It’s best to start your activism young, advises Celia Keenan-Bolger, an actress nominated three times for Tony Awards, who grew up in a family of activists. That way, “it’s like your daily routine in the morning. You brush your teeth, you call your congressman, and go to work.”
Keenan-Bolger was speaking at the 2017 BroadwayCon panel entitled Actors and Activism, one of four Broadway actors – along with Hamilton’s Okieriete Onaodowan, Shuffle Along’s Amber Iman, In Transit’s Margo Seiberg – and director Tina Landau.
Yes, they acknowledged, there are obstacles to activism. Some people are afraid that producers and directors will blacklist them, Amber Iman said. It’s a challenge, said Tina Landau, for non-profit theaters to get around the requirement to keep out of electoral politics in order to maintain their 501(c)3 status. It’s not easy, Margo Seibert pointed out, to be truly inclusive.
There also can be peer pressure to become an all-out activist — loud and proud, and all that — even if that does not fit your personality. To which Landau replies: “The personal is political. The political is personal. It’s your heart. You will find your way to activism, however big or small.”
Below are four videos from the panel.
Performer Amber Iman explains how, looking for “a real purpose in my life,” rather than just waiting for my next show, founded Broadway for Black Lives Matter, which has become the ongoing organization Broadway Advocacy Coalition.
Director Tina Landau explains how she overcame her shyness about street activism to help found The Ghostlight Project.
Actress Margo Seibert explains Racket, the organization she co-founded that battles the same women feel about menstruation.
Keenan-Bolger, Iman, Landau, Seibert and Hamilton’s Okieriete Onaodowan offer advice on how to become an activist.
Operate always out of love — Okieriete Onaodowan