Introduce Yourself(ie): 10 Questions with Amazing Grace's Laiona Michelle
June 29th, 2015
by Laiona Michelle
Laiona Michelle makes a killer Broadway debut as a house slave named Nanna in the sweeping new musical Amazing Grace. Michelle originated the role in the show’s Chicago run, she appeared in the national tour of The Book of Mormon, and she starred as Dinah Washington in the new musical Dinah Was. Below, BroadwayBox chats with the Broadway newcomer about the Amazing Grace, wanting to grow up a Huxtable and her fabulous hairstyle.
1. Before friends and family come to see Amazing Grace, I tell them:
Amazing Grace is Epic. It's not a traditional musical theatre show but more of an experience. We are telling a true story about John Newton during the climate of slavery. That being said this material is pretty close to our hearts.
2. If I had to describe singing the title song in a single hashtag, it would be:
3. What I love most about being part of a brand-new musical is:
I love having this rewarding opportunity to create a role that fits just right for me. The role that I play is Nanna, a house slave from Sierra Leone. Because this character is one of the imagined roles in the show, I was able to base her on both my grandmothers, who taught me humility, grace and the power of forgiveness.
4. My all-time favorite Dinah Washington song:
"Come Rain or Come Shine".
5. Three items I must have in my dressing room are:
Rosewater face spray, my bible and a paw print from my beloved dog Willow.
6. Movie or musical that made me want to be a performer:
Movie—Color Purple. Musical— Gypsy.
7. My desert island album, book and movie would have to be:
Album—Barbra Streisand's Funny Girl. Book—Patti Labelle's autobiography. Movie—Eddie Murphy's The Life.
8. TV character I so wanted to be like growing up:
I wanted to be Vanessa Huxtable on The Cosby Show. I loved that she was a smart, natural, good girl with really cool friends and she had America's favorite dad, Bill Cosby for a father.
9. Regional credit of mine I wish New York audiences could have seen:
Ida B. Wells in Tazwell Thompson's Constant Star.
10. I decided to rock this shaved head look when:
I love this question. Lol. Four years ago, I had a bad perm and became frustrated and took my boyfriend’s clippers and shaved it all off. It looked really bad and splotchy so I had to wear wigs for few months until one day the unthinkable happened. My boyfriend accidentally pulled my wig off and I was so embarrassed. He took me to his barber and I got a proper haircut. I loved it and my confidence instantly came back. I must say it's very liberating.
See Laiona Michelle’s Broadway debut in the epic new musical ‘Amazing Grace’.