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BWW Interview: Kira Troilo on Sharing her Own Story and her New Blog

Kira Troilo was balancing motherhood, working full-time, and moonlighting in the theatre before the pandemic; now she is taking time to share her perspectives with others

BWW Interview: Kira Troilo on Sharing her Own Story and her New Blog

"2020 really broke us down to our barest parts, and now we have to figure out how to build ourselves back up." Kira Troilo speaks generally, but for someone who was just finding the perfect balance in being a new mom, working full-time, and freelancing as an actor and choreographer before the pandemic, her commentary seems unambiguous. For the past 10 years, Troilo has worked professionally as a writer and editor during the day and has focused her creative efforts on telling other peoples' stories by night. But amidst the ataxia of the past year, and prompted by what she found to be a collective racial reckoning, she has felt compelled, empowered, and called to more actively and more extensively share her own story with the world.

"It took me a while to realize this but, I have a unique voice. If I can put into words what others feel but can't express, then that's my role." In a recent post to her blog titled The Complex Art of Being a Biracial Actor, Troilo opened up about the complexities facing actors who may not be simply Black or white, tracing her own experiences as a young performer and pondering the future of her young son.

"What happens if (okay, let's be real, when) my son gets into theater? He is Black, White (sic) and Jewish. What roles will he be able to play? He is Jewish, but is he 'Jewish enough' for Fiddler on the Roof? He is Black, but is he 'Black enough' for The Color Purple? He is a beautiful mix of ethnicities, and I can't wait to share and explore his various identities with him. But what does his multiracial identity mean for him in this current theater environment?

He may look like he belongs as a character in many stories. But is it 'authentic' for him to be playing roles that don't line up with his own racial identity? He may look like a Bernardo in West Side Story, but he's not Latino, so that wouldn't be authentic. But should he be discouraged from playing roles that do line up with his racial identity because he doesn't quite look the part? His skin is lighter than mine, so unlike me, his portrayal of a Black character might raise more eyebrows."

Reflecting on the outpouring of responses she got to the post, Troilo ruminates, "I know a few biracial theatre artists, and the consensus is; we struggle to find the language to talk about our specific struggle. Diversity and inclusion in casting is already so loaded, so I think mixed people tend to stay quiet about their experiences. But I decided to tell my story, and other biracial theatre artists (not just Black and white - there are so many actors of different mixes) reached out to thank me for speaking on the issue. And white friends reached out to me telling me they had never thought of this (issue) before."

One positive experience she reflects upon was playing Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act. Troilo feels the director of the production allowed her to bring her own identity to the role rather than confining her within the assumptions often placed on Black performers or the assumption that the role must be played like Whoopi Goldberg in the movie. "I couldn't have felt supported in that production without the director recognizing the weight of playing a role like that."

Much of the blog post deals with the assumptions placed onto Troilo or other biracial performers by audiences, casting directors, and even fellow performers, but in our conversation, Troilo speaks candidly about her intention to be deliberate and authentic in all of her work. This ties in with her reinvigorated desire to share her own narrative with the public. "My choreography and performing are authentic, but writing my own story and opening up about my past really does something for me, and so far, people have responded really positively." After finding the right balance of work, theatre, and motherhood, Troilo is ready to continue sharing her stories in "little ways", with the eventual goal of writing a book. "The journey that ignited within me in 2020 ends in a book. I want to explore where I come from, the role of race in my life, and how that plays into who I am now." Her enlivened passion for writing has propelled her "headfirst" into her blog, with another piece coming soon which addresses systemic racism through its parallels to collective trauma.

Check out her blog, Biracial Mom here.

Follow her Instagram account @biracial_mom for daily updates.

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