Ring Side Report Interview with Yvette Freeman Hartley

Exclusive Interview by Karen Beishuizen


Yvette Freeman is an American actress who played Nurse Haleh on the hit show “ER” for many seasons. She won an Obie award in 1998 for her portrayal of Dinah Washington in the Broadway show “Dinah Was”. Yvette released a tribute album with Dinah Washington songs in 1999. She will be directing a play at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach called “Ain’t Misbehavin’”. It opens on January 24, so go check it out!

KB: Did you always want to be an actress?

I wanted to be an actress since I was 14 years old. But I also wanted to use all my gifts. My acting talent led, then my singing, and now my directing, painting, and quilting are in the forefront. I feel very blessed to be able to do so many things. Now that I’m ‘retired,’ my gifts keep my life full.

KB: You played on Broadway. Do you remember your debut and how you felt?

Oh yes! I remember my first appearance on Broadway. It was when the 1st National (which I was in) replaced the Broadway cast that opened the show in Hollywood. I could see the shining toothy smiles of my entire family, who took up most of a roll of orchestra seats. The thought still fills me with happiness.

KB: You won the Obie Award in 1998 for portraying Dinah Washington in “Dinah Was”. How difficult was it to play a legend like that?

Doing eight shows a week was physically challenging. But it was an honor to portray Dinah Washington, who was a pioneer – one of the ‘first’ and great jazz singers. The Obie was a bonus gift.

KB: You released an album, “A Tribute to Dinah Washington,” 1999. What is your favorite Dinah song, and why? I adore “September in the Rain”!

I love all of her songs. In fact, that was one of the problems with the show – we had too many great songs to pick from. But “What A Difference A Day Makes” is on my list.

KB: You played Haleh Adams on ER for many seasons. How did you get the part, and how was it playing alongside George Clooney?

I got the role of Haleh by auditioning. Not to sound pompous – the other women who were up for the role were just as good as me – it was just my turn. And what a great turn – 16 years of continuous work – a rare thing in show business in a wonderful role. I was totally Blessed!
Clooney? Boy, what a good soul and to be handsome to boot! In the beginning of ER, He was hard to work with – he was sooo good-looking – I could hardly look at him! And funny. He’s naturally funny. And he was centered. He’s everything a superstar should be, plus some.

KB: If you were to make a movie and you could choose the director and a co-star: who would you pick, and what would the movie be about?

If I were to make a movie, I would love George Clooney to direct and star. The movie would be positive and would uplift all who see it.

KB: Are there any people out there you would love to act or sing with?

I would love to act with Denzel Washington. I loved Equalizer 3! Heck, I love every film he’s made.

KB: What are you currently doing?

I’m in prep work to direct “Ain’t Misbehavin’” at Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, California. It opens in January ’24.