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Soul Doctor: Journey of a Rock-Star Rabbi - Broadway

A true story telling the story of the father of popular Jewish music.

Soul Doctor's Amber Iman on Following Her Mom Into Show Business and Feeling the Power of Nina Simone

Soul Doctor's Amber Iman on Following Her Mom Into Show Business and Feeling the Power of Nina Simone
Amber Iman photographed by Jenny Anderson for at 54 Below
'We want the people to feel the music, the pain, the hurt, the anguish and the power' of Nina Simone.

Age & Hometown: 27; Atlanta, GA

Current Role: A “nerve-racking, exciting” Broadway debut as iconic singer and activist Nina Simone in the new musical Soul Doctor.

Early Start: The only child of actress Margo Moorer (Forrest Gump, Drop Dead Diva), Iman grew up watching her mother work in regional theaters and on TV and film sets. “I fell in love with theater from a very, very young age,” the Howard University grad recalls. “[My mom] never discouraged me from being in theater; she pushed me academically, but she said, ‘Just in case Amber wants to do this, let me put her in camp, choirs and dance classes,’ so that when I made a decision, I would be prepared.” The plan paid off, and Iman has co-starred with her mother in regional productions of Tambourines of Glory, Three Sistahs and Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery. As for what the talented duo might want to do in New York, Iman says, “I don’t think it’s written yet! It would be something fabulous, some kind of mother-daughter explosion extravaganza. We could sing and chat and lay across the piano.”

Out Tonight: Since arriving in New York two years ago, Iman has already appeared off-Broadway in Rent and A Civil War Christmas.Rent was a wonderful introduction to the city,” the Atlanta native says. “It was a group of young actors like myself, who forced me to get out of my house. They really pushed me to meet folks and start to make New York my home.” As for how she likes living in the Big Apple, Iman laughs and says, “It’s definitely a love-hate relationship. Coming from the south, I like to drive my Jeep down the highway, roll in the grass and climb trees.” In the city, this self-professed “hermit” now prefers to spend her off-hours reading murder mysteries, watching Downton Abbey, Homeland or Bob’s Burgers on Netflix, painting, furthering her passion for interior design and “singing at the top of my lungs at 3 AM.”

Creating Nina: “People are asking me, ‘Is it a dream come true?’” Iman says of making her Broadway debut as Nina Simone. “And I’m like, ‘No. Who would dream something like this?’” Though she was familiar with “Feelin’ Good” and “I Put a Spell On You,” the actress began intensive research after being cast in Soul Doctor, “poring into my Nina playlist,” watching YouTube videos and reading Simone’s autobiography. “I wanted to hear what she had to say before I dove into other people’s ideas,” she explains. Audiences shouldn’t go to Circle in the Square expecting a Nina Simone impersonation, however. “This isn’t a biopic,” Iman says of the show, which centers on the singer's friendship with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. “This is more the essence of Nina. We want people to feel the music, the pain, the hurt, the anguish and the power. We want to present a strong, grounded black woman.”

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