Small role, big heart
Kimberley Patterson talks becoming ‘Ruby’, filming in a pandemic
When an actress can grasp and retain the attention of her audience, often leaving goosebumps as she plays a character, you know she is destined for greatness. Take a look in the direction of Jamaican aesthetician-turn-actress Kimberly Patterson, who says she becomes ‘Ruby’ in BET’s family crime drama series, The Family Business.
“Naturally, by landing the role as Ruby, I had to become her. As an actor or actress, there’s no acting as a character; you have to become a character,” said Patterson in a recent interview with The Gleaner.
She added, “As I go on set because I know who my character is and identify with her in some ways, I can always find her back.”
In two seasons, the storylines have unfolded to reveal the vulnerabilities of the main characters, the Duncan family, their unlawful business activities and rivalries, and midway through the second season, BET+ embarked on the third season of The Family Business, based on the Carl Weber book.
She proves herself, unmistakably, to be an indispensable gem in the TV series. Now, in the recurring role, Patterson tiptoed back into production from Jamaica to Los Angeles during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic even as some casts and crews across the global entertainment industry are on intermission. She has filmed approximately six episodes for the upcoming season, which airs on May 11.
“When I was contacted for season three, I received the phone call on a Monday that they would need me on the Thursday, and immediately, my mind shifted to business here. I had two weddings booked back-to-back, and that meant providing refunds and alternatives for my brides,” she said, adding that as an aesthetician, her focus is bridal and beauty make-up.
The recent filming was a vast operation that required the actors to stay in a bubble, she shared. Those involved in the production were initially quarantined and tested frequently. The actors were housed in adherence to CDC guidelines regarding sanitation and social distancing.
Patterson told The Gleaner that the regular testing helped to mitigate some of her anxiety about working and travelling during the pandemic but that she felt “sorry for the crew”.
She explained: “Firstly, I quarantined at one house for 10 days with drivers going to and from set location. Then I did about five COVID-19 nasal swabs and two blood tests before being accepted on the set bubble. If I had to go through that in my short time, I can’t imagine what the crew has to endure time and time again.”
It was a humbling experience, she said, to be among other cast members in the same house.
With lots of practice, persistence, and passion, she quickly mastered the art of studying lines in a short space of time. Patterson sets high standards and always tries to exceed people’s expectations, and she is seeing where her hard work is validated.
“Sharing the same space with established actresses like Valerie Pettiford was a blessing. On the day when she came downstairs and said, ‘Oh my God, you’re here … every time I see you on my screen, my heart lights up,’ I found it hard to fight the tears,” she said. “Then Ernie Hudson, I have been watching him from Ghostbusters, so I could not help but be starstruck. And hearing him say the words, ‘You’re doing so well’, it felt good.”
With what she says was less than a month, Patterson said that she formed a relationship with the cast and crew, sharing in moments that they would not have had the opportunity to do.
“The whole pandemic creates a different story overall,” she said.
She continues to balance her business locally while her career in the film industry evolves. She recently launched her ‘Soca Slay’ Masterclass, which persons can register to be a part of.
“I love creating art on faces that are my canvases and interacting with my clients - my brides. It’s like therapy. Right now, my heart is in both places. The transition is slowly happening; however, I am still 100 per cent here [in Jamaica],” she confessed, adding that “what COVID-19 has taught me is even if you plan for a year ahead, it could change in an instant”.
After paving the way in her début role as the lead actress over five years ago in the feature film King of the Dancehall, directed by Nick Cannon, she said that acting has become another world for her.
“I literally get lost in my imagination, but it all ties back to discipline. I know I can’t go on set with my good-up, good-up self and be an embarrassment. I’m getting five pages of script to study to be ready for a 7 a.m. call time on some occasions. I cannot underestimate where next my character will take me,” Patterson said.
She added, “At the sounds of ‘Action!’, it is my responsibility as my character, as Ruby, to maintain who she is physically and mentally, to know where she is at the moment. Then cut, Ruby transitions back into Kimmie. It is all a becoming. There’s so much to look forward to.”
While on the Jamaican film scene, where Patterson honed her talent as a make-up artist, production assistant, and commercial talent, she has garnered a unique edge. She remains active and is one of the actors in the locally produced short film Sink or Swim.
Patterson believes that by maintaining the same discipline, which has taken her career to the level that it is, she can continue to create a balance.
“I like to think I live one day at a time, and I put my all into each day. I wake up, thank God, because that moment of starting your day plays a big role in how your entire day goes. This balancing act for me starts with discipline. Exercise, meditation, and reading are all part of my routine,” she said.