Stickney’s parents made sure that he and his siblings—most notably renowned actress, comedienne and author, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney who appeared in such hits as “A Different World,” What’s Love Got to Do With it” and “Malcolm X”, were submersed in arts culture.
For five years, Stickney was a company member with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, appearing as Pothinus in “Caesar and Cleopatra” and Sebastian in “The Tempest.” He has led AUDELCO Award-winning and nominated productions of “Othello,” “Hamlet” and his favorite, “Richard III,” while directing gender-bending “Julius Caesar” and “Othello.” He’s appeared in “Blue Bloods,” Madame Secretary,” the “Good Wife” and the upcoming “The Punisher.”
But many people may remember seeing his charismatic face and hearing his phenomenal voice during his 12 years as villain Randall James R.J. Gannon on “One Life to Live” from 1994 to 2006.
“It was wonderful,” says Stickney of his years on the soap. “It was one of those weird gigs. I was working in Louisville at the Humana festival—it’s one of those festivals that’s in the middle-ish of the country so people from both coasts come to see the plays that are being performed. I guess I was seen by ABC on both coasts and I got a call while I was still in Kentucky to come to New York to do an audition for a soap opera. I laughed because I do not have the kind of face that sells toothpaste in America.”
The camera and the soap opera powers that be loved Stickney despite the fact that he knocked over some furniture upon exiting the audition. Stickney went on to win the Soap Opera Award for best Villian in 2000 and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series in 2000 and 2001.
“I take being cast as a villain with a grain of salt. I’m thankful that I haven’t had to play many butlers and language-less people. But it saddens me that that is people’s perception of people of color because they only see us how others create us in entertainment,” Stickney said. “To change things, we have to write, we have to produce, we have to fund those types of projects that have actors of color in those roles because we are here, we do exist and we can do the work.”
The show, which runs at the O’Reilly Theater, Pittsburgh Public Theater’s home in the Cultural District, through February 26, is presented by Highmark. For tickets, call 412-316-1600 or visit http://www.ppt.org.
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