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  • Writer's pictureAugust Sorenson

Black History Month Collection '24

Updated: 4 days ago

With Black History Month underway, we recognize the indelible impact of Black Americans in the industry. The Actors Society honors this with a few of our Black alumni and their most recent career achievements below. As this list does not contain every esteemed alumni, let us know who else you would like to see featured!


Angel Parker

Angel Parker (‘99) is currently shooting season two of Netflix’s The Recruit in Vancouver while balancing a recurring role, Luna Grey, on The Rookie.


The Actors Society elected to mix things up with Ms. Parker, who was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to converse over the phone. She shared her perspective on the value of the arts concerning racial equity in the United States, some words of wisdom for other artists, and a few quips about this thing we call life.


The following has been edited for length and clarity.


You need to enjoy the joys. On Sunday night, I went to a yoga class with my castmates and a dinner with some friends yesterday…I was tired as hell from a long shoot day but so loved on by other artists. They understand the pain and struggle, and also the joy, of this work–of this crazy thing called acting. Find that community, surround yourself with a community when you can. You might need that survival job to pay the bills, but if there’s one piece of advice I’d give to other artists, it’s this: just don’t quit.


And our duty as artists–regardless of race or sexual orientation or anything–is to reflect the world back to itself. To hold a mirror up to society, to humanity. We’re active observers who create and tell stories; stories that are living and breathing, stories that other people can learn from, and stories that deserve to be heard.


As a Black actress, I would love for people to see me fully. I would love for other people to be seen fully, and for their full stories to be told. We’re having a sort of reckoning right now, a shake-up, with broader representation becoming more common. Every community is saying, “Hey, I have a story to tell. We have a story to tell.” Maybe we can all tell more of our Truth, and share in this thing together. Authentically tell meaningful stories, that’s what I hope to see more of.


Love, loss, and regret are such vital things…keep on learning.


James Barnes

James Barnes (‘13) has found success working in the London theatre scene, where he’s directed and taught with some of the most prestigious institutions in the world. 


In the last year, Barnes zeroed in on this path; he joined the faculty at East 15 (a top UK drama school) in the MA Acting division and continues working with Shakespeare’s Globe, now delivering “Globe Performance Practice,” a practicum dedicated to working in the Wooden O.


With what little time remains, he jumps at the opportunity to act. Captivating audiences in the short film Myrrh, a project selected for the Cannes Film Festival, and starring opposite Malgosia Bela in Trumpets, a feature from director Yvonne McDevitt, Barnes continues to exercise, and sharpen, the craft. Barnes performed alongside performance artists Luigia Riva and Daniele Derossi at the Coronet Theatre last November.


Most recently, he directed a rehearsed reading of Shanika Warren Markland’s Barbie Comes to Tea at the Soho Rising Festival.


Read last year’s full-length interview with James Barnes at theacademypages.com.


Jennifer Fouché

It’s no surprise Jennifer Fouché (‘07) kept busy in the last year, starring in countless projects of varying lengths and styles.


An accomplished stage actor, she continues to reach new heights in her theatre career. In the spring, Ms. Fouché starred in White Girl in Danger, a musical satire by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Michael R. Jackson, before spending much of the summer as Matron “Mama” Morton in the Broadway production of Chicago (a show she happily refers to as “home”), and in the fall, she landed the role of Laura Keene in the new musical Tyrants, which played two soldout shows at The National Archives in Washington D.C.


Her voice transcended beyond theatre when she sang at a White House concert with Tony Award-winning Broadway Inspirational Voices, a group she’s a member of. The event honored Juneteenth, the federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.


Ms. Fouché voiced Diana, “The Diva” in The Fairly OddParents, and narrated The Lady and the Watches, a short film by Kelly McCready.


Back in New York, she co-produced and performed in the industry reading of Half me, half you, written by Academy grad Liane Grant (‘07). She also performed in a special presentation of The Country Wife, a new musical by Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire. A teaching artist for over a decade, she continues offering acting and vocal technique classes.


Next, she’s off to Barbados to star in the film Destination Wedding, a new rom-com by Jacqueline King-Howell, and finish her solo show Grown Folks Are Talking. This spring, she will make her Guthrie Theater debut in Dominique Morriseau’s critically acclaimed play Skeleton Crew.


Ms. Jennifer Fouché would like to express gratitude for every opportunity she’s had and excitement for what’s to come.


Keith Randolph Smith

With his booming voice and undeniable presence, Keith Randolph Smith (‘86) consistently finds work onstage.


In the past year, he performed with the Roundabout Theatre Company in their production of …what the end will be by playwright Mansa Ra and Alice Childress’ play Wine in the Wilderness at Two River Theater. 


You can catch Smith in Tennessee William’s The Night of the Iguana, presented by La Femme Productions. The limited engagement runs now through February 25th at The Signature Theater in New York. Tickets and more information are available here.


After concluding the run of The Night of the Iguana, Smith will workshop a new play with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that follows a man on death row.


For an exclusive interview with Keith Randolph Smith, go to theacademypages.com.


Donald Paul

To open the year, Donald Paul (‘11) hopped onstage in North Coast Repertory’s production of Intimate Apparel


The tale weaves together the lives of George (Donald Paul), an Afro-Caribbean man laboring to build the Panama Canal, and Esther (Nedra Snipes), a seamstress working in Manhattan. The play, from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage (the first woman in history to nab the award twice), closed on February 4th after a four-week, critically acclaimed run.


The actor’s TV work is set to continue; catch Paul as Jordan Williams in an episode of FBI: Most Wanted, soon.


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