Southern belle wins gold

Playing an angry, foul mouthed gang leader from South Central Los Angeles named Aisha in the feature film “Down For Life” is what Whitney Gamble, 22, mass communications major, calls her alter-ego. 

“She is the complete opposite of me.  I shoot photos and she shoots bullets.  There is no likeness between the two of us at all,” Gamble said.  

“I walked into my audition with no smile, cussing up a storm  and being hard core,” Gamble said.  “When I finished and started talking like I normally do, I think I surprised them.” 

“Down For Life” starring Snoop Dogg and Danny Glover recently won “Biggest Surprise” at The Toronto International Film Festival, the third largest film festival behind  the Cannes and Sundance film festival. 

Based on a true story, the film follows a fateful day in the life of a 15-year-old gang member, played by Jessica Romero.  After she steals Gamble’s character, Aisha’s car, Aisha puts justice in her own hands.

“You have to go see the movie to see what happens in the end,” Gamble said.

Moving from Savannah, Georgia at age 18 on her own,  to pursue acting, Gamble said California took some getting used to at first. 

“I miss the Southern hospitality and knowing my neighbors,” Gamble said.  “Everything is so fast-paced here.  Nobody says hi to each other and it’s harder to find true friends.”

After a successful semester in Francesca Bishop’s, communication studies professor, debate class in spring 2007, Gamble joined the Forensics Team. 

“Whitney is our expert oral interpretation performer.  She is a skilled performer who is able to get inside a character like few people her age can,” Bishop said. “I have seen her virtually become the character, so much so that she, and the audience, can be moved to tears.”

Gamble won gold in oral interpretation in a national competition, last month, improving her silver award she earned last year.  The 10-minute, individual event, she said, was like her baby.

“It was a mix of genres and I used a Youtube video and a poem  with song lyrics, using six different characters to talk about  music in the entertainment industry and how it’s trashing our minds.”

Gamble explained how songs such as Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines” spoke against drug use and now almost every mainstream song glorifies drug and alcohol use. 

Finishing her final semester at EC, Gamble has been accepted to Concordia University in Irvine with a scholarship where she will continue to compete on its debate team.

“I am so happy to have seen such personal and professional growth in Whitney,” Bishop said.  “As an educator, it is what you hope for the most.  I’m looking forward to watching her development as she competes for a university.  I am sure she will excel.”

 Gamble’s biggest cheerleaders, she said, have been her parents. 

“I’ve been so blessed to have 100 percent support from my parents.  They’ve always encouraged me,” Gamble said.  “At the end of the day, they’re going to tell me what I need to hear and not what I want to hear.  If I wasn’t any good at this, they’d let me know.”