Natalie Graves Tucker is so many things to so many people that we might need to add “superwoman” to her resume: actor, mom, marketing professional, voice over artist, video producer, writer, former Helen Hayes judge, she seems to do it all.
Tucker moved from the safety of a six-figure salary job at AARP three years ago to the uncertainty of life as an actor and has since become a fixture on the DC theatre scene. From the Helen Hayes Awards where she can be found interviewing nominees on the red carpet, to her behind-the-scenes videos for BlackStageDC and DCTV, Natalie Graves Tucker has her finger on the pulse of DC theater.
You made a drastic career change at a time of life when most people have one eye on retirement. What was that like?
It was the scariest time of my life. I started my 20-year career at AARP as an intern and loved my job. It’s also where I started acting by doing videos and voiceovers. It was very hard to walk away but I went for a promotion and didn’t get it, so my husband and I felt it was the best time to leave and focus on acting full time. That was two and a half years ago.
How has life changed for you since then?
I gave New York a try. A sorority sister let me stay on her couch whenever I would have a class or audition there. I took the bus back and forth between where I live in Maryland and New York. Now I have an apartment that I share with a New York actor that I understudied at Folger Theater in Much Ado About Nothing. Who knew I would live between two states?
No regrets whatsoever. I used to plan out things months or even years in advance. Now, everything is spontaneous. My agent could call at 6 pm and say I need to be in New York at 10 am the next day. I’ve done a few commercials, industrials, and an off-off-Broadway play so far. I’m not making six figures anymore, but I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I didn’t know it then, but not getting that promotion was the best thing that could have happened to me!
Tell us briefly about the video you recently produced about your mom.
My mom was adopted and always wondered what about her ethnicity. So last year, at 66 years old, we found her ethnicity and her biological family through Ancestry DNA. I made a five-part YouTube series called “The Question of Sylvia” when she opened the results. A few months later, we met her four Caucasian siblings. She is the only child with a father of color. My video and her story ended up in People Magazine and ABC World News Tonight with David Muir. We’ve been interviewed by various media outlets including a radio station in Canada. I’m now working on a book about her life leading up to this moment and partnering with DCTV to produce a documentary about the reunion.
Tell us about the Theatre Week Kickoff party. Why should people be sure not to miss it?
Much like Restaurant Week, during DC’s Theatre Week you can see theatre at a great discount. At the Kickoff Party, you will get a sampling of what’s to come this theater season. There will be about 20 theatres with tables in Woolly Mammoth’s lobby to promote upcoming seasons, offer giveaways, and answer questions. Plus free food and drinks from local restaurants and a few musical numbers and spoken presentations.
I’m emceeing the party and introducing each musical or dramatic piece. I’ll be asking the performers about their most recent and upcoming works – things you’ll want to know. I’m excited about some of the performers like Hasani Allen, Justin Weaks, and playwright Annalisa Dias. So roll through, get a snack, meet a new theatre or two, hear a musical diddy or dramatic piece, and be on about your day. It’s a day-party and it’s free!
For tickets and information on all Theatre Week shows, click here.