INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
STORY BY KATINA GOULAKOS
Some people are just born to be on stage and Joshua Henry is one of those people. The Broadway Star sat down with us at Imagista to talk about theater, film and so much more.
Imagista: So you were born in Winnipeg?
Joshua: Yeah, my parents lived in Canada for several years and when I was 3 they decided to move down to Florida. I guess they had enough of the cold!
Imagista: Your parents are of what descent?
Joshua: They are from Jamaica. I have a big Jamaican influence in my life, I love reggae music and Jamaican food.
Imagista: When did you move to New York and why?
Joshua: I moved to New York 10 years ago to pursue acting.
Imagista: How did you first get into acting? Did you always know you would be an actor?
Joshua: I went to a very small private school and during my senior year a teacher who had seen me in the school’s first musical production of music man told me that I could do this for a living. I had no idea what she was talking about, I had no idea that people got paid to act and dance on stage. Long story short, I believed her, she was in tears when she said that. I knew that what I was doing on stage felt right and I felt like I was connecting with people and able to change their mood, and I really enjoyed that feeling. I then auditioned for The University of Miami Music and Theater program and I got in, and immediately from the first week I was there I was obsessed with everything acting, singing and dancing. I loved the idea of helping people see things a different way of changing their minds or enlightening them on something they have never seen before and they could possibly forever be changed from that. So I got into acting relatively late, my senior year of high school is when the acting bug bit me so to speak. After University of Miami, I had a show case in New York and was blessed to get a lot of great attention from casting agents and directors. From there I decided to move to New York and started hitting the pavement. I have been fortunate to have a supportive family, my parents supported me and believed that I could do it and instilled a lot of faith in me. They knew that whatever I put my hand to I would give it my all.
Imagista: Do you come from a creative family?
Joshua: They were not creative, unless math is creative. My mom worked at an accounting firm for most of her adult life and my dad is a Math teacher. I think they just believed in me. They are very spiritual people, I grew up in a christian household, they believed and prayed and had faith that whatever I put my hand to that I would succeed. I was actually talking about it to someone today and it got me chocked up because I know a lot of people who don’t have that- parents who believe in them and let them do what they want even if its not something they are familiar with. I had friends in school when I was doing conservatory for music and theater where there parents got them out of the program after two weeks because they didn’t see it as realistic. I understand that but I know I am fortunate to have had such supportive parents and I know that’s a lot of why I am able to do what I am doing now.
Imagista: Are you the only child, or do you have any brothers and sisters?
Joshua: I am the only youngest child. I am the youngest of three, so I’m the baby.
Imagista: Are either of your siblings creative or do they have more traditional careers?
Joshua: My brother is a base player for this incredible band in South Florida so that’s really cool. My sister grew up playing piano but now she’s a public health doctor. We had a little bit of exposure to the arts growing up, but I think we took my family by surprise.
Imagista: Did the singing and dancing come naturally to you or did it require a certain amount of training?
Joshua: I could always move really well. I remember listening to music on the radio with my sister and just dancing and acting a fool. I certainly had four years of training in a conservatory setting. Like I said, when I got there when I was 19 I became obsessed with everything dance. I would watch youtube videos and go to different performances and doing all the things that I think you have to do if you want to be somewhere in a field you just engross yourself within that world. I was going to websites that I felt like dancers would go to, getting involved in that world, setting my homepage to different performance websites, I just put my all in it.
Imagista: Obviously you have done endless amounts of theater. Do you have a preference to theater over film?
Joshua: Its funny, right now, to compare the two you can’t really. Theater was my first love, my first exposure to entertainment. I love being on stage and being in front of a live audience, there is nothing like that interaction that happens when the audience becomes a third character and you are just feeding each other, it’s like a conversation. Film is different, in that you get to tell the exact story you want to tell, because you can record it as many times as you want, you can sort of say the perfect thing. The beauty in theater is the imperfect thing, that’s not perfection but imperfection and its night after night and its striving. It is a little more of a reflection of what actually is. The audience is seeing you sweat, maybe drop a line, maybe deliver it differently and I think there is a beautiful thing about it. It is an ensemble thing, everyone is getting together to get this thing done night after night, week after week. I do want to do more film and television though because everything feeds everything.
Imagista: This film The Lake, have you filmed it yet?
Joshua: Yes! We filmed for five months last year in Germany, Croatia and Malta.
Imagista: What are you working on now?
Joshua: I am working on a musical called Shuffle Along and it is by the incredible director George C. Wolfe and its one of the biggest growth experiences of my life in terms of acting. I get to play this guy who is a very suave and debonaire lyricist and performer around the 1920’s and we follow him and the other creatives put on this production an all african american creative team and all african american cast on stage and we follow how they made it happen. We also find out what happens after success, because there is no road map, especially at that time, that if you actually make it, then what? A lot of us have this drive and we make it to the mountain top and we realize that there is still more to life. It’s wildly entertaining, we just got 10 Tony nominations and I am just learning so much. It’s good to be back on broadway it is my 7 th show and I am so grateful.
Imagista: Do you guys schedule for a year run?
Joshua: Right now it’s an open ended run, so I believe we are selling tickets through October and if there is a demand they will release another bunch of tickets, it is all about how much people enjoy the show.