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Interview: HOME's Stori Ayers is the June 2024 Debut of the Month

Ayers reveals how she is facing her fears as an actor in this production.

By: Jun. 24, 2024
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Stori Ayers is currently making her Broadway debut in Home, directed by Kenny Leon. Ayers is an actor, director and co-founder of [RARE] Lotus Productions. She is an original cast member and producer of Dominique Morisseau’s Blood at the Root. Ayers starred as Regina on the TBS series “The Last O.G.” and has performed on stages across the country including Ensemble Studio Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Northern Stage, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Signature Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, Round House Theatre, Detroit Public Theatre, Chautauqua Theater Company, Pennsylvania Centre Stage, Premiere Stages, Anacostia Playhouse and the National Black Theatre.

BroadwayWorld spoke with Ayers about facing her fears, what she hopes audiences take away from this play, and more. 

Read the full interview and check out photography by BroadwayWorld's own Jennifer Broski below!

How does it feel to be making your Broadway debut with Home?

It feels good, it’s also terrifying! [laughs] In all the best ways, though. This play, Home, it holds every fear that I have as an actor, the singing, playing multiple roles, poetry, miming, everything I’ve ever feared having to do and do well as an actor is all embedded into one play! And so, I face all of my acting fears, but it’s a challenge that I asked for, and so I appreciate how rich and deeper of an artist that the play forces me to be, that it asks me to me. And so, it feels good. It feels terrifying, but it’s all for the greater good! [laughs], so I’m here for it.

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Can you tell us about the character you play and what is your favorite part about playing her?

I play Woman Two, and I think of Woman two as an angel, or a spirit guide that’s sent to Cephus Miles, our main character, to assist him on his journey back home, back to himself, back to love, back to God. My character steps into many different roles to play various characters in Cephus’s retelling of his life that got him to where he is today. She comes to him as herself, as the angel spirit guide in his lowest moment to warn and urge him to return home before it’s too late. She works alongside Woman One, and together they often act as a Greek chorus, commenting on action in the story, and summarizing information, and providing background.

And so, she holds space in three different ways, and I love all of them. I love all of the spaces that she occupies, I love all of the characters that I play. Each of them were built on a kernel of truth from members of my family. So, I bring every Ayers, and Stubbs, and Fields, and Whitaker along with me, and my entire history on stage with me every time I tell this story. Out of every role I’ve ever played, Woman Two is the most satisfying, and it honors my family the most because of how much of them are all embedded in the roles that I play.

What has it been like working with the cast and creative team of Home?

It’s a small cast, it’s only three of us, and it has truly been a joy. Tory Kittles, working with him, I think that he’s the most optimistic actor I’ve ever met [laughs]. He brings to the process a strong sense of hope, and trust, and positivity, and it’s very refreshing to have that kind of attitude in a play where you are facing so many fears. And to have this beacon of optimism, 'everything is going to be alright, it’s all going to work out' right there standing next to you on stage feels really good. Brittany Inge who plays Woman One, we’re both Libras, we discovered that day one, and we discovered that we are basically sisters [laughs]. We are just alike in so many ways, and she has been a rock that has fortified me at the end of every day. And I am truly grateful to work alongside her, to tell this story with her. She is a beautiful spirit.

And Kenny as our leader, as our director, I mean, Kenny knows that there are a lot of fears in this play that I am facing, and he pushes me further into them. Anybody that works with Kenny knows how much he challenges you as an artist to rise above the fears that you have. I often refer to him as a coach in a lot of ways, because he inspires, he roots for you, he demands greatness, and Kenny really presses upon you a will and a desire to find something deeper as an artist. He is always saying don’t do what you’ve always done, don’t do what is comfortable, step into the unknown, find what you didn’t know that you had, which is scary, but I think that’s what we sign up for when we commit to a life of telling stories. And Kenny really leads us down that unknown path. And so, working with those three has been rewarding. And has been very nurturing to me and my artistic spirit.

Everyone working on the design of this show understands how much Samm-Art Williams intended for this play to be street theatre when he first wrote it, that three actors could stand on the corner in Harlem and tell this story. So, when you take that simplicity and how much Samm put emphasis on the story itself, how do you honor its origins and also the theatre magic of a Broadway stage? All of the designers have risen to that challenge, and they give us exactly what we need, nothing more, nothing less, it’s a very smart design, and a very cohesive design, and so, it’s been a pleasure working with all these Tony nominees and Tony winners to build this story!

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Do you have a favorite moment in the show?

It changes every day! Brittany, Tori and I are always like, “This is my favorite moment,” but it’s a different moment every day! We name something different every day, I think that speaks to how much we love the play as a whole. When you step into it in the beginning it feels like, 'Okay, we’re getting on this train and once this train takes off, it’s off, you’re onstage the whole time doing it, telling the story.' And every day a new moment becomes a favorite moment, I think by the end we’re just going to love every moment of the play! 

What are you most looking forward to audiences seeing?

I think of Home as a coming of age story about a young man from the South. And he very much felt abandoned by God when he needed him the most. It’s very Job-esque, despite his best efforts to be a good person and hold true to God’s teaching he loses everything. He loses his land, his family, his freedom, the love of his life, and he tries to navigate a new world in the North that is unfamiliar to him but ultimately leads to him hitting rock bottom. And in this space, something that we know from God’s teaching is that in our weakest places, God is made strong. And so you get to see Cephus on his journey back home, back to the South, and come to realize that even though he couldn’t see God's presence in his life through this trials and tribulations, through those difficult times, God never had abandoned him, he was always working everything in his favor.

I think Home reminds us that although the journey is long and hard, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. And right now in our country our world needs that light and that reminder, that it’s coming, that it’s there, that we need to hold strong and hold true together as we return back to our home, however you define home. The play itself touches on many themes and topics, but it’s always my hope that the audience will take away whatever they need. I think we go to the theatre to get something, to unearth something, to consider something new, to challenge beliefs, or understand ourselves and others more deeply. I pray that audiences take whatever they need from this play to do exactly that.

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