Actress & Art Illustration:
Cover artist Kaye Tuckerman @kayetuckerman
Originally from Sydney, Australia, Kaye Tuckerman is in demand throughout the world as a Director, Actress, and Educator. Kaye is based in New York City, and continues to work throughout the USA, Canada, London, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, South Africa, and Kenya.
(artist photos featured ) Photographer: Kurt Sneddon. Stylist: Rudy Reed HMUA: Brad Laskey
Interview by @ouchmagazineny
How did the close of all broadway shows, concerts in new york city affected you personally and your costars, friends?
read all the global news, and kept seeing all the reports of Covid-19, and kept thinking, why is nothing being reported in America… it seemed odd that this virus was taking out districts in China, villages in Italy, towns in Spain, yet 'wasn't in America'. I remember thinking.. any day now, and when I went to the theater on Tuesday, March 10th, with a composer friend, we kept noticing a certain tension in the audience and saying any day now, Broadway will close. The next day, it was reported that someone on a Broadway shows tested positive, and by Friday, Broadway was shut. Personally I had just wrapped a feature film, so didn't feel the pain of losing a Broadway contract, but, I certainly felt the collective shock and disbelief that the industry was shut down, and shut down indefinitely. I did have many friends directly impacted, to lose work via an email, phone-call is surreal. Two friends had just made their debut in 'Tina'. Talking to them on that Tuesday night, they were elated, one had been trying to book Broadway for nearly ten years, and had finally done it, it's cruel that he is now on hiatus. Aside from the performers though, you have backstage crew, stage door security, front of house staff, day personnel who maintain for example wigs, costumes, props, sets, beyond that you have marketing, company management, producers, the chain goes on and on. I had a friend about to make her debut in Martin McDonoughs brilliant new play Hangmen, I also know the producer of this play, and due to the lockdown, they were forced to make the difficult decision to close the entire production before they even got to open. There are so many stories. I think my heart also breaks for students who were graduating literally as the industry closed down. To have trained so hard in a tertiary performing arts school is backbreaking, to be mentally and physically preparing for agent showcases, that never happened, is devastating. My lasting memory will be seeing the Flower Delivery Man with a trolley of bouquets for the cast of Six. It was their opening night, and his delivery coincided with the announcement of the closure. He was standing at the stage door scratching his head, and the stage doorman shrugged... both in disbelief... and we all still are.
Did you start drawing because of the close?
I had always done art and studied Interior Design and Makeup, as well as a minor in Stage Design when I studied Directing. I used all those skills in Kenya when I was based there, working as a Production Designer on Feature Films, TV Series, Commercials, and Docu-dramas. I love art and design, and was nominated for an African Academy Award for my design of Wanuri Kahiu's feature film 'From a Whisper'. Then, six weeks after I moved to New York, I booked the Lead Role of Donna, in the Broadway National Tour of Mamma Mia!. That is when I really started focusing on portrait drawing. Our tour was incredibly grueling, we did over 800 shows, across 144 cities, in two years, sometimes 4-5 cities a week. We went to the most incredible places, but, as I had to sing eighteen songs per show, extra-curricular activities had to be curb to ensure I had the physical and vocal stamina to perform. So, yoga and art became my go-to. I found an incredible professor, who taught online. The class was once a week, with revisions, I loved it, and just kept drawing, and the close of the film, TV, theater industry, has allowed for even more time to draw.
What inspired you to draw the ladies you've to have here? Do you know them personally?
I started a series of powerful, inspiring, extraordinary women of color on Broadway, the series was inspired by the astonishing women that I was sharing the stage with in summer: The Donna summer musical. Broadway Diva, LaChanze (Secret Life of Bees), the soon to be superstar, Ariana DeBose (Steven Spielbergs, West Side Story), Ari Groover who went on to star in Little Shop of Horrors, Judith Franklin (Tina), Kim Dodson (Harry Potter), Afra Hines (Hadestown), Storm Lever (Fly), Christina Robinson (Caroline, or Change), Wonu Ogunforwora (Bronx Tale), Anissa Felix (the Good Fight), Angelica Beliard (Kiss my Aztek) and so many more. These women, light up the stage with their talent but light up the world with their wisdom. They are wise goddesses who are the voices of the empowerment and the recalibrating of representation on Broadway.
Have you always wanted to be an artist? What do you enjoy the best acting, make-up, or drawing?
I have always wanted to create, yes. When I was six, I used to write and perform shows for my 3rd-grade class, at Allambie Heights Primary School in Sydney, Australia, and by the time I was seven, I was producing Roller Skating Shows, in my next-door neighbor's garage. From that, ideas for creative pursuits just kept flowing, and I kept looking for opportunities to perform, or make art. I enjoy creating... so, it's hard for me to isolate which one I like more... I've won awards for acting, singing, directing, design, I've designed makeup for NY Fashion Week, and at Inglot created Makeup Ranges for Broadway Shows like Mamma Mia!, Lion King, Side Show, The Last Ship, and I create and sell my Art. I enjoy them all.
What are you missing right now in your life because of COVID restrictions?
Family in Australia. But I miss them anyway. I also just wrapped a feature film, it's called 'Mother'. It's written and directed by the fantastic Michael Morrissey who created 'Boy Wonder', his latest film 'Mother' is equally as thrilling. We were due to shoot pickups at the end of March, and couldn't due to the lockdown, so that was a shame, as Michael is a genius, and I was dearly looking forward to more days on location with him and the crew.
Do you think broadway shows could have still opened this winter?
No.f yes, how can it work safely?
Do you participate in virtual broadway shows? What are some good ones that you know of?
I have been doing a bunch of developmental readings online, both in NYC, and Australia. I can't say what they are at this stage. I did also produce and direct 'I go to Rio' - a reunion of over one hundred cast, crew, creatives, of The Boy From Oz. I was in the Original Production in Australia, and this year was the 20th anniversary of closing night. So, I rallied people from all over the world to film remotely, and footage was cut together in New York, by brilliant Aussie Editor, Ben McHugh.
How large does social media play a role in your career?
II post, I think it's important to have, but not be addicted too. Instagram is my favorite because of its visual, and I also have Facebook. I sell my art, or take requests for commissions via @kayetuckerman
What are your likes and dislikes of how Broadway has been treated due to COVID-19?
I don't know that there can be any specific likes and dislikes. Broadway hasn't been treated in any specific way, producers have simply had to act in accordance with OHS and Employment laws, and restrictions. As a result of this, one thing I like is that creatives have found new ways to be creative, while one thing I dislike is that people are out of work.
How can people support live shows and Broadway shows and or Broadway actors?
Please donate to The Actors Fund https://actorsfund.org/help-our-entertainment-communiity-covid-19-emergency-relief . This organization is doing such an extraordinary job of helping people in the Broadway Community. From funding to mental health support, to education. To support Broadway Actors, go to @theensemblist, as well as Playbill, Broadway World, Broadway.Com, and the Broadway Network Podcast. Many performers are doing virtual concerts for a nominal donation that goes to a great cause.
What can fans go check out for the end of this year instead of live shows?
Aside from the sites mentioned above, go to Today Tix, there are many fantastic online performances, but you can also buy tickets for 2021, and as soon as those theater doors reopen, you know Broadway performers are going to blow the roof off. (and don't forget, a lot of highly skilled dancers, singers and actors are also teaching online masterclasses at the moment, this may be your one chance to learn from the best).