Heather Headley’s Second Act

Heather-Headley-Trinidad-Tobago-TriniTrivia Copyright © TriniTrivia | Kindly Do Not Use Photography Without Consent and Credit.

“Time moves slowly but passes quickly,” opines fictional nightclub singer Shug Avery. It’s been 15 years since Trinidad & Tobago’s most acclaimed theater actress has illuminated a Broadway stage in New York City. After her Tony Award-winning portrayal of the captive princess Aida in 2000, Heather Headley, 41, returned to the midwest to start a family, collected the 2009 Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel album, starred in a theatrical adaptation of The Bodyguard in London, and toured with legendary classical singer Andrea Bocelli.

The lights of Broadway beamed brighter for Ms. Headley’s return last May, in a supporting role as Shug Avery in The Color Purple The Musical at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. In her dressing room, on a balmy August evening, as theatergoers queued along 45th Street for showtime, she shared cues on how she strives to stay inspired:

Shug Avery helps Celie learn her own strength, what or who helped Heather Headley discover hers?

“The cliched answer would be my mom, of course. She’s the first person. I remember looking at teachers in school in Trinidad and thinking, I want to be like her when I grow up. I wanted to be a teacher long before I wanted to be a singer, and it’s because of those teachers that I had when I was in [St Vincent Anglican Girls’ School]. My husband has been an amazing mirror for me.  To be validated and loved by someone like that, I think it does plant these seeds. When I have my worst days, when I have those days where I am like, what’s going on I can’t figure this out, to be able to have him look at me and say, you can do this you’re beautiful … it’s amazing to have that seed planted in you. I’ve been blessed to have a really beautiful circle of people.”

What are some notes to your younger self that you may pass to your children?

I don’t know if I would listen to my younger self, because you know you’re so caught up in the moment of the time. I would tell her that it’s going to be okay.  Because you’re so anxious about many things.  The first journal I got was when I was leaving Ragtime. I remember starting to write, and then it was something I did up until the birth of my first son. The funny part is that I can’t read them. I cannot pull them out and read them, because I remember h-e-r. And there are so many times that I want to say to her, it’s going to be okay.

Heather Headley

Theatregoers queue along 45th St. in New York City on August 2, 2016 before a performance of ‘The Color Purple’. (Photo: © TriniTrivia)

When we left Trinidad I didn’t know what Broadway was, I had never seen a Broadway show. I had no idea. And so, if we had told Trinidad Heather, running around Barataria, that in 11 years you’re going to be on a stage getting something called a Tony Award, she’d be like, okay, what, where, how? Even if I told her that two years before, when I was understudying Audra [McDonald], that you and Audra are going to compete for the same Tony, and you might get it, she’d be like absolutely not. It’s going to be okay. Seriously, I wish I was still journaling, because I’m sure Heather at 45 or 50 would tell this Heather, it’s going to be okay. Even in the worse times, it’ll work out. Stay inspired.

Heather Headley

Tony Award winning actress and R&B singer Heather Headley backstage at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater on August 2, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo: © TriniTrivia)

Share Comments Here >>

%d bloggers like this: