Iron Wo­man

Con­dola Rashad goes all ar­mor-clad in “Saint Joan,” and her per­for­mance as Joan of Arc has earned the ac­tress her fourth Tony Award nom­i­na­tion. Talk­ing to WWD about a black wo­man play­ing the iconic saint, Rashad says, “I love a chal­lenge. I rec­og­nized it

WWD Digital Daily - - Front Page - PHO­TO­GRAPH BY VIC­TO­RIA STEVENS

In a break from tra­di­tion, Con­dola Rashād is dressed in solids — and black and white at that.

“I wear a lot of pat­terns,” she says, sit­ting down af­ter her photo shoot, where she danced to Lau­ryn Hill and Mariah Carey as a cam­era as­sis­tant pumped her hair with wind. “[My pub­li­cist] knows all about this. Some­times I’ll just send her pho­tos of pat­terns.”

Rashād spends her nights cloaked in rather stern, de­cid­edly pat­tern-free ar­mor for her role as Joan of Arc in “Saint Joan,” for which she is nom­i­nated for a Tony on Sun­day night. The nom­i­na­tion marks her fourth — the oth­ers were for “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” “The Trip to Boun­ti­ful,” and “Stick Fly” — and her first for a lead­ing role, mak­ing her one of the youngest ac­tors to re­ceive such a count.

“It doesn't to­tally af­fect my wardrobe,” the 31-year-old says of get­ting into the cos­tume each night. “It kind of more de­pends on how the role makes me feel in my­self. Hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to play Joan ev­ery night has kind of awak­ened this sense of...I’m very un­apolo­get­i­cally my­self th­ese days. So any­thing I ever wanted to wear, or try that for what­ever rea­son I shied away from, I don’t any­more. Just be­cause life is short; you gotta ex­press your­self.”

The daugh­ter of leg­endary “The Cosby Show” ac­tress Phyli­cia Rashād and for­mer foot­ball player Ah­mad Rashād is, of course, no stranger to the stage and to the trans­for­ma­tive na­ture of a role — but Joan stands out.

“Def­i­nitely — ev­ery role shows you a dif­fer­ent color of your­self, but I would say this one in par­tic­u­lar,” she says.

“It’s a mat­ter of the way that I feel I walk through the world th­ese days. It just has to do with an in­ner sense of self and an in­ner sense of peace,” she con­tin­ues. “I’m not feel­ing that I need to fit into any bub­ble or need to be seen in any way. I just feel like I’m go­ing to be ex­actly who I am and be­cause of that, the ex­pe­ri­ences that I’m go­ing to have are go­ing to come my way be­cause of that.”

Her cast­ing as Joan drew at­ten­tion over the fact that a black ac­tor would play a his­tor­i­cal fig­ure who was white. It was that, and the na­ture of Joan, that drew her to it.

“I love a chal­lenge. I rec­og­nized it was one of the great­est chal­lenges as a fe­male ac­tor to take this role on,” she says. “When peo­ple think of Joan of Arc, there’s a level of folk­lore to her, with­out re­al­iz­ing that, yes, she is leg­endary be­cause of what she did, but she was no le­gend: she was a real wo­man. I think be­cause of how iconic it is, there is this as­sump­tion of ‘oh, Joan of Arc, bada-- mer­ce­nary, to­tally hard ass all the time’ but ac­tu­ally what was more in­ter­est­ing and more mov­ing to me was she was a 17-year-old girl. This is about a young per­son who has pur­pose. That to me was what in­formed my take on the role; I wanted to tell the story of the per­son.”

Re­gard­less of what hap­pens with the awards on Sun­day, it will be a big night for Rashād; “Saint Joan” closes a mere few hours be­fore the Tonys, so she’ll start Mon­day morn­ing a brand new wo­man. “I'm go­ing to wake up the next day and be like, 'what hap­pened?'” she says. This fall, she’s back on “Bil­lions” for sea­son four, and then plans to re­turn to her roots in al­ter­na­tive mu­sic. Act­ing-wise, she hopes to try com­edy, some­thing she hasn’t done since her days at CalArts.

Tap­ping into her in­ner Joan should give her the push she needs for the chal­lenge, nerves be damned.

“I’ve had to step up to a role of lead­er­ship with this whole cast of a large group of men, and it’s been fan­tas­tic,” Rashād says. “But I’d say be­ing put in a po­si­tion to step up as a leader in that way with my cast has al­lowed me to step into my­self in a new way that I’m re­ally grate­ful for; not just pro­fes­sion­ally but per­son­ally. I feel very lib­er­ated.”

Stella McCart­ney’s leather jacket, Valentino’s vis­cose and polyester turtle­neck and Proenza Schouler’s vis­cose pants. Paige Novick neck­lace and ear­rings and Es­tab­lished Jew­elry rings.

Valentino’s vis­cose and polyester turtle­neck and Tibi’s wool pants. Paige Novick ear­rings and Es­tab­lished Jew­elry rings.

Rosetta Getty’s black cot­ton dress over Rosetta Getty’s

white cot­ton pants. Paige Novick neck­lace

and ear­rings, Es­tab­lished Jew­elry rings and Siger­son

Morrison shoes.

Jil Sander’s white cot­ton top and Tibi’s wool pants. Paige Novick neck­lace and ear­rings, Es­tab­lished Jew­elry rings and Siger­son Morrison shoes.

MAR­KET EDITOR

EMILY MERCER

FASH­ION MAR­KET AS­SIS­TANT

VICTOR VAUGHNS JR.

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