One of the 2017 winners of the Extraordinary Excellence in Diversity on Broadway Award and friend of the podcast Caesar Samayoa (Come From Away) shares how vital representation is in American theatre.
I am a very proud son of immigrants. My family came to the United States from Guatemala and I was born in NYC. The arts were never a big part of my early life. Both my parents worked hard jobs and education was a priority.
I remember when my teacher pushed me to go to my first Broadway show. I was completely overwhelmed by what I was seeing. It was life changing. But I’ll never forget the distinct feeling that I did not actually SEE myself there.
I didn’t see my community represented; the language that I spoke at home, the sounds and rhythms of the people that we spent time with. People that looked like my family, and the music that we would play and dance to from our Latin radio stations. It was as if what i was watching existed in some incredible place without people like me and my family.
Look at how far we’ve come!!
I’m currently in Come From Away on Broadway and we were given the honor of receiving the 2017 award for Extraordinary Excellence in Diversity on Broadway from Actors Equity. I was overwhelmed to be asked to receive the award on behalf of my company.
Every single night the comment I hear the most from our audience is “I can SEE myself up on that stage!” Come From Away embraces every type of ethnicity, age, size, color, sexuality, both onstage and backstage. We are a company that is at the forefront with female stage management, musicians, creative and crew members and we honor the incredible diversity that makes up our country by representing it simply and truthfully.
Yes we have further to go, but what an honor to be a part of a show that will never hear a young boy or girl say “I don’t SEE myself there….”