or as Sheila Peterson in “Vacation” last year, but it was her role as young Kizzy in the 2016 remake of TV mini-series Roots that skyrocketed her to a known face and landed her a nomination for the 2017 NAACP Image Awards.

Photo: History Channel

Photo: History Channel

As aforementioned Crutchfield plays the role of young Miss Kizzy in the TV mini-series Roots, a remake of the 1977 groundbreaking series based on author Alex Haley’s “family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte’s enslavement to his descendants’ liberation.” The 16-year-old landed the role after sending in an audition tape for Kizzy. As she was in the process of getting braces, she got a call from her manager to hold off because she was finalizing a deal.

E’myri’s iconic role in the History Channel’s remake of Roots, which aired in four parts back in Summer 2016, is a chance for a younger generation to get into the series that shaped a nation. “It’s the same and it’s different. It’s the same because it has the same concept, the same story, they just cleaned it up and brought it back so a new generation could see it,” Crutchfield said.

“It’s different because when I talked to a lot of people, and even myself when I saw it, the original was much more harsh and harder to watch. I feel that the remake still opens up people’s eyes and it isn’t sugar-coated or anything, but it’s not as harsh as the original.”

Speaking of the original, co-executive produced by original Kunta Kinta, LeVar Burton, E’mryi didn’t even see it until after she shot her work, but for a very good reason. She wanted to bring her own version of Kizzy to the screen saying, “I didn’t want to play the same role as the original Kizzy. I wanted to do my own thing.” And that she did, but there were harsh scenes, like rape and having a child result from it, that was completely out of E’mryi’s element. “I did a lot of research and watched a lot of YouTube videos about people who been through that violence. I really had to put myself in that mindset to become Kizzy. Once I’m acting I become that character.”

Photo: History Channel

Photo: History Channel

Playing a character is often what leads aspiring actresses to practice in front of the mirror pretending to win an award, but that practice might come into good use come February 11 for E’myri. She received a first nomination for a NAACP Image Award in the ‘Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited-series)’ category for her role in Roots.

She describes the nomination as an “overwhelming experience for this to become a reality,” having been that girl who practiced winning in the mirror as a child. To prep for the big night she’ll be rocking her natural hair, an important component to her brand, that she jokingly says “could go wrong or right.” On the big night expect to see the actress in a custom designed dress.

This year E’myri is working on a new project that she can’t quite talk about yet, but promises it’s a good one that we should be on the look out for. Despite the high and lows in her career, E’myri stays focused and uplifted with help from her mom and her faith. “Stay with it. Don’t quit,” she offers to aspiring artist adding, “When you see other people around you moving in a faster pace than you it can discourage you a lot and it broke me down at times, but my mom and acting coach had to tell me that it’s not your time, you’re going to get it when it comes, but it’s not your time.”

She concluded, “My mom was right. I had to keep my faith in God and keep going because if I would have quit I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I’m very blessed that I had people to encourage me to keep going. So never stop, keep going.”

Keep up with E’myri Crutchfield on Instagram and Facebook @EmyriCrutchfield and @MryriCrutchfield on Twitter to stay in the loop with all the projects she has coming up. Check out Crutchfield in a clip from Roots below.

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Photo: Adam Intriago

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