Feature Writing,  The Arts

UGA Student’s Passionate Determination For Theater

ATHENS, GA – Being an actor comes with many, demanding responsibilities. Rehearsals can be seven days a week, and they’re entrusted to learn their lines, and songs, among many other things. On top of that, being a college student with schoolwork combined with those expectations can be grueling. To do all of that you have to be committed. One University of Georgia student undoubtedly is. 

Brett Green, 21, a student at the University of Georgia, chose to become a theater major during their sophomore year of college. Green started out as a business management major but decided it was not the right thing for them, so they turned to theater. 

Green has been acting ever since they were 13 when they accidentally got roped into their middle school’s production of “Aladdin.” The person who was cast as Jafar had dropped out, so Green’s language arts teacher turned to Green as the replacement. And ever since, their appetite for theater has only grown. 

“They really just picked me to be Jafar because they felt like I acted like a theater kid. They were like ‘Yeah, you talk too much you need to be with your people,’” says Green. 

Before deciding to major in theater, Green never thought going into an acting career was realistic. According to The Guardian, only 2% of actors can make a living from the profession and it is known to be a very tough business. But Green was willing to take the risk.  

Green says that we as a community need to change the mindset that if you want to pursue and be successful in theater, you have to go to a conservatory, and have been acting, dancing, or singing ever since you were four.

“Really what you have to show for yourself are drive and determination and I feel like if you’re determined to do anything, especially in theater, you are bound to do it,” says Green. 

And Green is definitely working hard to get there. 

Since their freshman year of college, Green has been a part of multiple productions through student organizations and the theater department. Their first show at UGA was in “Equus,” in which they played a horse. 

“I only got called back for a horse. I had a crisis and cried. And then I said, you know what? Instead of crying and moping, I’m going to be the best damn horse there ever was,” says Green. 

That persistence, boldness and positivity are what Green focuses on in every production, no matter the role. 

Green was also very involved in the making and performing of “By Our Hands” by The Georgia Incarceration Performance Project, which was a collaborative piece between Morehouse College, Spelman College, and UGA. Green and other students created the show after researching among various archives about how the state of Georgia was able to continue slavery post-abolishment through prison labor. 

The Georgia Incarceration Project is the toughest show that Green has worked on, but they definitely want to work in more shows like it and use their talent to spark important conversations. 

Green also is pursuing a minor in Portuguese mostly because of the genre of theater called “Theater of the Oppressed,” which was created by Brazilian visionary Augusto Boal about how to use theater as a tool for transformation and social change. 

UGA Theatre’s production of “Rent” was the most recent show that Green was in. Before even auditioning, Green wanted one role, which was the iconic Angel, and no matter what, they were going to prove that the role was tailored perfectly to them.  

Green took up private vocal lessons and monologue coaching sessions because this show and character was something they cared so much about. 

“The journey of gender identity and the journey of sexuality and then having to deal with the reality of the AIDS crisis, a lot of that hit home for me because they directly affect a bunch of the communities that I’m a part of. And so that in itself made me know that I had the desire to be Angel,” says Green.  

Once Green got the role, even though they were a little scared, they were ready to take on the challenge of such a big role. 

Green says that they and Angel share many qualities, like being a little snarky, but fun, caring and loving for everyone. So those shared qualities not only were seen onstage but offstage too. 

“In the dressing room, music was being played like Spice Girls and Brett was doing a little shimmy here and there, dancing, and singing. It was a very lighthearted atmosphere, and having actors that are down to earth make it a lot easier, and Brett did just that,” says Waminja Cleaveland, 21, who worked backstage on “Rent.” 

Up until “Rent,” Green even had a little of a personal vendetta against musical theater. They had been singing in chorus since fourth grade, but when compared to acting, singing and dancing were not as natural to them. They had this idea ingrained in them that if you were not a true triple threat, that you were never going to succeed in musical theater. 

“Rent” was a wake-up call for Green though. Now that Green knows it’s realistic for them to pursue musical theater, they are interested in potentially getting more involved with it in the future. 

Green is set to graduate next December, but before then, they plan on getting an agent and focusing on their professional career in film and television.

And since Green didn’t audition for the next season of shows at UGA, they plan on exploring other interests more, like drag performances, which they have been doing since their freshman year. 

After graduation, Green plans on moving to Atlanta for a few years to work in the film and television industry, working their way up to feature roles. And Green says maybe in 10 years, you’ll see them on “Celebrity Big Brother.” 

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