JACQUELINE LAWTON: To begin, why did you decide to get into theater? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
DAVID LAMONT WILSON: I always tell people, “I didn’t choose theatre, it chose me” … I can’t ever remember wanting to do anything else but be an actor. Of course there are other things that I excel at, but acting is my first passion. The show that made it official for me was seeing the 1986 TV adaptation of the staged version of “All My Sons” with Aiden Quinn and Joan Allen.
JL: Set in Hampton, Virginia in the 1940s, THE HAMPTON YEARS examines the impact of World War II on Jewish immigrants living in the United States and their role in shaping the lives and careers of African American students in the segregated south. This play investigates the various ways in which racism and bigotry negatively impact the arts, academia and military. Where do you feel we are in terms of race relations in the U.S.?
DLW: I feel we’re in this odd place right now … where it’s obvious that a super amount of progress has been made as evidenced by our first black president, or such stats as currently there are 35,000 millionaires in the US, and 1.9 million black owned business, etc. But I still feel there is still a very subtle undercurrent of racism that still exists especially between African Americans and Caucasians that sometimes feels like it will never go away.
JL: THE HAMPTON YEARS also celebrates and honors such extraordinary artists as John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Samella Lewis, Viktor Lowenfeld and Charles White for their bold and courageous ability to overcome these challenges and create beautiful, powerful and lasting works of art. Why do you feel this play is relevant to today audiences?
DLW: The Hampton Years is relevant today, because no matter your race, profession, or socio-economic status, CHALLENGES are universal. Everyone has them. And because we all have them, there is always going to be a need to see shining examples of how to overcome them.
JL: Which character are you playing? What, if anything, do you have in common with this character’s passions, values, intentions or belief system?
DLW: I have the honor of playing Charles White, who was not only a gifted artist but also an educator with a passion for passing on his love of his people to others. I don’t have an ounce of his talent in visual art, but we do share a love of using the struggle of the African race as catalyst for our work … and a desire to inspire and touch people’s lives through that work.
JL: What’s next for you as an actor? Where can we follow your work?
DLW: Hopefully, I’m waiting to find out about two independent film projects happening in the fall, since I’m hoping to expand into more film and television work. You can reach me at davidwilson5235 at gmail dot com.
DAVID LAMONT WILSON (Charles White, Dying Soldier and Kuba Dancer) is thrilled to have the privilege of working on this exciting new work by Jacqueline Lawton. Mr. Wilson was last seen performing Factory 449’s Washington premier of “The Saint Plays” and “All That Glitters” for Restoration Stage. Favorite productions include roles in the critically acclaimed Charter Theatre production of “Am I Black Enough Yet?”, “The Oedipus Plays” at The Shakespeare Theatre, “Heaven” and “Big Love” for the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, “American Buffalo”, “Inns & Outs” and “Edmond” at Source Theatre; “Invisible Disability” and “The Boy Who Walked Backwards” at the Kennedy Center; and the European Tours of “The Cutting Edge” for Imagination Stage and “Julie” for Scena Theatre. His resume also includes productions at Arena Stage, Olney Theatre, and the Folger Shakespeare Theatre, as well as a featured role on NBC's award winning Homicide: Life On the Streets and HBO's The Wire. He is currently shooting the new independent film “Flesh To Flesh” by Lee Hayes, and can be seen later this season in “The Saint Plays” for Factory 449. David would like to thank Daniel Wallace for bringing additional sunshine into his existence!
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!