As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to some of our favorite artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.
The series continues with playwright and actor Colman Domingo, Tony-nominated for his performance in the 2010 musical The Scottsboro Boys. His Broadway credits also include Passing Strange, Well, and Chicago, as well as the libretto for the 2018 Donna Summer musical Summer. Domingo is also the author of Wild With Happy, A Boy and His Soul, Up Jumped Springtime and the Brother(s), and Dot. His works have won Obie, Lucille Lortel, GLAAD, Connecticut Critics Circle, Bay Area Theater Critics Circle, and Internet Theater Bloggers awards, and his numerous screen credits include Fear the Walking Dead, Selma, Lincoln, Lee Daniels' The Butler, and Birth of a Nation plus the upcoming Candyman and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. The second season of the digital series Bottomless Brunch at Colman’s, featuring virtual conversations with Domingo and his guests over brunch, launches August 23 on AMC.com and the Walking Dead YouTube page.
What is your typical day like now?
It’s different every single day. Typically, my day begins with coffee because nothing works without coffee, and then I check on my garden because critters are getting into my vegetables. After, I will go into my office and do some creative work—developing several television ideas, reading books and scripts, IP (that goes on until about six o’clock), then I will jump in the pool. Every single day I take a swim. In the evenings, I’ll cook a meal. I’ve cooked every meal for the last five-and-a-half months—except maybe four times.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
One of the movies I watched again recently that feels very relevant to the time is Network. Like many others, I’ve also been watching I May Destroy You. I’ve been re-investigating the series Getting On, and I’ve been reading a lot of architecture books because I’m a nerd. Specifically, The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst. It is excellent, and he’s a fascinating man.
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?
I want everyone to consider the power structures and how we have to attack them—with love and understanding, but also with a true request/demand for equal participation, and for audiences to put their money where their mouths are. Prove to us that donors, investors, producers are in alignment with what they truly believe. We’re all trying to do this together. We need honest conversation and honest, impactful action.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
Find ways to be of service to people. I believe you have to get out there—teach someone, inspire someone. That is what we’re trying to do with Bottomless Brunch—connect people and find enjoyment in the small things. Be grateful. Take it off of yourself and lean into helping others.
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you?
I think it is imperative to use this frustrating and confusing time to create art. And to create art that you know will be impactful and useful as we look towards change. I’m creative every single day. As artists, it is our responsibility. To borrow words from Nina Simone, "It is an artist’s duty to reflect the times"—so don’t pull back now, go deeper, be even more innovative. Don’t dwell on past forms that do not have the opportunity to come back during this unprecedented time, meaning live theatre. Now is a chance to innovate, to move the dot in a meaningful way and towards a new form.
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
I am working on a musical using the Stax Records music catalog for the Young Vic in London. I am creating a musical that hopefully reflects the times.
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
NAACP, the Minnesota Freedom Fund, Theatre Bay Area, and feel free to check out the Colman Domingo Award at the Vineyard Theatre because I am always seeking underwriters for the future, promoting African American men or male identified multi-hyphenate artists.