Jewelle Blackman
Jewelle Blackman

5 Questions with Jewelle Blackman of Hadestown

Jewelle Blackman first began her time with Hadestown before the Tony Award-winning musical came to the Broadway stage, playing a Fate in the pre-Broadway tryout production in Edmonton, Canada. Blackman became one of the few cast members from that production to reprise their performance for the original Broadway run, making her Broadway debut with Hadestown in 2019.

Jewelle Blackman, Kay Trinidad, and Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer in Hadestown. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
Jewelle Blackman, Kay Trinidad, and Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer in Hadestown. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Earlier this year, Blackman furthered her journey with the mythical musical and stepped into the role of Persephone. The Canadian actress took some time out of her eight-show week schedule to answer 5 questions with Broadway Direct, telling us about the freedom she feels while acting, why artists like Danai Gurira inspire her, and how Hadestown offers something everyone is in need of right now.

1. What inspired you to become an actress?

I think it’s the ability to transform and take on different people and what’s also cool about it is that you’re able to share yourself in a way. There’s a freedom in it I find as well and so parts of you you may feel vulnerable about, in just a regular everyday kind of way, I’m able to share those parts of myself through acting for some strange reason. I think I like the freedom of it and the ability to actually transform as well and take on parts and people that I’d never have the chance to.

2. Who in your field inspires you?

I love the likes of Danai Gurira, I love the fact that she’s a playwright, has had stuff produced on Broadway, and is also killing it as an actor in TV and in film. I love that versatility, the older I get I realize how important it is to be versatile and to harbor all of your talents and use all of your talents. Debbie Allen as well, starting as a dancer doing musical theater and whatnot and now producing, directing in TV and film. Love that as well. Nina Simone is my favorite artist of all time. Just people who are forging their own path, basically, and doing it their way.

3. What are audiences most excited about seeing in Hadestown?

I definitely think the music is the thing that initially grabbed me. I had never heard a musical like that before, I had never heard a musical that sounded like that, that encompassed that kind of music. And also the incorporation of instruments on stage is an integral part of the show, I think is a really neat treat for the audience. And just the story itself about persevering and love and new love and old love and the acceptance that we all change and change is constant, it isn’t always good, it isn’t always bad, but it is what it is and that there is always hope. I think that’s some of the things Hadestown leaves you with. Even though you think you know how it may end, there is a chance that it might end differently and I think we all are kind of looking for something to hang onto right now, that offers and inspires a little bit of hope.

4. If you didn’t need to sleep at night, what would you spend your time doing? 

What would I do? Oh, I’d probably write music. I’m a playwright and composer and so I think at night is a time that I’m inspired — when I’m not tired — to create. So I actually think that’s what I’d be doing, I’d be writing and creating for sure.

5. What is your favorite NYC spot?

There’s this speakeasy that I went to on the Lower East Side but I don’t remember at all what it was called, but it was so cool going into it because you couldn’t tell from the outside, it literally looked like you were going down these stairs into a weird alley and it was kind of suspect. Then these doors open and I’m in the coolest little speakeasy place and it wasn’t busy, there were maybe like 12 people in the entire establishment, and there were these nice red velvet couches and it was just a really cool vibe and I’ve never been in a place like that. If I could remember the name I’d tell you, but I honestly cannot remember.

Photo by Matthew Murphy.
Jewelle Blackman in Hadestown. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

You can catch Jewelle Blackman starring as Persephone in Hadestown at the Walter Kerr Theatre and find her on Instagram here.

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