We look to the past to shape our future. Who are you? Where are you going from here?

I am Charence!  Rhymes with dance, pants, and France (all things I thoroughly enjoy).  I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Mississippi where I received undergraduate degrees in Theatre and Psychology from my HBCU Jackson State University.  Acting and storytelling have been passions of mine since before I can remember.  My love for this craft led me to the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign where I earned my MFA in Acting as a member of the Class of 2021.

From here I’m headed into a life filled with all the joy and love I can possibly stand and each day getting closer and closer to being the next Black woman with the honor of EGOT status!

What most excites you about being a part of TAM’s (R)evolutionary Redux Season?

What excites me most is the blessing of DOING THEATRE after the trial the past year and a half has been.  Not only am I excited to perform for audiences again, I am beyond excited to have a hand in reshaping American Theatre so that it’s truly a space for every facet of human life to be represented and where equitable practices are the standard.   

We’re all about making old things new and new things classic. Why are you drawn to Classic Theatre? How do you shake it up?

I’m drawn to Classic Theatre because there was a time when people who looked like me were excluded from it. I do this for them. It is a joy to discover the universal truths deeply woven into this work that transcend time. I give it a little shake by challenging common ideas surrounding how Classical texts sound and feel on stage. I am enough in this work and so is every other human who approaches it with the fullness and uniqueness they innately possess.

From what sources do you draw your inspiration?

God, my mama and daddy, my entire family! Cicely Tyson, Viola Davis, Angela Bassett, Lupita N’yongo, Danai Guirira, Issa Rae, Oprah Winfrey, Phylicia Rashad, my MFA Acting cohort, my best friends, my community, my Sorors, my home…

The list is endless. I’m incredibly grateful.

You can have dinner with any three influential people. Who are your dream guests, why them, and what is the topic of conversation?

Oh goodness! Ummm can I just pick everyone in the previous question?? Okay I’m breaking the rules. I choose all of my sources of inspiration for this delicious dinner party. We’ll most likely be discussing our favorite songs and throwback hits which will undoubtedly turn this dinner party into a dance party!

What recent revolutionary acts are you most proud of?

I’m currently most proud of my work with the Illinois Theatre Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Taskforce. With support of the university, we were able to come together to host two Collective Healing Circles this semester. These events held via Zoom brought together racially minoritized students, faculty, and alum to hold space for each other and collectively begin next steps for healing from race related trauma. It’s been incredibly beautiful.

What’s your super power?

BEING ME! I’m the best, most incredible, awe-inspiring me there is. I’m excited to meet you all and share my super power with you.