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Student Blog: What It's Like Being a POC in the Theatre Industry - An Interview with Liberty Mack

“We still have so much work to do. And there are so many performers, as well as organizations, putting in the work for things to change." - Liberty Mack

Student Blog: What It's Like Being a POC in the Theatre Industry - An Interview with Liberty Mack
Photo courtesy of the
@broadwayforracialjustice
Instagram Page.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of speaking with Liberty Mack, an 18-year-old senior in high school with a resume that already rivals those in the professional world: an inaugural scholar of the Mosaic Project with Karen Olivo, as well as being a featured performer on the Broadway for Racial Justice Instagram page.

Her theatre story begins at eight years old, when she started performing. She says it became a sort of "companion" for her, when it was hard to make friends. Growing up, she was told that she was talented, but then would not get roles. "I learned from a young age that people who look like me aren't put in the spotlight." Her first role was Brenda Cratchit, Tiny Tim's sister, in a regional production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

In high school, she played Muzzy in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, the Killer Queen in WE WILL ROCK YOU, and in April, she will be playing Olive in THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE. For her role in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, she was a Broadway Star of the Future finalist, a regional competition that determines which actor and actress attend the Jimmy Awards.

"Growing up, I didn't really see myself in TV or film. I saw Black women in roles that I didn't think represented the community at all. I saw them through the lens of a stereotype; I didn't want to be the 'sassy Black girl'."

She continues on to tell me about her journey of learning that this isn't okay, and how POC shouldn't feel pigeonholed or obligated to uphold negative stereotypes about their communities. They can play any role they desire. "We, in the theatre community, pride ourselves on telling stories," she explains, "but we can't effectively do that without different perspectives. It's ironic how theatre is supposed to be accepting, but it's not as inviting to minorities as it preaches. It should be about putting people in roles, not because of their race, but because they are meant to play that part."

In her junior year of high school, she became tired of being type-cast and having to prove herself worthy of being a performer. "But," she says hopefully, "with the re-spark of the Black Lives Matter movement, I have been able to find my voice in theatre, as well as socially."

"We still have so much work to do." she continues. "And there are so many performers, as well as organizations, putting in the work for things to change; to push for equity on and off the stage."

Mack highly recommends Broadway for Racial Justice, an organization that is pushing for the change that we so need. Their mission statement is as follows: "Fighting for racial justice and equity by providing immediate resources, assistance, and amplification for BIPOC in the Broadway and Theatrical community at-large. In doing so, we help to create safe spaces throughout the theatre community for creativity and artistry to thrive." You can check out their website here, as well as their Instagram page: @broadwayforracialjustice.

Be sure to keep up with Liberty Mack here, as well as her Instagram page: @liberty.mack. She is certainly putting in the work, and it is paying off in multiple ways: making change and inspiring others.


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From This Author Student Blogger: Bea Mienik