By Alejandro Saucedo
How can I fix this?
That’s where I left off on the first blog post of this series, and honestly, it’s something that I end each day ruminating on. I know what you’re thinking, “This kid should compartmentalize and just accept the opportunities he gets. Move through the world that exists.” Ok, maybe YOU specifically weren’t thinking that, but it is an opinion that exists throughout the community and one that sometimes sneaks into my brain. It takes a lot of work to think beyond what exists for yourself. And I do get tired, which then stirs up the guilt within me again as I realize my path to successful opportunities in the DFW community has been pretty linear.
My parents supported me in becoming an artist.
I lucked into a school district that believed in the importance of the arts.
My high school teacher had a connection to the TCU Theatre Program.
Scholarships I received covered all of my tuition costs.
I was able to live at home while I went to college and just focus on school.
My first professional show introduced me to a notable leader of the community.
That leader directs the shows in the area that I fit into.
Thriving in those roles put me in theaters enough for other directors to see me and for the theaters to trust me to now direct.
It would be so much easier to sit and decide that I made it to where I am with the luck that I feel I deserve. Maybe even earned. There is freedom in not owing anything to the experiences that led you here…but there is a reflective calling within people of color. We are the ones who keep our history. We have seen what happens when you only carry forward victories and cherry pick facts. And, we see what happens in a world where we only look out for the people that look like us.
The white majority on stages and in theatrical positions of power fear dissecting how they truly got to where they are. They are scared that what they discover will dismiss the hard work they put into becoming who they are. That is truly a reasonable jump. Quite a large one, but reasonable as you start to think about how vulnerable a career in theatre is. Constant rejection, comparing yourself to the current market, and depending on others’ views of yourself for jobs. Feeling as though you have the minority voice in the path of your life is not an empowerful realization. It is a realization that people of color had to make for themselves from the very start of their theatrical career. Looking forward to the narrowmindedness and disappointment to come is ingrained in the path to hopeful success. Seeing these things down the road did not change them, but instead created a barrier of acceptance and possible overcoming of how the world reacts to difference.
That exact same principle comes when you acknowledge the privileges you hold. Knowing what helped get you where you are and walking forward with that information doesn’t dissolve all of the progress you made. Does it change the lens you see it through? Yes. Does it remind you of the vulnerability of being a human in this industry? Yes. But I choose to be thankful that the walk down memory lane isn’t one where I had to change who I was to find success. To be thankful that I get to look back on the journey and notice the chips don’t always fall against you. And most importantly, to be thankful that I now have the opportunity to change somebody’s path to hopeful success.
There is no reason to hold back on discovering your full path to where you are and where we can go. There’s a world in which we are balanced and all given what we are due in possibilities. Where the 55% of the DFW community, labeled a minority, makes up that number on DFW stages. Not only in the ensemble, but in leads. Not only in roles, but in leadership. Not only as last minute decisions on diversity, but as a central heart of the arts community.
Think of the possibilities!