The Dynamite in HAIRSPRAY, about being on tour while natural.
Hi Kimberly. You have quite a career going for you but let's start at the beginning. Can you introduce yourself to the readers? Where did you grow up and go to school?
Alright. : ) Well, my name is Kimberly Joyce Marable, born and raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY. I graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Theatre and Sociology. I was writing more papers, singing in the Glee Club, and dancing in the hip hop dance troupe than performing in the department's productions though. I graduated in '05, then moved back to NYC in the Spring of '06 to pursue my acting career.
When did you know you wanted to do theatre and what attracted you to do this craft?
Oh, I've always known really. I was saying since I was three that I wanted to be an actress, singer, and dancer. I was that cute kid on the bus who'd break out into song and dance, and I'm sure embarrassed my parents... slightly. I think they secretly loved it. So, my parents put my in dance class, and voice lessons, acting camps, school plays, the whole gambit. I think what attracts me to the craft is in fact the craft. I love singing, dancing, and acting. I love being able to tell a story, or relay an important message to the audience... making people think. I can't imagine doing anything else.
When was your first Broadway performance? Was it everything you dreamed it would be?
I actually haven't been "on Broadway" yet, though I imagine the experience of my first performance would be beyond words. It's something that I truly look forward to. I am currently on my second "Broadway Tour" (a national/international production produced in part by the Broadway producers), which has been a remarkable experience so far. It's so neat, in both cases, that I was able to work in the same rehearsal spaces; work with the same directors, choreographers, musical directors; using the same props, costumes, and set pieces as the Broadway productions. It's really validating, motivating, and inspiring in a way that I don't think I ever dreamed of.
Do you consider this your big break or do you think your big break still has to come?
I think my Broadway performance will be my big break, God willing. So, that's yet to come I guess. But there is something to be said about how consistently I've been working since I moved back to the city. I moved back in mid-April '06, got my first job in September '06 and have maybe spent a total of 6 months (split up) without a job. All things considered, I've been pretty blessed.
If you could choose any show which one would you choose and what role would you play? Can you also describe why?
Oh, man. I've got a few on the list. Two are Aida in AIDA and TiMoune in ONCE ON THIS ISLAND. I think both shows exhibit strong, Black, young women who are dedicated to love, and the promises they've made to themselves; who don't take "no" for an answer.
I'm currently in one of my other shows on the list though, as a Dynamite in HAIRSPRAY. The Dynamites really are featured ensemble; we have a show-stopper, Supremes-esque number where we get to wear red sequined dresses, gloves, and fabulous shoes while we sing our faces off. But more than that, we get to be in the ensemble where a bunch of kids help to change history by integrating a White TV show in the 60's. It's a show about loving yourself, and others despite their differences; it's about not accepting intolerance and moving forward as a community. There is a gospel-type number in the show called "I Know Where I've Been" that we sing after a peaceful protest has gone awry, but we resolve to try again to integrate the TV show because the civil rights movement is bigger than us, and everyone must play their part. Singing that song... doing this show the night Barack Obama was elected President was an earth-shattering experience. That night is what that song, what the whole show is about, and I'm so proud to be a part of it.
What is the best thing about theatre life? And the worst?
The best things are that you get to see the country, or the world; make new friends; all while being paid to do what you love. I would say the worst is how hard it is to maintain relationships. I don't get to see my family and friends as much as I would like sometimes.
Did you ever relax your hair? If no, why not? If yes, when and why did you stop?
I've actually never relaxed my hair. My mom scared me early on, saying that my hair would fall out like hers, so I never wanted to risk it. Since then, I've found that I like the flexibility that natural hair provides. I can leave it in an afro, I can press it, braid it, you name it.
How do you take care of your hair when you are on tour or in a production?
Generally, I have to take care of it myself, washing, conditioning it, etc. Although, if we're in a larger city for long enough, I try to find a hair dresser that knows how to deal with natural hair. We wear wigs in the show, so I have to make sure that it's getting the proper circulation and stimulation when it's not under a wig cap.
What extra things do you have to do compared to your colleagues who either straighten their hair or have naturally straight hair?
I often keep my hair in cornrows and/or pin-curls out of convenience - they take a little while to put in since my hair is thicker. And I can't get my hair wet unless I intend to wash it, it just makes things difficult, and my 2-3 pound wig may fly off during the show, which would be awful.
Isn't it easier to just relax your hair?
Perhaps. I think healthy hair, no matter whether it's relaxed or natural, is work. Different work, but I don't imagine one is more difficult than the other.
How important is hair or maybe natural hair for you? Would you relax your hair for a role?
It's pretty important to me. I've always known myself as having natural hair, and I do think it's part of who I am. So, no, I would not relax my hair for a role. If anything I'd press it (and I have done so). My hair retains a lot of water, so straightening it takes a lot of heat. I thought about getting a texturizer to reduce the amount of heat I have to use, but in the end I decided not to.
You call New York home and you say you always realize that you've missed it when you get back. What is it about New York that makes it home for you and what do you miss when you're gone?
Well, part of it is that it's the only "home" I've known besides VT/NH, or places where I've lived for a month or two for a theater job. I just love how there's so much to do, and it's refreshing to catch up with my family and friends.
I get that you like reading. What is your favorite book/author and do you read a lot on tour?
I love Toni Morison and Walter Mosley, although I've read most of his books. I do love to read, but surprisingly, don't get to do as much of it on tour as I'd like. I'm busy trying to take in the place where I am, since it's likely I won't be there again.
You also like quotes. Do you have a favorite one?
I like this one a lot: "We ought not to be embarrassed of appreciating the truth and of obtaining it wherever it comes from, even if it comes from races distant and nations different from us. Nothing should be dearer to the seeker of truth than the truth itself, and there is no deterioration of the truth, nor belittling either of one who speaks it or conveys it."
Al Kindi (805-873AD) - a Muslim Philosopher, Scholar, and Artist
Did you vote and what does President-Elect Obama's win means to you?
I did vote. Absentee actually because the show was in Canada on election day. President-Elect Obama's victory means so many things to me: that the hours, sweat, tears that my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents put in; the disrespect, inequality, awkward life moments that they endured; the closeted and inadvertent racism and intolerance that I experience today; was all worth it. That we as a human community and a modern generation really have the opportunity to inspire change; to make this country better by having difficult conversations, and coming together to explore our differences and compromise for the greater good. I'm only 25, but I don't think I ever thought I'd see a Black president in my lifetime. I just never thought about it. So to see the dream of so many people fulfilled by his victory, it's truly inspiring and motivating: anything truly is possible if you work hard enough at it.
You are multi talented. You can sing, dance and act. Is there a particular order? Do you love one more than the other?
I think the order varies based on the show, and what is required of me. For now, I think they're about equal. But I do truly enjoy all three.
You can also dance Salsa and Meringue. As a Salsa lover myself I have to ask where did you learn this? And is this the Salsa on 2 or the street Salsa that I do?
The Salsa on 2?! I don't think I've heard that before, but I love it! I would say it's street Salsa, which I learned when I was younger. I took acting/singing/dancing lessons at Henry Street Settlement where there were a lot of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in my classes, so I sort of learned what I saw from them. Then danced socially with friends in college when they had cultural events.
But you also speak Spanish aren't you? Are you fluent in Spanish?
Man, I'm sorry this was misleading. I haven't had to speak Spanish in some time. I do understand it when it's spoken, I can read it with pretty great pronunciation and understanding, but I wouldn't be able to hold a conversation.
What was until now the highlight of your career?
Well, I try to see the blessing in all aspects of my career, but I think the most rewarding highlights are: 1. when my parents got to see me for the first time in HAIRSPRAY. They are SO supportive of all that I do, and were SO proud when they saw me in this particular production, telling this particular story, fulfilling a dream of mine and many others before me; 2. when I did a small promotional performance and talk-back for a group of young Black women in Edmonton, AB, Canada. The students were so appreciative of our singing, and the things we had to say about inclusivity, activism, and self-love... that it's our differences and "imperfection against modern beauty stands" that in fact make us beautiful, that in trying new things, you sometimes find your calling, and that it's imperative that you don't let anyone steal you dream.
What is next for you? Where can we see you perform?
I'm actually still in the National Tour of HAIRSPRAY. For dates and locations you can check out www.hairsprayontour.com. For those of you in the tri-state area, we'll be in New Brunswick, NJ March 27 & 28th.
I can't think of anything right now. Thanks so much for hearing what I have to say. : )
Photos by going-natural.com