Brave Kerri
  Vedesh Nath
April 2018

Brave Kerri

by Vedesh Nath

Life has a funny way of hinting to us where our destiny lies and where we’ll end up.

For Kerri Tucker Lazzari, it probably began on a simple trip to Tobago, when her friend Anna and she were playing on a crowded beach. With the glorious Caribbean sun pounding on their soft, young skins, the girls changed their names to Shayna and Jayna, and pretended that they were shipwrecked and running up and down the shore looking for help.


Kerri’s imagination has always been part of her soul, consuming her as she grew, leading her to realize her passion to become an actress. At a very young age, she remembers gathering the children in the neighbourhood and putting on plays she wrote herself. These plays were often staged in front of close friends and families who were charged $5.00 each and tallied for the cast and crew’s pizza money after the performance.

Growing up with both parents, Kerri admits that she had the pleasure of witnessing what true love was and of having the support of her parents and siblings (two sisters and one brother) who all admired her acting and dancing skills. Despite her innate talents, she never took getting an education for granted. She went to St. Joseph’s Convent in Port of Spain where she attended until Form 3. Kerri then had to bid farewell to her friends at St. Joseph’s Convent as her family had to move to Texas. This shift was surely a test of her character and is perhaps a milestone which contributed to who she is today.

She remembers being a bit frightened at first – being an outsider in an American public school. Her peers had never even heard of her homeland Trinidad before and often made her read aloud in class to dissect her accent. It took some time before Kerri could have read with eloquence in front of her new classmates, but she would eventually relax into herself and became a lot more confident in who she was and where she came from.

After high school, Kerri flew to Florida to explore her options at College. After a year, she found herself back in Texas as she knew she was on the right path. Back in Texas, she decided to participate in a small drama class at a Community College. At this point, Kerri would slowly but surely realize her vocation.

During her drama class, she was cast in what she describes as a small role in a dinner theatre show. A week into the performance, the lead actress of the play had to quit because of the physical challenges of the role. This catastrophe would have the director bawl his eyes out, to which Kerri would whisper sweetly in his ear, “I know all her lines.”

In no time, Kerri took to the stage in her first big role and her parents took pride in seeing her shine. After the play’s successful run, Kerri was urged by the director to audition for entry into the Neighbourhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York, which she did and got accepted at the young age of 21.

She describes the first year as the most gruelling but cathartic time of her life as it led her to her first notion of who she was. Her simple words on her acting journal became her mantra and encouraged her to press on with her creative passion and daily life in a foreign country: “Be Brave.”

After the first year, only a quarter of the students are asked back to continue at the Neighbourhood Playhouse School. “I was so lucky to be one of them,” she rejoices.

After graduating from Neighbourhood Playhouse School, Kerri moved on to be part of the first cast for the Off-Broadway play in New York Mono directed by Steven Tanenbaum. Here she found refuge for the next four years – being a permanent member of the play’s cast for its entire run, playing perhaps every possible female role.

Director Steven Tanenbaum and Kerri at the UK Film Festival

Kerri speaks fondly of her time in New York, although all was not always magnificent. She remembers 9/11 as it if was yesterday. During the production of Mono, she recalls gathering outside the theatre on the Lower East Side a couple days after the cataclysm, ash still hovering like a plague in the air. She remembers tearing up every time each cast member sombrely oozed into the room. After counselling and talking, each member of the cast and crew agreed to do a free show that night. Only one person came to see them perform. But to them it didn’t matter. Performing and being on stage made them feel alive, and they each needed it more than ever that night. A documentary was later made by Steven Tanenbaum on this called Pre.

Though her time in New York and Texas is well remembered and neatly tucked away in her heart, Kerri is happy to be back in Trinidad. After all, there is no place like home!

Kerri would travel new avenues to explore her creativity and experience performing for a differently-cultured audience. She taught for some time at the International School in Port of Spain and worked with the likes of Steven Escayg on the film Noka – Keeper of the Woods and even appeared with Kes (The Band) in its music video Take Me Away directed by Oliver Milne. She admits that her performance in Take Me Away was the most difficult as it was soon after her brother’s untimely death, but her performance helped her cleanse a little.

So with an impressive résumé and enviable talent, why aren’t we seeing more of Kerri’s work?

Having been married to who she describes as the love of her life at the age of 36, she is now a mother dedicated to her three children after four years of marriage – a three year old son and twin girls who are just 18 months old.

“My family is my priority now,” she pontificates. “I’ve done some consulting, and a bit of teaching, but my time now is for my kids. They are still babies, and I want to savor this time, watching them grow and take in the world like sponges!” She warns however, “I hope the acting world doesn’t forget me, ‘cause hopefully I’ll be back soon. I’ve been watching quietly from afar.”

When asked about the quality of work currently being produced in Trinidad, she points out that local films The Cutlass and Play the Devil are two of the highest quality films made in recent years.

She says, “People like Simon Baptiste, Danielle Dieffenthaler, Mervyn de Goeas, Michael Cherrie, Tenielle Newallo, Oliver Milne, Ryan Khan and so many more are pushing the envelope and working incredibly hard to create opportunities and examples of great work. Trinidad and the Caribbean on a whole are becoming forces to be reckoned with and I am very excited to see where it goes.” She admits, “The potential has always been there, it is just a constant battle to get the necessary funding so that what we produce can be as professional as the outside world and of the high standards we are capable of.”

She advises any person who shares the same passion for the performing arts with her to follow his/her dreams and just work: work with everyone in the industry once afforded the opportunity and don’t limit your creative medium. She recommends to not be afraid to get messy as “art is beautifully messy.”

She strongly suggests that all persons use the mantra she wrote on her journal at the young age of 21: Be brave. 


Noka Trailer:


Take Me Away Music Video:


By: Vedesh Nath | FEATURES | April 2018

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