|Chapter Seven: Cowboy Boots|
I received a telephone call in 1986 from Ed Hastings, then Artistic
Director of the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT), offering me a
full-time teaching position in the highly competitive Advanced Training
Program, my heart began to pound with excitement and trepidation. It was
not as if I had been called to interview as an instructor. I had been
invited on the team without question. ACT, one of the premiere league
theatre training schools in the country that joins the ranks of Yale
School of Drama and Julliard, seemed out of my league as a teacher at that
time. Its fine reputation, coupled with the fact there were so few African
American students who had trained in its Advanced Training Program over
the years made it an exciting and honorable new challenge.
would only be after I had accepted my full-time teaching post that I
learned I had become ACTís first African American to teach full-time in
its highly coveted Advanced Training Program. The likes of Anna DeVeare
Smith and Delores Mitchell had taught at ACT before me, but not in the
same historical capacity.
accepting the post, I also learned I was not only the only African
American teacher in the Advanced Training Program, but also the only
full-time female instructor in
that same program.
I was constantly reminded of my standing as I sat in the front row each week giving critiques of student scenes, and looking down the row at my fellow faculty members in their cowboy boots as we all sat together. Perhaps because I was the newest kid on the block, I was often called on last to critique. Though bothersome, I developed a keener eye for detail.