Guy Fortt, Broadway Actor, Starring in The Color Purple
An outstanding actor who knows how to play the role, a firefighter with a passion for serving his community, and a colorful spirit blessed with limitless talents, Guy A. Fortt, the man, is one amazing character.
Guy, a seasoned theater presence who studied at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, is currently featured on Broadway in Oprah Winfrey's The Color Purple. For years he has brought his unique flavor to an impressive variety of roles in New York City and Connecticut, commanding the stage in productions of Charles H. Fuller's A Soldier's Play, August Wilson's Seven Guitars, Abram Hill's On Strivers Row, and Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire among others.
In Hollywood, Guy holds his own working alongside the film industry's best in such projects as director David Frankel's The Devil Wears Prada starring Meryl Streep; director Sydney Pollack's The Interpreter starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn; director Spike Lee's 25th Hour and She Hate Me; and Don't Nobody Love the Game More Than Me, directed by Martha Pinson and winner of the Toronto Online Film Award.
In addition to his stage and cinema work, Fortt has also found success in television having appeared on diverse shows including HBO's The Soprano's, NBC's Third Watch, Another World, and Saturday Night Live, ABC's All My Children, and MTV's Human Giant. He was also featured as "Pops" in Don Cheadle's Independent Lens, which aired on PBS.
Today, Guy is hard at work on several new projects. He recently completed filming of Before The Devil Knows You're Dead directed by Sidney Lumet, and starring Philip Seymore Hoffman and Ethan Hawk.
Guy A. Fortt lives in Connecticut with his wife, Dr. Tabitha B. Fortt and their four children, Jafar, 16; Khairi, 14; Anisa, 11; and Omar 9.
Guy Fortt’s life could definitely be described as a journey; an illogical, improbable, a-typical journey.
Guy grew up without a lot of privilege and yet he had dreams of being a successful entertainer. Having endured tragedy and overcome adversity, Guy made choices that would put other people needs before his own desires. As a result, he is living the life of his dreams, confident that it is only going to keep getting better and better...
DR: Tell me about your life and your work.
GF: I was born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut.
I am one of six children. We pretty much grew up in an impoverished neighborhood. My mother was both mother and father and she tried really hard to get us the best education that was available. By any means necessary she would make sure that we were involved in academic programs that would set our lives on the right course.
I always had dreams of getting into the entertainment field but I just wasn't focused. I was getting involved with drugs and running around in the streets at night. I just didn't have any guidance.
When I was in my twenties, I had been dating a woman for awhile and the guy that she was involved with before me was very, very obsessed with her. That obsession led to him murdering her in front of me.
He slit her throat...
DR: How old were you?
GF: I was twenty one or twenty two. I can't remember exactly.
It was my on my birthday, December 24th.
He came and knocked at the door. I let him because I didn't know it was her previous boyfriend. I didn't detect any problem. He shook my hand. He was very humble. My girlfriend was the one that was behaving over the top. Next thing you know, he punches her in the throat. She comes running to me. I thought he just punched her. I looked and as she moved her hand from her throat, blood was spattering all over me according to her heart beat. She died in my arms. I laid her down and as I approached this guy, he grabbed the knife and slit his own throat.
Even though my mother tried her best to get us out of that environment, that was the environment that I was in.
DR: What was your life like immediately after that happened?
GF: I became very introverted.
I started getting involved in Islam and following the teachings of Islam really got me focused on getting my life together. That murder incident changed how I trusted. I didn't really trust a lot of people. To this day I have apprehensions about people.
DR: Tell me more about that.
THE COLOR PURPLE is NOW PLAYING on BROADWAY
Click here to view a video including interviews with the cast and creative team behind THE COLOR PURPLE.
GF: I am still challenged to open up and let people into my world. I try to catch myself but I can become very distant, wanting to be alone.
After that incident I knew I needed to change. I wanted to be able to know how to help people, so I decided that I wanted to become a firefighter. I finished number two in my training class. My friend finished number one and we were the first African Americans to be hired by the Greenwich fire department in Connecticut. I have been working for the fire department for twenty three years.
I know how to help people in an emergency. I know how to deal with people who have been in accidents. Being a fire fighter has helped me to open up and show love to people.
Fast forward -
I met a beautiful woman who was studying to be a doctor and we eventually got married. I put my goal and my dream to work in the entertainment field on hold so that my wife could finish med school. She went to Georgetown University and while she was in school we had our first child and I took the baby and went back to Connecticut. While my wife was in med school, I stayed at home with our child. Then we had my daughter...
We have four children now and we just opened up a medical practice and I am now performing on Broadway.
DR: Well your path to Broadway was certainly not the logical and predictable one, was it?
GF: Not at all.
I have always believed in the law of attraction.
One day my wife suggested that I go and audition for The Color Purple but they were only auditioning people for the Chicago tour. I knew that I couldn't do the Chicago tour because of my job at the fire department, but my wife encouraged me to go and show my stuff because she believed that maybe they would want me for the Broadway show.
I went in, I sang and to make a long story short, my agent calls me the next day and tells me that they didn't want me for the Chicago tour. I said "That's O.K... No problem" and then he said "They want you for the Broadway show".
Now I am currently on Broadway starring in The Color Purple.
DR: What was it like to get that news?
GF: Well, it just reaffirmed my belief that once you put something out there, things will happen. I think that we as human being have lost the ability to believe in order to make things happen. If you just believe and then speak about it - I am learning that it really works.
Right now I am in the process of co-producing a television series with Showtime, HBO or FX. I have been thinking about it and talking about it and its happening right now.
DR: What is the best part of your life today?
GF: One of my major gifts is to be able to help people. Some people thrive being "the lead" and wanting to be the focus and then you have people who make stuff happen by grabbing other people who just didn't get the opportunity and helping them get to where they need to be. I have learned that I am a helper.
I am a fireman, I volunteer with children's programs....
I have learned that if you are positive, if you keep a happy spirit and wear a smile on your face even when things are going wrong, if you continue to help people good things will come back to you. And,
Whatever it is that you ask for and believe that you will receive, you'll have it.
DR: What are you believing that you will receive right now?
GF: I believe that I will be connected with the right people for my television project and I believe that the show will win an Emmy.
DR: What would you say to somebody who is just about to give up on hope?
GF: Look inside, reflect and realize that everything will be alright. I have been through difficulty and I realize that it doesn't pay to worry. You have to try and know that you will get yourself together...
DR: A hundred years from now what do you want to be remembered for?
GF: I went to Africa recently; to Gambia and Senegal and that was eye opening. As much as we think we don't have here in the United States, we are very fortunate. When I went to Africa and I saw people with Polio and other diseases...
I want to be known as a person who was always giving and helping. I can't change the world but if everyone gave and helped -
the world would be a beautiful place.
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