Playing Jesus in a Pandemic Summer

So much. There’s the whole being-Black-in-America thing, and then there’s also being a person of color in the theater, which is its own t...

So much. There’s the whole being-Black-in-America thing, and then there’s also being a person of color in the theater, which is its own thing. You don’t understand it until you’ve lived through it — what it’s like to walk into an audition room and have someone ask you to basically Black it up, or to hear a creative tell you that you might not be Latinx enough, or you might not be Black enough. And here I am, sitting in this crossroads, and where do I lie? Cause I’m just me.

You’ve now played Jesus twice, in “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Godspell.” How has that affected you?

Being a person of color, and then standing center stage, the most powerful place in the world, and telling these stories to a mostly white audience, and they listen to me — I didn’t realize how powerful that was. And now, more than ever, I know that it’s important that you use your voice.

Why do you think “Godspell” has lasted for 50 years?

The music, obviously. And yes, this show is 50 years old, but damn, it still hits. I think “Godspell” always works because whenever there’s something going on in the world — recession, wildfires, terrorism, pandemic — this show brings hope to people.

You got to meet Yo-Yo Ma, and Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Stephen Schwartz. I imagine that’s not what you expected from a summer show.

Yo-Yo Ma played for us in the parking lot, and it was just crazy. And then Brian Stokes Mitchell was absolutely unreal — I’ve looked up to him my entire life; I always was like, “I want to be him when I grow up.” The next day, he called me and we talked for almost an hour about life, theater, the pandemic, Black Lives Matter. And he said, “If you ever need anything, you call me, or text me.” I was crying. And Stephen Schwartz — that was amazing. He was so chill. He was so emotional. The whole time, in the back of my mind, I’m like, “Please like our show!” I was just so glad that he was moved by it.

What are you going to do once you’re back in New York?

I want to hug my mom. I want to see my friends, now that New York is becoming safer. I’m going to get back to my Twitch community, where I stream video games and sometimes I play music on there. I want to keep writing my music — I started releasing my original songs, acoustically, on Instagram. And I’m getting a puppy.

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Newsrust: Playing Jesus in a Pandemic Summer
Playing Jesus in a Pandemic Summer
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