Scroll through T. Oliver Reid's Instagram feed and the energy is palpable. The alumnus of the School of Music's voice program (B.M. Music '93) hosts a four-time-a-week Instagram and Facebook Live show, "Wake Up," where he talks pop culture, politics and everything in between for friends, family and anyone who wanders into the live show.
That spirit clearly extends beyond his mornings, as his career on Broadway, television and in music has shown. Most recently, he appeared in "Hadestown" and "Once On This Island" on Broadway but his work extends beyond the stage. Among his other roles, he's a member of the UNCSA Board of Visitors and has recently formed his own foundation, the Black Theatre Coalition (BTC). Despite the shutdown of Broadway due to COVID-19, he's still managed to find ways to keep busy and continue working toward systemic change in the realm he knows and loves.
Reid took time out of his busy schedule to talk with us about his work with BTC, discuss what's next for "Wake Up" and reflect on his years at UNCSA:
My co-founder, Warren Adams, and I have been meeting for the past 16 months about how we could shine a light on the great work of Black professionals in the theater industry. As we took a deeper dive, we realized that we had far to go in building an equitable industry and workplace.
Our mission is to remove the “illusion of inclusion” in the American theater, by building a sustainable ethical roadmap that will increase employment opportunities for Black theater professionals. Our vision is to reshape the working ecosystem for those who have been marginalized by systemically racist and biased ideology in the job space.
Our mission is to remove the 'illusion of inclusion' in the American theater, by building a sustainable ethical roadmap that will increase employment opportunities for Black theater professionals.T. Oliver Reid
We are currently partnering with Industry leaders on initiatives in many areas that will offer opportunities and connections that will allow BTC to move the needle when it comes to equity and inclusion.
"Wake Up" has been happening for four years now. I had been thinking of a way to connect with friends and family with an idea that could/can at some point have a national audience. It’s gone from three shows a week to four times a week because we are in the middle of a pandemic and people are in need of connection. The show offers a bit of pop culture, politics, Broadway info/gossip, a salute to those celebrating birthdays and an inspirational moment to get people out of their beds/homes/cars and into a day with some hope.
My audience is friends and family far and wide and the occasional person who comes across it and stays. There are some people that I don’t know but we share a common experience and we need each other to make it through.
Everyone is in need of human fellowship. I think they get that in the mornings with me.
An interview series that goes along with the morning show — interviewing celebrity friends/colleagues as they too traverse the COVID-19 age to add a more human touch to who we think celebrities and those with fame are and how they live and think.
There are so many. I have been so fortunate in the shows and people who have been a part of my journey. Each moment has helped define me as a person and artist and led me to this moment.
Kennedy Center Honors are always a real blast. It’s rare that you ever see your political heroes and your celebrity faves in one place and that night really delivers the best of everyone.
I was a NCNB [North Carolina National Bank] scholarship recipient and that took me to [U]NCSA at the time. My experience was singular in that I was allowed to take classes within the other disciplines, Drama and Dance. It helped shape and prepare me for a career in theater. Also I had three voice teachers while I was there as people left and came in. That helped me understand how to take care of my voice and use the parts of one person’s technique with parts of another to keep my voice working.
Ask questions and ask questions and ask questions. This is the time to gather every bit of information that you can from your professors.T. Oliver Reid
Ask questions and ask questions and ask questions. This is the time to gather every bit of information that you can from your professors. Some things aren’t a part of the curriculum but they have lived outside of the curriculum. ASK!
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September 15, 2020