In the final session of “The Green Room” series in the Fall of 2020, attendees met acclaimed actor and author Hill Harper. Previously appearing in numerous projects such as Concussion and He Got Game, as well as authoring Letters to a Young Brother and The Wealth Cure, Harper shared his numerous experiences and advice from the entertainment industry and from his writing process for the attendees. He explained how bold, courageous decisions can sometimes be the most difficult choices yet also the most straightforward ones. He told the audience how one must use every tool at his or her disposal to immerse oneself into a role. Harper shared examples of how he fully immersed himself into past characters by describing prior physical transformations he underwent. He explored his own writing process and his ways of developing ideas and told the attendees to record any and every thought or idea they have as a piece of advice for all artists.
Developed by Professor Omar Sangare, Chair of the Williams Theatre Department, and moderated by students and faculty members, these sessions included speaker presentations and question-and-answer sessions. “It was truly encouraging to see a space dedicated to progressive speakers from backgrounds which tend to be underrepresented in academia and show-business,” wrote Theatre student Saud Afzal Shafi. The Green Room offered the Williams community an unprecedented opportunity to exchange perspectives and explore personal beliefs in the context of Theatre’s changing role in modern society.
Over the past four months, “The Green Room” series invited an array of theatre professionals to share the lessons they have learned through storied careers. Attendees heard from actors, authors, a costume designer, a casting director, and a photographer; every guest was dedicated to their craft and massively successful in his or her respective field. Participants of “The Green Room” series heard genuine experiences surrounding an entertainment industry that can often appear elusive and intimidating. Attendees were the given opportunities to ask meaningful questions and receive advice they could take to heart. This series provided a space for free thought and expression, and participants left each session with new perspectives and outlooks on their own lives.
The Green Room will continue the Spring of 2021 with an all-new cast of guests eager to share their experience and expertise with the Williams community. Our first speaker, Bellina Logan, is a veteran performer with experience on the stage and screen who will speak to us on Claiming Williams Day. Logan has appeared in films under directors including David Lynch and Katherine Bigelow. Additionally, we will welcome Oak Onaodowan, who has taken on a variety of roles across theatre, film, and television including in Hamilton, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Station 19. Next, students will hear from Emmy-winning actor, voice actor, and producer Keith David. His extensive career has included roles in Requiem for a Dream, Armageddon, and a wide variety of voice acting roles in films, shows, and video games. Another guest, Zach Stanford, will share lessons learned from his career in journalism at The Guardian and as editor-in-chief of The Advocate (the oldest and largest LGBTQ publication in the US) where he covered police brutality and LGBTQ issues. Students will hear from The New School Professor Zishan Ugurlu whose work has included an extensive array of acting and directing roles in theatre performances for over two decades. Additionally, world-renowned playwright and director Robert O’Hara will speak to students about his career and work exploring sexual and racial identities. The Green Room also plans to welcome Jess Salomon, an Israeli comedian married to a Palestinian wife, who examines politics and society through the lens of humor. Without a doubt, the Spring 2021 sessions of The Green Room promise to offer incredible opportunities to engage with artists, scholars, and professionals as we explore a fascinating array of diverse and underrepresented perspectives.
Special Thanks to: Betsy Ware Fippinger, Randal Fippinger, John Gerry, Mandy Greenfield, Erin Meadors, Will Titus, True Pham, Abigail Murray-Stark, Barbara Bell, David Paul, Erica A. Hart, Patric McAndrew, Keith Forman, Laurie Booth, the Lecture Committee and the Oakley Center for Humanities & Social Sciences.