Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, and grew up in Columbia, Maryland, actress Carly Hughes stars as Angela on the hit ABC show, “American Housewife.” Hughes is known for her brilliant work on Broadway shows such as “Chicago,” Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” Ragtime,” “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and others. But the actress has made special guest appearances on live TV shows and isn’t stopping anytime soon.
Bombshell had the pleasure of interviewing Hughes about her life and acting career:
ER: What is some advice you would give those who are aspiring for a career in acting?
CH: You have to make sure that this is something you want to do. This means that if you can wake up every day and think of something else you can do that can bring you just as much joy if not more, you should be doing that. This business is hard and it’s not for the faint of heart. With all the ups and downs in this business you have to want it and you have to think you want it more than everybody else, because that’s what gets you through.
ER: When did you start taking yourself seriously in your career? Is there a moment when you can pinpoint in your career?
CH: My mom always said I took myself too seriously. So that’s how I got to where I’m at. I graduated high school a year early because I knew I wanted to do this (act) for a living so I went straight to college. Then once I got to college I got my first professional gig. I got paid to do a production of a Little Shop of Horror. I was like I’m big time now and probably made two dollars a week. However, I was getting paid to do what I love or getting paid to do what I took myself seriously doing forever. For me that moment, just doing a little production of a little shop of horrors, I knew that was setting my path up. It gave me the confidence that I could do this.
ER: If you weren’t an actor, what would your career be? I read that you enjoy cooking.
CH: I’d want to test out being a chef. What would be fun is to be a buyer for a cute designer clothing line or shoe line because I’m obsessed with high heels. If Christine Louboutin needed an assistant I’d volunteer as tribute. Or be a stylist, it would still have to be creative. I still have to be in that realm.
ER: Did any place you traveled to leave an impression on you?
CH: I try to go to a new destination every year, but one of the places I absolutely adore is Spain. I went for the first time when I was in high school. I went for an exchange program. I stayed with family and they spoke fluent Spanish. The culture is so beautiful to me and the country is gorgeous. I remember just being immersed in that culture and feeling a sense of family; even though I was a million light years away from the USA and my family. Being my first travel abroad experience it stuck with me. If you go in with open arms, the city and people are going to greet you with open arms. I learned that from traveling to Spain and I try to carry that with me everywhere I go.
ER: Would you live in Spain?
CH: Yes, I hid my passport because I wasn’t ready to go back to my own family. I love my mom, but I was good there. I still keep in touch with that family. I had tears while hugging my family. My Spanish mom was saying ‘los siento los siento, but you don’t live here, you have to go home.’ I was just so at peace there. You know as a teenager when you find peace you want to cling to it. I had never experienced something like that. I knew that was fortunate and lucky because no one in my family at that point had been able to travel abroad ever. It was first time first generation, so I cherished it a lot. I’d live in Spain for the built-in nap time because I live for naps.
ER: What is one of your favorite crafts that you’ve created because I know your friends call you crafty Carly?
CH: I taught myself how to arm knit and finger crochet. It sounds crazy but when I was still in New York I ended up learning intricate patterns, making these knit cozy’s and infinity scarves that I sold to all the Broadway shows. They were handmade and I would sit up at night and I got so fast that I would make one scarf in 45 minutes. I felt so good about myself because I was able to make something so pretty. When I see handmade scarves anywhere else, I understand why they charge so much because they do take a lot.
ER: You’re a busy woman and I see that you’re working on two projects, you’re guest staring on. Can you describe how you manage to work on two projects at once?
CH: It’s amazing, I come from Broadway. On Broadway we would do eight shows a week and two shows a day. I work and do better when I’m doing the many things so when I got asked to do Curb Your Enthusiasm and Insatiable, it was right up my alley. I like my brain doing a million things at once and always nice to dive into new characters. For instance, on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” I play myself but we did have to learn music because we were putting on a show within a show. For me it is how I thrive, I like doing many at once, I feel like I’m on top of my game. In a way it helps me by being a performer who is able to do multiple projects at one time. You don’t have time to slip because you have to be on top of your game and I love that feeling of “nope there’s no down time you have to stay on top of your game.”
ER: Do you consider yourself to be representation for your African American community?
CH: I feel like in any situation with any race and any gender, especially if you’re the only one there’s a sense of “I stand for…” I like to think that in whatever project I’m in that I don’t represent my entire race or community, but I stand for and a good representation of my entire race and community. I don’t hold myself accountable to represent everyone. I just hold myself accountable for being a good representation of. I can’t speak on everyone else’s experience I can only live mine and by doing that I hope to make it better and help further along the African American race, African American women and women in general. I can only strive to do my part.
ER: Who were some of your role models growing up?
CH: I was an odd kid, because instead of watching what kids were watching, I’d be watching reruns of old golden age musicals Lena Horne and Frank Sinatra. Growing up Lena Horne was definitely a role model. Whitney Houston, I lived for Whitney Houston. I remember being obsessed with Eartha Kitt. They were still showing reruns of her (Eartha Kitt) on Batman and I lived for her. That was one of my first experiences interactions with her being on television. Then we watched everything else she did, and she was amazing!