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Wren T. Brown

Actor Wren T. Brown was born on June 11, 1964 in Los Angeles, California to jazz trumpeter Troy Brown, Jr. and entrepreneur Rosalind Brown. Descended from three generations of performers, Brown graduated from Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles and attended Los Angeles City College and Antioch University Los Angeles.

In 1982, Brown’s first professional acting job was for McDonald’s inaugural Chicken McNuggets ad campaign. Brown made his television debut on an episode of Knight Rider; and, in 1987, he made his film debut in Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle. He had supporting roles in The Hidden, The Taking of Flight 847, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka!, Crossfire, and A Different World. He then had a leading role as Algernon Moncrieff in The Importance of Being Earnest in 1992, followed by features in the films, The Second Coming and Heart and Souls in 1993. Two years later, he appeared in an episode of Seinfeld and in the films Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, The Net, and Waiting to Exhale. In 1996, he played the role of Pluckie in Rebound: The Legend of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manugualt, and played a reoccurring role on the CBS sitcom, Bless This House. He also became a series regular on the rebooted 1960’s series Flipper. Brown appeared in several popular sitcoms and dramas including: Murphy Brown, Touched by an Angel, Frasier, The West Wing, and Star Trek: Voyager. He made his debut as a feature film producer in 1999, with Boesman & Lena starring Danny Glover and Angela Bassett, followed by Dianne Reeves’ concert film of her Grammy Award winning album, In The Moment: Live in Concert. In 2003, he co-starred as Whoopi Goldberg’s brother and comic foil in her NBC sitcom, Whoopi. In 2005, he acted in David Mamet’s film Edmond. Other television credits include: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Everybody Hates Chris, Grey’s Anatomy (recurring), Being Mary Jane, Transparent, and The Orville.

Brown has appeared in numerous commercials and voice-over and spoken word projects including the Langston Hughes poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers on pianist Billy Childs’ Grammy Award-nominated album I’ve Known Rivers and narrated The History Channel’s U.S.S. Constellation: Battling For Freedom, The Learning Channel series Scence of the Crime, and the E! True Hollywood Story profile on Diana Ross, as well as voicing Virgil Simpson on The Simpsons. In 2017, Brown also narrated Laurence Fishburne’s Bronzeville podcast series.

In 2007, Brown directed the performances of thirty-five actors in Inspired By... The Bible Experience. In 2018, his theatre directing debut was made at Colorado’s Lone Tree Arts Center with August Wilson's Fences.

In 2007, Brown founded Ebony Repertory Theatre, the first and only African American professional (Actors Equity) theatre company in Los Angeles, and serves as its producing artistic director. The Ebony Repertory Theatre has produced award winning productions including Two Trains Running, Crowns, A Raisin In the Sun, The Gospel at Colonus, and Five Guys Named Moe.

Wren T. Brown was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 10, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.223

Sex

Male

Interview Date
12/10/2018
Last Name

Brown

Maker Category
Middle Name

T.

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Wren

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

BRO69

Favorite Season

Summer

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York City

Favorite Quote

You Don't Have To Be Good To Anyone, Just Fair

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/11/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Favorite Food

Friend Pork Chops, Rice and Gravy and Creamed Corn

Short Description

Actor Wren T. Brown (1964 - ) founded Ebony Repertory Theatre, the first African American professional equity theatre company in Los Angeles, and was featured in films such as, The Hidden, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka!, and The Importance of Being Earnest.

Favorite Color

Blue

Tony F. Sias

Arts administrator Tony F. Sias was born on December 20, 1964 in Jackson, Mississippi to Helen Louise Walker Sias and Leo Sterling Sias, Sr. After graduating from John W. Provine High School, Sias went on to receive his B.S. degree in dramatic arts from Jackson State University in 1988, and his M.F.A. degree in acting from Ohio University in 1992.

While earning his M.F.A. degree, Sias was an intern and resident at the Cleveland Play House in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating, he remained in Cleveland and began acting in several of the city’s theaters including a production of Kathleen McGhee-Anderson’s Oak and Ivy at the Karamu House in 1993. Sias then went on to work as a program director for the Rap Arts Youth Fellowship Program through The Centers for Families and Children before moving to the Murtis Taylor Human Services System where he ran the Coordinated Arts Program for the Greater Cleveland Neighborhood Centers Association. In 1998, Sias performed in a production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes at the Dobama Theatre in Cleveland. For this performance, Sias and his fellow cast members earned a collective Ensemble Keefer Award. The next year, he returned to the Karamu House to perform in Crumbs From the Table of Joy by Lynn Nottage. Sias made one of his first directing debuts in 1999 at the Cleveland Public Theatre where he directed the world premiere of Keith Josef Adkins’ On the Hills of Black America. Then, in 2000, Sias became the director of arts education for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. While in this position, Sias continued to perform in and direct productions throughout the city including Elevator at the Karamu House in 2001 and the Ensemble Theatre’s one-man show Paul Robeson. In 2003, while still working for the school district, Sias became the director of the All-City Musical and served as the artistic director of the Cleveland School of the Arts. He also began teaching at Cuyahoga Community College. In 2008, Sias served as a delegate from the U.S. Department of State to Istanbul, Turkey as a representative of the Council of International Programs, USA. In 2015, Sias became the president and CEO of the historic Karamu House in Cleveland. There, he continued to direct and create new productions including the Karamu House’s Holiday Jazz Revue

Sias served on the board of trustees of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, Inc. and as a board member of The League of Historic American Theatres, Inc. He was also an advisory board member for Project 1 Voice, Inc. Sias also received several awards for his acting and directing in Cleveland including the Ohio House of Representatives Tribute for Excellent Leadership and the Times Newspaper’s Outstanding Director.

Tony F. Sias was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 25, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.190

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/25/2018

Last Name

Sias

Maker Category
Middle Name

F.

Organizations
First Name

Tony

Birth City, State, Country

Jackson

HM ID

SIA02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Belize

Favorite Quote

Leave Before Your Audience Does, And Be Careful With An Encore.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

12/20/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Arts administrator Tony F. Sias (1964 - ) was the director of arts and education for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the president and CEO of the Karamu House in Cleveland, Ohio.

Favorite Color

Blue

Eric Benét

R&B singer and actor Eric Benét was born on October 15, 1966 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He attended the Milwaukee Trade and Technical High School. In 1990, Benét formed a group with his sister, Lisa Jordan, called Benét. After a hiatus, Benét signed a record deal with Warner Bros. Records in 1994 and released his first studio album, True to Myself, in 1996. In 1999, Benét released his sophomore album, A Day in the Life, with the single “Spend My Life with You,” featuring the Canadian artist Tamia. During this time, Benét also began his career in film when he guest starred on the sitcom For Your Love in 1999 and appeared in the film Glitter in 2001. Benét then signed a new record deal with Reprise Records and released his third studio album, Hurricane in 2001. In 2005, he portrayed Reece Wilcox on the series Half & Half. In 2007, he had a recurring role on the MTV scripted show Kaya. In 2008, he released the album Love & Life. Two years later, Benét released Lost in Time, which included the single “Sometimes I Cry.” In 2011, his second feature film role in Trinity Goodheart premiered at the American Black Film Festival. Benét released his 2012 album The One and his 2016 album Eric Benét under his newly-formed independent record label, Jordan House Records. He also signed the artists Goapele and Calvin Richardson to his label, and helped produce their records. In 2016, Benét guest starred in the show, Real Husbands of Hollywood.

After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Benét performed the song “Heart of America” with Wynonna Judd, Terry Dexter, and Michael McDonald to raise money for the hurricane victims. He also co-founded Mission Save Her, a non -profit dedicated to fighting against human trafficking, slavery, and sexual abuse of women and girls around the world.

Benét received three Grammy Award nominations in the R&B category for singles released on his albums. In 2000, he was awarded the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Song for his performance of “Spend My Life with You.” Benét was also nominated for the Black Reel Award for Best Actor in T.V. movie/cable for his role in the film Trinity Goodheart.

Benét and his wife, Manuela Testolini, have two children, Lucia Bella and Amoura Luna.

Eric Benét was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 19, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.118

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/19/2017

Last Name

Benét

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Eric

Birth City, State, Country

Milwaukee

HM ID

BEN08

Favorite Season

Autumn

State

Wisconsin

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bali

Favorite Quote

No

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

10/15/1966

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sushi, italian, soul food

Short Description

R&B singer and actor Eric Benét (1966 - ) a Grammy nominated R&B singer, known for his 1996 song “Spend My Life with You” featuring Tamia, has acted in television and movies, and founded his independent record label Jordan House Records.

Favorite Color

Most often blue

Savion Glover

Tap dancer, choreographer and actor Savion Glover was born on November 19, 1973 in Newark, New Jersey. Glover began taking in music classes at Newark Community School of the Arts at four years old. He soon progressed to advanced classes, becoming the youngest student in the school’s history to receive a full scholarship. At the age of seven, Glover enrolled in tap dance classes, and was soon opening at festivals with such greats as Jimmy Slyde, Chuck Green, Honi Coles, and Buster Brown. In 1991, Glover graduated from Newark’s Arts High School.

Glover appeared on Broadway for the first time at ten years old in The Tap Dance Kid. He was featured in the title role when the production moved to the Minskoff Theater in 1984. From 1988 to 1989, Glover danced in Black and Blue, a Broadway musical revue of black Parisian culture in the interwar period. His performance earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical, and he was dubbed a “teen-age prodigy” by The New York Times’ dance critic Anna Kisselgoff. In 1989, Glover made his film debut dancing in Tap, alongside Gregory Hines. The following year, at the age of seventeen, Glover made his choreographic debut at the Apollo Theater’s Rat-A-Tat-Tap Festival in New York City, and began dancing on Sesame Street. Upon his graduation from Newark’s Arts High School, Glover portrayed the young Jelly Roll Morton, appearing again with Gregory Hines, in George C. Wolfe’s Jelly’s Last Jam. In 1996, Glover rejoined Wolfe to conceive, choreograph and star in Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk, a Broadway musical revue of black history. Glover returned to film in 2000 to portray the tap-dancing minstrel Manray/Mantan in Spike Lee’s satire, Bamboozled. He also appeared in the television biopic Bojangles (2001), Classical Savion at New York City’s Joyce Theater, and provided the choreography for the tap-dancing penguin Mumble in the animated movie Happy Feet (2006). Glover opened his tap school, The HooFeRzCLuB School for TaP, in Newark in 2009. He continued performing pieces such as SoLe Sanctuary (2011) and Om (2014) at the Joyce Theater, until reuniting with director George C. Wolfe as choreographer of the 2016 musical Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.

In 1992, Glover became the youngest recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Glover was nominated for several Tony Awards for Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk, winning the Best Choreography Award, in addition to a Drama Desk Award.

Savion Glover was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 30, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.090

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/30/2016

Last Name

Glover

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Arts High School

BRICK Avon Academy

Queen of Angels School

Professional Children's School

Jose Feliciano Performing Arts School

First Name

Savion

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

GLO03

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica, Anywhere Tropical, Paris

Favorite Quote

What Did He Do?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/19/1973

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Macaroni And Cheese

Short Description

Tap dancer, choreographer, and actor Savion Glover (1973 - ) first appeared on Broadway at ten years old, and went on to choreograph and star in Jelly’s Last Jam (1991), Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk (1996), and Shuffle Along (2016).

Employment

The Tap Dance Kid

Black and Blue

Tap

Apollo Theater

Sesame Street

Various

Not Your Ordinary Tappers

HooFeRzCLuB School for a Holistic Approach to Tap

'Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk'

'Jelly's Last Jam'

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Savion Glover's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Savion Glover lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Savion Glover talks about his mother's singing career

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Savion Glover describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Savion Glover talks about his maternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Savion Glover describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Savion Glover describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Savion Glover describes his maternal grandmother's musical career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Savion Glover talks about his maternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Savion Glover reflects upon his lack of a father figure

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Savion Glover describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Savion Glover describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Savion Glover describes his schooling in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Savion Glover recalls the start of his tap training

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Savion Glover remembers his early tap lessons at the Hines-Hatchett dance studio in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Savion Glover recalls his audition for 'The Tap Dance Kid'

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Savion Glover describes his experiences on Broadway in 'The Tap Dance Kid'

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Savion Glover describes his experiences at the Profession Children's School in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Savion Glover remembers auditioning for shows in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Savion Glover talks about the impact of his early celebrity

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Savion Glover remembers performing in 'Black and Blue' in Paris, France, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Savion Glover remembers performing in 'Black and Blue' in Paris, France, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Savion Glover recalls the development of his technique during the production of 'Black and Blue'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Savion Glover talks about the influence of his tap dance predecessors

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Savion Glover describes the evolution of his tap style

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Savion Glover reflects upon the influence of his 'Black and Blue' cast members

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Savion Glover talks about his time in Paris, France

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Savion Glover remembers being cast in 'Tap'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Savion Glover describes the film, 'Tap'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Savion Glover remembers Sammy Davis, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Savion Glover describes his start as a choreographer and teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Savion Glover remembers the death of Hassoun Tatum

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Savion Glover remembers his guest appearances on 'Sesame Street'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Savion Glover remembers performing in 'Jelly's Last Jam'

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Savion Glover reflects upon his experiences in 'Jelly's Last Jam'

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Savion Glover reflects upon the influence of his teachers and mentors

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

9$1

DATitle
Savion Glover talks about his maternal grandmother
Savion Glover reflects upon the influence of his 'Black and Blue' cast members
Transcript
My [maternal] grandmother [Anna Lundy Lewis] had a house on Farley Avenue [Newark, New Jersey], around the corner from Barr [Annie Barr (ph.)]. So we lived--and so when, when, so first we grew up on Rose Terrace in the, in the apartment, in the same house as Barr and Poppel [George Barr (ph.)]. We grew, we, we lived on the first floor, Barr and Poppel were on the second floor, and all, everybody happened on the second floor and the third floor. So then once we moved from there we moved maybe ten blocks down the hill to Livingston Street. My grandmother still had a room in the house, my mother [Yvette Glover] would, so my mother would have to be on the couch to accommodate my grandmother. To this day I don't understand that concept but that's what it is. And that carried on when we moved down the hill to Livingston Street. We were, it was a townhouse, you know, the first townhouses which were not, you know, it was, they were projects, people brought these things in on the truck and boom, boom, boom. We had three rooms upstairs, myself, my two older brothers, my mother, my grandmother. And then another friend of the family or aunt, Aunt Arlene [Arlene Graham (ph.)], and her child. We all lived in this unit, three bedrooms (laughter). My mother would, again, give my grandmother the largest room in the townhouse. I shared a room with Abron [Abron Glover] and then I shared a room with Carlton [Carlton Glover] and then I slept with--my mother shared the room with Carlton, she just slept in there. I slept with my mother in that bed or I would sleep on some clothes in Abron's (laughter) bed. And I'm saying all this to say meanwhile, my grandmother had a house on Farley Avenue.$$Where she didn't stay?$$It was for her hats. My grandmother had a house (laughter), my grandmother had a house--$$(Laughter).$$--full of hats, Harriette [HistoryMaker Harriette Cole].$$(Laughter).$$Excuse me.$$For her church--$$Yes.$$--church, the church hats; right (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yes.$$Performance hats?$$Her hats, I mean, it was a home. You walk in the home and there were just boxes. She paid rent for her hats (laughter). And would, and would stay with us though. I--we, we'd get evicted, we couldn't pay the bill, the, they would cut off the lights or lock us out, we'd come home from vacation, we'd pull up, all of us, me and my brothers, Aunt Arlene, my, my mother, her child, six of us pull up in a Nova [Chevrolet Nova], my grandmother would be on the porch with the dog, "Nana, what's, what's up?" "Well, they locked us out." Meanwhile she has a home (laughter) and I mean she has money too, my grandmother's best friend was Doris Duke.$$(Laughter).$$So at any given time, (laughter) you know, she had about five thousand dollars in the attache case, easily. She'd be sitting on that porch--$$(Laughter).$$--with the dog saying, "You know, praise all mighty God, they locked us out. We didn't have no lights, Mr. Williams [ph.] came," and boom, boom, boom. "Told me to get out, I have to get out." She could have bought the whole town, all twenty of the townhouses (laughter), she could have went to her home, she could have gotten a hotel, she could have called Doris Duke to send a helicopter for her (laughter), but she chose to, and this was, this would happen, you know, if the lights would go out, we couldn't, you know, my grandmother would not budge.$Back to these men for a moment.$$Um-hm.$$You are working with them during your formative years. You're--$$Right.$$--you're a teenager, growing up (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Everything I, after 'Tap Dance Kid' ['The Tap Dance Kid,' Charles Blackwell], everything I did was with them.$$So even though you didn't have your father [Willie Mitchell] in your life you now have these men?$$(Nods head).$$And they're also teaching you how to be a man?$$Everything. Everything. These men became everything to me. God is, (laughter) these men became everything to me. They became my fathers, they became my grandfathers, they became my brothers, they became my friends, my mentors, my teachers, they became everything to me. (Pause) I cannot, aside from my mother [Yvette Glover], I am not what I am if they are not in my life. If Jimmy Slyde, if I don't know a Jimmy Slyde, (sighs) if I don't, if I don't know a Lon Chaney or a Bunny Briggs or a George Hillman, I don't know what I would do, what I would be, where I would be. They became everything for me. George Hillman was the first to pass along, to transition. And again, that is when, I met George Hillman, he was eighty-one (laughter). I think he died like maybe, maybe he passed when he was like ninety-two or something like that, ninety-five, I'm, I'm not sure. But his passing it affected me. It was like a, like a wakeup call, it was like--it, it, his passing allowed me to realize how much I loved these men.$$And did you stay in touch with them after you were no longer working with them?$$Oh, yeah.$$Um-hm. They, they became your family?$$Oh, yes--$$Um-hm.$$--without a doubt.

Brian Stokes Mitchell

Actor Brian Stokes Mitchell was born on October 31, 1957 in Seattle, Washington to Lillian Stokes Mitchell and George Mitchell. Because of his father’s position as a civilian electrical engineer in the U.S. Navy, Mitchell’s family moved frequently during his childhood, living for a time in Guam and the Philippines before settling in San Diego, California in 1971. In high school, Mitchell performed with The Bright Side, a children’s singing group that toured nationally, and acted in his first plays with the San Diego Junior Theater. At the age of sixteen, he made his professional acting debut in a production of Godspell at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre.

Mitchell moved to Los Angeles in 1976 to pursue a career in acting. He landed his first on-screen role in 1979, as John Dolan in Roots: The Next Generations. Later that same year, Mitchell became a series regular on the MASH spinoff Trapper John, M.D. After seven seasons on Trapper John, M.D., Mitchell turned his focus to stage acting, making his Broadway debut in 1988 in the musical Mail. During the early 1990s, he appeared on stage as the replacement for the original lead, Gregory Hines, in Jelly’s Last Jam, and played the recurring character Trevor Collins-Newsworthy on the television showThe Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Mitchell starred in the role of Coalhouse Walker in the musical Ragtime on Broadway in 1998, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. Also, in 1998, Mitchell provided the singing voice for the character Jethro in the animated film The Prince of Egypt. He went on to receive multiple leading man roles on Broadway, including as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha and as the King in King Hedley II. His performance as Fred Graham in Kiss Me, Kate earned him the 2000 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical and the 2000 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical. Mitchell was cast in a recurring role on the USA Network television series Mr. Robot in 2015. In 2016, Mitchell played Flournoy Miller in George C. Wolfe’s revival of the musical Shuffle Along, acting alongside Audra McDonald and Billy Porter. Mitchell’s voice acting credits include James Bond, Jr., The Addams Family and Vampirina.

Mitchell became the chairman of the board of the Actors Fund of America in 2004, and was honored with the 2016 Tony Award Isabelle Stevenson Award. A talented baritone singer, Mitchell released his self-titled album in 2006 and his second album entitled Simply Broadway in 2012.

Mitchell and his wife, Allyson Tucker, have one son, Ellington Mitchell.

Brian Stokes Mitchell was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 29, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.146

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/29/2016

Last Name

Mitchell

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Stokes

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Patrick Henry High School

First Name

Brian

Birth City, State, Country

Seattle

HM ID

MIT15

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Washington

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

The god you worship is the god you deserve. (Joseph Campbell)

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/31/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Avocados

Short Description

Actor Brian Stokes Mitchell (1957 - ), a Tony Award winning performer, appeared onstage in Ragtime; Kiss Me, Kate; and Man of La Mancha. He also appeared on television shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Trapper John, M.D., and Mr. Robot.

Employment

Old Globe Theatre

Twelfth Night Repertory Company

Various

Broadway

Brian Stokes Mitchell

Favorite Color

Purple

Anthony Chisholm

Actor Anthony Chisholm was born on April 9, 1943 in Cleveland, Ohio to Edith Amilia and Victor Chisholm. Drafted by the U.S. Army, Chisholm served as platoon leader for the 4th Armored Calvary, 1st Infantry Division in the Vietnam War.

Upon returning from the Vietnam War, Chisholm performed in The Boys from Syracuse and The Threepenny Opera at Karamu House in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1968, he made his film debut in Uptight, directed by Jules Dassin. That same year, Chisholm began studying with Lloyd Richards in the Negro Ensemble Company’s master class. Chisholm appeared in a number of films in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Putney Swope in 1969 and Cotton Comes to Harlem in 1970. In 1985, he portrayed Habu and Drill Sergeant Williams in Tracers at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in New York City. In 1987, Chisholm’s Vietnam War experiences served as the inspiration for the HBO television series Vietnam War Story. He also joined the Vietnam Veterans Ensemble Theater Company, where he acted in several productions including Back in the World in 1988 and The Strike in 1990. Chisholm met August Wilson in 1990 while auditioning for Two Trains Running, and was cast in the role of Wolf. After appearing in the first run at Yale Repertory Theatre, he went on tour with the production to Boston’s Huntington Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Los Angeles’ Doolittle Theatre, the Kennedy Center, and San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre. Chisholm reprised the role in the Broadway production of Two Trains Running at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York City in 1992. In 1996, he became part of the core cast for August Wilson’s Jitney, which appeared off-Broadway at New York City’s Second Stage Theatre in 2000. Between 2001 and 2003, Chisholm portrayed prisoner Burr Redding in the HBO crime drama series, Oz. He then acted in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean in 2004, alongside Phylicia Rashad, Ruben Santiago-Hudson and John Earl Jelks. Beginning in 2007, Chisholm portrayed Elder Joseph Barlow in the final installment of August Wilson’s “Pittsburgh Cycle,” Radio Golf. He received a Tony Award nomination for his portrayal of Elder Joseph Barlow in the Broadway production of Radio Golf, directed by Kenny Leon at the Cort Theatre in New York City.

In addition to his stage roles, Chisholm appeared in numerous television shows and films, including Reign Over Me (2007), Premium Rush (2012) and Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq (2015). He was the recipient of the Drama Desk, Obie, Ovation, NAACP Theatre, and AUDELCO awards.

Anthony Chisholm was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 10, 2016 and April 14, 2017.

Accession Number

A2016.110

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/10/2016 |and| 04/14/2017

Last Name

Chisholm

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Victor

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

New York University

Case Western Reserve University

First Name

Anthony

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland

HM ID

CHI05

Favorite Season

Early Fall

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Tokyo Ropongi

Favorite Quote

Everybody loves the sunshine

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

4/9/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood - Crab

Short Description

Actor Anthony Chisholm (1943 - ) was a core cast member for off-Broadway and Broadway productions of August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle, including Two Trains Running, Jitney, Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf. He appeared on the HBO series Oz, and in films like Premium Rush (2012) and Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq (2015).

Employment

NBC

PBS

ABC

HBO

CBS

A &E

Fox Broadcasting Company

CBS (MOW)

New Line Cinema

Amazon Studios

Independent Film

Columbia Pictures

Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.

True Life Films

Lonette Productions

Image Entertainment

Artisan Entertainment

Buena Vista Entertainment

Xanon Entertainment Group

Cort Theatre

Walter Kerr Theatre

Second Stage Theatre

Two River Theatre Company

Long Wharf Theatre

Second Stage & Union Square Theatre

Joseph Papp Public Theatre

Delacorte Theatre

Joseph Papp Public Theater

Manhattan Theatre Club

Mark Taper Forum

Favorite Color

Orange, Burnt sienna

Charles Weldon

Actor and artistic director Charles Weldon was born on June 1, 1940 in Wetumka, Oklahoma to Beatrice Jennings. At the age of seven, his family moved to Bakersfield, California, where he worked in nearby cotton fields until the age of seventeen, when he joined the local doo-wop group, The Paradons.

After the success of their 1960 hit single, “Diamonds and Pearls,” The Paradons dissolved, and Weldon went on to perform with the soul group, Blues For Sale, before discovering his love of acting. Weldon’s sister, actress Ann Weldon, introduced him to the theater group Dialogue Black/White and playwright Oscar Brown, Jr. After appearing in the musical Hair at the Geary Theater in San Francisco, California, Weldon accepted Brown’s invitation to perform in Buck White, appearing alongside Muhammad Ali in his only Broadway appearance. In 1970, Weldon joined the Negro Ensemble Company and performed in Joseph Walker’s Ododo. In 1973, he starred in Paul Carter Harrison’s The Great MacDaddy and played Skeeter in Joseph Walker’s The River Niger. Weldon reprised the role in the 1976 film adaptation with stars James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson. He also appeared in several other films including Who's Minding the Mint? (1967), Serpico (1975), Stir Crazy (1980), Fast Walking (1982), Spike Lee’s Malcolm X (1992), and The Wishing Tree (1999). He appeared in several television mini-series, including A Woman Called Moses (1978) and Roots: The Next Generation (1979). His television credits also include Sanford and Son, Hill Street Blues, Kojak, St. Elsewhere, L.A. Law, and Law & Order.

Throughout his film career, Weldon continued to perform with the Negro Ensemble Company, acting in Charles Fuller’s A Soldier’s Play in 1981. In 2004, Weldon was named artistic director of the Negro Ensemble Company. Additionally, Weldon directed Leslie Lee’s Blues in a Broken Tongue, Jimmy Barden’s Offspring, Samm Art-Williams’ The Waiting Room, and Layon Gray’s WEBEIME. Weldon also produced the Negro Ensemble Company’s Sundown Names and Night-Gone Things.

Co-founder of the Negro Ensemble Company, Inc.’s Alumni Organization, Weldon received the Audelco Award for best supporting actor, the Remy award for best leading actor, and the 2006 Henry Award for the Best Supporting Actor in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean.

Weldon passed away on December 7, 2018.

Charles Weldon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 24, 2016 and November 7, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.079

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/24/2016 |and| 11/7/2016

Last Name

Weldon

Maker Category
First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Wetumka

HM ID

WEL05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

Noossa Heads Australia

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

6/1/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken enchiladas

Death Date

12/7/2018

Short Description

Actor and artistic director Charles Weldon (1940 - 2018) appeared in numerous Hollywood movies and television productions. He was a member of the Negro Ensemble Company since 1970 and its artistic director since 2004.

Employment

The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc.

2nd Stage Theatre

The Asolo Theatre

The Public Theatre

Lincoln Center/American Place Theatre

The Paradons

Favorite Color

Brown

Billy Porter

Actor Billy Porter was born on September 21, 1969 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and raised by his mother, Cloerinda Ford. Porter attended Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, as well as the Pittsburgh School for the Creative and Performing Arts, where he studied acting, music, and dance. He later attended Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama in Pittsburgh, graduating in 1991.

In 1991, Porter was cast in the ensemble of Miss Saigon, which won three Tony Awards and became one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history. Throughout the 1990s, he continued to appear in Broadway musicals, including Five Guys Named Moe, Smokey Joe’s Café, and the 1994 revival of Grease, in which he played Teen Angel. Porter pursued a career in the music industry, winning the 1992 season of the talent competition Star Search and releasing a self-titled R&B album in 1997 with A&M Records. Starting in 2000, he took a hiatus from acting on Broadway to direct productions like the music revue Being Alive at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Los Angeles staging of Once on This Island, and a revival of George C. Wolfe’s play, The Colored Museum. Porter wrote the solo performance piece Ghetto Superstar, which he debuted in 2005 at New York City’s Public Theatre. Porter went on to appear in the Pittsburgh premiere of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog, as well as in the off-Broadway revival of Angels in America at the Signature Theatre in New York City in 2010, where he played Belize.

In 2013, Porter returned to Broadway as Lola in the musical Kinky Boots, winning the 2013 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical, and the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album for his performance. In the years following, Porter wrote the semi-autobiographical play While I Yet Live, which premiered at Primary Stages in New York City in 2014, and played Aubrey Lyles in the 2016 Broadway musical Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. In 2018, Porter became a series regular in the television show Pose, and appeared on multiple episodes of American Horror Story: Apocalypse. He was a supporter and fundraiser for the Ali Forney Center, a community center for homeless LGBT youth in New York City.

Billy Porter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 7, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.052

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/7/2016

Last Name

Porter

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Reizenstein Middle School

Taylor Allderdice High School

Carnegie Mellon University

University of California, Los Angeles

First Name

Billy

Birth City, State, Country

Pittsburgh

HM ID

POR04

Favorite Season

Spring and Fall

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beach

Favorite Quote

To Thine Own Self Be True.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/21/1969

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken, Collard Greens

Short Description

Actor Billy Porter (1969- ) won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for his role as Lola in Kinky Boots. He also wrote the solo piece Ghetto Superstar and the semi-autobiographical play While I Yet Live.

Employment

Broadway

A&M Records

Film

Off-Broadway

Reprise Theature Company

The Huntington Theatre Company

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:1017,17:1469,37:5038,157:5286,181:29750,446:34997,528:35629,538:37367,561:39816,603:40606,614:41633,633:43687,672:62597,890:63344,903:65834,989:66913,1007:70188,1023:70587,1032:71157,1043:71385,1048:71784,1057:72297,1067:72582,1074:81406,1280:91660,1388:92048,1393:93794,1416:99564,1464:100565,1479:101181,1488:103876,1532:106615,1546:108881,1582:109808,1599:116526,1656:117264,1667:117592,1672:118248,1692:118658,1699:119150,1707:120216,1721:122594,1757:126300,1765:127600,1779$0,0:24408,433:35300,535:36756,569:44419,605:45843,635:46377,642:56620,698:57712,722:66420,861:82953,1220:87021,1282:93752,1386:94284,1396:94588,1401:94892,1406:96032,1430:96564,1438:101784,1499:102100,1507:103285,1533:104154,1545:107077,1597:107709,1608:117610,1644:121498,1723:124534,1794:124864,1800:136122,1942:136366,1947:136793,1964:137342,1974:141063,2073:148084,2162:148618,2169:149775,2188:150487,2197:152843,2207:154739,2237:155591,2266:157774,2291:158332,2301:161666,2372:163034,2410:163538,2421:169226,2575:169658,2585:170594,2611:178770,2705:182630,2740:183110,2751:185865,2763:189254,2814:189910,2823:192534,2875:196552,2960:204260,3100:205162,3113:216450,3254:220270,3284:223545,3317:223933,3322:232857,3460:239250,3496:239530,3501:239810,3506:249820,3736:250396,3745:252196,3777:263715,3933:264345,3941:265710,3955:266970,3980:270615,3997:278728,4145:279286,4157:284054,4191:287330,4296:289220,4361:289472,4366:289724,4385:297742,4496:298730,4543:299034,4548:310450,4678:311425,4695:311725,4700:312100,4706:313300,4730:317500,4768:318850,4794:319750,4807:334860,4876
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Billy Porter's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Billy Porter lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Billy Porter describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Billy Porter talks about his parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Billy Porter talks about his mother's second marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Billy Porter describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Billy Porter describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Billy Porter describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Billy Porter describes his early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Billy Porter describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Billy Porter remembers Florence Reizenstein Middle School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Billy Porter describes his early interest in musical theater

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Billy Porter remembers the influence of 'Dreamgirls'

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Billy Porter describes his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Billy Porter remembers the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Billy Porter remembers telling his mother about his stepfather's abuse

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Billy Porter describes his daily routine during high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Billy Porter talks about the effects of his childhood sexual abuse, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Billy Porter talks about the effects of his childhood sexual abuse, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Billy Porter recalls his confrontation with his stepfather

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Billy Porter describes his decision to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Billy Porter recalls his classmates at Carnegie Mellon University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Billy Porter describes his experiences at Carnegie Mellon University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Billy Porter describes the start of his career in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Billy Porter describes his experiences in the ensemble of 'Miss Saigon'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Billy Porter talks about his early work as a vocalist

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Billy Porter remembers winning 'Star Search'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Billy Porter recalls his experiences as an understudy for 'Five Guys Named Moe'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Billy Porter remembers his casting as the Teen Angel in 'Grease'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Billy Porter describes the first day of rehearsals for 'Grease'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Billy Porter remembers seeing 'Angels in America' for the first time

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Billy Porter talks about his first album, 'Untitled'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Billy Porter describes his decision to move to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Billy Porter talks about his career in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Billy Porter talks about his return to New York City and Broadway

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Billy Porter remember auditioning for the role of Lola in 'Kinky Boots'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Billy Porter describes the success of 'Kinky Boots'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Billy Porter talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Billy Porter reflects upon the impact of HIV/AIDS

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Billy Porter reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Billy Porter reflects upon his life

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

5$4

DATitle
Billy Porter remembers the influence of 'Dreamgirls'
Billy Porter remember auditioning for the role of Lola in 'Kinky Boots'
Transcript
You know so then that summer was the summer that 'Dreamgirls' was on Broadway and I was washing (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And what year is this now?$$This is '81 [1981], the summer of '81 [1981] I think at this point.$$Eighty-one [1981], yep.$$And I was literally--and everybody knows this story because I talk about it all the time. But I was washing dishes and the Tony Awards [Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre] came on, randomly once again, I didn't know what the Tony Awards were. They came on, I saw people in performance on a stage like I had, like I had never--it wasn't a television show. They were on stage singing and dancing and all of a sudden without knowing it they announced 'Dreamgirls' and there they were.$$And had you heard of 'Dreamgirls' before?$$I had never heard of it. I had never heard of it and I had not made--from 'The Wiz' to the musical that we were doing, which was 'Babes in Arms,' Rodgers and Hart [Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart], traditional white folks. I didn't make the connection that this was something that I could do for a living. Seeing 'The Wiz,' it didn't--I was just doing this show [at Florence Reizenstein Middle School, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania] and I was singing 'cause I could sing. But it wasn't the way that I sang, you know I came from a Pentecostal church, I didn't sing like, you know. So it didn't register that that was an option for making a living. And then I saw 'Dreamgirls' on television and Jennifer Holliday sang "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" in the same way that I sang in church, you know. And it was like (makes sound), you know like it was so crazy. And I literally, once again literally was like a ball of like weeping, like emotion in the corner like not knowing what this was.$And as I was doing that ['Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes,' Tony Kushner], I went on playbill.com (laughter) and they announced 'Kinky Boots' [Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein]. And I had seen 'Kinky Boots' in the movie theater and I said to myself, and I may have said it out loud to the person I was with, "If I lived in London [England], Chiwetel Ejiofor would have been out of a job." No disrespect to him. He's brilliant. Brilliant in the movie too, but I had understood at that point the power of who I am. When I show up and I do the thing that I do, nobody else does it, and that is the thing, one of the things that I do. And once again, 'Kinky Boots,' you know they like to act like it was like, "Oh it was always you, it was always you." (Laughter) It was like, "No I remember the audition. I remember the concerns that you had about me"--$$What were those (simultaneous)?$$--(simultaneous) with 'Kinky Boots.' You know there was just, you know, I hadn't been in the business for a long--you know I, I had taken myself out of the business. You know I had lost my voice for a while, everybody knew that, you know what I mean? But when you don't talk about--and I don't talk--and I wasn't talking about why. It was a thirteen year break from the time that I was John in 'Miss Saigon' in '99 [1999] to 'Kinky Boots.' I didn't work on Broadway for thirteen years. So when that happens, and you're not talking about it and people don't know, they make shit up. "Oh, he's hard to work with." "Oh, he can't really sing anymore." "Oh, is he a team player?" "Oh, you know, will he be able to sustain--," you know all of that shit. (Pause) There was something about all of it. And it's so funny, the last audition, the final audition, because the acid reflux stuff I was still working through it, and the final audition, you know, I had come in and I had the audition and I did the songs and sang everything and then I went home and I got a telephone call and they said, "Oh, the musical director, they want you to work with the musical director and come back tomorrow." And the musical director is a friend of mine and a person who I had worked with in a creative capacity like, you know. And I walked in and I'm like, "What the fuck? What's happening?" "Oh, they're concerned about, you know, your voice," and da, da, da. And, you know, and I was like, "But it's--but I was singing it like a pop singer. I wasn't belting everything, you know, like it wasn't all balls to the wall." He said, "Just sing it balls to the wall, just sing it balls to the wall, and just sing it balls to the wall and then you get the part, you can do whatever you want." I'm like okay fine. I go home, stress activates reflux, so by the time I got home at six o'clock, I went to open up my mouth to speak and I couldn't utter a word. I couldn't make the sound. I couldn't make the sound. Ooh, I called my mother [Cloerinda Ford], I was like, "Get on, pray, come on" (laughter), "come on. I need all the Jesus you got because I gotta be able to sing tomorrow morning at 10:30--or 12:30. I gotta be able to sing tomorrow at 12:30, my life depends on it. I gotta be able to sing. Call on Jesus, the Jesus you're connected to 'cause you're more connected than I am, please call on him right now." And baby I stayed in that house, I (makes sounds), I did all my, you know, creams and unguents and potions and, you know, I went to sleep, I woke up at 7:30 in the morning, thank god for my training. This goes back to that. I was able to get in that shower. I was able to warm up my voice slowly--$$Carnegie Mellon [Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania] (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) exercise my voice slowly. Not just Carnegie Mellon, Joan Lader, since I got here, you know voice lessons all the time, you never stop learning, warming up my voice. I got it to the point where I can eek out an audition. At 12:30, I went in there, I sang those children under the table. Half hour later I couldn't speak. Jerry Mitchell called--I get a call from my agent the next day, "Jerry Mitchell, the director, wants to speak, wants you to come to his house. He wants, he wants to have coffee at his house, come to his house." And I called Jerry, who's been a friend of mine for twenty-five years, and I was like, "Listen, I don't need to come to your--is this good coffee or bad coffee? 'Cause I don't need to come to your house for bad coffee. You can just tell me over the phone." He was like, "Billy [HistoryMaker Billy Porter], just come over." (Crying) And I went to his house and he opened the door, he had a champagne glass in his hand and he said, "It's you, it's always been you. It's never been anybody else. It's never been anybody else and I'm sorry that the business is such that we had, that I had to put you through that." (Sighs) And the rest is history.

James Earl Jones

Actor James Earl Jones was born on January 17, 1931 to Robert Earl Jones and Ruth Connolly in Arkabutla, Mississippi. When Jones was five years old, his family moved to Dublin, Michigan. He graduated from Dickson High School in Brethren, Michigan in 1949. In 1953, Jones participated in productions at Manistee Summer Theatre. After serving in the U.S. Army for two years, Jones received his B.A. degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1955.

Following graduation, Jones relocated to New York City where he studied acting at the American Theatre Wing. Jones’ first speaking role on Broadway was as the valet in Sunrise at Campobello in 1958. Then, in 1960, Jones acted in the Shakespeare in Central Park production of Henry V while also playing the lead in the off-Broadway production of The Pretender. Geraldine Lust cast Jones in Jean Genet’s The Blacks in the following year. In 1963, Jones made his feature film debut as Lt. Lothar Zogg in Dr. Strangelove, directed by Stanley Kubrick. In 1964, Joseph Papp cast Jones as Othello for the Shakespeare in Central Park production of Othello. Jones portrayed champion boxer Jack Jefferson in the play The Great White Hope in 1969, and again in the 1970 film adaptation. His leading film performances of the 1970s include The Man (1972), Claudine (1974), The River Niger (1975) and The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings (1976). In 1974, Jones portrayed Lennie in Of Mice and Men on Broadway. Jones also voiced the iconic character Darth Vader in the 1977 movie Star Wars, returning to the role in the subsequent sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Jones portrayed Troy Maxson in the original Broadway production of Fences in 1987. Two years later, he appeared in the movie Field of Dreams, and was cast as the lead character on the television show Gabriel’s Fire. Jones provided the voice for Mufasa in the 1994 animated Disney film The Lion King. He returned to the Broadway stage in 2005, starring in On Golden Pond. He then appeared in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 2008, and acted in productions of Driving Miss Daisy alongside Vanessa Redgrave in London in 2011 and Angela Lansbury in Australia in 2013. He also appeared with Cicely Tyson in a 2015 revival of The Gin Game.

Jones won his first Tony Award in 1969 for The Great White Hope. He then received his second Tony Award for his portrayal of Troy Maxson in Fences. In 1991, Jones received Emmy Awards for his roles in Gabriel’s Fire and Heat Wave. In recognition of his fifty plus years in acting, Jones received an Honorary Academy Award in 2011.

Jones has one child, Flynn Earl Jones, with his late wife, actress Cecilia Hart.

James Earl Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 10, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.007

Sex

Male

Interview Date

08/10/2016 |and| 8/31/2016

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Middle Name

Earl

Occupation
Schools

Dickson High School

University of Michigan

American Theatre Wing

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Arkabutla

HM ID

JON42

Favorite Season

Autumn

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Alaska

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/17/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Avocado, strawberry shortcake

Short Description

Actor James Earl Jones (1931 - ) appeared in numerous stage, television and film productions, including The Blacks, Othello, The Great White Hope, Fences, Gabriel’s Fire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and The Gin Game. Jones also provided the voice for Darth Vader in Star Wars and Musafa in The Lion King.

Employment

The Egghead (Broadway)

Wedding in Japan

Sunrise at Campobello (Broadway)

Henry V (Shakespeare in Central Park)

The Pretender

The Blacks

East Side, West Side (CBS)

Dr. Strangelove

Othello (Shakespeare in Central Park)

The Great White Hope (play)

The Great White Hope (film)

Of Mice & Men (Broadway)

Star Wars Film Trilogy

Fences

The Field of Dreams

Gabriel's Fire

Heat Wave

The Lion King

On Golden Pond (Broadway)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Broadway)

The Best Man (Broadway)

The Gin Game

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2158,29:4442,47:4732,53:29785,472:31150,487:43986,710:45750,743:61070,863:64984,978:71596,1011:77685,1075:104067,1283:117190,1485:117590,1490:134345,1682:135121,1692:138516,1746:146294,1812:146910,1821:150298,1887:150837,1895:151145,1900:158076,1999:162650,2050:170300,2115:195296,2394:209190,2536$0,0:1440,22:1890,28:12198,157:12654,164:13338,174:18276,304:19212,350:37490,469:40436,509:40910,516:42253,544:46172,591:46487,597:47180,619:76006,932:76950,950:102060,1202:102560,1211:116300,1331:119565,1428:131989,1479:155435,1678:171420,1788:182831,1902:188120,1948:200336,2015:200871,2021:203480,2034:211090,2102:228930,2282:239572,2395:244707,2467:254369,2609:258631,2778:276480,2867
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Earl Jones' interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Earl Jones explains why he was drawn to acting

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Earl Jones talks about his father's careers

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Earl Jones describes his father's friendship with Paul Robeson

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Earl Jones describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Earl Jones describes his mother's ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Earl Jones remembers his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Earl Jones recalls refusing to stay with his paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Earl Jones remembers moving to Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Earl Jones talks about his father's European features

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Earl Jones describes his family's farming background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Earl Jones remembers his early education in Dublin, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Earl Jones describes the sights and sounds of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Earl Jones recalls his decision to leave the church

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Earl Jones remembers his mentor, Donald Crouch

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Earl Jones recalls testing for the Regents Alumni Scholarship

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Earl Jones talks about his experience as a mason's apprentice

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Earl Jones describes his maternal family's landownership

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Earl Jones remembers his maternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Earl Jones recalls writing to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - James Earl Jones talks about his brief medical aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Earl Jones describes his studies at the University of Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Earl Jones describes the University of Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Earl Jones recalls joining the Manistee Summer Theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Earl Jones remembers his role as Othello at the Manistee Summer Theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Earl Jones describes his grandmother's support of his acting

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Earl Jones recalls studying at the American Theater Wing

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Earl Jones describes segregation in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Earl Jones talks about the American Theater Wing and the Tony Awards

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Earl Jones recalls his first Broadway role

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Earl Jones describes his relationship with other actors

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Earl Jones talks about his stuttering

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Earl Jones recalls his tense relationship with his father

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Earl Jones remembers meeting Alan Schneider

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Earl Jones recalls his experiences as a director

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Earl Jones describes Joseph Papp's Shakespeare in Central Park

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Earl Jones talks about his wife and son

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Earl Jones recalls being casted in 'The Pretender', pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Earl Jones recalls being casted in 'The Pretender,' pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - James Earl Jones remembers joining the cast of 'The Blacks'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Earl Jones describes the plot and cast of 'The Blacks'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Earl Jones remembers Maya Angelou's protest against 'Subways are for Sleeping'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Earl Jones recalls performing in 'The Blacks'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Earl Jones talks about the success of 'The Blacks'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Earl Jones recalls his friendship with Joseph Papp

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Earl Jones talks about his role models and developing his craft

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Earl Jones recalls performing in 'Moon on a Rainbow Shawl'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Earl Jones talks about his father's approach to acting

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Earl Jones remembers meeting Paul Robeson

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - James Earl Jones describes his philosophy between an actor and the audience

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of James Earl Jones' interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Earl Jones describes his white family members

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Earl Jones remembers his best and worst performances of 'Othello'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Earl Jones recalls meeting Lin-Manuel Miranda at the White House

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Earl Jones talks about how he would direct 'Othello'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Earl Jones recalls avoiding the influence of his father and Joseph Papp

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Earl Jones talks about 'King Lear'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Earl Jones remembers Joseph Papp

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Earl Jones recalls acting in the film 'Dr. Strangelove'

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - James Earl Jones talks about his acting aspirations

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Earl Jones talks about his visit to the White House

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Earl Jones recalls meeting Alex Haley

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Earl Jones remembers Alex Haley

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Earl Jones talks about the film adaptation of 'The Great White Hope'

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Earl Jones recalls his preparation for 'The Great White Hope'

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - James Earl Jones compares the play and film of 'The Great White Hope'

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - James Earl Jones describes the making of the film 'The Great White Hope'

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - James Earl Jones recalls his marriage to Julienne Marie

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - James Earl Jones recalls his sudden fame

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - James Earl Jones remembers the times when he broke character

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - James Earl Jones recalls audiences' reaction to 'Fences'

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - James Earl Jones remembers the obstacles of 'Fences,' pt.1

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - James Earl Jones remembers the obstacles of 'Fences,' pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - James Earl Jones recalls the success of 'Fences' on Broadway

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - James Earl Jones describes the impact of 'Fences'

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - James Earl Jones describes the appeal of the common man character in theater

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - James Earl Jones recalls filming 'The Comedians'

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - James Earl Jones describes his first wife's relationship with Elizabeth Taylor

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - James Earl Jones remembers Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - James Earl Jones explains how he prepares for a role

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - James Earl Jones recalls moving to California

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - James Earl Jones talks about his television experiences

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - James Earl Jones describes his voice acting career

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - James Earl Jones recalls his voice acting roles for CNN and the Goodwill Games

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - James Earl Jones talks about voicing Darth Vader in 'Star Wars'

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - James Earl Jones describes his unique voice

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - James Earl Jones reflects upon his career

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - James Earl Jones talks about Tennessee Williams' 'A Streetcar Named Desire'

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - James Earl Jones describes his favorite roles

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - James Earl Jones recalls the failure of 'Cry the Beloved Country'

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - James Earl Jones lists other notable actors he has worked with

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - James Earl Jones recalls accepting the Kennedy Center Honors

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - James Earl Jones shares his opinions of the entertainment business

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - James Earl Jones talks about the role of race in his life

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - James Earl Jones reflects upon racism in America

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - James Earl Jones reflects upon his life

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - James Earl Jones talks about his marriages

Tape: 10 Story: 11 - James Earl Jones talks about his family

Tape: 10 Story: 12 - James Earl Jones reflects upon his legacy

DASession

2$1

DATape

6$2

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
James Earl Jones recalls meeting Lin-Manuel Miranda at the White House
James Earl Jones remembers his early education in Dublin, Michigan
Transcript
I had an enlightenment once, when I was at the White House [Washington, D.C.] at an event, it was quite wonderful. It led to 'Hamilton' ['Hamilton: An American Musical,' Lin-Manuel Miranda] really in a way. Flynn [Flynn Earl Jones], could you help me with names.$$(FLYNN EARL JONES): Lin-Manuel Miranda.$$Lin-Manuel Miranda. He was a part of the--it was a poetry jam, called a poetry jam [White House Poetry Jam]. I was asked to be a part of the poetry jam. I had a choice between reading something modern poetry, now I considered Dr. Seuss my favorite. But I figured I couldn't, I couldn't beat Jesse Jackson's [HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse L. Jackson] 'Green Eggs and Ham.' No one can, so I passed on that and went right to Othel- to Shakespeare [William Shakespeare]. And I offered Othello's speech to the senate about how he met his wife. And at one point, Mr. Obama's children [Malia Obama and Sasha Obama] were in the front row and I begin to caught an awareness from them. They were--they were younger then Desdemona, but they were little girls and this man from the outside world was spinning this yarn, this story, not a lie, but a story that has fabulous elements to it and I began to let myself get into the fabulousness, especially when it came to the monsters that he said he'd met, the Anthropophagi men (unclear) whose heads do grow up beneath their shoulders. And I began to play out the grotesqueness and I noticed the girls picking up their ears, which is what happens to Desdemona. She not only picks up her ears, she picks up her spirit. She begins to detest the story this man is telling. When he finishes, he says himself, he testifies, "When my story was done, she gave me for my pains a world of sighs. She said if it was strange, 'cause passing strange was pitiful to the wondrous pitiful." She was condemning what he just said. How dare you go through that life? Not, how dare you tell the story, but how dare a human being be put through all you've been through. She's expressing great sympathy but with outrage. I gave that little element about her through Othello's speech, and I never realized that was in her character before. The outrage this woman felt, that someone should live a life as horrible as the one he has led. And I'd like to exploit that somehow if I ever did a production. I wanna sug- I'm doing essays now, suggesting. But what it leads to is a larger pillar that Desdemona represents in that play. She is--she is a factor in the play, as big as the other two men.$So you were saying in first grade in Dublin [Michigan] is when the stuttering got worse, afterwards?$$That's when it became obstructive, yeah.$$So, how--was anyone concerned about your stuttering or did they--did they try to get you out of stuttering, you know, or did the teachers try to get you out of stuttering?$$It was my business I guess. You know, therapy--who thought of therapy. Who thought of remedial work for a child? No, they dealt with what they got. That was the hand they were dealt. The middle school I went to in Dublin, Michigan in a one-room schoolhouse. There was seven children in the whole school. I was the only one in my class. The girl in front of me, third grade, was the only person in her class. The little boy behind me, Dickie Crofo [ph.], first grade was the only person in his class. Doesn't sound so dreadful really, because we got a lot of attention. For one, everything we learned was repeated over and over again from class to class. With wonderful teachers, the first one was a Norwegian woman named Miss Elifson [ph.]. She reeked of coffee. That I remember. She smelled like coffee, she drank coffee constantly. She was not unkind. Coffee didn't make her cranky. Coffee probably made her cool (laughter). And then there was a woman, Miss Gardner [ph.]. Miss Gardner had a moment with me. The first day of school I peed in my pants and she said to me, "Come up here." School was a space with desks and then there was a space for classes, a long bench for classes. Come up here means come up here to the class area. And I walked up with dread. I thought I was in for punishment. She instead embraced me. She was a full woman, embraced me in a way that nobody has ever embraced me before or since, and I collapsed in tears. That was one of my teachers. And there was another teacher, a very young one who became pals with my aunts. She would come over, piano lessons with my aunts, more contemporary, especially during the music--the transitions of music from jazz to other. That part of Michigan was all polka, polka and schottische, which we all accepted. My aunts, however, 'cause they had connections in the more urban areas, they liked jazz, and when the boogie-woogie came along, they really liked that. So that dominated our household, but I had to live with both, I had to live with--I--I didn't like jazz because the brass something about my ears, I still can't relate to it. Only time I could relate was when I went out to Long Island [New York] to a music festival and Count Basie was performing, his whole band. When his horn players stood up and let go of their brass sounds, I finally got it, finally understood it, what the attraction was. But it was--it was not my favorite kind of music.$$What was your favorite kind of music?$$I didn't have one until Joe Cocker, rock and roll.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Actor and writer Ruben Santiago-Hudson was born on November 24, 1956 in Lackawanna, New York to Alean Hudson and Ruben Santiago. He graduated from Lackawanna High School; and earned his B.A. degree in theatre from Binghamton University in 1978, and his M.F.A. degree from Wayne State University in 1982.

Santiago-Hudson first appeared in the 1988 film, Coming to America. He then played Captain Billy Cooper on the daytime drama Another World from 1990 to 1993. Santiago-Hudson made his Broadway debut as Buddy Bolden in Jelly’s Last Jam in 1992, and starred in August Wilson's Seven Guitars in 1995. He wrote the autobiographical play Lackawanna Blues in 2001, and adapted it into the award-winning 2005 HBO film of the same name. He co-starred opposite Phylicia Rashad in Gem of the Ocean on Broadway in 2004; and, in 2007, he starred in a PBS Nova documentary about the life of Percy Lavon Julian. From 2009 to 2011, he played Captain Roy Montgomery in ABC's Castle. Santiago-Hudson returned to Broadway to star in Stick Fly in 2011, and directed August Wilson’s JITNEY! on Broadway in 2017.

Santiago-Hudson’s other film credits include Bleeding Hearts, Blown Away, Domestic Disturbance, Which Way Home, The Devil’s Advocate, American Gangster, Mr. Brooks, Shaft, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Showtime’s Solomon and Sheba. He also made appearance on the television shows The Cosby Mysteries, New York Undercover, NYPD Blue, Touched by an Angel, The West Wing, Third Watch, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Showtime’s Billions, the TNT series Public Morals, and five episodes of Law & Order.

Santiago-Hudson received the 1996 Tony Award for Best Featured Performer in Seven Guitars, and was awarded the 2006 Humanitas Prize in writing for the HBO film adaptation of his play Lackawanna Blues, and the 2009 NAACP Lifetime Achievement Theatre Award. In 2013, Santiago-Hudson won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Director, an Obie Award for Direction, and was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play for the Off-Broadway production of The Piano Lesson. In 2016, he won an Obie Award for Special Citations: Collaboration of the play Skeleton Crew. He also received an honorary doctorate of letters from Buffalo State College in 2006, and Wayne State University in 2015. In 2014, The Ruben Santiago-Hudson Fine Arts Learning Center was named in his honor in his hometown of Lackawanna, New York.

Santiago-Hudson and his wife, Jeannie Brittan, have two children: Trey and Lily, in addition to his two older sons: Broderick and Ruben III.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 8, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.005

Sex

Male

Interview Date

08/08/2016

Last Name

Santiago-Hudson

Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Lackawanna High School

State University of New York at Binghamton

Wayne State University

First Name

Ruben

Birth City, State, Country

Lackawanna

HM ID

SAN06

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Puerto Rico

Favorite Quote

Love Is Love.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/24/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Beans and Rice

Short Description

Actor and writer Ruben Santiago-Hudson (1956- ) appeared in dozens of feature films, television dramas and Broadway plays. He wrote 2001’s Lackawanna Blues, an autobiographical play that he adapted to film in 2005, premiering on HBO.

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ruben Santiago-Hudson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about his mother's drug addiction

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers his time with his mother and siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers his surrogate mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ruben Sanitago-Hudson describes his father's migration to the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his father's career on the railroad

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes the demographics of Lackawanna, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls growing up in a rooming house

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls a visit from social services

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes Lackawanna, New York and Buffalo, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls the influence of his surrogate parents

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers the tenants of his surrogate mother's rooming house

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his surrogate mother's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers his godmother

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers the integration of Lackawanna High School in Lackawanna, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers the mentorship of Robert Ambrogi

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about the impact of integration on the black community in Lackawanna, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his godfather's political career

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers the race riots at Lackawanna High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his struggles at the majority-white Lackawanna High School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about interracial dating at Lackawanna High School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his two eldest sons

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers the State University of New York at Binghamton

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his college mentors

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls his suspension from the State University of New York at Binghamton

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls his return to the State University of New York at Binghamton

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his early acting experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls his acting experiences in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls performing in 'Native Son'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ruben Santiago recalls his academic experiences at Wayne State University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls receiving his master's degree

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls moving to New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers his early acting career in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls auditioning for the Negro Ensemble Company

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls his roles with the Negro Ensemble Company

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers providing for his children

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his experiences as a soap opera actor

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers auditioning for August Wilson

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls marrying his wife

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson explains the origin of his twins' names

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his wife's career

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about the black theater community

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls his role in 'Jelly's Last Jam'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers lessons from Gregory Hines

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson explains his choice of roles

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his approach to film roles

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls acting in August Wilson's 'Seven Guitars'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls starring on the television show 'Castle'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers his early directorial career

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about his film roles

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls creating the stage play 'Lackawanna Blues'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers the first production of 'Lackawanna Blues'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls performing 'Lackawanna Blues' in Hollywood

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about the film adaptation of 'Lackawanna Blues'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls the national response to 'Lackawanna Blues'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ruben Hudson-Santiago remembers a lesson from August Wilson

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes the legacy of his surrogate mother

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about the influence of everyday life on his writing

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers directing 'Gem of the Ocean'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers directing August Wilson's plays, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls the obstacles to his production of 'Jitney'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about the preservation of August Wilson's plays

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about the interpretations of August Wilson's plays

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes the cost of a Broadway production

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson remembers directing August Wilson's plays, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his directorial style

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls a lesson from his surrogate mother

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about his commitment to acting

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls directing 'The Piano Lesson,' pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls directing 'The Piano Lesson,' pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his play, 'Your Blues Ain't Sweet Like Mine'

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his creative inspiration

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his TED talk

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson shares his advice to young actors

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson reflects upon his life

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about the importance of black theater

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about modern racism, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about modern racism, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his advice to a group of black construction workers

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about standing up for yourself, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about standing up for yourself, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson shares his advice to African American actors

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about the current black television networks

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his family

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$6

DAStory

10$1

DATitle
Ruben Santiago-Hudson describes his father's career on the railroad
Ruben Santiago-Hudson recalls creating the stage play 'Lackawanna Blues'
Transcript
So, he went to Florida, Chicago [Illinois], then Buffalo [New York] with Pedro [ph.], got that job. He had like three jobs he said before the week was over and he had to choose, so he chose the railroad. He liked the sound of the train, you know, and he--and that's where he spent his--he--and they never promoted him. He kept the same job. They gave him a raise, a little raise, but he said every year, they would bring a new young white guy in to be his boss and he would have to teach the guy how to be his boss. The guy would ask him to do something with a certain tool and he'd say, you know, "No, no, no--you don't--you don't--you don't do this like that. You, you take the--you hit with this? No, you don't move it. You, you don't (unclear), but if I move this, you--show you how to do it." And he--my father [Ruben Santiago] would show him and the guy would say, "Oh, okay, now I know," every other year. And I think what broke his heart more than anything 'cause he gave his life to the railroad and, you know, he wasn't one of them sit in the house kind of guys on the railroad, he was a track man. That means, anything going wrong with the track, you take care of it. So, in Buffalo in the winter when the track is supposed to switch so the train can go to the destination, when it get icy, it won't switch, so he had to make it switch. He had to go on there and thaw it, beat the track over, get it lined up, lock it in, and watch the train make that move, and then he can go back to--so, and that's what he did his whole, whole career. And he said the thing, the biggest thing that hurt him there, 'cause in the summer they would hire--if your kid was a college kid, the railroad would give you a job for the summer. You could work with your father, make five dollars, four dollars an hour, which was a lot of money in 1974, and they wouldn't--they never hired me. And he took me to his boss, to the big Penn Station--Penn, Penn Central--New York Central Railroad offices in Buffalo. It's, it's now abandoned, gorgeous building, took me up to the biggest boss up in an elevator and--, "This my son, you know, he, he go to college, he, he going to--he very smart, you know. He can working, too." They never hired me. He did it twice and they didn't hire me and that hurt him. And he never said anything until he was almost gone, you know, when he was like in his sixties, he admitted it to me. He said it hurt that they didn't hire me and they hired everybody else's son. Every white guy that brought his son got hired, but not me. And even--he even had me come to his job and meet him while he was working on the tracks, "Meet me at so and so," and I would meet him and took him--meet his foreman and say, "Put a word in for my son. He's good. He's in college." Never hired me, and that hurt him, you know.$I wanna talk about 'Lackawanna Blues' [Ruben Santiago-Hudson]. When did you start writing it?$$I started writing it--I tried--I tried to start writing it in, in college, but I wasn't sincere. I was afraid to expose a lot, so I, I put it away pretty fast. One of the teachers said I was the worst writer he had ever seen and I should forget about that, you know. It's like I should forget about Shakespeare [William Shakespeare]. I mean, the whole way is forget about it, forget about it, forget about it. You know, you never tell a kid that. So, I didn't write again, but I kept telling Nanny's [Rachel Crosby] stories, anybody that would listen, subway down the street. I just--even today, you know, I still tell Nanny's stories as you can tell in this interview. And I was telling it to Rosemarie Tichler and John Dias at The Public Theater [New York, New York] and George [HistoryMaker George C. Wolfe] was in charge of The Public, "You gotta go tell George." I said, "George has heard these stories." "You gotta go tell--just tell him the one you just told me." So, we go into George's office and I tell the story, George says, "Yeah." He says, you know, I'm tir- he said, "I'm tired of hearing these stories, you know. You need to go write them down." I said--you know, "They, they would probably be a great story and everybody need to hear and quit telling me and quit telling him." And I said, "Yeah, somebody gotta write it." He said, "Yeah, you," and walked out of the room. "I gotta go to this other meeting." And I'm like, we gotta get somebody to write this story. So, I think a week later, I got a commission from The Public Theater, a couple thousand dollars or something to write this play. So, I said, wow, I got accountability and responsibility, I gotta--I gotta do this thing. I just gotta find a writer. I'm not a writer. So, we hired a grad student from Columbia University [New York, New York] to transcribe what I was putting on the tape. They said, "What do you need?" I said, "A tape recorder, my harmonica, and a light in the room," and I just start telling stories into the mic- microphone and she typed them out and typed them out all wrong. If I say something, she would correct it. Like if I say something like I heard somebody say at the rooming house like heard them fool got drunk, cut each other throat. She would write I heard those fools had gotten drunk last night and cut each other's throats. No, heard them fool got drunk, cut each other throat last night. So, I had to start writing it to correct her, and that's how I started writing it.$$And this was about what time?$$This was--this was '90-something, '98 [1998], '90-something. And then my boy, Bill Sims, Jr., who did all the music, I called Bill Sims, I said, "Man, bring your guitar in here, man. I want you to play woodshed a little bit while I--while I do this monologue. I want you to hear this monologue." And Bill would come sit in that corner with his guitar and start playing. "Do that again, do that again, do that again." I would do it again and he would do a different thing to it. Or he would be playing and I say--and then I would pick up my harmonica and start playing, and we just start gluing it together, gluing it together. And I had a director who I brought in from Binghamton [State University of New York at Binghamton, Binghamton, New York], and George came to hear our first--my first pass at it, some of my stories with this director and he was a musical theater guy and he needed a break. He wanted a break. He had just moved to New York [New York] and he was a guy that I really liked at school, but we had fallen out and come back together. He was a director and they brought in from U--UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California], and he was teaching at Wagner College [Staten Island, New York]. Anyway, I brought him. He said, "Please, man, I want to get to The Public Theater. Please, I'll do anything. I'll direct the workshop, I'll do," George watched my first presentation. He said, "I need to see you in my office." I went to his office, he said, "What is that? This is not a musical comedy. This is the story of your life. What, what are you doing?" And I was like, "What do you mean?" He said, "Who, who is the director?" I said, "He's a guy I know." Well, he said, "Get him out of here. Get him out of here. Do your story. Quit playing at it. If you're gonna do your story, do your story." And I said, "All right," you know. So, he made me get real serious about it. So, I quit making everything comedy and let you laugh at the realities. If you laugh, you laughed at my characterizations or something, somebody might say--like, Ol' Po' Carl might say, "Your mama was a fine woman. Her lips was--she had the big pooty lips, look--lips was kind of like blue like she had been drinking black berry brandy," and you will laugh. Or Old Paul or, or, or, or Ol' Po' Carl would say, "Yeah, I went to New York, went up to the entire state building." You know, he was a (unclear) guy, so that would make you laugh instead of me joking everything. Just tell a story, the way it is. So, George kind of turned that around in me and Bill just got tighter and tighter. And then we brought in--George gave us a wonderful director, Loretta Greco to guide it. This is my story, but she--I needed a guiding eye, and she was a good guide for it.