Karen Ceesay stars as Bertie, one of the Hilltop residents. We first saw Bertie, along with her fellow scavengers, when they were rescued by Rick and his crew. They were stranded after their car crashed, holed up in a house where they were hiding from the walkers. We later see Bertie sitting on steps, cleaning her clothes.
When Gregory pompously refused to help our Survivors go after Negan, Enid led Maggie, Rick and the group outside Barrington House where Bertie and other Hilltop townspeople pledged allegiance to help. Way to go, Bertie!
I was thrilled to learn Karen wanted to answer my baker’s dozen of questions so we could learn more about her and her character. Here are her responses.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I moved to Atlanta to attend Spelman College and have been in the Atlanta ever since.
How did you get into acting?
I’ve always been a “ham” but I started lessons when I was 10 years old at Freedom Theatre in North Philly. I took musical theater, dance & drama.
Was it always your dream to become an actor?
I came out the womb looking for the spotlight… so YES!!! Always!!
What was your very first acting role?
Miss Mouse in “Froggy Went A’Courtin” in Kindergarten. LOL! My first professional play was when I was 11 years old – a musical called “12 going on 20.” For TV, I did a few pilots that never aired, but my first “official” TV role was on “Somebodies” the first scripted series for BET. I LOVED the role! One of my favorites to this date.
How did you get the role of Bertie?
Auditioned. I auditioned once before for Season 3. I hadn’t heard anything for years, so I figured I was just out of the The Walking Dead world. Then came Bertie. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to learn I earned the part.
Did you do anything special to prepare for the role, like giving her a backstory in your own mind?
Since I didn’t watch the show (zombies – AAAHHHH) and was really scared of the thought of a zombie marathon (nightmares – AAAHHH) I read EVERYTHING I could find online.
Were you a The Walking Dead fan before landing the role?
No, because… zombies….(AAAAAHHHH) I had a lot of friends who had been on and many friends who were fans, so I would keep tabs on who died via them. I knew Melissa McBride (Carol) long before from her years as a casting director, so I would keep tabs on her character specifically. We’re all so happy for and proud of what she’s accomplished since.
Were there any funny or memorable behind the scene moments you experienced?
Being on this show is just impossible to prepare for, mentally. It’s just sooo big. Thankfully, we came in as a group and had each other to go through the process together. All the Hilltop peeps got along GREAT! And we just joked over so many things while on set. We all keep in touch throughout the year too.
BUT – Day 1 of shooting for me was with Ilan (Wes) and while we prepared to be “rescued” by Rick, Michonne & Co., I would CRACK UP SMILING over the fact that I was on the show. Then drop the smile as soon as they called ACTION. It was crazy.
You have acted in both television and movies. Which do you prefer and why?
I’ve always been a TV-holic (I was IMDb before there was an IMDb) but I don’t really have a preference on which. I just love to work. Movies take a lot longer to come out so if there’s a Non Disclosure Agreement situation (I can’t talk about it), it’s harder to keep my mouth shut. The release date for Rings got pushed several times, so that was rough. (Had a blast shooting that.)
What has been your favorite acting role?
Aside from The Walking Dead and the project on which I’m currently working probably “The Internship.” I LOVE comedies – I did improv for years – it was great to work with Vince Vaughn & Owen Wilson. The way I got the part was awesome too – I read for a smaller role and at the callback, producer/director Shawn Levy gave me the opportunity to read for the larger part I eventually booked. He was great and the director of my son’s favorite movies “Night at the Museum.” My kid loves history as a result. We’ve vistied several of the Smithsonians and also the Rodan Museum in Philly because of the films. So it was awesome for me to be able to give my son a signed pictures from Shawn.
Has anyone been an inspiration to you in your acting career or life?
So many it’s hard to name – first my parents as they were always very supportive of what I wanted to do. I was a chemical engineering major when I got to Spelman and took an acting class to uuuuhhhhh…. help out the GPA and my teacher Lundeanna Thomas couldn’t understand why I was wasting my time & talent in the science field. She was essential in turning me back to the theatre. My favorite actors are Nicole Kidman and Viola Davis; Russell Crowe has been my favorite since Gladiator, but Michael Fassbender is coming up on his heels.
Do you have any new acting roles in your future?
Yes! An AWESOME project… that I can’t talk about…. Dang those NDAs!
Is there anything you can tell all us fans about yourself that we don’t know?
I am an awesome cook! My husband is a chef so he normally gets credit, but I’ve been cooking since I was 6 years old. Also, I’m very crafty & technical – I love to build things and put stuff together.
It’s hard to fathom the below beauty as a builder! Not only is she gorgeous, she is a magnificent actor. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Bertie on The Walking Dead on AMC Sunday nights at 9/8C. Tune in with me and let me know your thoughts @sassypoo.