I was cast as The Mouse that Saved Christmas in my 1st Grade Christmas Pageant. And as a small black boy in an all-white Ohio grade school, I saw how just singing my one solo could command attention and respect from even the unruly 6th graders. We all discovered that I had a voice, figuratively and literally. It was a wake-up call to me that there might be something in this whole theater thing.
As a kid I took classes at the Beck Center for the Performing Arts in Ohio. But it wasn't until after I was a student at the University of Michigan that I auditioned and transferred into their musical theater department.
I got my Equity card and made my Broadway debut with the same show, Thoroughly Modern Millie. It came down to me and another actor for a replacement on Broadway. The deciding factor was actually who could fit the costume. I just happened to fit it better at the time.
My Dance Teacher at U of M, Linda Goodrich, believed in me before I could ever imagine believing in myself. And my acting professor, Philip Kerr, allowed me to discover my voice in the texts of plays. Without the opportunities and faith that either of them gave me, I wouldn't be here now.