This is part of a series about our 2016 Emerging Artists. They will perform selections from three powerful plays by Black women, August 5-7, for Intiman Theatre’s Emerging Artist Showcase. Join us for this free show! LEARN MORE.

Jay O’Leary | Producer

Q: When did you know you wanted to dedicate your career to the arts?
A:  Very quickly, while growing up, I began to realize that I found joy in and a palpable degree of readiness to inspire others. “What do you want to be when you grow up”? My answer was, at one point, to be a motivational speaker. A handful of “grown-ups” informed me that one would have to survive some crazy experience and live to tell the tale in order to do something like that. I discovered this information was very much incorrect. I took to peer tutoring in high school, offered students I didn’t really know advice, wrote furiously in my poem-journal words of wisdom for people to be better and how. The minute I found myself in a rehearsal being asked to analyze the behaviors and events of characters in a play, I felt the center of myself grow fiery hot. Directing and teaching is my medium to motivate people. To help them uncover and cultivate parts of themselves they didn’t know existed. To move them closer to their truth and in turn, I am brought closer to mine.

Q: Why is theatre important to you?
A: Theatre continually forces us to look at largely undealt-with issues. It forces us to feel whether we are prepared to or not. Theatre catches us off guard and in doing so—reveals truths about ourselves and others we might not have otherwise paid attention to. All of this is done in hopes of inciting change. The change could be a father accepting his role and becoming more of a solid figure in his children’s lives, or instilling empathy into a person previously closed off to a certain idea or people. The effects are innumerable and could be as simple as a family going to see a production together when everyone is usually “too busy” to be in the same place at the same time. Connection will always happen. Truths will be revealed. Theatre makes it impossible not to.

Q: What excites you about the Emerging Artist Program?
A: The blessing of being surrounded by gorgeous minds has been almost unbelievable. Each artist has such a gift and I am grateful to not only know them, but to watch them blend their talents together in order to create something crave-worthy. I can’t wait for who gets to experience them next. They will be better for having known them.

Q: What is one experience that stands out in the program so far?
A: Just one?! Hahaha oh Lord. Let’s see. There was a day devoted to physical work. We were doing an activity that involved moving through space using all of our limbs at varying intensities and speeds. The room turned into this beautiful dance choreographed only by our openness and readiness to connect and really listen to each other. I will never forget that moment.

Q: What or who is your biggest inspiration?
A: Rita Moreno.

Jay is an actor, director, choreographer and teaching artist. She was the recipient of Best Actress in the Rochester Fringe Fest 2014 for her portrayal of Monica in W.A.C. Iraq.  In addition to starring in a one woman show, Women On Fire, other notable roles include, Carly (Reasons to be Pretty), Zlata (Necessary Targets), Colette (Defrost), and Fabian (Twelfth Night). Her directing credits include, California SuitePink RibbonsSongs for a New WorldThe Zoo Story, and The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf.  Jay has received training from Geva Theatre and  Hochstein School of Music. She holds her B.A. in Theatre Performance from SUNY Brockport and has spent time studying film in Thailand at Mahidol University. Jay would also like you to know that she loves vanilla cupcakes and her favorite instrument is the Tenor Sax.

Join us for our Emerging Artist Showcase August 5-7 at Seattle Repertory Theatre. We will feature selections from three plays: The Owl Answers and A Movie Star Has To Star In Black And White by Adrienne Kennedy and Black Super Hero Magic Mama by Inda Craig-Galván. The show is free and open to the public. RSVP HERE.