Kevyn Morrow is an accomplished actor, dancer, and singer, whose triple-threat talent was orig-inally fostered in the unlikely city of Omaha, Nebraska. In addition to his work in film and televi-sion, highlights from Kevyn’s impressive stage career include working with Jennifer Holliday in Dreamgirls and, most recently, with Jennifer Hudson in the Broadway production of The Color Purple. He is currently preparing for a co-starring role in the Old Globe’s highly anticipated pro-duction, October Sky—a triumphant musical set in 1950s West Virginia. In reflecting on his formative experiences in Omaha and on Broadway, Kevyn speaks about the joys of giving back, as well as the importance of bringing more diverse audiences and talent to the theater.
Interview by michael taylor, Board of Directors, The Old Globe
michael: You grew up in Omaha, Nebraska—a city which is not widely recognized as a major hub for the arts. How did you first become interested in theater?
Kevyn: It’s kind of a two-foldish answer, I guess. The choir director at my church, Mrs. Valentine, was also my piano teacher. She was the music director for a lot of shows at the local community theater. She had a daughter, Julie, and we used to hang out a lot together. And one day she said, “listen, I’m going to the playhouse to direct some music, Julie’s coming, why don’t you come along, hang out, you know, and you and Julie can entertain each other.” And so, I go. And watching everyone on stage, it was kinda like this cool thing, so I got interested in that way.
But at the same time, my brother, who had been slightly interested in theater—he’s six years older—he had auditioned for a junior theater for Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp, and he was cast and given a line. His line was, “they went that way!” with a pointing finger. Now, this was a cast of a hundred kids or so, and I thought, “Yes, I wanna do that too!” Now then, part of wanting to do it was to imitate my big brother—you know, that whole thing younger siblings do.
Well, I couldn’t audition for junior theater until I was in sixth grade, and at this point I was only in kindergarten, so I had to wait quite a while. When I finally got there, they were doing The Prince and the Pauper, and I auditioned and I didn’t get it. And that just crushed me. I was thinking “I have to be as good as my brother.” Fortunately, the next thing I auditioned for was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves—and I got it! Now then, I’m not proud of this, but I’m gonna say it any-way because I try to own everything: I was cast as the witch.
michael: Wow! How ‘bout that!
Kevyn: Well, think about it, you know, you’re in sixth grade and your voice is kinda high, plus I had a great evil laugh. Now, the woman that was directing it—before she told me about the witch thing—she said, “I want to talk to your mother.” And I thought “oh no, what did I do?” And she talked to my mother and mom said “well, you got it, but, um, how do you feel about playing the witch?” And I went “What! Well, it is a great role!” So I played the witch. So that would be my first—
michael: And the star was born?
Kevyn: Well, I don’t know about a star, but I definitely was bitten by that point. And then I started doing community theater and all of that with Mrs. Valentine, my piano teacher, and it just kept going from there. It was partially to show up my brother—and also, he inspired me—and also because I had been bitten by this thing. And I don’t exactly know what it was that made me want to do it, but it just felt so organic and natural to me.
michael: What were some of the challenges you faced when you were just getting started as an actor in New York?
Kevyn: [Laughs] Being from Omaha, Nebraska—it is not a big metropolis—let’s say like coming from Chicago or Kansas City even—places that are thought to be more cosmopolitan, so to speak. So, I had to get over the feeling that I was getting from people that I was a hick. That I didn’t know anything. Granted, there was a lot for me to learn, but I knew more than people thought. That was one of the hard things.
The other hard thing was being perceived as a dancer—only. Oh! One thing I forgot to tell you that happened in Omaha. Mrs. Valentine, the piano teacher/choir director, she had talked to me after church one day and said “Julie’s auditioning for Nutcracker today, would you like to come along and watch?” So I did, and at the end of the audition the artistic director for the Omaha Ballet Company, Valerie Roche, she mentions, “We’re gonna need more little boys for the party scene in the opening—do you want to show me what you’ve got?” And I said, “I don’t dance—I don’t do ballet.” She said “that’s okay, just stand up and march!” And they played some music and said, “just march, point your toes, show us your marching!” And I got that doing Nutcrack-er—my first time, I was in sixth grade. It seems everything started in the sixth grade.
Anyway, at the end of the Nutcracker, Mrs. Roche also said, “I’d like to talk to your mother.”
And so she talked to my mom. She said to my mom, “Kevyn seems to have a very natural abil-ity, and we’d like to offer him a scholarship here at the academy and see what he can do with that.” I seemed to excel rather quickly. It was a natural ability. Arts was something that was, evi-dently, innate in me—it all just kept snowballing after that.
I won a scholarship for the summer, between my junior and senior year of high school to study with the Joffrey Ballet after attending the Mid-States Regional Ballet Festival. I was awarded the scholarship after they saw me in classes there, and they thought “oh! He’s got something!” At the end of that summer, I was asked to join Joffrey 2 as an apprentice.
Kevyn: Yeah, they were thinking of me becoming a ballet dancer and I thought, you know what, that’s what I wanted to do at that point. But I saw my first Broadway show. And my second. And my third. And my fourth. And I don’t know how many for five dollars. And that was cementing the bite—that this is what I had to do.
Now then, to answer your question more fully, the idea of being a hick and being thought of as only being a dancer—I mean, I had started off already as a singer. And I wanted to be acting. I was doing acting in all of the community theater things and things in high school and all that. Dancing was part of it, but it was secondary to the singing and acting. And so it was to get peo-ple to perceive me as “he’s not just a dancer”—or, as the title goes—a triple threat. I am a triple threat, or was a triple threat, I should say. I don’t dance anymore—I’m too old for that now.
michael: I hear ya! Are there particular strengths to which you attribute your success?
Kevyn: Perseverance. Acquiring a thicker skin and believing in myself. When I do workshops with kids, one of the things that I try to let them know is, “if you don’t have the passion for this, you’re never gonna make it.” You have to believe in yourself. If you can’t believe in yourself, then nobody else is going to. And you’ll also have to be honest with yourself. And find someone who’s going to be honest with what you’ve got to give. Know what your weaknesses are, and whatever they are strengthen them. And whatever your strengths are, strengthen those even more—always be working on your tools.
These are things that I was taught, and I think that they have helped me in the career. You nev-er stop learning, you never stop working. Even when you have a job, you have to keep growing. And I think most professionals—even Meryl Streep, let’s say—would say that. Same idea, it’s that she is always working on her craft, one way or another. And I think that is one of the things that helps a lot of people succeed. And I had some great mentors and teachers along the way—great mentors and teachers along the way that instilled a really great work ethic in me. As well as my parents—yeah, the hard work.
michael: Thick skin…
Kevyn: Yeah, you gotta have it. Cause quite often, you may find it’s not your talent that didn’t get you the job. Perhaps you didn’t have the look they were looking for. Or, you weren’t the person that they knew previously. You know, it is all those things that can factor into getting the job or not.
michael: You’re an acclaimed Broadway star—
Kevyn: You know what—that star thing is so relative!
michael: You’re an acclaimed Broadway star—you are! Who has also performed regionally and abroad, and yet you still make a point to return to your alma mater, Northwest High, to teach master classes for the Nebraska High School Theatre Awards program. Why is this important to you?
Kevyn: When I was in high school, as I said earlier, Nebraska—when I was there—they were not on the cultural arts scene. Tours didn’t come there, very few things toured there. And so when something did, it was very special to me—like, say, the opera. Not that I’m an opera afi-cionado or have a passion for opera, but the opera singers would come to our school and they’d do lecture demos. You know, in our choir class. And I remember how special that was, and the feeling that what I learned from watching them and being able to ask them questions. I could ask them about what’s it like in this business. Even though opera is completely different from what I do—it was performing, it was the whole idea of being in the arts professionally. They im-parted something to me and if I was that one student they were able to touch—great. Maybe they touched other students, I don’t know. If I can do that as well, that means the world to me.
This last time I was back at my high school, there was one boy showing me his audition
material, and I critiqued it and we worked on it. Afterwards he asked me if I would write him a recommendation letter—he was going to Berkeley and majoring in the performing arts—and he was already accepted, but he wanted to have this letter to bring with him and I thought, “But I’ve just met you!” But looking at him, and watching his work that day—it’s hard for me to find the words to express what it did to my heart. Cause this skinny little Black kid—on my high school stage—getting up there doing what I had been doing. And to see the passion in his eyes—the passion in his eyes—and I hope I was as good as he was at that time. And I hope I had all of that want, that desire, that inquisitiveness, that energy—it was just so many things. I’m looking at him thinking, “please tell me I was like that!” I look forward to following him and seeing what happens with him. His name is Jonathan. I wish him all the best. And I said, “You know, I’m gonna play your grandpa for something,” and he said, “My dad, maybe,” and I said No, I look good but I’m not gonna look too good by the time you get there—I’m gonna be your grandfa-ther!” It means a lot to me if I can impart anything that I may have learned—to pass it on. Mis-takes and all. And I’ve made mistakes, okay— “don’t do this, you know, or this is a good idea.” That’s why it means a lot to me.
michael: And while you were observing that young, Black boy on the stage, did you have bouts of possibly seeing yourself while you were? Did you drift into visions of—
Kevyn: Oh, totally. Totally. Well, first it all started when I walked into the auditorium and I looked at the stage. I hadn’t seen that stage in years, and I was like “wow!” All the shows flooded back. When I was in high school, there were nine productions—three each year. And I performed in eight of them and on the ninth one I did props. So I worked on all nine shows. Wait, I almost
forgot. There was actually one other one that I had done before I went to the high school when I was in sixth grade. My brother was at the same high school, and they were doing Oliver. And they needed kids to play the orphans in the opening scene. I auditioned, and I got it, and my brother was Fagin at the time, which was the male lead, and he was great! So, I guess I did ten productions at the school. Performed in nine of them.
michael: That’s an impressive run!
Kevyn: Well, I guess so.
michael: Who are your biggest idols? And in what ways have they inspired you?
Kevyn: That’s a really, really hard question for me because honestly, at this point in my life and my career, I don’t have idols. I have peers. I have—there are actors that I admire their work. When I was younger starting out, I guess my idols would be like Sidney Poitier because that was all we had—as far as I knew—when I was a kid. That’s all we got to see. Harry Belafonte—both of which I’ve had the opportunity to meet and have a photograph with. And, in terms of if I was ever starstruck—yeah, by those. Just because of how incredible they are.
I was fortunate enough to do the Kennedy Center Honors. Bill T. Jones was being honored. And this is, oh, five years ago? Almost six years ago. I was the voice for the Bill T. Jones Dance Company—meaning while I’m doing a monologue, someone is performing, dancing behind me. At the rehearsal, I came out and they have placards on the seats of where people are going to be sitting. And I walked out and I looked at the placards and went “oh, Sidney Poitier is going to be—literally—sitting right here!” By the way, Oprah was being honored this year too, so she was up there with the President. But Sidney Poitier was right here. Harry Belafonte was over here. Diana Ross is right here and I’m going, “okay, you better keep it together, brother!” Cause it’s a long monologue—keep it together!
It was that evening when I got to meet Mr. Poitier, afterwards. And I did find the words, but I was literally starstruck. Harry Belafonte came to see The Color Purple, and he was unable to come backstage but he sat out on the house to greet us. When I spoke with him I began with, “Mr. Belafonte”—“Harry, please, call me Harry,” he says, you know, with that voice of his. It’s a whis-per now. I said “thank you for everything that you’ve inspired in all of us and what you were able to give us and the roads that you’ve paved—not only professionally, but also in terms of race relations in this country.” That thing that he has done, and he goes “ohhhh!”
So yes, starstruck? Yes. Those would be idols that I had, and the way they inspired me—now, as I said, there’s not so many, not so much idols, but it’s people that I truly respect their work. Like Don Cheadle, I think, is an underrated, under-appreciated actor. I think he’s incredible. Uh, Viola Davis. Yes, I do think Meryl Streep is freaking incredible, but you know, as everyone does. Judy Dench, who I’ve had the opportunity of meeting. She is also someone I think is incredible. Someone else I consider to be—to me—the Black version of Judy Dench is S. Epatha
Merkenson, who last year I had the opportunity to play her husband in a play. Watching her work—I mean, literally being this close to her and watching her—going “wow!” And going, “you’re like a Black Judy Dench!”
michael: Wow! [Laughs]
Kevyn: Meaning, her head would move just slightly and fifteen things happened, and you under-stood them all. And they all hit you, and you’re like “wait, that’s all it took?” Yes. And the back of the house could feel that—could see it. Those kinds of things inspire me in other actors and watching and learning from them. And them willing to take the time to talk to me—for that respect.
michael: What is it like working with divas like Jennifer Holliday in Dreamgirls and Jennifer Hud-son in The Color Purple? Do you ever get starstruck?
Kevyn: With those two ladies, no—not starstruck at all. They’re both real girls. They’re both real people, which was refreshing and nice to discover and find out. When I first met Jennifer Hol-liday, I was probably around twenty-four. We’re still friends now, and I’m nowhere near twenty-four now. She’s still beautiful, and she’s just a real girl. It was also inspiring when I played C.C. opposite her Effie for a mini tour, and to have all that power in front of you, and you’re singing—it’s like you’re going “God, I hope I’m on the right note, ‘cause I truly cannot hear myself!” You know, it was great.
Jen, with Color Purple, she’s another real girl—just a Chicago girl, very down, very cool. I like Jen a lot. We would go bowling and see movies together—she’s just fun to hang with. The ce-lebrity thing—she knows how to do that, but she’d rather just hang. You know what I mean? Which is again refreshing, and it’s nice to know “oh, you so real!” She was great about meeting friends or some of my family if they came. I’d say, “I got some people who would like to meet you,”—[she’d say], “bring ‘em back, come on!” She was just personable with each person, very one-on-one, which is very nice. Everybody got a picture, she didn’t mind. She didn’t mind at all—with or without makeup. She was that kind of like “I don’t care, come on!”
michael: Ah, that’s real.
Kevyn: Yeah, you know she was cool, very cool.
michael: You were in the supporting role as Pa in the Broadway production of The Color Purple since December 2015, when you were offered a role in October Sky at The Old Globe. What was it about this opportunity that appealed to you?
Kevyn: I had been doing Color Purple for ten months. I was the first cover, the first understudy for Mister. I’d been on as Mister often enough—I had done a full week as Mister, most recently, and it was a great role to do. The man that I was understudying—he’s not leaving the show any-time soon. I had achieved any challenges I may have had in the role of Pa. And I wanted some-thing that was going to be new and fresh.
Taking on the role of Ken in October Sky—it’s a new show. I’m able to create something here. The show is still in flux and, you know, changes are coming in every day, which is nice and ex-citing. It’s a co-starring role as opposed to being a supporting role, so it’s better for me career-wise. Hopefully the show will move into New York. I took the risk.
It was, indeed, hard to leave Color Purple because it’s an extremely moving show—especially this production. The direction on this one, by John Doyle, has been reaching people and trans-forming them—literally transforming them every night. And it’s really hard to leave seeing that. But I needed to do something that was going to fill my soul in a different way. That’s why I left. And one never knows, I may be going back to Color Purple at some point—I may go back as Mister, you never know.
michael: October Sky is an uplifting musical set in the small town of Coalwood, West Virginia circa 1957. What has your process been like in preparing for the role of Ken?
Kevyn: Well, Ken is the union rep, the union rep for the miners. And he’s worked in the mines most of his adult life—from the time he got out of school. In terms of research, I’ve been trying to find out more about what it was like for the miners being down there. Something I discovered was when the miners go down, into the tunnels, there’s a board that has number tags on it. They each take one, and put it on them, and they go down. At the end of every shift, they check the board and they find out who’s still down, who’s up. So if something happens in the mine—like a catastrophe of some sort—they can see who’s missing. It’s the idea that when they take that number, they know that, okay, it’s a risk—I may not come back. Each and every time. It’s never safe—or never completely safe. It’s always risking your life every single day.
Similar to the idea of, I would assume, like being a policeman, in that idea of where they go out and you never know what’s going to happen that particular day. I mean, it could be a “regular day,” where it’s just, you know, calm and quiet, but it could be a day where there’s a shoot-out of some sort. And in the mines, because they’re using machinery, it can trigger so many things. It’s that idea of that danger, and trying to understand what that is like. One of the problems that my character has as the union rep is how unsafe the mines are. And that’s my issue in the play, researching this particular area of how unsafe was it—is it—day-to-day, minute-to-minute for them. And the idea that they pray that they’re gonna see their family that night when they come out of there—or that day—whenever their shift may be. Kinda deep.
michael: What is the most challenging role you’ve ever played, and what did you learn from that particular role?
Kevyn: That’s not an easy one, by any means. I’ve had favorite roles, and quite often, the favor-ite roles have been challenging. I can’t say that one was more so than another—of those that are my favorites. I loved playing Javert in Les Miserables—in terms of musicals. More so be-cause of the challenge for me was that there was a concept of what this role is. And it was not a Black man—one. My sound is not this operatic sound. It’s a legit sound, but it’s not this operatic sound that people have attached to the role—that love the show. The idea that Javert is the bad guy—I did not see him as the bad guy. He was a man doing his job. He was a policeman. This man stole, he had to arrest him. I mean, it was just basic law. You steal, you go to jail.
Kevyn: You run away, and you’re supposed to be in prison, you go to jail. I mean, he was doing his job. Even though there was a conflict in him morally, religiously, that this is not a right thing to do. That was his conflict, and I found that to be a challenge to play that so that he was not the bad guy.
michael: Do you anticipate as much of a challenge in acquiring this West Virginian accent for the role of Ken?
Kevyn: [Laughs] Uh, yeah I think there’s gonna be a little bit of a challenge there on that one, but I think we’re gonna find it. I think we’re gonna find it somehow [speaks in a West Virginian accent].
But let me go back in terms of other roles, in terms of challenges. I enjoyed, and found a little bit of a challenge, in doing Driving Miss Daisy with Sandy Duncan, who is just a joy to work with. The challenge in the idea of starting off in fifty-five and going to seventy-something years old. In the course of—no intermission—in the course of just under two hours. Just keep going and go-ing, and to age and play that, and this relationship—to watch this relationship grow—and to not, again, play the concept of what people expect. Meaning, most people have seen Morgan Free-man in the role, and they look at me and they would think of Morgan Freeman just because. Not that I look like the man, but just because I’m long, lanky, and when I do the older makeup and the hair it starts to get in that vein of him and they go “oh, he kinda reminds me of Morgan Freeman!” And so, as much as I loved his performance, I can’t imitate that. I have to find my own. That was a challenge—to find my own, and respect the role. It was fun, it was a blast. So many roles, each role—
michael: had it’s own—
Kevyn: …challenge, yeah. And joy in it.
michael: In what ways has the theater scene changed since you first started performing?
Kevyn: I find that there are more opportunities for actors of color. And at the same time, there are fewer opportunities in terms of—
When I first came to New York, when I was sixteen that summer, and in the years that followed, there were probably five or six shows running on Broadway with predominantly Black—if not all Black—casts. But they were all revues. There was ample work, and what I found is that Broad-way goes in cycles—there’s like a year or two where you have all these Black shows and then there’s a drought. There may be one, and then it will happen again, and there’s a drought. In terms of those drought years, what I found to change from where it used to be the one or two Blacks per “white show,” they’re now doing color-blind casting.
michael: A race neutral kind of role?
Kevyn: In that respect, I’m saying that there are more opportunities for actors of color, or Black actors in general. But at the same time, the full Black cast shows have diminished. One of the things that I have discovered—and I would love to be challenged by this, and I have not suc-cessfully been disproven, and I would love to be—is that it seems that the Black shows, in terms of musicals or plays that have had success in New York—a longer term success—are revues. Or, if it’s a play, the African American, the Black man is struggling—that idea—as opposed to it being a success story, something prosperous. Or, it’s a spoof—a take-off, i.e. The Wiz, a major success, but it’s not real.
Dreamgirls would be an exception. That would be a Black success story—and glamor, and it’s beautiful! Color Purple, both times around—success. But it’s also a struggle. Then there’s the revue idea. Sophisticated Ladies—wonderful, but it’s a revue, there’s no story. Tap Dance Kid? Love that, but there we are tapping. Black and Blue—revue. Ain’t Misbehavin’—revue. Five Guys Named Mo?—revue. Bring in the Noise Bring in DaFunk—revue. Shuffle Along, which I understand—I didn’t get a chance to see it—is a wonderful show, but unfortunately it has closed. Scottsboro Boys…I desperately want to be proven wrong and I have not been able to find that—yet.
michael: Despite recent efforts of forward-thinking theaters to adopt more inclusive program-ming, diverse talent pools, and community engagement initiatives, communities of color often feel marginalized by many cultural institutions. What would you say to the prospective Black theater-goer who may have reservations about attending a play?
Kevyn: If you can—go. Most likely, what is happening in that production will touch you one way or another. And however it does touch you, write to the artistic director of that theater. Get oth-ers to write to the artistic director of that theater about your feeling of that play—whether you identified with this play or not, what kind of work you would like to see that might inspire you more, if this one did not. Reach out to the various theaters that are doing shows and let them know that you would like to attend, but it would also help if it was something that might speak to a broader audience. Try not to limit yourself to only attending shows that identify with your eth-nicity. As a black man, I don’t only watch black TV shows or black networks or black movies. I watch it all. Why would I want to cut myself off from everything thats available? Think of the the-ater as the same thing.
I know that theaters have been trying—as you’ve asked me in this question—theaters have been trying to reach out to various ethnic groups. It needs to be, in my opinion, a year-long thing, and not just one play a year for whatever culture it is you’re trying to attract. The color-blind casting—as long as the talent is there—audiences don’t care if it’s all the same color with the family. I don’t find the necessity in that. I’m not saying that it has to be that way every time—just throw color, whatever, to the wind. But a multicultural cast, considering that’s the world we live in, would be really nice to see. And I think it would also invite groups—ethnic groups—that would not normally come to the theater. It would make them want to come because they’re see-ing something that they may not have seen their culture do, or a position they have never seen their culture in. They might not have seen a Hispanic man as Macbeth. Oh, I said it—the Scottish Play! And to see someone and go “oh, there’s a thought—why not?!” Why not?
One dream role I always wanted to play—and I still think I can do it, I don’t think I’ve gotten too old—is King Arthur. A Black King Arthur—think about it for a minute. The knights of the round table—these are supposed to be the best knights from around the world, correct?
Kevyn: What’s wrong with Arthur being the one who decided to bring them together? You’re go-ing to have the one from Asia, have the one from France, the one from London, the one from South America, the one from Ireland—they’re from all over the world. Why can’t Arthur be Black? Who said he can’t be? Why he got to be white all the time? But anyway, that’s still a dream role of mine [laughs].
michael: [Laughs] In addition to your impressive stage career—and I do mean impressive—
Kevyn: [Laughs] Thank you, whatever. . .
michael: —you’ve also worked in film and television. Are there any upcoming projects or possi-bilities that you’re excited about?
Kevyn: Uh, yeah! I have a film that should be coming out, should be released within this next six months or so, called Fair Market Value. And I have a great co-starring role in that. Luisana Lopilato, Michael Bublé’s wife, is starring in the film, and she’s actually wonderful. This is her first American film, she’s South American. I have a great role. They couldn’t get Steve Harvey, so they hired me.
Kevyn: Seriously, I’m not kidding! They said “Steve Harvey was supposed to do this,” and he had signed on, but couldn’t. And so, they gave it to me! I’m very excited about that one—Fair Market Value.
Just before coming out here, there were two series that I booked—Quantico, for a recurring role, and BrainDead—both of which I had to turn down because of my commitment to Color Purple, and also, to coming here. Like I said, Quantico was recurring and I had already committed my-self to this, so I couldn’t fly back and forth to do it. But they said “we really like you, we’ll find an-other place for you—don’t worry about it,” which is exciting for the future. When I get back, we’ll see what happens with that.
Also, I was in the final three for a really huge Broadway show that I won’t say the name of cause I don’t want to jinx an opportunity. They said “we’re not going to cast you this time, but we want to see you again in the fall because we have two other slots of the same role that will be coming available,” and there’s a possibility that that could happen for me also.
Kevyn: I gotta stay hopeful, and I gotta stay optimistic, and just believe. And I do.
michael: What’s the most surprising aspect of life as an actor?
Kevyn: Surprising to me? Or surprising to the public?
michael: To you.
Kevyn: Oh, it’s not so surprising to me now, but initially, it was surprising to find out “oh, this isn’t nearly as glamorous as I thought it was going to be!” This is a lot, a lot of work. You adjust to it, and it will either tear you down and kill you, you know, or build you up and make you stronger. I want to believe and hope that it made me stronger.
Um, the glamour end—kinda a surprise. I went, “ah, okay—there is glamour!” But it’s not nearly as often as I think—maybe I’m wrong—the public may think it is. It’s just not. There’s not a red carpet every night. You’re not getting tickets to see everything—you’re not getting treats to all of that. Even if you’re starring in something, it may be for a minute—it’ll rise for a minute—then it drops off and it’s like—“You are who? Who were you?” You know, your flavor is over. You are the flavor for the day. It’s nice for that minute, but it too shall fade. One thing that somebody told me many, many years ago is “today’s peacock is tomorrow’s feather duster.”
Kevyn: Right? And, as an actor in this business, that is something I think is very, very important to remember—“hmm, you too shall fade, at some point.” And it’s how you fade—whether you fade gracefully, whether you fall—you know. Remember, none of it is real. None of it is real. What is real is your family, your friends, your health. And your belief—whatever that may be. Those are things that are real. The performing end of it? You do it because it’s not real—it’s a fantasy. It’s fun.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But remembering that it’s not real, and it’s a privilege that I get to do it, and make money doing it, and live off of it—I’ve been fortunate to have never had a day job since I’ve been working professionally at nineteen. I have friends that love me, but they also curse me because of that fact. If I’m, say, unemployed, they go “what are you doing?” I say “I haven’t been working for the last three weeks.” They go “three weeks—call me when it’s been three years, okay?!” You know, they have no sympathy for me [laughs]. But they’re supportive of me. And I get it—I try to catch myself. So I’m not trying to hurt their feelings or anything, but eve-ry actor—you have a job, you know it’s going to be gone. Fleeting. It’s fleeting. It’s not real. And it’s only a minute.
This interview series is produced in collaboration with The Old Globe and Jenna Weinman Consulting. In an ongoing effort to promote more diverse interest and involvement in San Diego’s theater scene, readers are encouraged to participate in this important dialogue about inclusivity and the arts. What would you like to know about the theater? What would you ask a Black actor performing at the Old Globe? All reader questions and comments will be taken into considera-tion, and may even be featured in an upcoming interview. Please email submissions to michael taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org