This story was originally published by ArtsATL.
So many times in life, good fortune springs from situations that may at first appear dire. About five years ago, this was the case for actress Chantal Maurice, known for her roles in the TV series “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Dynasty,” “Blue Bloods” and others.
A bad car accident in Barbados in 2018 pulled Maurice out of her element as a working actress in New York City and forced her back to her childhood home in South Carolina to recuperate. There, the road to recovery wound up leading her to a new home base in the film and TV industry: Atlanta, a city she had eyed curiously as the film industry took hold down South.
Maurice, now in Buckhead, opened up about the move and her work as an actor, acting coach and Atlantan.
Q: Describe the crossroads you came to in your life following the crash.
A: I’d been thinking of moving to Atlanta for a while because of the opportunities, but I had just put it off. Then the car accident forced me to go home to my mom to recover. During that time, I honestly didn’t know what to do, and I asked God for guidance.
I had a talent agent in South Carolina [who] was getting me Atlanta auditions, but I had not booked projects here yet. Then I got an audition for “Dynasty,” so, with my wrist broken and still recovering, I put on makeup and went and booked a recurring co-star role on the series. Since I was booked in Atlanta, that was a sign for me. It was the answer to my prayers and to the question [of whether I] should go back to New York or go to Atlanta.
Q: From your experience, what things about Atlanta make it an ideal hub for an actor?
A: Atlanta is the home of entrepreneurs and business owners. And as an actor, I remember the time when I would say, I want to be an actor, and that’s all I want to do. But the way the economy has shifted, everyone needs multiple sources of income. You can build your own business here in Atlanta and partner with so many great people in the process.
In New York, you’d most likely have to get a corporate 9-5 job. But here, there are so many opportunities where you can have a flexible schedule. So, I started an acting studio, my own business. Atlanta is the perfect place for creatives; everything doesn’t have to be corporate.
Q: Tell us about your businesses.
A: My coaching business is called CoStar Coaching, and I operate it out of the studio I co-manage called Actor’s Playground ATL.
I was booking co-stars out of New York [because], at that time, to start working professionally, you really had to start with co-stars. So, my peers were asking me for advice on auditions — in-person auditions prior to the pandemic. So in 2018, when I moved to Atlanta, it was the perfect opportunity to build on this.
First, I started coaching actors for self-tapes and career consultations. Then I began teaching group classes on scene study and audition technique.
Q: What would you say is the hallmark of your coaching?
A: Honesty and love. That’s what actors can expect from me.
There’s not one way to do things. As an artist, it’s up to you. So I try to pull different things out of my students. I focus on character development and really creating a three-dimensional person, instead of just focusing on what’s written on the page.
I help them find their voice and add to their toolkit. Every actor is different, but their toolkit must keep growing.
Q: What projects are you currently working on?
A: I’m currently shooting season two of the series “Wicked City” for ALLBLK — you can stream season one there, and it’s about modern witches living in Atlanta, each with different powers, and the chaos that ensues.
A recent film project for me, “Strange Love” with comedian Kountry Wayne, is also now on Amazon Prime. Another recent role is in “Average Joe” (a BET+ dark comedy series with season one airing June 26), which stars comedian Deon Cole. And then I’ll appear in an episode in season two of “THEM” on Prime.
Q: What projects are you most proud of over time? And what was it about your particular characters or the stories that resonated with you?
A: I can say I’m proudest of “Grey’s Anatomy” because of the show it is. My role, filmed in 2021, was as a social media influencer suffering from kidney failure. That was important to me because of Black Americans’ history of kidney disease. I educated myself and hopefully others around it.
Another was an Atlanta show with one season on Netflix: “Teenage Bounty Hunters” with Kadeem Hardison. My role was as a neglected stripper who always escaped him when he came to arrest me for outstanding warrants. It was fun, and he’s an acting icon. This was an amazing guest-star role, and the crew was woman-led. I had a blast.
While that show was just one season, the showrunner told me that my character would’ve come back and been a love interest [of Kadeem’s character].
Q: How do you keep your own skills polished?
A: Honestly, I think that when I coach another actor, it keeps me sharp. I need the same information I give them. It’s like consistent practice.
Also, I’m learning more about directing; I’m shadowing directors when I can. I stay on my toes and sharp by doing this.
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: Sometimes as an actor, between COVID and now the writers’ strike, acting can feel like a solo sport. You can feel like you’re the only one going through things. So you need a tribe of like-minded people to connect and share with.
When you’re going through the valleys and you don’t understand the [challenges of the] career, you may think it’s not fair. So get a community of artists to talk with and vent with—this is very important.
Also, checking on our mental health is important — pour into yourself, and take care of yourself. Times have changed. It’s tough to be an artist. Get a tribe for yourself, and they can lean into you too.
Carol Badaracco Padgett is an Atlanta freelance writer who specializes in film and television coverage. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, her work has appeared in Oz Magazine and other publications.
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