Stephanie Renee - Take Wing
Nov 23, 2013

Learning how to be beautiful and soar

With all of the recent talk about black films being stuck in servitude mode, I was reminded of a counter-phenomenon that was a blessing to me, back in my musical theater days.

Auditioning, for most actors, is a nerve-wracking necessity. You learn a few lines, or perhaps a song or two, and then subject yourself to extreme scrutiny for however many times the casting crew needs to be sure that you're the right one for the role. I've submitted audition material electronically, been given preferred calls because somebody liked something they saw from me in a previous show, and logged many an hour and mile going back and forth to New York City by bus or train. But when you get that email or that call saying "We want you," it's worth every bit of drama you went through to land the part.

In the height of my theatrical career, I greatly benefited from a practice called non-traditional casting. In its best incarnation, this means that a director is liberated from whatever he or she has seen before in other similar productions, or whatever instructions may have been given about how a character looks. They are free to reconceive the story or the interaction of the roles in a way that provides a fresh take on the moral and the lessons therein. It was a joy to be a part of diverse, eclectic casts that didn't type me into servitude, single motherhood, poverty or any other kind of restrictive mold that belies the limitless wonder of creativity and the stage. And in the moments before each show began, our merry band of thespians would always utter a phrase to one another before the curtains opened. Most people are taught that "Break a leg" is what we say, an odd way to turn potential bad luck into something beautiful. But I became fond of a different tradition, and that's to say "Take wing" instead. Because when you have an excellent performance, when you are firmly in the zone of great material and talent, it does indeed feel like what I imagine flying to be. No boundaries. No fears. Only ignition and liftoff, high above mortal concerns.

So WURD family, if you are blessed enough to know what you're good at, then do not let life get so busy to keep you from it for very long. Handle your responsibilities, make your money, but don't forget to take wing! The world deserves to see you in your best light, above all limitations. Soaring.

Here is last week's playlist: