11th April 2023
Interview: Chris Richmond
Photo Credit: Phillip Van
Andrew Chappelle, original cast member of Hamilton, can currently be found in Season 2 of Blindspotting as Scotty. He’s also ventured behind the camera and started creating his own short films as a filmmaker - his debut, Fanatic, is currently making waves in the short film circuit. We were lucky enough to speak to him about his role in Hamilton, the developments of Scotty in Season 2, and his developing career as a filmmaker behind the camera.
You're back as Scotty for Season 2 of Starz's hugely popular series Blindspotting. Where do we find Scotty for the new series and in what way is the new series different from the first?
What I love about Scotty is he always brings the party! In season one, we mainly see Scotty cutting up with his work bestie Ashley(Jasmine Cephas Jones) on their smoke breaks at the hotel. Ashley was going through a tremendously difficult time in her life in season one. Scotty was able to advise her as best he could through the drama while still keeping a smile on her face. Season two we see Scotty and Ashley’s relationship is even stronger. Scotty is getting to know her family and friends. While he always functioned as Ashley’s confidant, in season two Scotty is a part of Ashley’s life outside of work. As Ashley seems to be going off the rails in season two, Scotty is able to be there for her when things get hairy.
You're notable for being a member of the original cast of Hamilton. Can you tell us how you first heard about the role and your audition process? Could you sense that you were on to something major?
When I moved to New York in 2009, In The Heights was the new show that any person of color aspired to be in. I tried and tried to be a part of that show's legacy, but ended up making my Broadway debut in Mamma Mia instead. Even though I wasn't able to be a part of In The Heights, I always identified Lin Manual Miranda as an artist that clearly understood a group of people who were underrepresented on Broadway. Years later, I heard whisperings of something called The Hamilton Mixtape. I didn’t know what it was about or where it was going. All I knew was that Lin wrote and I wanted to be in it. So I tried a million ways to get an audition but was never able to score an appointment. My agents at the time didn’t really understand that I was a good rapper! There was even one excruciating day where I showed up to audition for a different show and Hamilton Mixtape was auditioning in the room right next door. I tried sweet talking the monitor into letting me slip in for an audition but they wouldn’t budge. So it was back to the drawing board. I’m a persistent guy. So when I hear “no” I just figure out another way around. I had a friend in the casting office at the time who luckily was able to work some magic and get me an audition right before Hamilton started rehearsals for it’s Off Broadway run at the Public Theatre. The audition was to be an off stage cover for all of the male principals. I’d never done anything like that before but I didn’t care. I wanted to be in Lin’s new show. So I started working on the material. They sent along demos of Lin rapping the songs into his iphone. Even with just that, I knew the music and lyrics were some of the best material I had ever been given to interpret. I went into that audition so laser focused. It was a much quicker audition process than the kids have now because the show hadn't been made yet. I think in total it took maybe a week or two? I had my initial singing audition, a dance call with literally one other guy, and then a singing callback. At the last audition, I sang through everything and ran out of the building because the intensity was so high. I’m on the subway heading home and the casting director called me on my cell which never happens. She said, “Andrew! I tried to catch you on the way out but you left so fast. You got the role. They loved you!” I got off a few stops early and walked straight to the restaurant where I was working as a host and quit immediately. The rest is history!
You've since gone on to play Aaron Burr a number of times in the show. What was this like? What are the difficulties and challenges of taking on a named role compared to the ensemble?
Oh wow. Aaron Burr is a beast of a role! Burr has to charismatically serve as the narrator to a story in which he is the villain. I had the ultimate privilege of witnessing Leslie Odom Jr. find his version of Aaron Burr during the rehearsal process. It was my job to figure out my interpretation. This took years for me to craft. As a standby, I had a unique perspective because I had to know all of these characters inside and out. I had to know their motivations and how they served the story in ever single moment in the show. This ended up being an incredible advantage when approaching Aaron Burr. It was still one of the hardest roles I’ve ever performed. The ensemble of Hamilton has a whole different journey. They have zero downtime in the almost three hour musical. That takes an incredible amount of stamina and focus. The dancers in that show are superheroes.
Fanatic is a Short Film written by you that's currently on the Film Festival Circuit. What's the film about and what inspired you to write it?
Fanatic is my debut as a filmmaker. It’s about a failed 2000’s boyband that get’s a second chance at success 20 years after they quit. I was inspired to write during the pandemic when acting jobs weren’t as plentiful as they had been. I wanted to write something that made people laugh around a subject that I loved. As a 90’s kid, boy bands are a part of my DNA and an amazing showcase for comedy.
What are the challenges of stepping behind the camera and how is it different to perform?
I love both so very much. Being behind the camera is incredibly fulfilling because as a writer you control the story. I also served as executive producer on Fanatic. I discovered in that role I had much more agency in asking people for things than I do as an actor.
What are your goals and aspirations for your career? Can you see yourself more in front of the camera or behind, or would you like to continue doing a mix of both?
I’d love to continue doing both. I love acting and I’m so excited to see what comes next. One of the beautiful aspects of being an actor is that so much of your career is out of your hands. All you can do is the best work possible and the rest is pretty much up to the universe. Now that I’ve gotten a taste of the behind the camera life, I’ll continue to make strides on that side because I love the creativity it inspires within me.
Catch Andrew Chapelle on the second season of 'Blindspotting' out now.