Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Damon Robert Williams
Current Location: Syracuse, NY
Damon, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
When I was in 7th grade one of my friends heard me singing while I was in PE and dared me to audition for show choir. The next day I was inside the music room singing Happy Birthday and doing a grapevine. The next thing I knew, I was in show choir. Later on auditions came up for the school musical, The Music Man, which was directed by Tim Nelson. The Music Man was my first musical which then led me to attending the Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts where I was in numerous musicals and also led me to doing shows at the Rose Center Theater. During my junior year of high school I went to NYC with APA's Musical theater program and absolutely loved the city and saw many Broadway shows. It was around this time that I decided I wanted to perform for the rest of my life. I was accepted into NYU Steinhardt's Summer Study in Musical theater shortly after that and spent 2 weeks studying theater at NYU and seeing Broadway shows. In the fall of 2018 I started a very hectic college audition and application process and started performing in Pixar Play Parade at Disneyland and Paint The Night parade at Disney's California Adventure. In March of 2018 I was accepted into Syracuse University's BFA in Musical Theater program. I am a currently a Junior at SU and have been very fortunate to perform in a drama department production of A Chorus Line as Greg which was directed by Brian J. Marcum and in Syracuse Stage's productions of Beauty and The Beast in the ensemble/US Beast which was directed by Donna Drake, and Amadeus which was directed by Artistic director, Bob Hupp. I am currently set to graduate in May of 2022 and move to New York City in January 2022.
Can you tell us a little more about what you've been working on recently?
Currently I am working on finishing my degree and will be graduating from Syracuse University in May of 2022 with a BFA in Musical Theater. I am actually home from school right now spending time with family.
The road of the artist is a sometimes long and bumpy road. Have you had to overcome any on your journey?
I do not think anyone who is pursuing theater has a smooth road. It is constantly a winding road journey with lots of ups and downs. I have had to constantly embrace my individuality as a performer and remember that I am the only "Damon" and not compare myself to others. I think one of the biggest struggles I have dealt with is rejection. We hear no so many times before we hear yes. You cannot take rejection personally. When you go to an audition, you can only gain from it. You have nothing to lose and that is your time to share your art. One of my friends at school shared a metaphor that a teacher of hers had told her. Basically, a show or school is a cup of coffee or tea and you, the performer, is a different kind of sweetener and everybody has a different kind of sweetener that they like. Also self care and doing other hobbies beyond theater has been very important. We must do things we enjoy and take time for ourselves.
Are there any lessons that you've learned along your journey so far? Something that you'd want to tell your younger self?
To have fun. So much of high school and much of my first 2 years of college was spent constantly working. It is so important to have good time management and a strong work ethic, but we have to take time for ourselves, do things we enjoy, and laugh.
What's the best piece of advice you've received?
To live the life you see yourself living, keep working, and do something for yourself everyday.
What inspires you? Can you tell us about a moment in your life you found to be inspirational?
Not one event, but a lot of the reason why I do theater is because theater is an art form that can be used to spark discussions and bring change in this world. I also think that someone always needs to take a step out of their lives and experience theater. Who knows what our audiences are going through and how the stories we tell could affect them.
What do you consider your proudest moment?
At SU Drama we are very fortunate to have a LORT- League of Resident Theatres- in residence, Syracuse Stage. Every year they cast students in some of their productions. Last holiday season I was in their production of Beauty and The Beast in the ensemble and also understudied the Beast. It was a lot to learn my track and also the Beast's track at the same time. Especially since it was a quick rehearsal process while being a full-time student that led into a run of around 55 shows. I ended up going on for Beast 3 times. It doesn't sound like a lot, but there was a lot of time, work, and support that went into me being able to do that successfully. All the stress and late nights of going through the show in my living room paid off. I could not have that without support from Director Donna Drake, Music Director Brian Cimmet, Choreographer Anthony Salatino, Stage Manager Laura Jane Collins, and of course the entire cast and crew.
The mission of The Rose is to make the arts accessible in the community. What purpose do you think the arts or artists play in today's society?
The arts bring joy, escape, creativity, and change into society. I do not think humans could live without some form of art.
What are your hopes for the future of the arts?
I hope that we all as artists continue to use our voices and art for change.
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