As the temporary shutdown of Broadway continues, Playbill is reaching out to artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.
The series continues with Aneesa Folds, who made her Broadway debut in Freestyle Love Supreme (the acclaimed improv troupe founded by Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Anthony Veneziale) and was subsequently part of the Grammy-nominated Hulu documentary We Are Freestyle Love Supreme. The actor was seen Off-Broadway in Sistas The Musical and This One's for the Girls as well as in the national tour of Ragtime. Folds is currently one of the instructors of the Freestyle Love Supreme Academy, which is offering virtual classes and workshops throughout the summer. Click here for more information.
What is your typical day like now?
Still spending a lot of time at home. I'll wake up, try to get a workout in on most days. Work on some Freestyle Love Supreme Academy stuff, [including] prepping for teaching a workshop or Zoom meetings with the team. Work on my other projects if I have anything else going on. Maybe try to get outside for a walk. Just truly counting down the days until things get normal again. The weather getting warmer has certainly helped improve my mood, and it's been great seeing friends regularly again. Seasonal depression, on top of COVID depression, on top of regular depression, all had a hold on me. I'm sure many people were in the same boat.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
If you haven't watched Lovecraft Country yet, what are you doing? Get over to HBO MAX now! I've also been listening to podcasts. Something Was Wrong; Okay, Now Listen; and Black Men Can't Jump to name a few.
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow actors, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
I would love for people to understand that this is nothing new. We've held our tongues for years. We pushed it down and spoke amongst ourselves to try and to find healing. Most of the racist encounters I've experienced in my lifetime have been in the theatre community. I've carried the guilt of not speaking up in inappropriate moments for a long, long time. Moments that never should have happened in the first place. I've been so inspired by those brave enough to speak up around me. Thank you for doing the work. You shouldn't have to. Most of us are tired, but we are finally in a place where we are demanding more. We deserve a safe space and things need to change. So listen.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
You are not alone! As someone who already tends to isolate themselves as a coping mechanism, this has been a really tough time. I know it's hard, but please try to reach out to the people who love you. You're not alone, and I promise there's someone else out there who feels the exact same way. Might as well talk about it.
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you?
I've been extremely lucky, and I fully acknowledge that. Working with the Freestyle Love Supreme Academy has saved me in many ways. Teaching, performing, directing. We have a community of really wonderful people, and it's been great to see how much we've been able to grow virtually. I've also been given incredible opportunities like trying my hand at composing for children's choirs. I grew up singing in choirs, so they are very near and dear to my heart.
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
I'm currently in rehearsals with The Broadway Inspirational Voices for their Broadway Our Way Concert. Coming up June 19 and 20.
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
Broadway for Racial Justice.