Making her Broadway debut in “Clyde’s,” Kara Young is a force on stage and on screen

When she was a student at Gettysburg College, Kara Young stood in front of the class with another woman improvising a serious scene. Young played a mother struggling with drug addiction. The other woman in the scene was her daughter who needed money for necessities that her mother could not provide. Once they were done, Young looked up to see his classmates screaming.

“I thought, Wow! There is something I can do to change people. It wasn’t power. It was not the ego. But it was magic, ”Young remembers. “If you make someone laugh or cry, you change them. Something is chemically altered inside.

Young had taken a “love” to play when she was five and discovered mime. Growing up in Harlem, she followed her brother into an after school mime program at 92nd Street Y. Her teacher, Zahava Gratz, had a big impact on her. “She took me under her wing and fed me,” Young says. “I remember her taking very good care of my mind. I felt like I belonged.”

She wasn’t sure what exactly she would do with her life when she arrived in Gettysburg. (She would eventually leave and study acting at the City College of New York, then the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts.) Yet after this experience of college improvisation, Young knew her way. “I specifically remember thinking, this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.”

Since then, Young has dazzled with nuanced performances in All Natalie Portmans, female dogs halfway go straight to heaven, The Neo-English and Ink synchronization. On screen, she starred in Wolf hair, was over four seasons of Code Girl on MTV, was featured on HBO Random Acts of Flyness and in the Amazon functionality, Chemical Hearts.

Young recently made his Broadway debut in the new play Clyde written by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage. Directed by Kate Whoriskey, the Second Stage Theater production centers on Clyde, (Uzo Aduba), a hardened owner of his eponymous sandwich and his kitchen crew (Ron Cephas Jones, Edmund Donovan, Reza Salazar and Young).

Everyone, including Clyde, has served time in jail. They are all dreamers looking for reinvention, redemption, and something much better. They all (or most of them) refuse to let the outside of the greasy truck stop or the harshness of life in Reading, Pa., Keep them from devoting themselves to their art, creating the ultimate sandwich masterpiece.

The powerfully evocative, hugely funny and delightfully unique play has made it to many lists as one of the best plays of 2021. Young plays Letitia, a struggling mom who was jailed for stealing seizure medication from a drugstore for his then three-year-old daughter. .

“I had no insurance. They kept refusing me and Carmen would be dead before all the medical papers were completed, ”explains Letitia in the play who was released from seven months jail. Her daughter is now five years old. “It was expensive and I was in a panic, you know, desperate, I wasn’t thinking. It’s the truth. I would have done anything to protect her. It is true that Letitia also “got greedy” during the flight and stole “oxy and addy to sell next,” she says. “… my mistake, and it’s on me.”

For Young, his love for the game and his compassion for Letitia are limitless. “I wish I had an ounce of the strength she has to wake up each day and face the world,” Young says. “Letitia is the personification and embodiment of resilience, perseverance and survival. She wants and needs to discover her voice, hold on to her creative mind, and find her magic.

In his heart Clyde reminds us of our desire to be loved and what connects us all. “There is humanity in people who are often overlooked. As a society, we have chosen to forget about them, ”Young says. “It’s important to see yourself in these people. When you really listen, there is something about each of these characters that you can hold onto and find out as universal truth.

Jeryl Brunner: As actors in Clyde you are such a powerful and fascinating whole. Why do you think you work so well together?

Kara Young: We love each other so much and support each other off the stage. I believe it all transfers and becomes part of the chemistry. In addition, Lynn Nottage has a lot to do with it. His pen made the words. As an artist, leader and creator, I understood that the community is at the forefront for her. Bringing people together is a way of change. She appreciates every person in the theater. The dressers, the stagehands, the ushers, the people who work the lights, the sound and the costumes and everyone is important. Each person is valuable. They do all of this every day.

Brunner: Can you tell us more about discovering mime at the age of five?

Young: I took the mime because my older brother was taking it and I wanted to be like him. We played in retirement homes, for the kids at 92nd Street Y and in other schools. I really loved creating a fantasy world with nothing. Then I did musical theater with another beautiful teacher, Liza Castro-Robinson. I went to school in Spanish Harlem and she gathered a group of kids who were all brown and loved musical theater. She took songs from musicals like Chicago Where Funny girl and create scripts with us in mind. I’m not even a singer, but she gave me solos all the time. It was about being together and loving her.

Brunner: Is there a role you want to play?

Young: I want to play Tinker Bell in a new take on Peter Pan. An adaptation to the cinema would be nice.

Brunner: What is the best advice you received as an artist.

Young: My friend, Craig muMs Grant, passed away this year. He was one of my mentors, a big brother who taught me a lot along the way. While we were preparing a memorial for him, for the Labyrinth Theater company, I came across a video. He was telling the kids about Developing Artists, an amazing organization dedicated to young teens in the arts. In the video, he said, “If you take care of yourself and do the job, the job will take care of you. It’s something that I revisit a lot.

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