The Mayor of Ft. Wayne, IN, has named June 10 Heather Headley Day in the Midwest city where she spent her high school years.
Headley won the 2000 Best Actress (Musical) Tony Award for the title role in Elton John's Broadway musical, Aida, June 4, and apparently Ft. Wayne was watching.
Trinidad native Headley moved to Indiana when she was a teenager, when her parents took a job at a church.
In an interview prior to the Tonys, Headley talked with Playbill On-Line about her life in Indiana:
"My father was a pastor, my mother was the quintessential pastor's wife," Headley said. "She did everything. They got offered a job in Ft. Wayne. We also got offered jobs in Philadelphia and New York. But my parents picked Ft. Wayne, which was the best decision because if they had brought me to New York or Philly, I would have swam back to Trinidad! Culture shock! Ft. Wayne was big culture shock, but New York would have been worse on me." She was closer to Chicago, however, a nice step before New York. She attended Northwestern University in Chicago.
"I didn't know about that at that point," she said. "God works in mysterious ways and He does everything for a purpose. I do believe that their trip to Ft. Wayne was for my betterment."
Headley performed in high school musicals.
"I did three musicals in high school," Headley said. "I was the first black Jewish Fanny Brice [in Funny Girl]. And I did Aldonza [in Man of La Mancha] junior year. Sophomore year they did Music Man. I did not do it because, I was like [with island accent]: 'Whaat paht can I play in dere?' The black girl with an island accent! Senior year I did Luisa in The Fantasticks at the local civic theatre. I was this black girl playing against a white man with a white father. Very different for Ft. Wayne, IN. and different for me at that time."
-- By Kenneth Jones