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On today’s edition of the Hollywood Insider, our guest has been recently described as Tyler Perry’s go to actor of choice. After casting her in the BET+ series, “All the Queen’s Men” which just been renewed for its sophomore season. This Friday, she’ll be playing the granddaughter of Medea, yes our beloved Medea in the new Netflix Original Movie “Tyler Perry’s A Medea’s Homecoming”. You may have seen her in “Power”, “Katy Keene” and “Insatiable”.
Let’s give an amazing EM Hollywood Insider welcome to the wonderful, sensational Candace Maxwell!
Candace, welcome to Hollywood Insider!
Hi Dean, thank you for those kind words. Thank you so much.
Well, so honored to have you here and especially since you have an amazing career. This is your second Tyler Perry project you are part of you’re in “All the Queen’s Men”, which has just been renewed for a sophomore series and now you’re about to be in “A Madea’s Homecoming” you are on a roll. So, the first one I want to talk about is “All the Queen’s Men”. You are known as DJ Dime, spinning the tunes and having a wonderful time. What is it like to portray the role of DJ Dime and what are some of your fondest memories of the first season?
Oh my gosh, was DJ dime to me. Honestly, she brought me back to life to be quite honest. Because I take my work personally it’s a huge part of my life. Being an actor, you know, it’s committed a huge part of my life to it. And the journey can be so tumultuous at times with extreme highs and extreme lows. And when I booked that job, I wasn’t in the best place mentally and getting to go to work and beyond that set and play such a fun character and then lift a woman up and be the cheerleader for that club. Really just kind of brought a lot of life and joy back to me. And I’m so thankful for that role. And you see I’m wearing pink like dime is very feminine and girly and fun. And I was able to find that again and a confidence and a rawness that I almost lost. I’m so appreciative to have been brought into that world and one of my fondest memories of filming Season One of all the Queen’s men was.
We were in a bubble. So, the whole cast crew lived at Tyler Perry Studios, which is in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s huge. It’s beautiful. We didn’t leave there was everything we needed. We had food trucks. We each had our own housing to stay in and live in and, and it felt like I was in college. It felt like I was at an HBCU Oh, yeah, go HBCU literally it literally I was like, a HBCU what’s going on? Um, so it felt fun. And we celebrated Easter Sunday there, Easter Sunday 2021. We were at TPS and we were on the lawn and like, Tyler had like a church service for us. And then there was music and dancing, and it was a blast. I’ll never forget that time.
Sensational! You’re going from DJ dime to play Ellie in Madea’s Homecoming, which is coming soon to Netflix this Friday. Tell us about your role as the granddaughter of our beloved Madea.
Yes, our beloved Medea. So, playing Ellie, her granddaughter, for me was, again, a blast. I always associate my characters with color. DJ dime is like this great pink. Ellie is orange. She’s just like this breath of fresh air. She’s grounded, she’s truthful, very loving, but she’s Madea’s granddaughter. She’s got some spikes. You know, like, she’s got a little light. And, and she’s also a female black police officer, which I thought was such a strong choice in this in this political climate that we have that she is for her community, and she is for policing, but, but reforming it to make it more accessible and to make policing come from a place of love and protection for her community. Playing her was like, she’s a badass, but she’s also has the heart of gold.
Well, that’s great to hear. And I like that the fact that you emphasize that she is a black female police officer, especially in the day and this crazy climate that we’re living in. Along the lines, what goes through your thought process when it comes to choosing these roles like DJ Dime, Cassandra and the rest of roles that you play in your career?
The biggest thing that I love about the commonality I can say about these women across the board is that they’re all very outspoken. Like, they know what they want, and they’re not afraid to go after it. I think that’s just a little bit of me and what I bring to every character, what I’m that’s what I’ve noticed across the board is that they’re not afraid to go after what they want. And they feel and for a black woman there, my characters are never afraid to take up space.
I think that’s so again, so important because you know, that’s something that subconsciously I’ve dealt with as a woman, a black woman and I’m sure other habits feeling like they can’t take up space. They can’t say what they need to say. You Who are you to be articulate and beautiful and, and loud and have all this personality and through my characters. It’s helped me find that voice. I hope that people watching can see that and relate to that.
I’m absolutely a lot of people will relate to that, especially currently. I love the fact that you have an extensive background and dance and you’re trained in ballet, jazz, modern tap, African, partnering and hip-hop was let you to dancing with the New York Knicks Dancers being a backup dancer to Hip-Hop icons, and then making your way to Broadway in Kenny Leon’s “Holler If You Hear Me” which I had the honor last year of interviewing Mr. Leon for his work in “A Soldier’s Play”, which I’m still cannot believe that happen. What was it like to make that transition from being a dancer learning all of these different styles to making your way to Broadway musicals to these music videos?
Honestly, it’s been a very long journey and one that never ends. I do believe that when you decide to step into being an artist and living your life this way it’s an ongoing journey. You know, you’re always learning things about yourself about this ever-changing industry. You know about connecting and creating but dance was amazing because I got to travel the world You know, in my 20s, and get paid to travel the world and dance on big stage behind these, these two huge artists who have who build these careers and these personas and you learn the business from the inside out almost when you’re a dancer.
I’m very appreciative for that time and it has given me such facility over my body, which I feel like now, as an actress, I can use it in in roles and like creating different tics or the way that my character walks. And then just from traveling and getting to observe people and has truly helped develop my work. But when I decided that I wanted to switch over and focus on acting, because I’ll never stop dancing, I’m forever a dancer. I don’t know about you, Dean, but I hear music and I’m like, okay, you know, I’m so powerful. It’s how we all connect, you know, regardless of, of our background, I feel like music brings people together. I mean, just look at the Super Bowl, you know.
So being a dancer was a huge part of my life, I will always be one but when I decided I wanted to act, I you know, I took a break from dance, I went to a two-year conservatory, I went to the Maggie Flanagan studio. And I really just honed in because I wanted to understand the craft of acting and how you build a character and understand a script and all these things that are very important and that I don’t take arbitrarily, they’re very important to me that I’m doing my work with excellence and prestige. And then you get to work at a place with Tyler Perry, where I bring in all that excellence and procedure and I get to go to the studio where things are moving so fast and and you know, and things are so open for me to play. And I didn’t have that environment I did in a way in school. But now that I’m learning on a professional level, its mind blowing.
I can hear your voice when it comes to your dancing. You’re very passionate, and it’s a skill that will never ever, ever lead you no matter what you do for the rest of your career.
Yeah, It’s the foundation.
It is a great foundation. Now I want to ask this question, since you have been involved with multiple styles of dancing. Is there a particular dance style that you prefer over any others?
Oh, wow. That’s a great question. I think I love hip-hop because I know Okay, so two things and they’re the polar opposites. I love ballet because it requires grace and precision. A hidden strength because ballet dancers are so strong, yet so delicate. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a ballet Dean.
I have seen a few.
You can you relate in understanding the elegance and the grace that they that they embody on the outside, but that’s it’s really layered with strength. I love ballet forever. It always brings me to tears when I see one. Alvin Ailey was the first dance performance of I saw live, I was very young, like five or six. And I think that’s when I fell in love with the theater. So that was a very special thing for me. But um, that then hip hop, because growing up, I wanted to be Janet Jackson, I wanted to be Brian, I would watch the videos. And I was like, how do I do that? How do I get that that vibe that they have? They’re just like Ruby and so they have ownership of themselves. And that’s what I saw through hip hop dance was this, this other kind of ownership and confidence. I love ballet for its grace, and I love hip hop for its confidence.
Great answers, Candace! What are some of the skills that translate across when it comes to doing acting and dancing?
Definitely understanding your body on camera and angles and how to move and because a lot of when you’re filming, again, this is also new to me to you know, newer to me is your blocking, like remembering like, I’m going to pick up the water here, I’m going to step over here, I got to stay still, while I’m saying these lines, but also looking like a moving, breathing human being.
Dance is a great foundation, because sometimes you have to find yourself in an awkward place and saying a line and you know, so it has just made me so comfortable that I feel like anything that is thrown at me. I can catch it, or I can adapt to it. And dancers are very adaptable. And I think that’s what has served me from dance over to acting as being able to adapt in any situation.
You’re right, especially when it comes to acting where you can do one shot and you have a angle here and there angle up there. And you must make sure you coordinate and remember those moves so that way it looks simultaneously when you make the cuts.
I read that you enjoy cooking and travel. I have a two-part question. My goal this year is to enhance my cooking skills. And thanks to my sweetheart, I’ve been cooking at least eight dishes so far this year. I want to know from you do you have a signature dish that you love to cook?
Believe it or not my signature dish I do have one been in my mind is a shrimp and grits. Oh, oh, but yeah, there’s a story. Um, you know, so the shrimp specifically that the shrimp and grits, they’re cheesy, and I put jalapenos in it. So it’s like very like spicy and cheesy and it’s not it’s a very calorie rich, calorie dense meal and it’s very rich but it feels gluttonous. Someone made it for me during the pandemic during like the height of the pandemic like April 2021.
I was in pajamas every day and just like in bed, and they made that meal for me, and it was like home in my mouth home. You know that feeling of like safety and comfort and love. That’s what that meal did for me. It like invoked that in my body. So now that’s my favorite thing to make for anybody It’s comfort food at it’s fine but it’s like glamorous comfort foods. You know what I mean?
I can agree with you 100% shrimp & grits with jalapeno, I go to try it out one day. I just mastered the art of cooking shrimp and lobster tail a few days ago.
Right and lots of butter. And yes, you know, you knew once that you season it well you take your time with it and then you when you eating it, you just feel like you’re eating a bowl of home, you feel safe and you feel love.
Absolutely. No doubt about that especially I had the fear of cooking growing up that my finished meal was either had too little of this or too much of that or not gonna get it right. So far, all the meals I’ve done this year happened just right, thank goodness.
Congratulations. I like that.
Thank you. Let’s talk about a little about the travel since you mentioned that because of your dancing skills, your prowess you were able to travel the world. What was the most exciting exotic place that you would consider your second home?
Oh, wow. Okay. My second home. There’s a few of them. I can’t pick one. There are different places for different reasons. And Ireland is just so cool. The bikes, the architecture, it’s the bomb. Ireland, believe it or not, has some of the best food I’ve ever eaten really ugly. Yes. I don’t know if it’s their dairy if it’s the bread. I don’t know what it is about Ireland. I love Ireland. I’ve been there twice. I can’t wait to go back upset. The people are kind. You know what, it’s Ireland, Ireland. The food, the people, the vibes. They’re just like authentic down to earth. People and I ate the best donuts. They’re at this place called Rolling Doughnuts. And I eat Indian food at this place called Ravi’s so if you guys find yourself in Ireland, go to Ravi’s alright and go to and go to Rolling Donuts here.
I’ve never been to Ireland but I’ve been to England. And this last year, I went to Portugal and then hopefully this year, I’m going to Spain.
Oh my gosh, I’ve never been to Spain, I would love to go.
Well, I will let you know how Spain is when I get there.
Or if you decide to come back. I heard that fabulous.
One of the things I enjoy about you, especially with you fans not too long ago. You had so much fun especially this one video you posted with your fan who loved you in your role as DJ Dime and that is amazing, especially seeing a lot of actors have so much love for their fans. What does that mean to you personally to have a random person on the street or a person like me interviewing, talking with you having fun telling you they are so grateful for your work?
Oh, yeah, honestly, that means the world to me because like I’m, of course I’m getting a little emotional. It doesn’t mean a lot to me that people see my work that it matters because again, it’s my whole life. You know, I’ve been in the performing arts since I was a kid and to be able to have someone didn’t, they look up to me or they liked my work, or they can relate to it. That’s a part of why I do this. You know the connection. I remember growing up and looking at like the Halle Berry’s and the Angela Bassett’s and saying oh my gosh, I can’t wait for that to be me. And Halle (Berry) you know somebody who I go back and look at her earlier interview Using, she always talks about her fans. And I think that’s why she’s had such a long career is that she loves her fans, and she connects with them. And she makes it a point to do that. I want to continue that throughout my career regardless of how, how big I get or whatever happens along this journey. Keeping that connection with people is a one it’s at the front of what I do.
Well, with your wonderful career on the rise so far, and it’s looking red hot. Is there a role out there that you would love to play one day?
I want to do a biopic. I think that’s every actor’s dream to get to replicate, and, and be a real-life person. There are some people who like stand out to me, you know, I would love to play. I don’t know why musical artists calls my name. I would love to play musical artists. I don’t know if you can make me up to look like Beyonce or Sade, or Nicki Minaj. Or just but I just feel like playing a character like that. I think from my days of being a backup dancer, I always fantasized about being in the front being the one being the artist and they have such interesting lives. And then I would be able to bring in a dance and singing element. So put me in a biopic and let me play like a pop star.
Is there any pop star you would love to play past or present that you can see yourself in that role?
Yes, I think Sade because of he she’s so mysterious. I mean, that would take a whole ‘nother level of training and commitment. But she’s so mysterious to me. And then of course, Beyoncé like she’s, she’s like, to me one of the best artists of this generation, if not the best, so I would love to pay homage to her and get to get to play her. She’s had an iconic career, you know. Yes, yes. I can’t forget Nicki Minaj. Those are my top three Nicki, Britney & Sade, all three iconic, Fabulous.
Well, I could see you playing all three, at one point in your career. What is next for you aside from season two of ATQM, which we know that’s on the books right now?
Yes. So, season two is on the way, which again, I’m very excited about, of course, auditioning and getting back to the grind and, and finding new roles that really excite me. But I think a part of myself that I’m ready to explore is the entrepreneur side of myself. I think that’s something I learned being at Tyler studio is that we all work in our fields collectively. But everybody’s an entrepreneur, including Tyler himself. So, whether that is getting into clothing, I thought about accessories because I love accessories. Just having something to tangible that my fans can buy and create memorabilia sounds really exciting to me.
Also, I want to work with children. I’ve been brainstorming on somehow putting together a mini performing arts camp because when I was younger, I actually went to Britney Spears performing arts camp. For one year, it was amazing. Britney had her vocal coach, work with us to choreographers come in and acting coaches. So that’s something that I want to do. I’m maybe thinking about doing it in Atlanta, because I have a strong base there. But I would love to set up a maybe just like a weekend or a weeklong performing arts camp.
Yeah, sounds pretty good. For those who want to follow you throughout your social media, where can they find you?
Oh, they can find me on Instagram @candacemaxwell_ and Twitter @cmaxwella_, very straightforward.
Catch Candace in Tyler Perry’s A Madea’s Homecoming this Friday on Netflix