- Lucia Brawley: I am a Living Map of America: Race, Identity and Representation. Patrick Huey 46:57
In 2015 the Broadway musical Hamilton captured the imagination of the country. It did the impossible; it made history not only extremely cool, but relatable. By colorizing and diversifying the cast, the show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda dropped all of us into the heart of the American story. Miranda, a Puerto Rican, man played Hamilton. The Schuyler Sisters were cast with actresses who were of black, white and multiethnic backgrounds. Thomas Jefferson was cast as a biracial man. Aaron Burr was cast as a black man. Suddenly, those of us who are so often left out of the history books, were now front and center in this narrative of one of the country’s Founding Fathers, told with slick lyrics and a hip-hop, R&B inspired soundtrack. Even in 2015, Hamilton offered a stark relief to what were the emerging undercurrents of white supremacy and xenophobia in the country that would soon find full vocal support from our political leaders and institutions only two years after the show opened.
Enter Lucia Brawley. She is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Office of AMP Global Technologies, an award-winning, global media platform that lifts the voices of artists of color throughout the globe. An iconoclastic figure, she is a trained ballerina from the American Ballet Theater School in New York and the Joffrey. She is Yale School of Drama trained actress. She is a cum laude graduate of Harvard University. Most recently she and her husband moved to Africa to produce an award-winning television series called Take Back the Mic. The show gives a platform to highly gifted African rappers, hip-hop artists and musicians to raise their voices and be heard. She is also a racially and ethnically ambiguous person. Like her education and work, Lucia’s identity will not be pigeonholed. As she says of herself, “Nobody knows what I am.” Her racial and ethnic roots run wide and are representative of the immigrant story of America – Irish, Mexican, Italian, African, Native American. She aptly describes herself as a map of America.
In our conversation this week, Lucia and I explore the uncomfortable, real conversations about identity, race, representation and who gets to say who is or is not part of any ethnic group. We live in a time when centuries of racial and ethnic oppression in America are being confronted head on, as people of all backgrounds demand to be included in the story of America. The outcome of this current moment remains TBD, however Lucia remains sanguine as we face the uncertainties that lie ahead. “The American story is such an intricate tapestry of all of these different cultures coming together. And we’re so much more connected than we realize.”
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