A Conversation with Kiana Douglas
Updated: Sep 18
Actress Kiana Douglas (’20) graduated into an industry in tumult, a theatre world beset by the COVID-19 pandemic. With passion and perseverance, she managed to work in digital theatres, and she recently played in a production of The Wizard of Oz at the Arizona Broadway Theatre—with more on the way.
Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Tell me about your current projects. I understand you’re working onstage in Arizona?
I am currently in the ensemble of The Wizard of Oz at the Arizona Broadway Theatre, just about to end the run. I'm back in New York soon and will have things going on there.
This is quick work for a recent alum. What was your experience, having graduated in 2020, into the pandemic?
It's been interesting...graduating in 2020 was rough because of COVID, but I was lucky enough to get a lot of virtual work that helped with connections and building my resumé. I did a virtual project called Mirror on the Wall which was an adaptation of Snow White with a BIPOC cast. That was filmed and streamed and was my first big project after graduation.
What are your aspirations for the future, where do you imagine yourself fitting into the industry, especially considering the current strike?
The next five years are more focused on theater than film or TV, but if some film or TV fell into my lap, I certainly wouldn't complain! With the strike going on, it hasn't affected theatre the same way, but there's some conversation about it. There's so much demand for art and entertainment, it's so necessary, but we're so often not rewarded for the work we do in the way we should be.
Why did you choose The Academy?
I didn't know that a conservatory was a thing, that there was a school you could go to focus on your art until I went to a college fair. I discovered The Academy there and decided to do a sort of trial run and went to the summer program. I got a good understanding of what the school was about in those two weeks I was there. And to work on my voice and breath, to connect to my body...there was such a technique. I realized there was so much I didn't understand about this.
So I applied and auditioned for the two-year conservatory program, and it was the best decision I ever made. I was so happy with my training and my experience there, and I feel like I grew a lot as a person and in my ability to connect with people on and off stage.
How do you stay inspired, what keeps you interested in doing this work?
I think there are a couple of things, and I think they all tie together. The reason I started performing was because I saw a Broadway show and fell in love with it. I realized when I was 14 while doing one of my first shows that this was what I needed to do for the rest of my life. It was so heartwarming to get to share a show with an audience and have them come up to me afterward and tell me how inspired they were by what we did. Those moments and memories that are shared by people are so special. Whether it’s creating joy, bringing people together, or any other experience, I realized that this makes a real impact.
Being able to connect with scene partners on a deeper level is something that has always meant a lot to me. I'm a very introverted person and with day-to-day interactions, I'm very quiet. Theatre is where I really open up and connect to people. It's like I can connect with a room of 500 people all at once. So I think it's the connection that really keeps me going. That's what means a lot to me.
What are some upcoming projects, and how can people get in touch with you?
So as soon as I get back to New York, I'm doing a cabaret at 54 Below that will feature music by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, from the TV series Galavant. I'm very excited about that.
Congratulations on that, that’s huge.
Yes, thank you...it's really exciting. Then right after that, I'm doing something called The Comeback Cabaret, which gives people an opportunity to get back to the stage and sing the songs they've missed singing since COVID shut things down. I'll be singing a song from The Last Five Years at that.
After that, I'll be back at this theatre in Arizona doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
This is all very exciting, inspiring news. I wish you the best and thank you for chatting with me today.
Of course, my pleasure. You too, take care.