BWW Interviews: She Ain't No Cheerleader - Zuri Washington
Despite making it through the initial round of auditions and several rounds of callbacks for BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL, reality didn't set in for Zuri Washington until the end of the audition process. Leading up to that moment, the 22-year-old actress was just "going through the motions" and not thinking too much about it. "It hit me really hard around the final callback when there were only two of us," she says. "I saw her [the other girl] and I knew it was between her and I. It was probably my worst round of auditions, too." She wasn't too bad because fast-forward, and Washington is now one of the stars in the touring version of the musical.
A collaboration with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt and Amanda Green, and book by Jeff Whitty, the premise of BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL is simple. When Campbell (Nadia Vynnytsky) is redistricted from her perky, suburban bubble known as Truman High to the inner city Jackson High, she is devastated. Matters are only made worse when she finds out there's not even a cheerleading squad, and her world comes crashing down. The plot thickens when Campbell discovers her redirection is all part of a devious plan. With the help of Jackson High's Queen Bee, Danielle (Zuri Washington) and her crew, Campbell fights to make everything right. There's much more to the story but you get the general idea.
Washington's first experience in the world of musical theatre began as a child, when she played Pepper in a production of ANNIE. She didn't know it then but as she got older and gained independence, she found herself attending more shows and really thinking about musical theatre as a career. After doing some research she attended Ensemble Theatre Community School, honing her skills and learning the business. Upon graduating, Washington packed her bags and hit the road with her first national tour.
In BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL, Washington plays Danielle, the sassy, street wise leader of Jackson High's elite. And while Washington may not seem like a domineering personality, the Bronx native tackles her first major role out of college with tenacity and bite. "I am very thankful for the opportunity. They really took a chance on me and I am so lucky," she says.
While the actress spends a majority of her time focused on staying healthy for the show, she like all performers must spend some time planning her next steps because tours aren't forever. "I'm auditioning for some things at the moment but I'm not silly about it," says Washington. "I will cross my fingers." And we will, too.
Being on the road full-time allows for a lot of reflection, not only on what's next but anything and everything. Here, Washington shares some facts about life on the road, future goals, and even an interesting fact about her:
- TRAVEL ESSENTIALS: "A belt box---if you don't know what it is, look it up."
- TOUR STOPS: "I loved Arizona. The weather was great, and I just had a great time. I'm sure when we go to Japan it'll be great, too!"
- WHAT SHE'S LEARNED: "I've learned a lot of self-discipline on this tour. You have to take care of your body because it can be really taxing."
- BODY QUIRKS: "My arms don't straighten completely. It's like the opposite of hyperextension."
- THE FUTURE: "One day I want to be the next black actress, that little girls can look up to."
BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL plays May 13 -18 at The Ordway. 345 Washington Street, St. Paul, 651.224.4222, ordway.org.
From This Author Noah Lee Jordan