I live in intersections. Race, culture, and society all influence my identity through the clearest of grays. I am black and white, Jewish and American, artist and activist. I am charged by these ambiguities and it is through these parts of myself that I have found a passion for the arts and artistic leadership. For me, my role as a creative person is about pulling narrative threads and excavating the gray areas to find validity in intersectionality and power in community. Intersectionality is the overlap and meeting of social identities and systems of oppression to reveal ways systematic injustice can occur on multidimensional levels. I acknowledge these intersections to use them to propel my creative work. I believe the role of theatre is to spark a flame of action to those who witness the work. Through living an intersectional life, having a passion for theater that engages with social justice and lifts marginalized voices, and participating in community organized social movements, I have become committed to creating dynamic spaces for artists and activists to exist in collaborative relationships for change.
I am an artist because of the joy I experience at being outside my comfort zone when creating. I began my professional career as a teacher and completely by accident. When I was 16 years old I was asked to lead the music program at my synagogue for ages Pre-K through 7th grade. At the time I had never taught before, could not play the guitar, and had no sense of how to create a curriculum. However, I knew I could learn quickly and make a difference, so I took the job. In six months I learned to play guitar and developed multiple curriculums for the age groups. Upon reflection, it was here that I began to seriously investigate the power of artistic creation inside of community.
In high school I discovered a love for new work through two impactful experiences. The first was during my time at Interlochen Arts Camp, a high-school summer conservatory in Michigan. In 2012, I had the unique privilege of working with Olivier and Tony Award winning playwright Ken Ludwig on the premiere of his play Midsummer/Jersey. This experience strengthened my training as an actor and sparked my love of new work. I originated the role I played which allowed the endless possibility of creativity to flow through me and offered me a new way of thinking about theater as a collaborative art form. The second revelation occured during my senior year of high school when I performed professionally in the world premiere of Linda McClean’s Every Five Minutes at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. I was thrust into a creative process that demanded my intelligence and witty energy to be in conversation with the birth of a new play. I have always sought out meaningful artistic relationships and powerful performance opportunities that are challenging and engaging and this desire continued to find a home when I came to Boston University.
While at BU, I have never stopped the quest for impactful artistic engagement. I have been privileged to explore the breadth of my performance skills including many amazing roles. In my sophomore year I was cast in the regional premiere of An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs- Jenkins at Company One Theatre. This piece allowed me to be in conversation with social issues as well as allow me to play a character with a similar ethnic background to my own. This was a seminal moment in my career as it pulled together my personal artistry and activism for the first time and allowed me to further solidify my desire to create art that engages on every level.
I have continued to dive into my education through the Arts Leadership minor, directing classes, and dramaturgy practice. My sophomore year I declared the Arts Leadership minor with one purpose “to become a more impactful and informed leader”. I sought the practical and hands-on skills of creating a business plan, articulating mission statements, and working in collaborative groups. This minor has further solidified my desire to be in leadership positions where I can amplify the importance of empathy in collaboration. I also started directing during my sophomore year after identifying this as a discipline in the arts that would allow me to explore my leadership in a more artistic environment. To finish my senior year I am culminating my study of dramaturgy by providing dramaturgical support on a brand new play by my colleague Isabella Pelz. This play speaks directly to my desire to live in dynamic intersection. It is about Ball culture from the 80s and the Latinx punk scene in LA. I have been challenged by developing this play. Throughout my artistic career I have had amazing opportunities to explore the breadth of my skills as an actor, director, and dramaturg. Through my multitude of experiences I have been able to identify places in the theater I am eager to live and create.
My beliefs about the role of theater came from my first interaction with Anna Deavere Smith. I remember the day vividly. I was fifteen years old and excitedly on my way to see my idol. We walked into the theater building and took our seats. I was far too excited to contain myself. The lights dimmed. And there she was: Anna Deavere Smith. I sat at the edge of my seat for the entirety of her solo show Let Me Down Easy. Not only was I entertained but I was profoundly educated about our healthcare system. It never occurred to me that healthcare could be a provocative and viable theater subject. After seeing her incredible performance I vowed to make theater that inspired people into action and to work for positive social change. I realized that theater can be much more than entertainment but a vessel for meaningful and impactful transformation. At its best, theater changes people. I believe theater should be challenging to conceive, produce and execute and to witness. Theater should break down barriers and potentially be disruptive. I embody this philosophy as I have traversed my own theatrical career and in my commitment to inspire others. I believe theater is one of the few places left on earth where strangers can connect and transform through a shared experience.
Like my DNA make up, I am also committed to leading a purposefully intersectional life. Moving from Northern California to Boston for college allowed me to work with a community and environment different from my own. While I have been neck deep in an arts education studying performance, dramaturgy, and directing for the past four years, I have made it a priority to get outside of the Boston University bubble and learn from a broader community. I have taught arts education in local Jewish communities, collaborated with Company One Theatre whose mission statement of social justice and community engagement aligns with my own, as well as help organize national movements such as March for Our Lives: Boston. As a artist I am interested in ways I can educate myself outside of the classroom. I believe I can best learn, grow and give, through the “doing” and engaging with my whole being. I want to create artistic environments where individuals are charged to create work that inspires radical change.
I recently completed my first steps in organizing with March for Our Lives: Boston. I have always been in awe of and active in youth led movements and when I was asked to step up for the students at Parkland, I knew I needed to be there. This experience was extremely eye opening and moving for me. My role in the movement quickly turn from the larger national fight to the mobilization and education of my Boston University community. I realized how imperative it was to leverage the relationships I had to help inspire others to find a voice in this movement. I also became aware of the voices that were missing from the conversation. This march in Boston was just as much about gun violence in our city as well as the violence in Parkland. We purposefully engaged the Boston community, especially marginalized groups, who have been feeling the effects of gun violence for years. As someone greatly interested in creating community, this movement inspired me to recognize a place where activists and the artist can meet together for meaningful change.
I am on a journey of mindful consciousness looking for places where familiar ways of thinking and practices can be radicalized to reframe how we create art and engage in conversation. My mission statement as an artist is “to be at the intersection of arts, culture, and society by lifting up marginalized voices through specific engagement and purposeful artistic programming”. I want to create dynamic spaces for new voices to emerge and seasoned voices to thrive. My dream is to be an artistic director of a community based theater collective that brings together local artists and activist to focuses on the development of new work that engages with current socio-political movements. I want to provide art for movements to help tell the stories of those attempting herculean change. I believe there is a great strength in providing communities the support to document their experiences. Like my theatrical idol, Anna Deavere Smith, I believe that breaking down barriers is a necessary first step for change and this theater collective will do just that.