If Devereau Chumrau told you that at one point in her life she dreaded going to the mall, you’d raise an eyebrow at the fashionista sitting before you. Her curly hair is swept into a perfectly messy red-and-blonde streaked up-do, and bangle bracelets mirroring the hues of her sundress dangle from her wrists as she leans back into a chair and crosses her toned, bronze legs.
She remembers that at age 6, her grandma would take her to lunch at Fallbrook Mall, in West Hills, Calif. They had to pass through Sears to get to the restaurant, located next to the electronics section. One day, just as Chumrau was growing tired of eating at the same place all the time, her eyes met the picture on several TVs and video cameras.
“I could see myself on TV,” Chumrau says. “I’m checkin’ myself out, thinking, ‘Boy, do I look good! Hey! It’s the Devereau show!’”
As soon as she could excuse herself to the bathroom, she would leave the restaurant for playtime and surprise shoppers by shoving an imaginary microphone in their faces and asking them what they thought about current events.
“I was always out there,” Chumrau says. “I just loved to see what it did to other people. At some point in high school, I started doing private coaching, and by 18, I had an agent and a SAG card and was working on commercials.”
Three years ago, Chumrau moved to Sarasota from California to begin a master’s program with the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. She found tranquility driving over the Ringling Bridge and walking the grounds at the Ringling Museum.
“Asolo is one of the only repertory theaters in the country with a master’s program, where you have such a lovely relationship with the people who donate to it,” Chumrau says. “How supportive the community is was really attractive to me.”
But even with spending 10 to 12 hours every day at the theater, she needed more face time — that’s when she took a bartending job at Shamrock Pub.
The Shamrock became her second home. She appreciated interacting with her regulars, many of whom were conservatory students who would show up on Sunday nights because they could sleep in the next day.
“Both work and school meant the world to me because I took them so seriously,” Chumrau says. “Customers come in because they want to see you, which is just as awesome as when our audience members stay behind to tell you that you’ve done a really good job and to keep going.”
One of the perks about being a conservatory actor is traveling outside of the country. Last summer, Chumrau found herself thrust into a radically different thriving environment in London. She saw some of the best theater she had ever seen — “All My Sons,” “Hair” and “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” — not to mention sitting down to chat with Lynn Nottage, the playwright behind “Las Meninas,” in which she played the role of a nun during the conservatory’s closing show this season.
“Lynn writes these amazing stories that will have you rolling and bawling at the same time; meeting her was out of control,” Chumrau says. “Because of Michael’s (Edwards) drive, he was the first to work on her piece back in the day. No director wanted to work on it because it’s so big and controversial. And 10 years later, he does it again and brings her down to visit.”
In less than a week, Chumrau will pack her bags and head back to L.A. Why? It has both professional opportunities and it’s home — the best of both worlds. She plans to make the trip along with her boyfriend, Ryan Nance, in five days.
“Everybody is asking me what I’m going to do next,” Chumrau says. “I don’t have the specifics drawn out yet, and it’s scary. I’m going to get home, see my family and my best friend, have Mexican food, find an apartment and do something with my art. I’m never really going to leave the Asolo, just like I’m never going to leave Shamrock — I’ll never leave those relationships.”
>> FAST FACT
“I’ve always wanted to play Mama in ‘Ruined,’” Devereau Chumrau says. “I’ve seen the role played so incredibly well that it makes me understand how nuanced it is and how fun, exciting, scary, challenging and rewarding it would be. It’s not so much on a checklist, but things that change my view of the world.”
Contact Loren Mayo at [email protected].
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Devereau Chumrau’s “Dev Goes to Hollywood” party
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at Shamrock Pub, 2257 Ringling Blvd.
INFO: Call 952-1730
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
“Well, I returned to the Asolo as a guest artist for three consecutive seasons. After that, my husband, Sam Osheroff, also a grad, and I got pregnant. Our daughter, Stella, was born Dec. 6, 2010. And this coming week, we are all moving to Pensacola to join the faculty at the University of West Florida Theater Department.”
— Kris Danford, FSU/Asolo Conservatory graduate
“I’ve been living and working in New York City for two years now. Since I’ve been here, I’ve shot two national commercials for ESPN, had a tasty little role in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” starred in a few new plays here in the city and recently performed as The Big Bopper in “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story,” at Riverside Theatre, in Vero Beach; it’s a role I’ll be taking on again this fall at the Flat Rock Playhouse, in North Carolina. I am also a proud founding member of Mad Dog Theatre, a company made up of FSU alums devoted to the development and production of new plays. We just completed our first, and quite successful, season of two plays.”
— Brent Bateman, FSU/Asolo Conservatory graduate
“Since graduating (in 2009), I’ve moved to New York City and have found myself busy working in the NYC theater scene. I, along with some fellow FSU/Asolo grads, have created Mad Dog Theatre Company. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work on other premieres in NYC with The Attic Theatre Company. I was happy to join the cast of “The Argument,” a new play by Gregory Moss, which the New York Times called “an adventurous theatrical spirit.” I was also pleased to work on several readings and workshops of other new and exciting pieces here in the city.”
— Kevin O’Callaghan, FSU/Asolo Conservatory graduate