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The Republic of Sarah's Ian Duff Talks About the Show, Theater and Judas and the Black Messiah

Ian Duff fondly remembers his theater days in New York City when he gained confidence as an actor. Starring as Eric in the Gregg Keller play Dutch Masters wasn't only his big break but a catalyst for an unexpected opportunity. Unbeknownst to him, an agent was amongst the audience. And the handwritten note he received would change the trajectory of his career. Moving forward, he would become known for New Amsterdam, Judas and the Black Messiah, and currently the CW drama series The Republic of Sarah.

Duff portrayed Doc Satchel in Shaka King's two-time Oscar-winning film Judas and the Black Messiah. The historical figure was influential in developing The Black Panthers' free breakfast programs and sickle cell anemia screenings for the underserved communities of Chicago. According to Duff, he was Fred Hampton Jr.'s godfather. He praises Doc Satchel's exemplary efforts in bringing healthcare workers and community members together in a unified effort to secure funding and resources for programs.

On the topic of Fred Hampton Jr., Duff agreed to share his experience with meeting Fred and other party members on set.

"The film got the blessing from the family and the community," he said. "So to be able to hear firsthand encounters and to have that wisdom passed down, just to have the feeling, to have them onset and feel the aura made for a more fulfilling, enriching experience."

His latest project, the CW's drama series The Republic of Sarah, tells the story of a small New Hampshire town that becomes at odds with a mining company when valuable minerals are discovered. Sarah Cooper, a spirited high school teacher, rallies friends and townsfolk to take a stand and declare independence.

Duff provides some insight into his character Grover Simms and his role in the unfolding story.

"He is the manager of the local diner," he explains. "He's also Sarah's best friend. And when we meet him, he's in a grieving period. He's mourning. He's trying to figure that out. But because he's such a supportive friend and loyal to Sarah, he puts himself second. Now he has to figure out how to support Sarah and the townspeople. "

He is excited to be a part of a show with a premise that he feels is unique for the CW. For Duff, it's a nice departure from superheroes and the sci-fi universe. He revels in the opportunity to be immersed in a well-rounded story that explores the lives of everyday people.

When reflecting on his favorite co-stars throughout his career thus far, Duff said, "So, everybody that I've worked with, I definitely learned from as an actor because I'm very observant in that way. You get to learn, you get to meet people, you get to hear people's stories, and you get people with different skill sets. And that, to me, is a blessing. It's a gift. So I would say, everybody."

Despite appearing in movies and TV shows, the theater will always have a special place in his heart. So it's not surprising that his favorite role to date would be a character from the stage.

"It would probably be Eric in Dutch Masters," he states. "I was on stage for about 95 minutes, just me. I think anything that I do is probably going to always come back to the stage. Because that is the most exhilarating, that is the most adrenaline-inducing feeling. And you're walking a tightrope, and if you mess up, you just got to get yourself back on track. So the theater, for me, is where I feel the most alive."

Even with success, there are still ups and downs. As expected, vying for coveted roles and enduring grueling auditions are part of the process. For Duff, finding solidarity helps keep everything in perspective.

"So you have to have tough skin in this industry," he advises. "And you also have to find your tribe, find your people. You have to find your anchor. It can get really low because you're getting denied all the time. "

Like many actors, longevity in this industry is also at the forefront of Duff's mind. Even though his ultimate goal is to continue working, he still has a dream project. Being part of a film based on the African fantasy novel series Children of Blood and Bone is a top contender for his wishlist.

Looking to the future, Duff is currently in talks for a few projects. "You can look forward to seeing me more," he said. "That's what I would say. And I'm writing as well. So, yeah, this is just the beginning for Ian Duff."

Check out Ian on The Republic of Sarah Monday nights on the CW.


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