Chapter One: Sixteen


      We were an unlikely royal court family. Me, an African American queen, flanked by my Anglo king and our blonde, blue-eyed daughter and her African American suitor.

      The play was Milne’s The Ugly Duckling and the year was 1966. The place was Project Upward Bound at California State University, Chico and this was my very first play. Aside from my Oro Vista Baptist Church Christmas and Easter recitations each year as a child, this was my introduction to performing and my entree into the world of theatre.

      I was absolutely exhilarated playing such a powerful leading role. And to receive the accolades of a clapping audience of family and friends that was headed by my mother in the front role as she beamed with pride at her baby daughter. I had never experienced anything quite like the joy of being on stage.

      The non-traditional multicultural casting had been color blind. Our director, Larry Dick, had cast based on talent. Race had nothing to do with it.

      I did not know then the significance of color blind casting. I did not know that being cast based on talent and without regard to racial limitations was not the norm. I would come to be cast in other non-traditionally cast plays over the years such as in A Christmas Carol at ACT and Kabuki Medea at Berkeley Repertory Theatre; but I would also learn that I could not expect it.



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