Addressing the call to action in the article “Why We Need Afrolatin@ Theatre,” this series highlights many outstanding Afrolatin@ theatre artists around the United States who diligently offer the world their art. This first installment profiles actress, writer, and Salvage Vanguard Theater’s Managing Director Florinda Bryant.
I met the vibrant Florinda Bryant in May of 2015 when she was performing in a staged reading of my play The Stories of Us. I knew that I wanted to continue working with her the moment she took a line that I had no intention of being humorous and made the audience laugh. There is something about certain people who have a spark and Bryant has it. After the performance, I got the chance to speak with her and was deeply inspired by her passion for theatre and telling Black and Brown stories.
After sitting down with Bryant, I found that performance wasn’t something that she learned to do, but rather something that she was born to do. “I danced before I walked. I sang before I talked,” she exclaimed. In fact, art was a staple in her home growing up. Her mother was a poet, and there was always music and dance in the household. Naturally, this colorful upbringing motivated her to pursue a career in theatre. A conversation with her grandma about being a professional actress led her to be instilled in her the importance of being intentional about her career. She didn’t just want to be a “famous” actress; she wanted theatre to be her livelihood.