Bay Area theater saw the promotion of three new Black female or femme-identified nonbinary leaders in rapid succession this year.
Q: Has each of you always seen yourself as a leader?
Khalia Davis: I have not always seen myself in a leadership position in the theater industry. I started out as a kid actor, from 6 years old. I thought I was going to be an actress for the screen. It was not until I was in high school and I booked TheatreWorks Silicon Valley that I thought, “Oh, you can make money being a theater artist.” But the problem was that I was not seeing myself reflected in spaces of leadership. (As my career progressed), I was recognizing that I have a lot of opinions about the theater for a young audience (TYA) industry. I was recognizing that I’m not seeing myself in these spaces, and that I’m not hearing particular things being voiced. That probably means that I need to be that person.
Q: Each of you is so new in your organizations that maybe this isn’t a fair question, but is there something you’ve already done — even if it’s something small or tough to quantify, that you wouldn’t necessarily put on a resume — that you’re proud of?
Davis: Something that I love that we’ve all adopted is this access check-in before all of our meetings, where we focus everybody on: What does everyone need? That could be as simple as, “My Wi-Fi’s spotty today,” to, during some of our darkest times in the last few months, I have been very honest and open about where my head was at, how it was hard for me to think when community members are being gunned down in the streets. I appreciated us having the space every single day before we got into the work to just say, “As a human, how are you?”
Q: What does Kamala Harris as VP mean to each of you?
Davis: It’s so refreshing and gratifying to witness someone who has continually owned both parts of herself in her identity throughout her whole life and who has done the work to learn more about that history so she can speak to those members of the community in a more educated, grounded, respectful way. I also think it’s great to see someone who appreciates and celebrates life. There is a joy that she brought. We have not seen that in four years.
Read the full interview by Lily Janiak from Datebook here.