The Next Door that Opens
It never fails when people enter my office, eyes are drawn to two famous actors of color that are on my office wall frame –Lamorne Morris (New Girl, Fox TV) and Danny Pudi (Community, NBC). I get the same quizzical look and question every time. “ Did they go to Second City? I didn’t know they were from here.” I smile and nod an emphatic “Yes”. But there’s more juicy detail to the story. Lamorne performed with three Outreach & Diversity shows –our shows where we feature new up and coming diverse talent , and was scouted and snapped up by yours truly to recruit for our division’s show. And like most directors, agents and curious folks looking for that new face, I drove an hour and half to only find myself lost in County of DuPage in hopes of catching Lamorne’s final senior college show. As many would agree about Lamorne’s comedy, he was naturally funny with a charismatic charm that could fill a room. Although he was brand spanking new to Second City, he was not to improv and comedy. It was in his bones.
Danny Pudi, a graduate of the Second City Training Center and alum of Chicago’s Asian American improv/sketch group, Stir Friday Night had been working on his solo routine with an outstanding alum director, John Hildreth . Circa 2006, Danny had performed in our studio theatre telling his story of growing up in a household of half Indian and Polish parents. He took big risks on stage with his lean, physical comedy that imitated some of his favorite characters and family members that influenced his comedy. It was pure joy to see his kinetic energy come alive. Later that year, I recommended Danny to a NBC Diversity casting executive where he showcased his solo work in a diversity showcase to an audience full of “looking to sign new talent” agents and managers. He got “picked up” and started doing national commercials and booking “big gigs” like the Community show.
You can say that all of us –directors, producers, teachers , family and improvisers work in various ways to support each other in our careers. The unsuspecting moments happen often and opportunity does come knockin’. The question is are you ready, present and aware to hear the knock? Do you recognize that doors are always opening and closing? They really are.
Diversity is not solely about race, ethnicity, and gender. It is about inclusivity and showing up at the door to bring the unique perspective, life experience and story that only you can share as a human being on this earth. It is passing the torch and empowering others to be the next generation of leaders, creative thinkers, and improvisers. It is about opening doors, walking inside and taking a seat, because you truly belong.
Learn more. Get involved. See an Urban Twist show.