Guyanese- American actress highlights home tales in upcoming work

Award-winning Guyanese-American actress, Carol Christine Hilaria Pounder, better known as CCH Pounder, uses her talent to encapsulate the culture and stories of Guyanese.

And in the months to come, she will be working on new projects to further highlight Guyana’s diverse culture.

Pounder spoke to the News Room about some of her plans on Thursday. She highlighted that her experiences growing  up in Guyana are part of the reason why she is so committed to the goal of helping to perserve the Guyanese culture. 

CCH Pounder at an event for the movie GODZILLA King of the Monsters which she acted in

Seventy-year-old Pounder lived in Versailles, West Bank Demerara before moving to Britain; her acting career spans over 40 years. She is also among persons who will be conferred with an Honorary Degree during the University of Guyana’s Convocation Ceremonies. 

She grew up on the Estate (Versailles was an Estate) and remembers this as a time when it was normal for neighbours, friends and relatives to scold any child in the community. The actress noted that she developed patience and overcame challenges during her the journey to and from school in Guyana. These are habits that stayed with her well into  her adulthood and helped her acting career. 

I always had a certain type of enthusiastic happiness about me, I don’t really talk about the struggle because I truly believe that its part and parcel of [achievements].

I do recall a headline that called me CCH Pounder: The 25 year overnight sensation so it is important for people to realise that not everyone gets the ‘straight up’ and you’re it. I am definitely the turtle, slow and steady,” Pounder said.

CCH Pounder at an art gallery

Her debut on the big screen was her role in Bagdad Café (1987) directed by Percy Adlon. The indie comedy-drama set in a remote truck stop and motel in the Mojave Desert in the U.S. state of California became a hit. Over her career, she had the privilege of working with more big names around the world.

She was part of AVATAR: Way of the Water; had Emmy nominations in NBC Series ER; FOX’s The X-Files and even got a Grammy Award nomination for “Best Spoken Word Album” for Grow Old Along With Me.

After years on screen, Pounder, who was always “repping” her Guyanese stripes, took up the role of Savitri Mahabir in 2023. The character in HBO’s “Full Circle” is the matriarch of the Mahabir family who intends to have the curse on her family lifted.

Pounder said she was able to provide feedback so that the storyline properly reflected names, characteristics and plots akin to a true Guyanese family living in the US.

I didn’t have the pressure of still having to sound Guyanese but I think the fact that I came from here [Guyana] and was now living in Queens, I have that Guy-American Accent.

There was something so special about this character Savitri Mohabir. My cousin’s name is Savitri and I called her and asked her to use her name because they had something like Jane or Rebecca. I just wanted to be part of something, the cream on the top was the fact that he decided that he was going to film in Guyana,” the actress said.

CCH Pounder in ‘Full Circle’

She added that by filming here, there were many job opportunities for persons to be part of the set.

But her acting career is not her only priority. Pounder along with her late husband, Boubacar Koné founded the Musée Boribana, a contemporary art museum, in Dakar, Senegal.

Pounder enjoys her time as an art collector because she said it was an interest even before acting. She is happy to lend expertise and has met with several local artists over the years.

She encourages persons, especially business owners, to promote local artists by hanging their framed work in hotels and businesses for persons to enjoy or even purchase.

Its pleasant to walk into a space and see art hanging on the walls it also introduce you to the country sometimes you are here for three or four days you’re for a meeting that is your introduction into the country,” she said.

Pounder received The Cacique’s Crown of Honour, the second highest award in the Order of Service of Guyana.

A graduate of Ithaca College, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the school, was their 2010 Commencement Speaker and in 2021, she received Ithaca College Alumni Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.