A Magical Presence on the Stage and Screen: Condola Rashad  

In a Q&A with The Root, the brilliant young actress talks about the moment her work was validated and how she fared alongside the legendary Cicely Tyson.

Condola Rashad as Kate Sacker in Billions
Condola Rashad as Kate Sacker in Billions JoJo Whilden/Showtime

Condola Rashad is making a name for herself. The young actress, who turns 30 this year, has largely made her mark in theater. For her debut, she nabbed a starring role in Lynn Nottage’s 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Ruined, and earned a Drama Desk nomination. Subsequent roles in the Kenny Leon-directed Stick Fly and The Trip to Bountiful with the legendary Cicely Tyson have resulted in two Tony nominations.

In recent years, Rashad has made a conscious effort to step away from the stage and try her hand at film and television. She played Shelby in the black-cast adaptation of Steel Magnolias on Lifetime, which Kenny Leon also directed. In addition, she found a starter role in the short-lived Broadway-based Smash on NBC.

This year she appears on the big screen in the Jodie Foster-directed Money Monster, starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts, and the Joshua Marston-directed Complete Unknown, with Rachel Weisz.

Currently, the daughter of acclaimed actress Phylicia Rashad and former NFLer Ahmad Rashad has been circling around Showtime’s new hit show Billionsa Wall Street-centered cat-and-mouse chase featuring Paul Giamatti as U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades, who’s out to get hedge fund billionaire Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, played by Damian Lewis. She plays Kate Sacker. Showtime has already picked up Billions for a second season.

The New York beauty chatted with The Root about Billions, being attracted to “the work” of acting, how Ruined validated her, and showing up for living legend Cicely Tyson.

The Root: Tell us about Kate Sacker in Billions.

Condola Rashad: Kate Sacker is a very young, very ambitious assistant U.S. district attorney. She comes from a pretty wealthy family, but what we’ve made clear early on is that her connections are not what got her in the position she’s in. What got her in the position she’s in is the fact that she’s so competent at what she does and she’s so good at it and she’s incredibly intelligent.

The good thing about her is that she doesn’t really wear her background on her sleeve at all. She just works, and that’s kind of her M.O. Also, she’s kind of a problem solver, a quiet problem solver. Whenever there’s a missing piece or a missing link, somehow Kate Sacker always finds her way to it and always very quietly puts it on the table: “Oh, by the way, this is what you’re looking for; there it is.” She’s just very ambitious in a way. She just doesn’t show all of her cards.

TR: She’s a very millennial character, a black millennial character. At one point, she talks about wanting to be president. Was that something that you admired in the character?

CR: She’s pretty hard-core in terms of what she wants to do, and I feel like working with Paul [Giamatti, who plays her boss] and Toby [Leonard Moore, who plays his right-hand man] was very interesting because this is a character that unravels, as every character does, and so it’s kind of just seeing where they are going with it. It is kind of interesting to me because, when we filmed the pilot, we didn’t really know. So I think that the great part of her journey is kind of learning where she eventually ends up going or wants to go.

TR: How old were you when you decided to become an actress?