Acting While Black

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Submitted by: Ilasiea Gray

Artist's Project Description: This piece was created out of my frustration as not only a Black human, a Black woman, but also as a Black artist.  Some of the most racist comments and incidents I have encountered in my life, have been in this industry.  All while trying to do my job.  As Black women, we are held to such a high standard, as pillars of strength, for being resilient, being Black Girl Magic, yet we are so grossly disrespected. This was also the first time I have ever spoken in a public format about the systemic racism I endured at the largest arts organization in my state, where I worked as an actress and educator for 5 years.  This has had a significant impact on my life and in addition to pulling a lawsuit against them (so they wouldn’t try to make me sign an NDA), it was finally my way to lift the heavy burden of silence around what I endured.  It is especially relevant as we see many theatres across the country claiming to make the pledge towards “anti-racism.”

Artist's Bio: Ilasiea Gray is an AEA theatre and on-camera actress and arts educator based in Denver, CO.  She is a recipient of a True West Award for her impactful work in both and made history in Denver playing Sleeping Beauty as a Black actress.  The work she finds most important are social justice pieces and theatre for young audiences.  She’s currently in the inaugural cohort of an MFA program led by Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors.