Season one’s story of “The Deuce” may have ended Sunday night, but I bet we are sure to see more of the talented Andrea-Rachel Parker, who plays Bernice, next season. We discussed what she hopes viewers took away from season one, what her most memorable moment on set was and so much more.
How did you get your start in acting? When did you know you wanted to be an actress?
I was a child actor and dancer. It was something my parents allowed me to do as a hobby on the side. I went on auditions when they came in and went to dance classes up until my last year of high school. I wasn’t told that I could make a living in this field, so it wasn’t until after my schooling that I started to take it seriously and really pursued it as a career. I think around 2010 is when I began really investing all my time and money into breaking in the industry.
What is your worst audition story?
Hmm. There was an audition I did where I completely blanked out in the middle of the scene and this really long and awkward pause happened. It was so awkward for me because it had never happened before and I prepped for the audition. To this day I have no idea how or why that occurred. It’s kind of just one of those things that happens and you have to take it for what it is. It hasn’t happened since then, thankfully. Hopefully it never does.
How did you get your part on “The Deuce”?
Well like many roles, I auditioned for it. I was extremely excited. I thought the project stopped casting the regular and recurring roles. The experience was ironically very zen. The reader was warm and really calm. Whatever anxiety I had walking into the room was gone with her hello and breakdown of the scene, which is rare. I guess they liked what I brought to the character and brought me on without a call-back. I freaked out. I’m almost certain I cried because at the time I received so many holds and call-backs for other things that I really needed something to stick. And so for this to have been my first project, I couldn’t have asked for anything else.
How did you prepare for this role? What characteristics do you share with Bernice?
In the fifth episode “What Kind of Bad?”, we see that Bernice overhears a conversation that Darlene has with her friends and cousins. She then makes a bold decision to start a conversation with Darlene based off the conversation she overheard and, though Darlene believes she is luring this girl in, we see later on that the entire time Bernice was set on getting away and staying away from her previous life. Like when she tells Darlene, “I’m not finna get back on that bus” once her meeting with Larry goes badly. So for me, as Andrea, I can admire and relate to the idea of a young girl being bold and brave enough to seek out a new path. I can relate loosely to the idea of being determined enough that even when something isn’t going your way, you don’t turn back.
What message of women, the times, etc. Do you hope viewers take away from watching “The Deuce”?
There are many messages you can take from this series. I am not here to tell anyone how to take it or what to take from it. I really hope it broadens someone’s understanding of that era and the sex work industry. There is a great scene where the girls begin speaking about their menstrual cycle and the difficulties that come with working while on their period. Larry, one of the pimps, tries to chime in and find a way to make it work. We see how adamant he is and so another worker, Ruby aka “Thunder Thighs,” begins telling a way to make it work in such a grotesque way that the pimp has to leave the conversation altogether. That is a moment where you see the girls really jump in, use their wit and out maneuver their pimp to get a response they want. We see them help one another, defend one another. We see them teach and often times grow with one another in the course of the eight episodes. And so I also hope that the unity displayed in this show amongst women doesn’t go unnoticed. Despite their different beliefs, backgrounds and economic standing, in their own ways, the girls embrace one another.
What has working on this set been like for you in comparison to other projects you’ve been a part of?
This was my first recurring role, so for me there is no comparison. The show as a whole has just been great – very welcoming and open. With every project you have long hours, changing climates and you get used to any discomfort no matter how big or small a part or project is, therefore there is no need to compare those things. It basically boils down to the point behind you being there. And so, for me, it’s really just being part of the group of people telling this story, staying committed to the rawness of these characters and putting my best foot forward. With that said, my experience was very much centered around making sure I was prepared and honest throughout.
Has there been a most memorable moment for you while shooting?
The entire experience was memorable because there was a family dynamic and support that started to happen. I made great acquaintances with the cast and even developed some sincere friendships. But the thing that really gave me a feel good moment was when I went up to the director of the fifth episode, Uta Briesewitz, to tell her thank you for believing in me as Bernice. Her response was so sincere and motivating that it completely floored me. She said, “The moment I saw your tape I said, ‘That’s her. That’s Bernice and there wasn’t any question in my mind.’ You did so great. We had to have her, so I’m happy you’re on board and you’re doing great!” I was stunned and just took that in.
If you could have been cast as any other character in the show, who would it be and why?
Ahaha! Great question! I am not too sure. I guess it would be interesting to play a sex worker’s overseer/manager, but I try not to think like that. You know, in the “what ifs.” I appreciate every role offered to me because I feel as though it was given to me for a reason.
Is there anything else we can expect from you in the near future?
I sure hope so! There will be a short by Chad Quinn titled “For The Love of Music,” which follows the life of a young girl named Destiny (in the 80s/90s) through the foster care system and eventually into music. It is based on the true events that real life “Destiny” went through growing up. I play the older version of the leading girl. I am also working on a film site, so stay on the look out for that. And follow me on IG @iamandrearachel for updates.
What has been the biggest pinch me moment of your career so far?
Well, the entire thing is still very much surreal for me. “The Deuce” was the first recurring role I landed, so it will forever hold a place in my heart. When I think of “pinch myself” moments, the phone call that I got the part was it! No call back… completely epic.