BWW Interview: Stephanie Lexis-NJ Native and Founder of BROADWAY BODY POSITIVITY PROJECT
Q: Tell us about yourself:
A: I'm Stephanie Lexis. I'm a performer, songwriter, and the founder of Broadway Body Positivity Project.
Q: What is the Broadway Positivity Project (BBPP)?
A; BBPP is an organization that advocates for body positive casting in musical theatre. BBPP believes that actors of all shapes, sizes, and abilities are capable of playing roles outside the parameters of typecasting. BBPP was established this year. While the talent pool for musical theatre is more diverse than ever, casting standards are still pretty antiquated. In terms of size, plus size women are overlooked for leading roles and ingenues. Plus size women are just as capable of playing likable, romantic characters as their slim counterparts. And above all, most scripts make no reference to the romantic lead's or ingenue's physical appearances, so to cast them the same way every single time is unimaginative and sending a harmful message that only slim people are beautiful.
Q: How did the Broadway Positivity Project (BBPP) come to be?
A: As a teenager, I thought my lyric soprano voice would secure me a future as an ingenue and leading lady in the theatre realm. However, after a few distressing life events led to weight gain, I was abruptly excluded from playing romantic roles and was instead redirected to roles more suitable for women "my size." Being a soprano, most roles for women "my size" we're out of my range. Having a voice that is supposedly incompatible with my body type led me down a dizzy road of crash dieting, excessive exercise, and obsessive thoughts over my physical appearance. At one point I had to ask myself, "Even if I could achieve that perfectly chiseled ingenue body, what does this prove? That in order to play a character worthy of love, that I must be thin? What about children who attend the theatre? What are they learning when they consistently see slim women as winsome characters and plus size women as evil or undesirable characters?"
Q: You are launching an IndieGogo Campaign for BBPP. Can you explain what your campaign is all about?
A: I am producing a photo & video shoot of 7 plus size musical theatre actresses (including myself), all of whom will portray leading ladies and ingenues from popular musicals. Hailing from the top theatre districts (NYC, Chicago, Minneapolis), the 7 actresses will not only dress as the characters, but also sing their iconic songs. I guarantee that you'll be so impressed by our talent, that you'll briefly forget why this project was even created. You'll just have remembered an excellent performance by excellent performers. We are raising 16K. Prizes for indiegogo include audition coaching and dinner with a Broadway actor. I have every intention of reviving this project in coming years to highlight physically disabled actors, Little Person actors, etc.
The models are:
LaVon Fisher-Wilson (NYC)
Arianna Armon (NYC)
Stephanie Lexis (NYC)
Suzi Juul (Minneapolis)
Deidre Cochran (Minneapolis)
Brittney Brown (Chicago)
Coco Kasperowicz (Chicago)
Link to IndieGogo campaign:
You can follow The Broadway Positivity Project on Facebook: @broadwaybopo
Photo Credit: Stephanie Lexis