In Theatre Trip’s “Spotlight On” series, we’re chatting with some of the most inspiring people in the theatre industry. And today we’re doing a special feature on Afra Hines – a Broadway actress, singer, and dancer based out of NYC.
Afra Hines is a veteran performer with seven Broadway credits to her name! She was also a Radio City Rockette for seven years. But you might just know her best from the newest mega-hit, Hadestown, where she is currently the understudy for Persephone!
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What initially inspired you to step into the theatre world?
“I studied dance and gymnastics as a kid growing up and thought I would become a concert or commercial dancer. But I wasn’t really bitten by the musical theater bug until just after high school when I went to see my friend in Wicked and thought “I want to do this show”.”
What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve had to face in your career so far?
“Ignoring the “you can’t” voice in my head and just putting in the work.”
And what has been one of your happiest career-related moments?
“Playing Disco Donna in The Donna Summer Musical was big for me because it was the first time I played a lead on a Broadway stage. It was something I had been wanting to do for a long time but only started saying out loud recently.”
Is there anyone in particular that you look up to?
“Ooh I have so many! Rachel Chavkin, Audra McDonald, Jen Waldman, Andy Blankenbuehler. I look up to them because they work hard and have integrity. Their point of view is clear in their work.”
Can you tell us a little bit about how it feels to be a part of Hadestown?
“It’s pretty exciting. We were just named a NYT Critics’ Pick, and we’re just getting ramped up for awards season and all that comes along with that. Also, it’s been extremely inspiring to be led by a group of strong women. Our writer, director, scenic designer, and lead producers are all women. And just to give you an idea of how rare that is, Anaïs (lyrics and book) is only the fourth woman in Broadway history to the be the the solo author of a new musical. Rachel Chavkin (Director) is one of three female directors of musicals currently running on Broadway, and the only female director of a musical this season. I feel very lucky to be here in this moment.”
“Find people who want to do what you want to do, or who at least understand and support your vision.”
And for those who are unfamiliar with the process – what’s it like being Persephone’s understudy? How do you make sure you are prepared for the role should you have to take it on?
“I actually haven’t had any understudy rehearsal yet, because we just opened. But I have been doing my homework so that when the time comes (or if there’s an emergency) I can be as ready as possible. I go over the music on my own and try to keep an eye on Persephone’s staging when I’m able. Once we’re settled, there will be understudy rehearsal once a week so that we are all ready at a moment’s notice.”
Do you have any tips for those who are aspiring to be a professional actress or dancer on Broadway one day?
“I would say to get in some good classes and stick with it. I still take lessons as often as my schedule and budget allow. See as much as you can. Find people who want to do what you want to do, or who at least understand and support your vision.”
What’s on your bucket list?
“I’d really love to do a straight play. I also want to start a family soon.”
And why do you think people should go see Hadestown?
“It’s a new musical written by a woman. Not a jukebox musical or a musical based on a movie. It’s incredibly relevant and moving. It’s beautiful. And our leads are so so good.”
What did you think of this interview with Afra Hines?
Are any of you working as or aspiring to be an actor or actress? We would love to hear all about what you’re up to in the comments below! And in the meantime, you can check out even more of our theatre interviews with inspiring people in the industry!
*The featured image of Afra Hines is by Karen Santos.
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Author: Stacy Karyn
Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theatre Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She has a TESOL drama certificate, a BA in theatre, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.