New theater professor prepares hip-hop musical
GC gained a professor, a mentor, a director and a musical all in one sweep when Valeka J. Holt joined the Theater Department last year.
Born in Washington, D.C., Holt always knew she wanted to be an actress.
“I’m an entertainer,” Holt said. “I’ve always known it, since I was in my mother’s womb.”
She has been in many different productions, including those in Arena Stage, Roundhouse Theater, Shakespeare Theater, and the Denver Theater of Performing Arts.
Because of Holt’s career as an actress, she brings a lot to the table when it comes to directing and being a professor.
“I direct from the lens of being an actress,” Holt said. “I’m always looking at the psychological trajectory of the character.”
“Her leadership has been refreshing,” said Callie Langston, a double major in theater and liberal studies.
Langston is also the stage manager of “Crowns,” the musical Holt is directing this spring.
“She’s really fresh and helpful,” said Lindsey Kellogg, a theater major who plays the main character Yolanda in the upcoming musical. “She’s not afraid to tell you the truth. Not only is she an actor, but she’s relevant. She’s my professor, she’s my director and she’s also working in the industry now.”
Holt is also a role model for the young women she directs.
“I take my role very seriously in regards to mentoring them,” Holt said. “It’s very important to me.”
These themes of mentorship and growth are present in the upcoming musical. “Crowns” Is a hip-hop musical about a young girl named Yolanda who is sent South to grieve her brother’s death, Holt explained.
“Women in church are basically helping [Yolanda] heal by telling her stories,” Holt said. “All of the stories revolve around hats, which are crowns.”
Holt explained that hats represent crowns because they are status symbols, especially in the African American community. Holt said this play represents “inclusion for everybody and everything.”
On top of her directing debut , Holt will be continuing her acting career, performing her one-woman show, “Did you take your clomid” in London.
“Crowns” will be performed Feb. 27 - March 2 at 7 p.m. and March 3 at 2 p.m at Russell Auditorium.
Photos by Lexie Baker | Staff Photographer