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October 29, 2010

Saying Yes to History – Alison Sealy-Smith

Alison Sealy-Smith

Alison Sealy-Smith. Photo: Sandy Nicholson.

Alison Sealy-Smith is a consummate performer with a long list of stage, film and television credits. She is the founding director of Obsidian Theatre, and has appeared on television in Street Legal, This is Wonderland and The Line. Alison has also appeared in a number of Hollywood films including Honey opposite Jessica Alba, Dark Water with Jennifer Connelly and Talk to Me with Don Cheadle. Alison returns to the stage to reprise her role as Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun.

I almost said no when my agent called to ask if I wanted to audition for the Soulpepper production of A Raisin in the Sun. My unthinking initial response was, “really, that old chestnut?” Followed quickly by, “You’re kidding. Me? Mama?”

I almost missed out on one of the most intensely enriching experiences of my professional career.

I had always believed in the potency of Story; had even assisted in the creation of a company dedicated to telling our stories as African Diasporic people, but in that unthinking moment almost lost sight of my own deeply held beliefs.

This production of A Raisin in the Sun, this experience of being in the grip of a truly great story, carried along by a fresh young vision, sweeping away stereotypes and overly familiar ways of seeing, has re-ignited my passionate respect for the griots, the storytellers who capture and reveal the soul of their people. It has made me hungry and it has sent me home, literally and figuratively.

All in all I’m pretty glad I didn’t say no.

A Raisin in the Sun

Alison Sealy-Smith & Abena Malika. Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann.