By Alyssa Weston
Bryan Terrell Clark, known widely for his role as George Washington on Broadway’s Tony Award-winning musical “Hamilton,” visited campus last week to give a speech as part of Youngstown State University’s Skeggs Lecture Series.
Some other roles under Clark’s belt include Marvin Gaye in “Motown: The Musical” and Ortega in the Netflix miniseries “When They See Us.”
During his visit, the actor taught an acting master class to YSU students in Bliss Hall’s Spotlight Theater.
Clark had students participate in a series of warmups before having groups of two do exercises called “take the paper, keep the paper,” where the goal was for one actor to try to keep a newspaper in their hand and the other to try to take the newspaper from them by any means necessary.
This exercise, which Clark learned during his time at The Yale School of Drama, was to teach the importance of objectives in performing.
Clark discussed the importance of being a student for life through grace, focus and listening.
“If you open yourself up and learn how to listen, you’ll leave the experience every single night exponentially a better artist and exponentially a better person from listening,” he said.
Additionally, Clark encouraged students to listen to their inner voice for guidance them into the space they are meant to be in.
“Our job as performers and as human beings is to tap back into that voice inside of you,” he said.
Clark lectured students about the future of the entertainment industry being primarily streaming services from various networks and no longer cable television.
“I do believe there’s going to be less superstars. Because there’s going to be so much content, you might be on a hit show that literally millions of people love to watch, but none of us might ever see it because we don’t own the History channel’s you know, streaming service,” he said.
Sophia Delatore, a freshman nursing major and self-proclaimed “Hamilton” super fan, took part in the master class days before seeing “Hamilton” on Broadway in New York City.
“I’ve never been in Bliss [Hall], and I’ve never been to an acting class or anything like this, but it is super cool,” she said. “Thank you to [YSU Department of Theatre and Dance] for allowing me to come to this.”
Stephanie Smith, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, said interaction with industry professionals outside of YSU’s current faculty and staff allows students to have direct connection with the professional field while they are still in school.
“Bryan Terrell Clark, in both the master class that he gave and in his Skeggs lecture, shared personal experiences drawn from his film, TV and stage career that offered insights that are an invaluable addition to what we are teaching in the classroom,” she said.
Smith said theater is about tapping into the human condition, and the more students are exposed to more perspectives, the better.
“We are so grateful to the Skeggs family for their support and to Jackie LeViseur, director of university events, for facilitating such inspirational opportunities for our students,” she said.
Clark ended the master class with advice on the practicality of having a professional acting career.
“Nothing is practical. We think that certain spaces are more safe, but they’re not, especially if it’s going to cost you your happiness,” he said. “Creative people are so smart. Don’t worry, the money will come. The stability will come; the finances will come.”