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A love for acting: interview with Mike Phillips Gomez

Posted on Oct 28, 2019 by

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The autumn season for English-language theatre is starting in Amsterdam, and one of the cool plays that come with it is Dutchman, from Orange Theatre Company.

This play, written by Amiri Baraka, explores the racism in American society and might make some audience members uncomfortable. Mike Phillips Gomez will perform in the role of Clay, the young intellectual middle-class black man who meets a beautiful white woman in the metro — and that’s the start of a provocative story. I met Mike for a chat about him and this play, and a quick photoshoot. He’s an easy going but at the same time deep person who can make you laugh one moment and think about very serious stuff the next. He’s a people’s person, you can see it right away, and this was confirmed during our photoshoot when he convinced a random guy we met on the street to let us use his Canta car for a few pictures. I can’t wait to see him on stage!

Mike Phillips Gomez 01

Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! Could you start by telling me about

Sure, thanks for the invitation to do this Dana! My name is Mike Phillips Gomez and I am
an American actor from New York, currently based in Amsterdam.

How do you find Amsterdam so far?

So far, real good. Amsterdam has been such a great and welcoming landing cushion into
Western Europe for me. This is my first time living abroad and I’m really grateful to feel so
at ease here. Of course it is different in many ways than New York, but the comparison
isn’t of which place is better than the other for me. Amsterdam balances small town charm
with a big city personality, making it diverse and accessible without feeling hindered. I’ve
been here a little over a year now and I’m still excited to discover more.

You have a varied creative background. When did you know you wanted to become an actor as well? What sparked this idea in your mind?

Oh wow, I guess I didn’t really know I wanted to become an actor until after I started doing it. At first, like many things I have interest for, it was from an urge to feed my curiosity. My love for film persuaded me to step into the world behind the screen and acting sort of revealed itself to me. I started to take classes on a whim via an email ad I received with a coupon for a beginner’s scene study workshop. I dug into the question of ‘what the hell is acting?’ and quickly I fell in love with the process of telling stories in such a visceral way. Flirtation with the craft soon became a passion and I haven’t stopped since.

Mike Phillips Gomez 02
Mike Phillips Gomez 03
Mike Phillips Gomez 04

You will soon perform in the Orange Theatre Company’s next play, the “Dutchman”. What can you tell me about this play and about your character?

Well I can definitely tell you it’s like nothing you’ve seen before on stage. Amiri Baraka
wrote this great and shocking story that challenges, provokes and even intimidates those
who experience it with poetry and motion. It’s unignorable. I play the role of Clay Williams, a young black man living in the height of civil rights reform and racial tension during the early 1960s in the US. Dutchman comments on what it is and was to be marginalised as a black American attempting to create an identity personally and culturally.

Mike Phillips Gomez 05

Did you encounter any challenges in preparing for this role?

Yes, for sure. This role comes with the weight, I believe, to embody the frustration and
insecurity of black people during such an important time period in American history. The
biggest challenge for me was addressing my own personal relationship to race and colour
and how it has or hasn’t affected my personhood, along with better understanding the
consensus of the black American experience in the US post-slavery up until the Civil
Rights movement.

What do you want people to get from this play and to take home with them?

Good question. More than anything, I think, I want for whoever sees the play to watch
carefully how he or she initially reacts to how the story makes them feel. And to not quickly attach themselves to an opinion without first really thinking about who they are and what they believe.

Do your on-screen experiences ever get under your skin?

Yes for sure. I can be very empathetic and sensitive. It’s inevitable that I take home with
me what I feel and portray in the roles and stories I play. But I always leave space
between who I am and who I play so I can let go and decongest.

Mike Phillips Gomez 06
Mike Phillips Gomez 07

What kind of plays/films are you passionate about?

Well, I’m passionate about the many different perspectives of being human. The many
different lives we all experience. Any play or film or work of art that allows me to discover
more about myself through the eyes of another person, I like. Oh and sci-fi adventure
films. If it makes me feel like a kid, I’m in.

Who or what has been inspiring you lately? Do you find enough time in your
schedule for all your creative endeavours?

I don’t overwhelm myself with trying to do everything at once. It’s more like whatever is
calling me at the moment. I have many interests, a lot of them being creative, and I allow
for each to have importance if that’s what I feel I should be doing. The work of Andrei
Tarkovsky has really been amazing to see lately. I’m taking myself through an unorthodox
dive into cinema history right now. Also, the photography of Brassaï is very inspiring.
Check out his FOAM exhibition.

What would you say is the best thing that happened in your life?

The best has yet to come. I’ll let you know when I get there.

Mike Phillips Gomez 08
Mike Phillips Gomez 09
Mike Phillips Gomez 10

What makes you happy?

Right now, appreciating everything I have and realising how lucky I really am, always puts
a smile on my face when I need it.

Mike Phillips Gomez
Actor / @mkephlpsgmz



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