A Jamaican, spreading her wings and speaking up – building the right foundation for the next generation is our own Shauna Chin. Read my exclusive interview with the fearless Jamaican who is blazing the trail of success and balance at home and across the seas.
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Who is Shauna Chin?
I’m a lover of all things and all people. My family always tells me that ever since I was able to speak, I’ve been speaking up not only for myself and my rights, but also for the rights of others. I’m a film and television actress who was recently appointed as the National Ambassador to Jamaica’s Diaspora by NAJASO which is the governing body for all Jamaican organizations across the world.
Tell us about your newest projects Lunch Break and Necklace?
Both projects are set to release later this year  so look out for them. Both were done by the same production company Swimming Wings Productions with whom I did a previous project a while back, so it was great working with the team again. We won two awards for our last project together, so I’m looking forward to many more. [laugh] The Necklace particularly was fun because I played a voodoo priestess and the makeup was simply incredible! I also just finished the horror film 12/12/12 which was released on DVD, BluRay and OnDemand and I’m very grateful for the great reception it has received here in Hollywood. I’m a series regular on the Caribbean soap opera The Blackburns, so I’m headed to Jamaica in April to finish shooting scenes for the next season and simultaneously auditioning for projects here in the US. I try to keep my time balanced between shooting in the Caribbean and the US. Keeps me grounded [smile].
Did you always want to be on the big screen?
No, it happened as an accident! [laughs] I was working as a Registered Nurse and taking the next educational level to become a Doctor. Stuff happened and I decided to take a break just for a year … and the rest they say is history. I moved to LA and by virtue of who I was hanging with, everyone assumed I was an actor. So I did what I knew best and that’s head to school [laugh]. I went to Acting School and never looked back to medicine, which is a sore topic for my parents!
As a National Ambassador for Jamaica, what does that involve and what are your achievements with this platform?
I’m involved in numerous humanitarian efforts and as a result, I was officially appointed the role of Ambassador. My position serves to raise awareness of the effectiveness of Jamaica’s diaspora and to facilitate reinvestment to Jamaica based on the needs as stated by the government. You’d be surprised that not many people even know what the word diaspora means and how significant each diaspora contribution is to it’s homeland. Then there are some who have an awareness that the Jamaican diaspora exists, but are not all entirely sure what we do, nor know that we are officially organized. NAJASO (National Assoc. of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations) is the umbrella organization for all the Jamaican organizations and has been a silent servant to Jamaica for 35 years with most of our interventions in healthcare and education, the most notable being the Marcus Garvey Scholarship awarded yearly to students attending UWI. Since my appointment, I’ve been highlighting our efforts and even our existence especially among the younger generations. My hope is that with our new awareness, we’ll be able to generate more resources in order to be even more effective to Jamaica and its needs. I’ve also since my appointment to office been able to steer our Board’s focus to previously overlooked areas such as sports, entertainment and culture. It’s a very exciting time for me to witness such a seasoned organization embrace newer ideas and bridge the generation gap. Our annual convention will be held July 18-21, 2013 at Secrets Wild Orchid Hotel in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I encourage all to attend our convention to not only learn more about us, but to also learn how we can each help to further our country’s growth. Any group requiring financial assistance, please feel free to submit a formal request to email: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try our best to help.
Your Twitter profile says “Always in a Jamaica State of Mind” Explain.
[laughs] That’s my homage to my country, my birthplace. For me, no matter where life takes me, Jamaica is always where my heart is and where home lies. My brain, my creativity, my spirit is at its best when I am home. That’s something to which most Jamaicans who live overseas can relate.
As a black actress, there are thousands of you fighting for the same roles, how do you stand out?
Well, to be fair there are many different ethnicities with thousands fighting for the same roles within their group as well. So as long as you bear the title “actor”, prepare to be fighting for the role. I stand out the best I know how and that’s by being my own individual person. Now I’m not always at my best! [laughs] but I own my flaws and I own my strengths. That gives me a certain confidence when I step into that audition room that is specific to me. I’m either what they are looking for that day or I am not. I try not to mope too much about it and move on to the next one [laughs]. I have to remain alert and perseverant as well, because not all times is a rejection final. As an actor you have to be alert to determine when there is an opportunity to change a casting decision and be perseverant in obtaining your goals. The best goal may not even be to get that specific role, but to develop a relationship with that casting office to hopefully put you in a better standing for their next casting.
Any advice for young actors in Jamaica who will read this interview and say ‘you are an inspiration’? (Top 3 tips)
Hmm, my top 3 tips. Um, I’m a talker so it’s hard to restrict me to three [laughs]. So I guess my first tip is to:
2. As with any career, get a blueprint. Sit and figure your aspirations, write them down and follow your guidelines that you set for yourself. It will keep you on track especially on those hectic days when your day job takes over your life. We’ve all been there, where you end up working more at your day job than pursuing acting. Having your blueprint will aid you to stay on track.
3. Buy one great outfit and make that your uniform for your auditions. If you’re able to afford more that’s fine, but the object is to ensure that you are always prepared with at least one to audition looking your best, because appearance matters when it comes to entertainment business. Try to avoid wardrobe pieces that are fashion trends. You want to have pieces that will last a long time and not go out of fashion, but most importantly be easy on your pocket and not need to be replaced every season.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered for making a difference in many areas of humanity and for bringing joy to everyone’s heart I touched with my smile.
Do you see yourself transitioning into a director?
I’ve added writer and director to my resume recently and I’m pretty tickled about that [laughs]. Again it comes back to my recommendation that actors stay alert and perseverant. I’ve been on The Blackburns soap opera playing Claudine Chambers for a few seasons and from my relationship I developed with that team, I was able to convince renowned Director Lennie Little-White to allow me to apprentice under him. He told me “No” so many times, I lost track! [laughs] but I remained steadfast, observant and ready to revisit my goal whenever I saw the opportunity. Now it’s only a matter of script approval and scheduling. Now I’m not saying to go and beat everyone’s door down! [laughs]. That’s why you have to be alert to determine the right time to pounce on your opportunity and perseverant when that time comes.
What kind of roles attracts you as an actress?
I prefer action roles, but because of my everlasting grin I keep getting cast as the girl next door or the love interest. You have to be flexible and realistic in this business. Again, it’s an appearance based business, so you have to be comfortable with knowing it’s not how you see yourself but how others view you. You can hope you don’t get type-cast into something you don’t prefer, but that’s a possibility you have to face as an actor. What I’ve done to try and combat that is chosen my meanest headshot and that’s the first thing I submit [laugh] My grin is going to reveal itself inevitably, but at least I’ve already presented to them that I have a mean face and it’s believable.