Chapter Seven: Cowboy Boots

 

     When 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.

     ACT wanted me!

     It 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.

     After 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.

 

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