Born in London, to a mother from Ghana and a father from America, Cynthia Addai-Robinson was raised in the U.S. by her mom in a suburb of Washington, DC. A graduate of NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in Theater, the emerging ingenue’s TV credits include guest starring roles on such shows as “CSI: NY,” “CSI: Miami,” and “Numbers.” Her recent recurring roles include F/X’s “Dirt “and ABC’s “Flash Forward,” while on the big screen she most recently appeared opposite Zoe Saldana in Columbiana.
Presently, Cynthia is joining the cast of the Starz Networks’ hit series “Spartacus: Vengeance.” The season will open on the heels of the bloody escape from the House of Batiatus that concluded “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” as the gladiator rebellion continues and begins to strike fear into the heart of the Roman Republic.
Gaius Claudius Glaber and his Roman troops are sent to Capua to crush the growing band of freed slaves that Spartacus leads before it can inflict further damage. Spartacus is presented the choice of satisfying his personal need for vengeance against the man that condemned his wife to slavery and eventual death or making the larger sacrifices necessary to keep his budding army from breaking apart. Containing all of the blood-soaked action, exotic sexuality, and villainy and heroism that has come to distinguish the series, the tale of Spartacus resumes in epic fashion.
On the show, Cynthia assumes the role of “Naevia,” a slave girl/lady in waiting captured in the first season who is rescued only to be engulfed by the main love story with Crixus (Manu Bennett). Here, Cynthia talks about Spartacus’ upcoming season which is set to begin on January 27, 2012.
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: It is my pleasure, Kam.
KW: Congratulations on joining the cast of Spartacus What interested you in doing the show?
CAR: I was really excited to be a part of something that is really edgy and innovative in the world of television. The time period that Spartacus takes place in has some really great storylines and high-stakes drama, so that was something I was really excited to sink my teeth into.
KW: Tell me a little about your character?
CAR: I play the role of Naevia, a former slave in the house of Batiatus. We last saw her in Season One, being cast out of the house under very strenuous circumstances. This season we find out what has happened to her since.
KW: How is the role of Naevia going to be expanded in the upcoming season?
CAR: I wish I could tell you! The writers have put together a great season with a lot of surprises, so you’ll have to tune in to find out.
KW: What would you say is the message of the show?
CAR: The great thing about really heightened historical dramas like Spartacus is that they can convey much larger themes. This season is called Spartacus: Vengeance, which is the focus of a lot of the storylines this year. But I think the series delivers some really moving and powerful messages about fighting for freedom and the right to exist on your own terms, no matter what the cost.
KW: You were born in England, but raised in the U.S. by a mother from Ghana and an American father. Which of those countries do you identify with?
CAR: I identify with all three! I feel comfortable in the US, the UK and in Ghana. They are all home to me in some way.
KW: You had formal acting training at NYU. Do you recommend that route for aspiring actors?
CAR: All actors have their own unique path when it comes to the development of their training and careers. I had a good experience at NYU, and my training is the foundation of the work I do. But there are plenty of actors who don’t have formal training and just have “it.” I think training is helpful, but so is living a well-rounded life full of different experiences.*
KW: Which do you prefer performing on the stage, on TV or in film?
CAR: I love performing in any medium, and more the opportunities you have to vary things, the more you learn.
KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
CAR: Ha ha, if they haven’t asked then they probably don’t want to know.
KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
CAR: All the time, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. I had many moments when I was afraid shooting this season of Spartacus, but I can happily report that I surprised myself and managed to overcome my fear every time.
KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
CAR: I am very happy!
KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
CAR: Playing “The Michael Jackson Experience” with friends and family this Thanksgiving.
KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
CAR: Pop music. I listen to a wide variety of music of all genres, but sometimes you just need a cheesy pop song.*
KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?
CAR: “Forever” by Little Dragon, an amazing band out of Sweden.
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
CAR: “At Home: A Short History of Private Life” by Bill Bryson, a book about the history and development of the modern day house.
KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
CAR: My repertoire is small, but I can make a pretty tasty pasta sauce from scratch.
KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
CAR: Music excites me, inspires me, fuels me! I listen to music every single day.
KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
CAR: I’m really liking Derek Lam right now, but my style changes depending on my mood.
KW: Dante Lee, author of “Black Business Secrets, asks: What was the best business decision you ever made, and what was the worst?
CAR: The best decision I ever made was to invest in myself, both financially and time-wise. The worst? I can’t think of one, but even bad decisions usually result in good lessons learned.
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
CAR: A work in progress.
KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
CAR: Ten more wishes!
KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
CAR: Spending time with my mother.
KW: The Pastor Alex Kendrick question: When do you feel the most content?
CAR: When the sun is shining, the right song is on, and I’m with people I love.
KW: The Toure question: Who is the person who led you to become the person you are today?
CAR: Without a doubt, my mother. I learned how to be a woman and a good person just by watching and observing her.
KW: The Judyth Piazza questions: How do you define success? And, what key quality do you believe all successful people share?
CAR: I would define success as setting a goal for yourself and then accomplishing it. I think successful people set out to do something and then just do it. They know before they accomplish their goal that they will, in fact, accomplish it.
KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
CAR: Surround yourself with good people that keep you grounded, work hard, and be patient.
KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
CAR: As someone who tried their best and hopefully succeeded.
KW: Thanks again for the time, Cynthia, and best of luck with the show.
CAR: Thank you, Kam!
To see a trailer for Spartacus: Vengeance:
To learn more about Spartacus: Vengeance, visit: http://www.starz.com/originals/spartacus#/premieres-january-27