Major: American Studies
Concentrations: Law & Society and African Diaspora Studies
Campus Activities: Community Advisor, Men of Color, No Labels, Tour Guide, Football, Black Student Union, Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Baritone Saxophone)
Power Animal: Bear (because they are both cute and majestic in general but if for some reason you ran afoul of one, it would not end pretty)
Hey, Jules! You were recently in your first stage production at Kenyon, Free Man of Color. What was that experience like?
The play was a pretty amazing experience. Admittedly, the audition was a little intimidating because I am not a drama major and everything was so new to me. I had acted in high school a few times but I knew a collegiate performance would be a whole other level. I was pumped when I got a part, much less a major supporting role.
The more experienced people were so helpful and kind to me when it came to learning warm ups and lines. There were SO MANY LINES. If it wasn’t for guys like Dylan Gregory running lines with me sometimes for minutes sometimes for hours, I’m not sure that I could have pulled it off.
I found that theatre is a really cool art form and I got a window into all the moving pieces that go into a show. One of the coolest things I realized was that in kid’s shows like Power Rangers, there is always ridiculous yelling before every single strike in a fight scene and my director was telling me that the yelling makes it easier for the actors to know when each strike is coming. My mind was blown!
Anyway, the play was a blast and I’m actually living with two of my cast members next semester as the result of our growth in friendship from the play.
What did you enjoy about playing your multiple characters?
Well at first, I didn’t quite enjoy it. The quick costume changes were quite stressful in the beginning but as time went on, it was really cool to access different parts of myself to showcase on stage. My main character, Cupidon Murmur, was a slave to a Free Man of Color so I had a “Murmur voice” and I had to think “how would Murmur react to that or say that” and then my other character Toussaint L’ouverture was more serious and revolutionary so I had my “Toussaint voice.” It was cool to think about each character and get the intention of each line in the context of the whole play. Also, I really liked the hat I wore as Toussaint. It was top hat with a red feather and I had half a mind to just keep it!
You also play several different roles at Kenyon, including a CA in Old Kenyon. What made you want to be a CA?
My freshman year was a year of transition for me, and in that process of transitioning I found myself checking up on people just naturally. After interacting with a few CAs my freshman year and realizing that the job fit really well with my personality and natural disposition, I applied and thankfully got the job.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of being a CA is bringing people together. It sounds super cheesy but I really mean that. It makes me feel good to be a positive force in my community so when people come to my Late-Night pizza programs and stuff it’s heart-warming.
What’s your least favorite part?
I detest paperwork.
You’re also on Kenyon’s football team. When did you first start playing?
I played flag football as a youngin in Maryland and didn’t really understand the game. I stopped playing for about 5th and 6th grade and I just wrestled. In middle school, one of my best friend’s step dads started a team and I decided I wanted to resume playing football. I’ve been playing every year since then.
Why did you decide to continue in college?
In my college search, there came a time when instead of purely academics I decided that I wanted football to be a part of my college experience. But only at a place where, if I stopped playing football, I would still feel comfortable. Kenyon’s coaching staff recruited me really well and I knew I could get a top-notch education, have good relationships with my professors, and play football. It came down to one other school and Kenyon, but eventually I decided to be Kenyon Lord because I liked the people and vibe of Kenyon a little better.
How has being part of the team shaped your first two years at Kenyon?
I think the team has been really instrumental in my development at Kenyon. It was really nice to automatically be hanging with upperclassmen as a first year but as some teams are, there came a point when I felt kind of in a bubble and a had to spread out and pursue some other interests than football. That is more of a me thing than a team thing though. I eat with my teammates probably every other meal throughout the year and it’s nice sometimes to “bro out,” talk football, and make a few locker room jokes when I feel like it. Don’t get me wrong, we have some heated debates about social issues from time to time. But at the end of the day, we all know that winning games and becoming better athletes brings us together, so cattiness levels out at a certain point. The team has really shown me how to respect and work with people that I don’t agree with and capitalize on the things that we do agree about.
Are you doing anything exciting this summer, like traveling or an internship?
I was freaking out for a while about this, but I finally landed an internship with the Center for American Progress, a DC think tank that researches and holds conferences about all kinds of issues. I will be a member of their external affairs team, which means that I get to check on the organization’s professional relationships and go to cool meetings. I’m also excited because I get to be back home in the DC area and see my family this summer. Last summer I was mostly in Ghana and New Hampshire and my parents were happy for me but also missed me a lot. This summer, I can really see DC as young adult, see my family, check on my little brother, and do some lifting for the upcoming football season. I am happy to get back to the basics of being home in the context of the new experience that this internship will provide.
That sounds amazing! Let’s move on to some fun questions. What is your favorite object in your room and why?
My favorite object in my room is probably my mirror because I’m so damn sexy.
Just kidding, probably my speakers. I really like music and my speakers can really change the mood of my day whether they are starting me off with positivity, picking me up after a rough day or allowing me to relax, I think my speakers are probably my favorite object.
If you could be a Peirce breakfast item, what would you be?
I would probably be Potato triangles because they are pretty consistently good but they are not AMAZING, they go well with most things, and they are really hard to mess up with just like I consider myself.
Who are your favorite musicians?
He gets a lot of crap, but Kanye West is one of my favorite musicians. He has a sense of humor and puts his foot in his mouth sometimes, but to me, his simultaneous artistic integrity and artistic fluidity are a modern marvel. In his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy he manages to pack a great deal of complexity and contradiction and make it sound beautiful and I think that album in particular speaks to the danger of strict binaries in society. While you might not see Kanye wearing a dress, his music shows the complexities of life and then sometimes the fact that you just have to unapologetically be whoever you understand yourself to be at a given moment.
Anyway, I also like Kendrick Lamar, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Raury, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Hippie Sabotage, FKJ, Flume, LMFAO, Lauryn Hill, Frank Ocean, Lupe Fiasco, Lianne La Havas, Phantogram, Glass Animals, Adele, Alicia Keys, Wale, Yann Tiersen, Steve Aoki and my boys George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein for their versions of Rhapsody in Blue.
What’s one thing not many people at Kenyon know about you?
I feel like I’d need a third person view of my own societal perception to answer this question adequately. I’ll go with the fact that I have Teddy Bear named Junior that accompanies me on any trip for an extended period of time (longer than a week or so).
Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Humans naturally categorize things and people and I just want people to remember that just because you put someone in a box in your head doesn’t mean that they have to adhere to that box. Also, puppies are very cute!
Thank you, Jules!