Checking In With… Girl From the North Country and Hamilton Star Austin Scott

Interview   Checking In With… Girl From the North Country and Hamilton Star Austin Scott
 
"We need the white theatre makers, who currently hold the vast majority of the power, to make long-term public commitments to implement real structural change from the top down."
Austin Scott
Austin Scott

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 Austin Scott, who plays Joe Scott in the critically acclaimed new musical Girl From the North Country, currently on hiatus due to the ongoing pandemic. Scott made his Broadway debut in February 2019 in the title role of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Hamilton after playing that part in the musical's national tour. His additional stage credits include the world premieres of Hood: The Robin Hood Musical Adventure and Gotta Dance, as well as regional productions of In the Heights and Choir Boy. On screen Scott has been seen in Pose, Prep School, They Found Hell, and Trauma.

Checking In With… Kenita R. Miller, Star of Once On This Island, Come From Away, Bella: An American Tall Tale, More

in <i>The Girl From the North Country</i>
Austin Scott in Girl From The North Country Matthew Murphy

What is your typical day like now?
Most days I wake up at around 9 AM, put a pot of coffee on, and jump straight into a cold shower. It’s something I started back in January, and it just kind of stuck with me. The cold water wakes me up and clears my mind so I start the day energized and motivated. Then I usually play with our kitten, Milo, for a while and read or answer emails while I drink my coffee and have breakfast. The rest of the day after that is kind of choose-my-own-adventure since every day is a little different. I have this running “to-do” list, which seems to magically refill every time I check something off of it. I usually have homework, too, because I’m taking college courses to finish up the degree I put on hold when I booked the Hamilton tour. Whether it’s a busy day or not, though, I always try to carve out some time for exercise and stillness. More often than not that looks like a long walk through the surrounding neighborhoods where I’m currently living with my girlfriend Alexa and her family in Vermont. I try to meditate once a day and do some yoga once in a while as well. Dinner time is usually at around 7:30, and we’ve been getting more adventurous with our cooking, which has been really fun and interesting.

What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
Oh man, there are so many. I’m currently reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and loving it. I also tore through Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and Tenth of December by George Saunders. For the purposes of enlightenment and education, I would also recommend Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad, How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. In terms of shows, I can’t say enough good things about When They See Us and The Morning Show. Two really powerful and illuminating works of art. Oh and definitely give 13th on Netflix a watch, too.

During this time of reflection and re-education regarding Black 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?
First and foremost, we need more BIPOC representation in positions of genuine power and influence. We need the white theatre makers, who currently hold the vast majority of the power, to make long-term public commitments to implement real structural change from the top down. So many of us theatre artists have spoken out and shared our stories at this point, I think more and more people are coming to realize that the system needs to change. As wonderful as that is, I feel we also need to emphasize the importance of self-awareness within the community. I would encourage all white theatre makers to do some serious introspection during this time. Learn to recognize your own privilege and all of the ways in which you have held up and perpetuated a problematic culture in this industry. It’s up to each individual to be the example for the rest of the community. Develop your own anti-racist mentality that is personal to you, and then let that guide everything you do. When you change, you start to lead the way and set precedent. Other white theatre makers will see that it can be done.

Austin Scott
Austin Scott Joan Marcus

What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
Go easy on yourself. You’re doing great, this is just really hard. Reach out and connect with your friends and family or whomever you look to for support. You don’t have to go through this alone. We are social creatures, and even the most introverted among us need some community lovin’ from time to time.

How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you?
I’ve been trying to strike a balance between staying creative and taking this time to truly let down and recharge. Some days, I just let my artist rest and veg out, but other days I’m training with my acting coach, Joan Rosenfels, or collaborating with friends. I’ve been doing some teaching on the side as well, which has been really fulfilling for me.

Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
I’m going to be performing alongside some really incredible artists in a virtual benefit concert called Broadway Treats that Alexa Cepeda (my girlfriend) organized for a non-profit animal rescue organization called Animal Lighthouse Rescue. The show is going live on September 20 at 8 PM ET, and people can buy tickets at alrcares.com/events. I’ve also been able to work on some really cool passion projects that I might not normally have time for if I were working on a Broadway schedule, so that has been really wonderful as well. Follow me on Instagram @austinscott93 for updates on those projects once they become public!

What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
Look up the Broadway Advocacy Coalition (BAC) and Black Theatre United. They are doing very important work.

READ: Checking In With… Hamilton Star Miguel Cervantes

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