Tag Archives: Theatre Department

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

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

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.

‘Race’ comes to Tennessee State University Nov. 7-10

Play tackles controversial issues of rape, sex and race


race-poster-3-biggerNashville, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – “Race,” the latest play from Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright David Mamet, makes it debut Nov. 7-10 at Tennessee State University, and will explore the questions of rape, sex and race.

Produced by the Theatre Department at TSU, the play will take place in the Cox-Lewis Theatre of the Performing Arts Center. Admission is free, however, “Race” contains adult language and is recommended for mature audiences.

Mamet’s play, which opened in December 2009 on Broadway and ran for just under 300 performances, tackles America’s most controversial topic in a provocative tale of sex, guilt and bold accusations. The story focuses on three attorneys, two black and one white, who grapple with evidence to defend a white man charged with a crime against a black woman, as well as their own personal feelings about race. The play features ethnic one-liners about guilt and shame that will provide fuel for the post-performance discussions.

“Race” playwright David Mamet is a two-time Oscar nominee, director, essayist, novelist and poet who has been a force in American theater since 1976. His works include “American Buffalo,” “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Speed-the-Plow” and “Oleanna.” Mamet has also won acclaim for numerous screenplays, including “The Verdict” and “Wag the Dog” (both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay), as well as “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “The Untouchables.”

The play premiered in the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in 2009, featuring renowned actors Kerry Washington, James Spader, David Alan Grier and Richard Thomas. “We decided to bring this shocking play home to our campus to give our community an opportunity to discuss the continual issues of race in the U.S.,” said play director, Marc Payne.

Performances take place Nov. 7-9, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 10, at 3 p.m. Discussions will be held immediately following each performance and reservations should be made in advance by visiting eventbrite.com (Go to “Race” – the play at Tennessee State University, and register for each night with e-mail addresses).

For more information, contact Arianna Petty at [email protected].  



Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209



About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.