Black History Month Highlight: Kimberly Woods

Today begins the celebration of Black History Month, honoring the history and achievements of Black Americans. To do that, EEP doesn’t have to look far. We’re home to a plethora of media featuring a wide range of voices both in front of and behind the scenes. It’s our passion, and our mission, to do so.  And so, this month, we’re excited to celebrate Black voices by introducing you to this series of interviews with members of the cast of our most recent scripted podcast, Daughters of DC.

Kimberly Woods stars in our political thriller as Jaymes Parker, the daughter of the first Black Speaker of the House. Jaymes is socially award, and avoids the spotlight and high school drama at all cost. As computer hacker, she’s way more confident online that in person. Read below for more details about herself and the character she plays in this exclusive interview between Kimberly and EEP. (And spoiler warning, if you aren’t caught up!)

Stay tuned for more blog highlights for Black History month, and in the meantime listen to the political drama of Daughters of DC – all 12 episodes of the podcast are available now for free!

Kimberly Woods stars as Jaymes Parker in Daughters of DC.

Einhorn’s Epic Productions: You play our lead, Jaymes Parker, daughter of the Speaker of the House. What drew you to the character the most?

Kimberly Woods: I don’t think us nerdy Black girls get enough representation in media so I loved that Jaymes was a hacker, using her powers for good. I loved that I saw myself in Jaymes. Growing up, I spent my summers going to a program called FAME – Forum to Advance Minorities in Engineering. I was in Science Olympiad, and I majored in neuroscience in college. I loved that Jaymes likely spent her summers going to coding conferences. When she was described in the script as wearing a Black Girls Code sweatshirt and playing video games like Horizon Zero Dawn – I was like, yes, this is me!

“When she was described in the script as wearing a Black Girls Code sweatshirt and playing video games like Horizon Zero Dawn – I was like, yes, this is me!”

– KIMBERLY WOODS

I also love the different sides of Jaymes. She’s quite awkward and shy when we’re first introduced to her, especially in the real world and Storm, her hacker persona is the confident, bad-ass version of her. I love that we get to see her grow throughout the series and start to find that confidence in herself.

EEP: Jaymes flips back and forth between her “real life” persona and hacking persona, and her personality evolves over the course of the season differently in both roles. How did that affect how you approached playing Jaymes?

KW: That dynamic was so much fun to play around with, and I had a lot of fun working with our wonderful director, JB Blanc, to make sure we were honoring that. I can be a bit of an introvert myself, so I definitely tapped into those moments when we first meet Jaymes, especially for the party scenes where she’s feeling out of her element. We wanted to make sure to bring the confidence to the super-hero like persona, Storm Alloy. The Hackerverse is where Jaymes is really in her element. She doesn’t have to worry about what anyone thinks in that world. It was fun to start to marry the two towards the end of the series. Adrian is the first to really see her for who she is, and I think it’s fun when her friends really start to see her too and appreciate that side of her.

EEP: Have you acted in an audio drama before Daughters? How was this type of project similar or different from your other voice acting roles?

KW: The audio drama I did right before DoDC was a teen super-hero series called Red Rhino about a superhero with lame powers. My character’s name was Aislinn. She’s a teenager, like Jaymes, and also has a hidden side to her. Unlike Jaymes, she’s using her powers for evil. Dualities are so much fun to play around with, and I love that in both cases I get to play these powerful young women on opposite sides of the spectrum. Jaymes almost doesn’t know how powerful she is, whereas Aislinn is overconfident in her powers.

What does black history month mean to you?

KW: Honestly, I wish we were at a point where we were incorporating Black history into the stories that we tell all the time, not just in February. It shouldn’t be just a month. It should be all year. And it should be in our history books and the history we teach our kids in school. Black history is American history. But, that being said, I love that it’s a time I can count on seeing these stories being told when I log onto social media or turn on the TV. It puts a smile on my face to see so much Black history being shared. It’s a time to reflect and honor those who came before us, their sacrifices, and their accomplishments in the face of adversity. To shine the light on the amazing stories that are far too often overlooked.

EEP: Did you have a favorite moment or episode from the season?

KW: One of my favorite moments is right after they’ve gone on that road trip to rescue Peyton. It’s the first time in a long time they’ve had a sleepover, and it’s the first time they get to see the real Jaymes in her element. I love them getting to watch her do her the Hackerverse thing and their comments and reactions to her talking with Onyx like she does.

EEP: What first got you interested in voice acting?

KW: I’ve been a gamer for most of my life, and I’ve always loved animated shows and anime so once I found out that this was something I could do, I wanted to be a part of it. I moved out to Los Angeles after graduating from Princeton and dove into acting and scene study classes. After doing a few years of on-camera classes and auditioning, I took my first animation class with Marsha Goodman at Voicecaster.

EEP: What’s the best advice you’ve received about acting?

KW: As a perfectionist, I think the most helpful piece of advice for me was “There is no right and there is no wrong.” There might be a more “effective” choice, but I think that advice helped get me out of my head as far as choices were concerned. It made it easier to open myself up to endless possibilities for a character and allowed me to be more present and just free to play more and discover as opposed to trying to get something “right.”

EEP: Who are some of your inspirations? Who do you want to shout out? 

KW: So many! Regina King, Cree Summer, Tara Strong, Laura Bailey, Kimberly Brooks, Viola Davis, But I’m going to give a special shout out to Dave Fennoy, who is also part of DoDC! I met Dave at the start of my VO journey. I went into a class at AFI that he was teaching for commercial VO. I walked up to him at the end of the class and said, “How do I get into animation?” He gave me advice on how to get started and what classes/workout groups to take. He’s been such a guiding force. I remember the encouragement he gave me which was “It just might take a while for them to hear YOU.” And that kept me going and trusting that if I just kept putting in the work and being authentic to myself eventually someone would hear me. Dave’s a wonderful friend and an incredible talent. The voice of so many great roles: Lee Everett in the Walking Dead Telltale Games (I cried during some of those scenes!), Star Wars: Rebels, World of Warcraft, Spiderman: Miles Morales and so much more!

EEP: What’s your latest project?

KW: I recently got to voice Archer and Lana’s daughter A.J. in the latest season of Archer, one of my favorite animated series ever! So that was a trip! A dream come true for me. I’ve been narrating audiobooks and voicing anime—Onyx Equinox, Sword Art Online: Alicization and Irregular at Magic High School are the most recent series I’ve voiced in.

EEP: What do you think the future holds for Jaymes Parker?

KW: I think she’s going to get to the bottom of what happened to her father. Locksmith needs to be dealt with, which brings me to the question who is he anyway?!

EEP: How vital is it to have diverse voices in audio drama/podcasting?

KW: Diverse voices and stories are absolutely vital, not only in audio drama but in all forms of storytelling. I think the entertainment world is starting to realize this. I’m starting to see authenticity and diversity being championed more and more. The world is a diverse place and our stories should reflect that. Representation is so important and having diverse voices and stories just enriches the fabric of storytelling for everyone.

“Representation is so important and having diverse voices and stories just enriches the fabric of storytelling for everyone.”

– Kimberly woods

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