Sydney Charles wows audiences in 'Gem of the Ocean' just 6 years after giving up banking career

ByHosea Sanders and Marsha Jordan WLS logo
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Sydney Charles wows audiences in Goodman's 'Gem of the Ocean'
Sydney Charles discusses her role as Miss Black Mary in August Wilson's "Gem of the Ocean" at the Goodman Theatre.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Sydney Charles is one of the most electrifying performers on the Chicago stage, and she's only been acting professionally for a short time!

She's currently wowing audiences as Miss Black Mary in August Wilson's "Gem of the Ocean" at the Goodman Theatre.

"As my great grandmother used to say, I'm a little piece of leather but I'm well put together," Charles said. "That is the quintessential Black Mary vibe, it's who I think she is, she knows what she wants and she ain't taking no stuff from nobody and I love it."

"My Black sisters definitely giving me uh hum, that's right, yes ma'am," she added. "We just give a different type of energy in general. We come from a church culture, so we like to hear people talking back to us, it's one of the joys of being able to do live theater. To be able to read the words that are literally written how we speak, it's not unfamiliar, it's like Shakespeare for Black people, we know this cadence."

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Just six years ago, Sydney gave up a successful career in banking. Her true destiny was calling. She stepped out on faith, as they say, to embrace her passion.

"I did, I'm crazy," she said. "I didn't want to be in a rocking chair at 101 years old, and look back over my life and say I wish I would have just tried it. I quit my full time job, my 401k she's out of there, I used her to survive, and I stepped out on faith, and faith has been holding me up, I have no complaints, I'm glad I took that leap. To be able to do this in my career, in my hometown is literally a dream come true."

And now, she's getting to perform in front of her own family.

"If and when I hear my father, it may or may not be annoying, I love you daddy!" she said. "I'm just grateful I get to hear it, having them watch me do what my life's purpose is. I'm just very blessed and excited to see where my career can take me, hopefully my wallet will catch up with it, too!"

"Gem of the Ocean" plays at the Goodman through Feb. 27.