Audiences already know Joaquina Kalukango as an actor onstage (“Slave Play”) and on screen (“One Night in Miami”) — and on the most recent Tony Awards telecast, when she capped off a roof-raising performance with a Tony win for her work in the musical “Paradise Square.” What fans might not know, though, is that she’s also at work on a few projects as a writer.
Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:
“I am trying to concentrate on narratives of our culture specifically, because I don’t see them,” Kalukango said on the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety’s theater podcast. “I also am writing. I’m Angolan so there are specific stories I want to tell from my community as well.”
For now, she’s declining to share too many details of what she’s writing. “I will say it’s been great to research even my tribe, and my culture and my family history. I started taping my parents. … They came as political refugees to this country, and that journey was just so phenomenal that I was like: ‘Okay, I have to get this written. I have to figure this out.'”
She added, “There’s a TV show in the mix, there’s a movie in the mix. Plays kind of terrify me! So I have to wait on that. I have to figure that out.”
Also on the new episode of “Stagecraft,” Kalukango revealed why her involvement in “Paradise Square” came at exactly the moment she needed it most. In the musical she plays a character named Nellie, the owner of a bar that serves the vibrant multicultural community living in Manhattan’s Five Points neighborhood in 1863. When the actor first received her offer to star in the show, the pandemic and the lockdown were still at their height.
“I was scared of everything, scared to live, scared to breathe, scared to move,” Kalukango recalled. “And then you have this woman [Nellie], who is so fearless, who is so loving and protecting of her community. To be able to embody that, specifically at at time where I didn’t have the strength to do it myself, was a healing thing.”
Kalukango also shared her memories of Tony night and the festivities that followed. “Oh, I partied hard!” she said. “I don’t think I went to sleep until Monday night at 10. It was a full celebration.”
To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the Broadway Podcast Network. New episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.