Girl Scout Kamille believes everyone should have a chance to take center stage. To earn her Gold Award, Kamille chose to address the lack of diverse roles in theater and musical productions.
Kamille’s passion for making a difference in the world of creative arts was strengthened when she realized, “Many theater companies often choose plays that exclude People of Color (POC). Also, many companies do productions that traditionally have white leads … theater isn’t the most accessible activity for most kids and their parents. Many times, when kids see grandiose productions, they see that there aren’t many people who look like them participating in them so their interests die off.”
Kamille realized that one of the root causes of this problem is that producers and directors continue to put on classic productions that aren’t inclusive or whose roles don't call for actors of color. Learning this made it clear there was room for change and ultimately inspired Kamille’s goal to expand opportunities for all in the world of performing arts. She says, “[Black theater is] is often looked at as a subgenre that only a few can participate in, but I want everyone to be able to experience the joy and magic that comes from it. Lastly, I want kids to feel like they can participate in the theater no matter who they are or where they come from.”
She made an impact by creating opportunities for her peers to experience and learn about Black theater and playwrights (including Frederick Douglass, Lorraine Hansberry, and August Wilson) through a Black monologue competition at Martin High School in Arlington, Texas. Tapping into a larger community, Kamille opened up auditions for important roles to all, no matter their ethnicity or theater experience. She also encouraged “those from other schools who may not have many chances to show their skills a chance to shine.”
Each participant got the chance to work with actress Shaundra Norwood, whose experience as a Black actor in theater was invaluable to the students. Shaundra taught them to understand the importance of every role and how they connect to different experiences of the Black American. This helped each participant realize the significance of creating space for everyone in the theater. Later, they expressed how much they enjoyed the experience and learned along the way. Kamille says, “The most successful part of my project was the diversity of monologues that were performed and the amount that the students learned from being involved in the competition and learning about their authors and the significance that Black theater has in the theater world.”
Despite being a competition, Kamille’s event helped foster a sense of community. She says, “even though it was a competition I wanted [the actors] to be comfortable with each other and be able to critique and help each other out with their monologues.”
Kamille’s project wasn’t without its obstacles, however. Kamille struggled with spreading her message and getting people to participate in the competition. She turned to social media, local school news outlets, and even created a video ad, knowing the more people saw the opportunity, the more likely they’d be to join.
Even though Kamille initially set out to teach others about Black theater, she also learned lessons and put several leadership skills into practice including public speaking, community building, decision-making, and collaboration. She says, “During this project I learned that I tend to take things over and want to do them by myself. I learned that I have to ask for help from others or I will struggle and become overwhelmed with the work. I also learned that I really like seeing others learn and grow through new experiences and knowledge.”
Kamille’s passion for inclusivity in the theater spread to her larger community and will continue for years to come. While this year’s competition has wrapped, it will run again next year at her school during Black History Month and be put on by members of the Black Student Union. After everything Gold Award Girl Scout Kamille has accomplished, it’s her turn to take a bow.