Sexiest man in Shakespeare? 

paul pryce

Trinidad-born model Paul Pryce, once proclaimed the Sexiest Caribbean Man on the Oprah Winfrey Show, is now earning accolades of a distinctly different kind as a critically acclaimed Shakespearean actor, Rhondor Dowlat reports in this article for Trinidad’s Guardian.

Last month, he earned rave reviews for his stirring portrayal in the lead role of Shakespeare’s Pericles, produced by the Elm Shakespeare Company of Connecticut.

It is the latest professional triumph for the Yale Drama School alumnus, who traded the runways of New York and Paris for the floorboards of the off-Broadway stage within just a few years of his stunning international debut on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1999.

Back then, Pryce was a working model in T&T, and signed to the Coco Velvet Model Agency, when word arrived that the 1999 season premiere of The Oprah Show would take place in the Bahamas, and included a competition for the title of Sexiest Caribbean Man.

Pryce was selected as T&T’s representative from a list of the country’s best known male models and journeyed to Atlantis Resort for the finals.

After a week of competition, a judging panel including Oprah herself along with supermodel Tyson Beckford, selected Pryce as the winner from a field of over a dozen of the Caribbean’s best male models.

“It was my first foray into the world of entertainment on a truly international level and the entire experience was fun but somewhat surreal,” Pryce said.

“I mean, The Oprah Winfrey Show! Just being there was unbelievable, and then I couldn’t believe it when I won. My prizes included a Ralph Lauren wardrobe, a spread in Vibe Magazine and, most fatefully, a trip to New York.”

It was while modelling in New York that Pryce elected to pursue his dream of acting, signing up for classes at HB Studios, which eventually led to his acceptance into one of the most famous acting conservatories in the world—The Yale School of Drama—where he completed his master’s degree in acting.

His leading role in Pericles is an impressive addition to a stellar resume which already includes off-Broadway appearances in Harry The Hunk on His Way Out at The Cherry Lane Theatre and Pecong—opposite Tony Award winner Lilias White—at The National Black Theatre, as well as Angels in America, Othello (as Othello), Cymbeline and Twelfth Night, all at the Yale School of Drama, and Hamlet, opposite Oscar-nominated actor Paul Giamatti at the Yale Repertory Theatre.

Pericles itself is one of Shakespeare’s lesser known works and, until recent years, was rarely performed by established Shakespearean companies.

It follows the life and adventures of Pericles, The Prince of Tyre, over several decades as he experiences persecution, love, marriage, fatherhood and betrayal—events which take him on an extended odyssey to several major cities of the ancient world.

The setting of the current production has been changed to the colonial West Indies, and with its massive colourful set, swashbuckling fight scenes, cast of pirates and fishermen and its distinctly Caribbean music, there is a definite feel of Pirates of The Caribbean in the proceedings.

It’s part of what Pryce loves about the project.

“The timelessness of Shakespeare’s words and his stories is very evident in Pericles, and transposing it to the Caribbean further highlights that point. For me it’s like returning home.

“I look back at how this all started, with the Oprah show years ago in the Bahamas, and all I’ve done since—off-Broadway and at Yale and now, here I am playing the role of a lifetime, right back in the islands. It feels like I’ve come full circle. And it’s wonderful.”

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