Today we’d like to introduce you to Miah Whitmore.
Miah, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started singing when I moved in with my father in Byron Center, Michigan. I had always loved to sing but my living room performances usually ended in laughter and sincere discouragement “Don’t quit your day job.” I usually laughed with them. My first solo performance was in my Middle School spring concert- no one warned me about the DO NOT SING LIST, so I sang “I Will Always Love You” which basically launched my ‘career’. I became ‘that girl who sings’. I honestly loved the attention I got from teachers and parents. Because prior to that, I was just the black girl in a sea of white kids and now I actually made something of myself. Anyways, I ended up getting bitten by the theatre bug in late middle school and something really changed. See, there is a distinct difference in being a singer and a storyteller who sings. I had a lot of stories to tell and giving these characters on a page a human form along with my voice- to the point that other people were positively impacted by it… I don’t know. It just really really felt right. I do pride myself on being the social justice warrior and to be able to advocate and tell stories- true or not- through music and performance was my only option. It’s what made sense from day one. But I moved to Pittsburgh, ended up in a. pretty racist community but nevertheless I was offered a full-tuition scholarship to NYCDA and made it out. Freedom. At last.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I am a firm believer in that the best art comes from those who have suffered. Because while art is a form of expression, it is also created to touch others, maybe to even lend voices to those who aren’t heard. High school was not easy for me. Those are really the transformative years for an individual- though for some, those years seem quite minuscule in the grand scheme of things. I was sexually assaulted, manipulated, and taken complete advantage of by upperclassmen for two years. He was a ‘good Christian boy’ who was widely respected by both faculty and the student body. He leads prayer on Wednesdays, he was the most talented boy in all of our theatre troupe. I didn’t think anyone would believe me because everyone loved him so much, and a lot of my friends were mutual friends of his as well. It was scary, it was painful, it was damaging- physically and mentally. I eventually came out and told a friend of mine who reported it to the school board and I was questioned, forced to recount the story more than 5 times to different members of the board. It was also this time that I was moving to a new state with my father and stepmother so I had to just figure it out really quick so I could just move on and start fresh. Except I never told my parents. If I had a message to spread to my fellow ladies, it would be to speak up and use your voice to prevent this from happening to other girls like you. While their actions are not your responsibility, you can save other little girls from being permanently damaged by them. I didn’t press charges and it has haunted me to this day.
Tell us about your business – what should we know?
I am a musical theatre performing artist. I specialize in stories that aren’t for the faint of heart. The stories that really make you think, and the stories that deep down, people can connect with. There are two main types of theatre in my eyes. The performative escapist shows, and the heart wrenching, thought-provoking shows. A lot of Broadway is made up of shows that people come from hundreds of miles away just to laugh and feel good. I love those shows, don’t get me wrong. But I mainly focus on the ones that really make people reflect, think, and feel. Being a very strong empath, it’s imperative for my craft that I can feel from the audience and give back in a highly emotional and powerful way. I want little girls and boys of color to walk out of my performance and say, “I think she really saw me.”
Finding a mentor and building a network are often cited in studies as a major factor impacting one’s success. Do you have any advice or lessons to share regarding finding a mentor or networking in general?
I was blessed to attend a conservatory who brought in working professionals consistently and we were able to work with them and learn from them. Getting your content and face out to the world is absolutely imperative for this line of work. If you aren’t capable of getting to a conservatory- attend masterclasses, ask many questions- good questions- and get seen by these individuals. Always take risks and NEVER burn bridges. You don’t like that classmate? Too bad. They may become something great one day and now you’ve burned that bridge and word gets around fast. Never be disrespectful towards working professionals because your name can be thrown in the ‘no’ pile the second they call your references. Be kind, be empathetic, and be bold. The age of ‘Broadway Divas’ is over. Patti LuPone can still be Patti LuPone though. You know? I make it my goal to introduce myself to anyone who is anyone and wear a big smile on my face. It’s never inauthentic. Authenticity and kindness go quite a long way.
- Phone: 616-717-8117
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/miah.whitmore/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/basicallymiah
Clara Jeanne Reed