To Be Young, Gifted, and a Black Woman in a Graduate Theatre Program
I am a Black woman. My Blackness is my strength that will not be diminished for the American Theatre. It wasn't until I landed the role of Grumio in the adaptation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, that I began to really fight for my integrity and for my Blackness. In the play, Grumio is Petruchio’s slave; his servant- this was very triggering for me and caused me to be very disappointed in how I was cast. Therefore, I decided that I wasn’t going to be anyone’s slave or servant, regardless of whether it was written on the page or not (sorry but not sorry to disappoint you Shakespeare). After many muscular conversations about why it will never feel okay to be cast as the servant or slave, my voice was finally heard, my choices were respected and when all was said and done, I enjoyed my performance as Grumio. The rehearsal process of this production impacted me in two ways: firstly, it taught me how to speak up for myself in the room when something goes against who I am and what I stand for as a Black woman, no matter who it inconveniences. Lastly, it reminded me that since I will be a Shakespearean Goddess, that I cannot be afraid to challenge Shakespeare himself by saying, “No, I will not be the slave or the servant in Shakespeare’s plays because that is not who I am in the world,” I am more, much more. People will always remember and love my performance as Grumio, but they will never know what it cost me; I, on the other hand, will never forget.