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Stepping into the limelight: TSU alum shares experience of performing on Broadway ‘For Colored Girls’

Matching hard work with faith was the recipe for success as TSU alum Kala Ross performed as an understudy in the 2022 Tony-nominated Broadway revival of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls.

The 2017 graduate said the experience was one to cherish forever.

“This was everything I’ve ever prayed for,” Ross said.

TSU alum Kala Ross moved to New York to pursue her dream as an actress and performed on Broadway as an understudy ‘For Colored Girls’.

After graduating from the University of Louisville with her masters, Ross began teaching theatre in Georgia. But she knew she was destined to fulfil her passion of becoming an actress. So she moved to New York and auditioned For Colored Girls.

Ross was anxious, but she was prepared after studying her lines, poems and dances as she hit the big stage at the Booth Theatre in May. Ross was an understudy for the character ‘Lady in Yellow.’

For Colored Girls was originally written in 1975 with a combination of spoken word, poetry, music and dance.

Ross described the overall experience as a full circle moment. “For Colored Girls was my final performance at TSU my senior year,” Ross said. “Years later, I am able to do the same production in the circumstances I have dreamed of – which is being on Broadway.”

Dr. Lawrence James, TSU theatre professor who directed the university’s For Colored Girls production during Ross’ senior year, said he wasn’t surprised to hear about his former student stepping into the limelight.  

“Kala is one of our prize graduates from TSU,” James said, noting that he always knew she was going to be successful.

Dr. Lawrence James, TSU theatre professor expresses his excitement for former student Kala Ross as she excels in her career.

James said that Ross was diligent and prepared herself well at TSU for the position she’s in now. He expressed how proud he was when receiving the call from Ross about the role on Broadway.

“The best is yet to come,” he said.

As the show came to an end on June 5, Ross will continue residing in New York to work and continue auditioning for other productions.

“You have to keep the bigger picture in front of your mind even when you can’t see which way you’re going,” Ross said, noting that the road to Broadway wasn’t easy.

Kala Ross attends the 2022 Tony Award show as the production For Colored Girls received seven Tony nominations. (Photo: Submitted)

“You have to believe in yourself so much that you’re willing to fail … that you’re willing to keep picking yourself back up all for your dream,” she said.

“You will see me in a future film. You will see me on TV. You will see me on Broadway again.”

Department of Media Relations

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About Tennessee State University Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.