Arts & Culture

For the love of the arts

Beauty queen juggles medicine and theatre

BY DEBORAH GORDON
Observer writer

Sunday, August 25, 2019

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She first came into the nation's consciousness as the dreadlocked beauty who won the Miss Jamaica World title in 2015 and went on to clinch fourth place at Miss World later that year in China. Since then Sanneta Myrie has gone on to complete her studies as a medical doctor and is now working in Manchester. But throughout this journey, she has not lost her passion for the performing arts.

As a senior member of Quilt Performing Arts Company, she was convinced from an early age that she would spend her life on stage. Now she's a medical doctor and doesn't see herself choosing one over the other any time soon.

“There is such a great sense of fulfilment I get from them both. Whether it's my audience or my patients, I am caring for people, their bodies and soul. I hope I can continue to do both.”

Myrie is currently a member of Jamaica's contingent to the Caribbean Festival of the Arts (Carifesta), which wraps tomorrow in Trinidad and Tobago, where she is showcasing her acting and dancing talents as part of Quilt. Just over a month ago she shone in Quilt's production ReAshore'D, which played at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

Then earlier this year Myrie added screen actress to her already extensive resume with the release of Storm Saulter's film Sprinter, which premièred in the United States in April before opening locally in July.

The 28-year-old told the Jamaica Observer that her role as Sister Pam was originally scripted for an older woman, but she convinced them during the audition to cast her instead.

“The trick to playing any character is creating a full story for that character, their life story. Getting to know them beyond what the audience sees and then becoming them,” she said.

Fortunately, the character felt familiar to her from the beginning, which made it easier to overcome challenges that arose while adjusting to the role.Although she had limited screen time, she saw this was an avenue to work on dormant performance muscles and build new ones.

“I enjoy performing and how it allows me to explore and develop my creative side. But I am always terrified to watch myself because I know I am my toughest critic.”

It was no easy feat balancing filming days and working as a general surgeon, but she found a way. Myrie had to sacrifice vacation days to film, and pushed through with enthusiasm for the opportunity and tremendous support from co-workers at the Mandeville Regional Hospital.

Sprinter tells the story of teenaged boy Akeem Sharp, played by Dale Elliot, who aspires to be the next top Jamaican track athlete. He hopes it will help him reunite with his mother who is living overseas, but several challenges arise at home and school as he strives to achieve his goals.

Seeing herself on screen created mixed emotions for Myrie, but she pushed through the nerves to make notes of her on-screen performance.

“The Nyabinghi scene was my favourite to shoot for sure. Akeem was brought by his father for a kind of reincarnation, after being injured. Among the embers of the fire, the drums and the chants of Psalms, there was a true mystical energy in filming that scene which I hope translated to the audience.”

Her experience with Quilt aided her tremendously.

“I got the stamp of approval from my company, which has some of the most talented Jamaican Thespians, so I am happy.”


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