You’ve probably heard the phrase “Don’t let the pretty face fool you”, but actress Angela Robinson has a unique situation when she meets people, because they may automatically assume that she has the same capacity for monstrous evil as her character Veronica Harrington on OWN’s The Haves and the Have Nots (HAHN). On the popular Tyler Perry soap opera-style drama, sinister Veronica has set people up, let criminals loose from jail to take out her enemies, and she even attempted murder herself. Each episode, Veronica’s acts of villainy seem to out-do anything you could have imagined.
While Angela Robinson has over two decades of professional experience in Broadway and Hollywood, it is her breakout role as Veronica Harrington that has fans flocking to her online and in the streets. Now with HAHN confirmed for a fourth season slated to begin January 2016, Robinson is facing twice the viewers the series had in Season One with a concerted effort to say “I am NOT Veronica!”
We talked with the good-natured New Yorker to learn more about her thoughts on HAHN’s rise to success, and how she manages to stay positive while playing one of the most wicked women on television. Read on…
How did you get involved with The Haves and the Have Nots? Did you originally want to be Veronica or did you have another role in mind when you came in?
Angela Robinson: No, I wanted to be whatever they offered me. [laughs]I actually was asked to specifically audition for Veronica. [Prior to that] I was doing a stage play in Atlanta at one of the theaters there and the casting person was in the audience from Tyler Perry Studios. At the time they were doing Meet the Browns and House of Payne. So the casting director who was out in the audience invited me out to audition for Meet the Browns to do a small part on that. I was so excited, went to audition, and didn’t get the part.
I was devastated, went back to New York, and over a year later they started casting for The Haves and the Have Nots and remembered me from that play and audition and asked me to audition for Veronica. The rest is history.
Do you get excited when you see the next dastardly deed that you’re doing in the script?
AR: I’m always, always surprised. I read the script just like you watch it on television. When I’m reading the script I’m going “Oh my God! You’re kidding me! She’s gonna do what?!” [laughs]Mr. Perry definitely keeps me on my toes. I’m always excited to get the next script.
Sometimes Angela sort of wants to put her two cents in and starts thinking “Maybe she should be nice here. Maybe we should…” and then I realize “Ok this isn’t me, this is Veronica the character and she would never be nice there so come on” [laughs]So I love it. I love everything he does for Veronica.
Do you have any personal goals that you want to achieve in your career?
AR: Oh yeah, I have many. I’ve done four Broadway shows, so Broadway and theater is my first love. I would love to continue to work on Broadway. There are many actors I want to work with, but I’d love to do a play, television show, or movie with Phyllicia Rashad because I love her. I know her personally, but I also love her work a lot. So I look forward to the day I get to work with her. I love Diahann Carroll and Cecily Tyson. I would love to work with them.
There are so many great actors that I would love to work with, but I would say as an ultimate personal goal just to continue to do what I love, continue to grow in it, and to do projects that I can be proud of.
What are some key things that are important in your daily life to stay positive?
AR: I lean heavily on my faith. I’m a Christian. When I wake up, I definitely acknowledge the beauty in the day and how grateful I am to have a chance to create a great day. That’s one of the things.
I believe that the key to creating a great day and life is to be committed to service. It’s not really about you, and when you can realize that this whole journey of life is not all about you, then it makes it a lot easier. So if you can, decide to devote your life to causes that speak to you or people who speak to you. I don’t think it always has to be a huge cause, it could be a person that’s in need of a mentor, a friend or prayer partner that you invest some time in. That’s just as important as being part of a big cause.
[Service] has been the key to my joy, my happiness, and my being able to be content in whatever state I find myself, whether I’m working a lot on a television show, or whether the phone isn’t ringing at all. I’m able to be content, because my life isn’t really about all of that, it’s really about service.
Do you have any rituals or particular things you do each day to keep your energy up?
AR: I do have a few things. The one thing I would say in general about the life of an actor/artist, every day is different. We don’t necessarily have a day like the banker or teacher that knows they are going to wake up at 7:00am, go to school, and then come home basically at the same time. My rituals aren’t based on something I do every day at [a certain]time because my days are so different.
I work out four times a week, and I make that a formal workout with a trainer two times a week, and on my own two times a week. That’s sort of a big structured thing. Then one time a week I work out, but it’s something that I love – like I bike ride, go for a great walk or hike or just hanging out with my hubby walking along the river. I make sure it’s exercise, but it’s not structured. So that’s something that I definitely do always.
Every morning that I wake up I have a smoothie which usually is fruit and almond milk, and some kind of added protein with Vitamin C. I start my mornings with my smoothie regimen, take my vitamins really early and then start my day.
I journal, so I try to start my day writing and being sure that I write my thoughts, prayers, and my goals. For me, when I see them written, it sorts of brings them to life, more so than when they stay in my head or in my spirit. When I write it down, it’s sort of a confession to me. I tried journaling on the computer, I do it a little bit, but there something about my little leather book that I love writing in it.
I do something called “morning pages”, which a lot of artists do. It’s when you write [stream-of-consciousness style], you don’t allow yourself to edit it, you just write and see where it takes you. I do that a lot in the morning, and I end up being angry with someone and apologizing in the same session. That’s kind of my thing, writing and smoothies.
What do you have planned for your downtime once the season is over?
AR: The thing about working with Tyler Perry and this show in particular is we film the show very quickly in Atlanta. I live in the New York area so we were done filming in June before the season started, so we’ve already filmed what you’re gonna see next season. [laughs]So we have quite a bit of downtime.
I am also the arts manager at my church, so I have been busy this summer with camp, arts camps, and conservatories. In my town we provided an arts camp for kids and we had about 104 kids. So I’m really busy with that right now, the kids, camps, and the arts. That’s really important to me, and it goes back to when I was talking about service.
I also have a very busy public speaking calendar, so I travel every other week or so to different places that invite me out to come and speak at their events. I am an actor, so I’m busy auditioning all the time for other roles and other things that may come up. I have a husband and my mom lives with me, so life is busy. [laughs]
What do you want people to know most about you at this stage of your life and career?
AR: There’s not one thing I’m concerned with people knowing about me, because the people that know me, know me. For the people that don’t know me, I guess I would say that I’m not Veronica. It’s a great privilege to play that character because I enjoy it so much. I’m having the most fun I’ve had in a long time with a character, but we are very different. I’m an actor and I’ve been acting for a long time so sometimes it gets confusing when the actor is the person. [laughs]
As time goes, hopefully if I have fans they will come on this journey with me and get to know me. Hopefully it will be a fun one and filled with a lot of twists and turns and life as it happens. I appreciate anyone who wants to come along and be a part and cover me in prayer, give me great well wishes. And when I do something not so good, I don’t even mind the “Hey now, get it together” because that’s what accountability is all about. I appreciate people who hold me accountable.
I just want to be happy, and for anybody who wants to come on this journey and get to know me as a person… not just one thing, just me.