Angell Conwell has navigated the mercurial acting business with relative ease, starting early and steadily growing through its ebbs and flows.
The Orangeburg native has not let opposition, rejection nor uncertainty diminish her staunch work ethic. Having been in the profession for more than a decade, Conwell is currently celebrating the maturity she has experienced as she enters the fifth season of Bounce TV’s first-ever original series.
Conwell stars in “Family Time,” which began airing on television’s fastest-growing African-American network on Oct. 2.
“Family Time” is about the Stallworth family, a working-class black family that jumps into the middle class after buying a winning scratch-off lottery ticket. The show stars the 34-year-old Conwell and Omar Gooding as the parents, and Jayla Calhoun and Bentley Kyle Evans Jr. as their children.
What’s it like to be entering her fifth season on the situation comedy?
"It’s really a blessing. The whole cast and crew are all very dedicated. We love to make people laugh. We all think it's pretty important, especially given a lot of the current events that are happening right now,” Conwell said.
“We basically just show up to set with a goal of entertaining everybody … . So that's pretty much what we're doing, keeping the laughs coming,” she said.
Gooding and Conwell are high school sweethearts who find themselves wading into all sorts of situations that come up in the lives of their mischievous teenage children, everything from dating to SAT preparation.
She said the show has family at its heart.
“The title is very foreshadowing. It's about a family of four specifically and all of their extended family. We have our in-laws. We have our cousins, our long-lost relative we've never met," Conwell said.
“We moved from the 'hood to where it's all good. So we basically had a come-up financially and we've been in the neighborhood ever since. That was the first season, and now we're in our fifth doing the same thing. We're not really reinventing the wheel. We're just making sure we keep everybody entertained."
She said it’s amazing to see not only how her character has grown, but those of her TV children as well.
"When we first started the show … they were like little babies to me. And now both of them are taller than me and letting me know all the cool things that are happening out there in the streets. It's really cute and awesome to see them work together creatively and come up with ideas for the scenes,” Conwell said.
“I mean, I love the young folks. So whenever they're able to express themselves creatively and artistically, it's pretty amazing to watch. We've seen them mature. And Bentley, who plays my son, is actually our executive producer's son. So it's really cute to see them work together as well,” she added.
The sitcom was created by Bentley Evans, producer of such shows as “Martin” and “The Jamie Foxx Show.”
Conwell said it was important for her to portray a positive representation of a black woman.
“It’s always important to have positive representation of black women, black families on television. There are some out there as of now, but we could always use more because I still feel like we're lacking. So it's great to be able to add to the positive black family narrative. It's necessary,” she said.
She has said her “Family Time” role demonstrates both her personal and professional growth.
“Absolutely. I feel like when actors portray a character, there's always a bit of themselves within the role. So I definitely have noticed growth within myself over the past five years, and also the rest of the cast. Omar just had a son of his own. So that's amazing to see because I don't have any children," the actress said.
“People say, 'You're really good at playing a mother given that you don't have any children.' But, luckily, I've grown up with younger cousins, and I started in the business very early. I was about 12 years old. So there's a level of maturity that's necessary to start at that age that maybe translates into the character,” Conwell said.
Early in her TV career, Conwell starred as actor Meshach Taylor’s daughter on the CBS show “Dave’s World.” She continued to guest star and appear on dozens of hit shows over the years, including “NYPD Blue,” “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Moesha.”
Conwell made her feature-film debut in director John Singleton’s “Baby Boy” in 2001. Later that same year, she appeared in the film “Flossin,” and went on to star in “The Wash” with rappers Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Eminem. She also starred in the film “For Richer or Poorer,” which aired on the Gospel Music Channel.
She has also played attorney Leslie Michaelson on “The Young and the Restless.”
“That’s a recurring character right now so I’m back and forth. Whenever they need a lawyer, pretty much a legal shark, they call me to see if I’m available. So 'Young and the Restless’ is basically like home. Whenever we can work it out, I definitely do pop up, but there’s nothing planned as of now for any time this year,” Conwell said.
Conwell is the daughter of Brian Conwell and Sheila Legette, a talent agent whose roster includes Vivica Fox and Dorian Gregory. The actress said she and her mother are very supportive of each other’s careers.
“But I also do my best to not ... mix personal and professional. I think mother-daughter relationships can be very sacred and complex. So, I think it’s good to keep them as light as possible. But, yes, she’s still an agent and I admire everything she does for so many people in the entertainment industry,” Conwell said.
“She’s constantly giving advice and pointing people in the right direction and using her resources to connect different people, even actors that she doesn’t represent. She’s constantly doing things for others; it’s always a blessing to see her do her work … because it started with her helping me with my career,” she said.
Conwell’s maternal grandmother is Eva Legette of Orangeburg, a city she holds dear to her heart.
“I’ll do anything for the place I was born. There’s not too many actresses from Orangeburg. There’s myself, Monique Coleman and I know a few others, but I always try to represent when I can because I’m proud of where I came from,” she said.
The actress said she enjoys what she does and looks forward to moving higher in her acting career.
“I don’t know how I could make it in this business without loving the craft because there’s so many different aspects to it. But, yes, I do love it and appreciate the support. It is definitely felt, and I’m very grateful,” she said.
“Family Time” airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on Bounce (Spectrum channel 1280).
For more information about the show, visit bouncetv.com.