By Rita Charleston
From the moment she saw Rudy on “The Bill Cosby Show,” little Ebony Pullum knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up.
“It was to become an actor, of course, just like Rudy,” Pullum remembers. “And when I told my mother she didn’t laugh at me, but eventually enrolled me in the Freedom Theatre acting program. I thought I would like acting, but from the moment I began studying at Freedom Theatre, I started to love it.”
And so began a career for this Philadelphia native that would result in not only choice roles at many theatrical venues, but also garnered her Barrymore nominations.
“I left Freedom Theatre when I graduated from high school,” she says, “and went on to Northampton College for awhile, then on to Philadelphia Community College. But I received most of my training on the job, something I thought would be much more beneficial than staying in school.”
Turns out she was right. Over the years, Pullum, an actor, singer and teaching artist, has appeared in such productions as “Written on Skin,” “My Fair Lady,” “Love’s Labour Lost,” “Mother Courage and Her Children,” and more, including her favorite role, Shug Avery in “The Color Purple.”
Today, Pullum is making her Philadelphia Artists’ Collective (PAC) debut in the role of Putana in the 17th-century play, “‘Tis A Pity She’s A Whore,” continuing at Philadelphia Boys Choir through April 14.
“The play is the story of a boy and girl in love, much like Romeo and Juliet. Only this time the two are brother and sister. Giovanni must contend with newly awakened desires, while Annabella must try to navigate in a man’s world as best she can,” Pullum explains.
“Which is why the play seems so relevant today” Pullum continues. “The play reveals the consequences of the two falling in love. I play Putana, Annabella’s guardian. Putana knows all about the affair but is OK with it because she likes the idea of ‘girl power.’ I see it as relevant in today’s world because I believe women are still being told what to do by men when it comes to our bodies.
“It’s definitely not a show for children, and one of those plays where you take away from it what you want, something that is definitely different for each audience member.”
Pullum contends that she dives into every role she plays, and plays each character as truthfully as possible. She says, “I give my heart with each performance. I think my work resonates with people. They feel good. They’re moved, much like the way I feel when I watch a good performance.”
A few years from now, Pullum says she hopes to have already been on Broadway, and not even have to audition for a part.
“People will already know my name and my work I also hope to have done a few good movies. But honestly, the stage is where my heart is,” Pullum concludes.
This article originally appeared in The Philadelphia Tribune