Sullivan concedes that he'd be pleased if Sunday night's Oscars reward the movie version of the late August Wilson's Fences. (It has four nominations, including best picture.) However, he is excited most for all the African-American artists involved this year. "I'm for what everyone is doing, so whether it's Moonlight, Hidden Figures or Fences, or whoever gets a nod, I'm for it,'' he said. We had a phone conversation with Sullivan a few days before his final performance as Seth Holly in American Stage's production of Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone. The St. Petersburg theater is one of only a handful of theater companies to achieve the feat of producing all 10 of Wilson's Century Cycle plays, and Sullivan has performed in each one.
What's on your nightstand?
I have the collected work of Albert Murray, a great black writer back in the day, along with Ralph Ellison. I also picked up from Haslam's Colson Whitehead's Underground Railroad. I picked it after reading a review in the Times.
Have you been able to start it yet?
I haven't. The books are looking at me, waiting for me to read them. Spare time for an actor is precious. You have things to do and you have to rest, and then the play will take the living bejesus out of you, but I do have this stack that I will get to.
Since you've done all the plays, have you realized anything that you didn't already know about August Wilson? I imagine he must feel like a relative.
I would not say one of my relatives. That would be a long shot. He has always been Mr. Wilson to me. I believe he was prolific, even deeper than we imagined. He was clever, a bright guy and really sincere.
Since you've spent so much time here, what's your perception of Tampa Bay?
Really, my perception has been on the play in the theater in St. Pete, and it's been good. Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, it has been fine. Although I've watched St. Pete change, so much construction going on, and there's the feeling of boondoggle money to me. It's killing the charm that I used to see. I'm talking about the hustling for parking, the constant building. It smacks of gentrification.
Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.