Ten years after “The Voice”: Ivy Quainoo now mixes up “Hamilton”.
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Ten years ago, Ivy Quainoo won the very first season of “The Voice of Germany”. A lot has happened in her life since then. Recently she took the stage in the musical “Hamilton” in Hamburg. With ntv.de she talks about the new experience, her acting and how she has changed.
ntv.de: First of all, congratulations on your role in “Hamilton”. In fact, it is your first role in a musical. How does that feel?
Ivy Quainoo: It’s very exciting for me. I hadn’t really had anything to do with the subject of musicals before. But when I heard that “Hamilton” was coming to Germany, I knew: Yes, I want to be there.
What makes “Hamilton” so special to you?
First of all, that there is so much emphasis on storytelling. Of course “Hamilton” contains all the aspects you would expect from a musical with the songs and the choreographies. But to get a feel for the piece, you have to closely follow the story, which spans a period of 30 years. That’s what makes it so unique and breathtaking.
Does it suit you that the music is heavily influenced by hip-hop, soul and R’n’B?
Yes Yes. But it’s also pop – I’m actually from pop. (laughs) In any case, I think it’s good that something completely new is being tried here with the hip-hop and R’n’B influences, something that was not heard much in musicals before.
The piece revolves around a historical theme. Are you interested in history?
Yes, I certainly was when I was in school. After that it decreased a bit, but the history itself interests me. But I think as you get older you learn that history is subjective. This is exactly what is shown in this piece: “Hamilton” highlights the life of a person rather forgotten in history.
You take on the role of Eliza Hamilton, the wife of the American founder Alexander Hamilton. What does this woman mean to you?
That she was not “only” his wife, but also his strong partner. The two have worked together a lot. She helped him with his speeches and almost everything he put forward in Congress. In short, it was an equal relationship, in which he sometimes hurt her by his thoughtlessness. She was a strong person who went through everything with him and yet said: I stay – out of conviction.
You have gained a lot of experience as a singer and an actress. What is the biggest challenge in this case – the singing, the acting or the combination?
Definitely the combo, although it is very demanding musically and vocally. During rehearsals we always started with the music. First we sang along in English – we knew the songs from Broadway. Translating the whole thing into German was a very different experience. As an actress, the story and the strong book helped me a lot in my performance to understand everything. And in the end, everything has to look easy and simple for the viewers.
You went to drama school in New York and just this year you appeared in the ARD television movie “Family Heritage”. Looks like you want to expand your acting further…
(laughs) Yes that’s right. There are already other high-end projects that will come this year or next. On October 21 I can be seen in the “Soko Leipzig”. I also star in the first German production of Disney+ – the drama “Sam – Ein Sachse”. I was involved in the shooting of the international film series “John Wick” with Keanu Reeves. And with the great I worked with director Simon Verhoeven on “Girl you know it’s true”. It’s all super cool and I’m really enjoying it.
Many remember you as the winner of the very first season of “The Voice of Germany”. That was almost exactly ten years ago. How do you remember it?
I had a good time during “The Voice”. I learned a lot and met a lot of people. Some of them still play a role in my life. It was also through “The Voice” that I first got the financial means to fulfill my dream of studying acting abroad. So I owe a lot to The Voice. But that was ten years ago and since then my focus has shifted more towards acting.
You said at the time that you came to “The Voice” by chance and weren’t really interested in a talent show. Would you advise others not to do this?
That depends on the casting show. “The Voice” is a good start, relatively speaking, I think. (laughs) But that is a very individual decision and depends on what one wants to achieve with it. That’s why I find it difficult to give advice. Everyone should reflect well for themselves what it brings them. However, I didn’t do that then. (laughs) I just went there spontaneously and I’m sure I’m very lucky that I’m doing so well now.
With “Hamilton” you stay true to the music in a way. However, her last album came out in 2013, just a year after “The Voice”. Have you already completely said goodbye to the pop music career or is it just on hold?
I’d say she’s currently on hold (laughs) Fortunately, I have so many other things to start with. The music business is not that easy either and I want to do what suits me. In fact, I still have a few songs in the “drawer” and check them out from time to time. So who knows when it’ll just be in front of the mic again…
This is also supported by the fact that you participated in the qualifying round of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in 2018. Last year you were also part of the German ESC jury. Will we see you again at the game?
I’ve been watching ESC since I was little. And the way it develops, that would be interesting to me again. But then I would have to have a lot more say, starting with the choice of songs through to the entire performance and staging. You can also see that the viewers pick the artists that are authentic and not the ones where the labels or “experts” and “experts” decide what supposedly works…I don’t have that on my screen right now. But never say never.
Now the first thing to do is “Hamilton” in Hamburg. One to two shows a day are already planned there until September 2023. Have you already counted how many gigs you will have during this time?
No, but I’m scheduled for all shows – except when I’m on vacation or sick. This is a real marathon. A lot of people don’t even know what really needs to be called up for a blatant performance in musicals. And I have a lot of respect for the great colleagues who have been doing this on stage for years.
In an interview shortly after “The Voice” you once answered the question of what you absolutely do not want to change in your life: “Me!” Have you come this far?
The musical “Hamilton” with Ivy Quainoo can be seen every day – except Mondays – at the Operettenhaus Hamburg. Tickets can also be purchased online.
No! (laughs) As you get older, you realize that you are changing and that you need to change. What I meant by that was that I want to keep my feet on the ground and above all I want to stay true to myself. After all, you never know where the path will lead you. You can be successful one year, but nothing works the next. It is important to have a good foundation with family and friends. And that has worked very well for me so far.
Volker Probst spoke to Ivy Quainoo