Kevin Ray Johnson
I would like you to meet the wonderful Afra Hines. She will be performing in Hadestown on Broadway at The Walter Kerr Theatre with previews beginning March 22nd with the official opening on April 17th. Afra has performed on Broadway in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical (in which she was honored with the Legacy Robe), Shuffle Along, Motown the Musical, Soul Doctor, Ghost, In The Heights and Wicked. Ms. Hines has also toured with Hamilton. I have had the chance to see this amazing actress perform several times on stage and it was quite the honor and privilege to have the opportunity to interview her.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a performer?
I knew I wanted to be a performer, professionally, around the age of 14. That's when I quit competitive gymnastics, and my mum and I moved to NYC so that I could go to a performing arts high school.
Where did you study? Are there any mentors that truly helped make you the performer you are today?
Well, I moved around a lot. I went to three different high schools. But I would say the main schools that made an impact on me were; Dancer's Point in Miami, FL., Walnut Hill and Jeannette Neill's in MA., and The Ailey School and Broadway Dancer Center here in NYC. Jen Waldman had (and continues to have) a significant impact on the way I approach my craft and the performing business, and Deric Rosenblatt transformed my vocal technique.
Congratulations on Hadestown! With previews beginning March 22nd, what are you most excited for about this show?
With Hadestown, I'm most excited to be working with Rachel Chavkin and the whole creative team. Our director and her associate (Tamilla Woodard) are both women. This is my 8th Broadway show, and I can't say I've ever had that. There's fantastic storytelling through the choreography by David Neumann. And of course Anais! The music is insanely beautiful and complex. I get chills every time we sing Come Home With Me.
Are there any shows (Prior to Hadestown) that you have done in your career that will always be near and dear to your heart?
I'm always asked “what's my favorite show that I've done?” and it still feels like trying to choose a favorite child. They are all my favorites. Wicked because it was my debut and I got to fly. In The Heights because it was my first original cast and it was the Dream Team (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alex Lacamoire, Thomas Kail). Ghost because the music was so gorgeous and the illusions were mind-blowing. Soul Doctor because I got to work with Benoit Swan Pouffer. Motown because I got to hear Brandon Victor Dixon and Mykal Kilgore sing every night. Shuffle Along was a dream come true and I got to watch Audra McDonald perform every night. And finally, Summer because I made my principle debut as the Disco Donna understudy.
What advice would you give young performers who want a career in this business?
I would advise young performers to continue to study and practice and read and learn all that you can. Stay away from haters or people who don't understand your dreams and goals. Write in your journal. Go to therapy. Go to dance class. Take care of yourself but work hard. Talent without hard work won't get you anywhere. Hard work will take you places.
If you would like to learn more about Afra, please visit – www.afrahines.com, and to learn more about Hadestown please visit – www.hadestown.com