Hey guys! It’s Medgina again :)
If the title doesn’t sound familiar, it’s inspired by the song “Defying Gravity” from Wicked (which is one of the longest shows running on Broadway). The word defy signifies power. The song is basically saying that if you can “defy” something as strong as gravity, nothing can stop you.
That’s the point I’m trying to get across- anyone can defy whatever obstacle that’s holding them back. Scratch that, don’t let anything hold you back because the obstacle shouldn’t be there in the first place.
I was/am obsessed with musical theatre (I even mess with the idea of writing a musical). There are a lot of great things going on in theatre/film right now and I knew I had to speak on it.
My musical would motivate me to take it beyond myself and into something everyone can identify with. It’s not about race or beauty. It’s the fact that anyone can be a star and shine because of their talent, not how they look.
There are about 35 all black casts shows on Broadway, some focused on historical truths, struggles, Motown and remakes of other productions. It’s amazing to own a space that is so hard to own at times which is why when an actor defies the usual expectations Broadway, it’s an even greater celebration.
I remember how excited I was when I found out Keke Palmer would star in Rodger’s and Hammerstien’s Cinderella. It was a classic I used to wear out watching on my VCR as Brandy and Whitney Houston awakened the thought of not looking like what the role was “supposed” to be. Who says others races can’t relate to Cinderella’s story?
Media creates superficial information so people have misguided views of the world. Stereotypes are the easiest ways to generalize a whole ethnicity so viewers grasp what “typical standards” for said race are. By repeating the stereotypes, the identity of people are blurred and become a false reality. This is in countless musicals, play and books where an actor has to portray one hundred percent of every nuance in a civilization even when they’re just one percent themselves.
It’s aggravating seeing biased views on how an African American looks and acts. You have the sassy and soulful best friend who “keeps it real”, the “typical” funny black guy, etc. And we won’t forget that the only popular black princess known, basically spent one intake of breath as a human before she was turned in a frog…how do people realize their worth if they don’t see someone who looks like them as the star?
If popular culture continues to portray groups in the same light all the time, it will be hard to tell the rays a part. Stereotypes limit growth and builds ignorance that if one person behaves one way, everyone else does as well.
(I do realize that some shows have to cast based on race: West Side Story, Show Boat, Miss Saigon, Hairspray, Ragtime etc. because it drives the plot)
Currently, Brandy just ended her run as “Roxxy” in Chicago, Norm Lewis is “the Phantom” in The Phantom of the Opera, and Keke Palmer is going to play “Marty” on Fox’s live production of Grease.
There are people who are upset that the producers aren’t keeping things “original” and “classic” and I’m happy their opinion has not affected the choices. To the naysayers- if you don’t like it, don’t watch it :)
I’d liked to send a huge congratulations to a fellow classmate and theatre cast member Shanice Williams for defying the odds. For as a long as I’ve known her, she has took on the classic roles and made them her own proving that talent is more important than appearance.
She will be performing in NBC’s The Wiz this winter, December 3rd and I know that Broadway better watch out as she takes on the roles given to one face, and make it available for others.
We all have the ability to break down the barriers the world tries to place around us. There are times when I think I’m too young to do things or I wouldn’t fit in with those who are more experienced and Tarah just tells me; “If you’re meant to have something, God will give it to you despite what others think.”
Everyone deserves the chance to fly.
So defy and be green or brown or yellow because we all bleed red just like everyone else! You don’t have to play the role society hands to you.