As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.
The series continues with De'Lon Grant, who was making his Broadway debut as Bob in the Tony-nominated musical Come From Away when the pandemic shuttered theatres around the world. The actor spent three years traveling the country and the world in the Tony-winning musical Jersey Boys, and he received a 2017 IRNE Award as well as an Elliot Norton Award nomination for his portrayal of Haywood Patterson in The Scottsboro Boys. Grant has also been seen in stage productions of Douglass, Invisible Man, Big River, Troilus and Cressida, Cymbeline, Dessa Rose, and Harriet Jacobs, while his screen credits include Silver Circle, Surrogates, and The Spiral Project.
What is your typical day like now?
Things are a little looser for me these days, but I have tried, with moderate success, to establish a bit of a morning routine to make sure I feel some structure and forward momentum in my life. My mornings are filled with catching up on the news, reading, any cleaning I need to do around the apartment. I have been taking music classes during the shutdown, so I usually try to play the piano or do some music production learning/writing at some point in the morning. I typically transition into the afternoon with a walk to Prospect Park in Brooklyn or any errands I need to run. As the weather changes, I’m getting a lot better about working out, so later afternoon I usually take a short run or do an in-home workout. Catching up on phone calls or Zooms have been slated for my evenings, along with a bit of evening news. I close my days out with whatever show I happen to be bingeing at the time.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
Books: I recently finished The Great Believers by Rachel Makkai; Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is a book I plan to reread soon.
TV Shows: Amend: The Fight for America, I May Destroy You, and It's a Sin
Podcasts: Stuff You Missed in History Class and You're Wrong About
Films: In & Of Itself (highly recommend)
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow actors, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
I’d like us to remember that “white” is still the default too often on our stages, backstage, behind the audition table, in the script, authoring the script, in the lighting booth, behind the soundboard, at the producers meeting, on the union council, and I’d urge us to keep pressing to answer, “Why is that?” I think in trying to rectify this status quo we often perceive the fix as “well, let’s find some BIPOC folks and put them in these positions.” Yes, yes, yes, please do—that action is required! But I think the first step in truly unlearning the ways in which we naturally select and expect white people in a majority of the jobs, positions, and spaces in our industry, and the country writ large, is to ask why we do it. Action without having a strong why is movement as opposed to lasting change.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
First, I am right there with you. The end of winter was extremely trying on my mental health, and the tectonic social and civil shifting has forced a few more existential crises than I was prepared for. However, we are here. We have made it thus far, through all of it, and we are much stronger than we know. Remember to find a small joy or a tiny win to award yourself everyday. Sometimes getting out of bed is enough.
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you?
I love learning and, as I said, I’ve been taking music classes during the pandemic. Working on music projects has been a saving grace for me. Creating something, learning the chords to the song on the guitar or piano, writing lyrics to a song (even if they’re bad, LOL) has made me feel good even on my worst days.
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
I’m a big supporter/fan of The Actors Fund. I have used their services in the past, and I think they are an amazing resource for artists. Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS is another great organization.