Inside Moses Ingram’s Force Field
Moses Ingram has chosen darkness. Less than three years since graduating from the Yale School of Drama, she’s secured an Emmy nom for her role in The Queen’s Gambit, played Lady Macduff opposite Denzel Washington’s Macbeth, and now, is joining forces with Darth Vader himself to hunt down Ewan McGregor’s on-the-run Jedi in Disney’s latest galaxy trip, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Looking for some light, the luminous Regina Hall gave her a call for a pep talk.
MOSES INGRAM: Hi! How are you?
REGINA HALL: Girl, I’m just watching Dr. Phil, but I’m good. [Laughs] Did I tell you that I saw The Tragedy of Macbeth? You were so wonderful.
INGRAM: Thank you!
HALL: Where are you right now?
INGRAM: I’m in L.A.
HALL: You live there?
INGRAM: Yeah. I feel like I’ve still got sleep on my voice. I was so nervous last night because I was like, “Do not oversleep for Regina Hall.” [Laughs] You know when something’s on your mind so you think about it all night and close your eyes but never really sleep? It was like that.
HALL: And then you keep opening them like, “I only have four hours, so I don’t even know if I should go into a deep sleep.”
INGRAM: Exactly. I should just get comfortable, ride it out on Instagram, and chill until it’s time.
HALL: I’ve done that. So, you’ve been in some pretty big projects. The Queen’s Gambit was huge. And then I saw you in Macbeth, and now I’m seeing the trailer for Obi-Wan Kenobi. Does it all feel unreal?
INGRAM: For sure. Also, because of the pandemic, a lot of it has seemed like maybe nothing’s really happening. But I get to set and I’m in these rooms and, I wish I had a better word than “crazy,” but I feel so blessed to be able to do this with the people that I’ve gotten to do it with. As for The Queen’s Gambit, I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t the thing that really kicked it all off.
HALL: Well, you got nominated for an Emmy.
INGRAM: Even crazier.
HALL: And you had no idea? You were shooting it like, “Oh, I got the part. This is great. No thought like, I wonder if I will get an Emmy?”
INGRAM: No, because I was only in four or five scenes, so I didn’t think anybody would even notice me.
HALL: I certainly did. I was like, “I haven’t seen her before, and she’s so good and so pretty. Who is she?” But Macbeth was such a different role than The Queen’s Gambit, and now this time with Obi-Wan Kenobi, I was like, “She’s playing a villain!” It’s got to be fun to play a villain.
INGRAM: It’s super fun. I remember reading about my character before we started and thinking, “Wow, she is just so bad.” And everything I’ve done before, I’m really grateful for, but it’s only been a few scenes here and there. This is the first time that people will really see me do anything. That makes me nervous.
HALL: They’re going to love you. How does your family feel?
INGRAM: They’re hilarious, because we’re from Baltimore, so they say exactly what they’re thinking. My brother doesn’t know much about Star Wars, and he’s like, “I want to know everything, and I’m going to be at everything. I don’t know if you need security or not, but you know…”
HALL: Is he older or younger?
INGRAM: He’s older.
HALL: Yep, that’s an older brother.
INGRAM: I have two brothers, two sisters, and I’m the youngest. So everybody’s like, “If anybody is in your comments, we in the comments.” [Laughs]
HALL: When you first started acting, were they supportive?
INGRAM: At the beginning, it was just something I was doing. A lot of times it would be everybody yelling, “Shut up!” in the direction of my room because I would be so loud, singing or reading some poem.
HALL: Did you have any odd jobs?
INGRAM: The four years that I would’ve been in undergrad, I was taking classes at community college. I worked overnights at Amazon, at the movie theater; I was an usher at the symphony in the city. I worked at the Boys & Girls Club. I worked at Planet Fitness.
HALL: You sound like me. I had about 85 jobs.
INGRAM: Wait, you’ve got to tell me. What did you do?
HALL: I was a waitress. I did three summers as a dental assistant during college.
INGRAM: You were a dental assistant?
HALL: That was a beautiful title they gave me, but I just filled out insurance forms, took appointments, and I did clean instruments and handed them to the dentist. Then I taught reading in the projects and worked as a receptionist in a child psychologist’s office.
HALL: You have to have a job because your family is like, “How long…” My father passed when I was young, so he never got to know that I started acting. I didn’t know that I wanted to act, then when my dad passed away I was like, “I’ve got to get a job. I’ve got to make some money.” I had a friend who was an actress, and she was like, “Maybe you could make some extra money doing commercials?” It was a catalyst, but he didn’t see it. Then I didn’t talk about him, and in an interview somebody was like, “How was it growing up without a father?” And I was like, “Wait, what?”
INGRAM: Oh, damn.
HALL: I guess I talked so much about my mom, but they never heard me talk about my dad. And I know they were like, “Oh, she’s Black. She ain’t got no daddy.” [Laughs] So then I was like, “I have to start mentioning my father, because he was a great dad.”
INGRAM: That’s beautiful.
HALL: So yeah, this is the beginning of a journey. What’s been the best part and the hardest part so far?
INGRAM: The best part is getting paid to do what I love. It’s hard for me to call what I do “work.” What I’ve found the hardest is the business aspect. I learned a lot of lessons that I really wish I didn’t have to. I’m a person who loves to be tough, like, “I’m a thug. Can’t nothing hurt me.” But I’ve definitely had my feelings hurt doing this. I’m learning how to, not prioritize or categorize, but to realize the proper placement of certain things. Just because something’s shiny doesn’t mean it’s the right thing.
HALL: So now you’re more excited about what’s coming next, as opposed to having a plan?
INGRAM: Right. I actually have a question for you. You’ve been doing this for a long time, and you’ve been able to grow, shift, and change so much. All of the things you do are different from the thing before it. How have you been able to do that in a business that sometimes feels so rigid?
HALL: It’s crazy. I booked The Best Man, which was my first studio film, when I was 28. So I started later than most people. Looking back I think I was partially lucky, but I also made efforts to say, “If I’ve done that, I don’t want to do it again.” You don’t know what a job or a show is going to do. So you just keep doing stuff that’s different. Also, you have to constantly say, “I can do that.” It’s scary to challenge yourself, but that’s the adrenaline rush that makes us do better. Every career has its own journey, so the biggest thing is to follow your own wave. No one else can be Moses Ingram.
INGRAM: How do you manage how much of yourself you give away versus what is just required of you with the job? You do your interviews, and of course you have fans that I’m sure come up to you all of the time, but how do you manage you and the job?
HALL: I love my people who support my work. Because really, you have nothing without them, so they’re an integral part of your success. I’ve been lucky — I haven’t had any really bad experiences. People are just nice. I’m a private person, and when I started, we didn’t have social media, so it was a lot different in terms of privacy and promotion. It’s weird to think of yourself as having fans, because you don’t see yourself in the way that other people might see you, and that never goes away. If someone recognizes me, I’m still surprised. Are you introverted, extroverted, or both?
INGRAM: I’m pretty shy. One of the hardest parts has been going to events and trying to build up the nerve to have conversations. I tend to overthink things.
HALL: You’ll look back in ten years and be like, “I remember when I used to overthink.” That’s the beauty of continuing to become Moses Ingram. That’s the flower that never ceases to bloom. I like meeting people because I always like hearing about their journey, but I know certain industry things can be slightly like, “Do I know anyone? Do they know me? Should I speak?”
INGRAM: I don’t want to make it weird for anybody. Being in the room with people that I’ve watched all of my life — none of them know me, but it’s like, “I have deep, personal experiences with y’all, just from sitting around my TV.”
HALL: That’s part of what is so much fun about what we get to do. We get to see or meet those people who we watch and whose work we admire. But anyway, I’m so proud of you, and excited that I get to watch your body of work continue to build.
INGRAM: It means a lot to me that you did this interview. You were my pie in the sky. I was like, “Listen, I totally get if she says no.”
HALL: I was so glad that you thought of me. I was like, “Really? Is she sure it’s me and not Regina King?” She and I are always talking about the mix-up that still happens. But like I said, this is the beauty of what we get to do: You see someone, you are excited to watch their work, and then at any moment they can drop into your world and you get to say, “I think you are so dope.” So, Moses, I think you are so dope.
Hair: Larae Buress
Makeup: Rebekah Aladdin
Production: Paige Viti
Photography Assistant: Chris Behroozian
Production Assistant: Niamh Hannigan