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Meet Jaquel Spivey '21

Job Title & Employer
Musical Theatre
College Activities
Conservatory Theatre Company
Raleigh, N.C.
Now Living In
New York City, N.Y.
Hobbies & Interests

"Because of Point Park, I could be in a room next to professionals with 20 years of experience and match their work, knowing I had only been out of school for five months."

Jaquel Spivey '21

Why did you choose Point Park University's B.F.A. musical theatre program?

Point Park had body diversity, diversity of ethnicities and training in acting, singing and dancing equally. Not many schools offer that, and that’s what made it stand out to me. I knew I would be welcomed and would have the opportunity to shine.

Tell us about your path to Broadway two months after graduation.

I landed a leading role as Usher in "A Strange Loop" — the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Best Musical — on Broadway two months after graduating from Point Park's Conservatory of Performing Arts. This was an unexplainable blessing because I graduated with only two Conservatory Theatre Company shows — "Sunday in the Park with George" and "Ordinary Days" —  on my resume.

Jaquel Spivey in "Sunday in the Park with George" at the Pittsburgh Playhouse.
Spivey in "Sunday in the Park with George" at Point Park University's Pittsburgh Playhouse

Because of Point Park, I could be in a room next to professionals with 20 years of experience and match their work, knowing I had only been out of school for five months.

I learned my education didn’t end on May 1, 2021. I stepped into my master’s degree, so to speak, at “A Strange Loop.” Point Park taught me how to be a professional, but I think Broadway taught me how to remain a professional.

The biggest privilege was coming from a University that told me that I could be whatever type of artist I wanted to be. You usually don’t see someone like me as a character actor, to be a plus size, Queer, Black man in the center. I don’t know that there was any other school that taught me how to center myself like Point Park did.

Jaquel Spivey as Usher in "A Strange Loop" on Broadway.
Spivey as Usher in "A Strange Loop" on Broadway

How did you sustain a rigorous performance schedule?

What kept me going was knowing that I was meant to be on that Broadway stage, and that every step leading towards that moment prepared me for this role. I can’t speak enough about the amazing community that invested in my future and the love that exists at Point Park. 

How did your Conservatory training prepare you for your Broadway debut?

At Point Park, the standard as a Conservatory student was as high as is it is in a professional equity theatre, and the expectation was as well:

  • Come in prepared and ready to go.
  • Be warm before rehearsal.
  • Know the work you are coming in to do.
  • Display an attitude that’s conducive to a working environment where everyone feels safe and comfortable.
  • Be just as alert in the shows as you are in your classes.
@strangeloopldn Idk about you, but I’m feeling cool, tall, vulnerable, AND luscious. #broadway #strangeloop #strangeloopbway #whitegirls ♬ original sound - A Strange Loop

What did Point Park teach you?

Point Park taught me how to not only show up in a room but how to be as prepared in a room when showing up. It also taught me how to not to have holes or flaws in my preparation so there’s no box left unchecked and how to bring my best self to the work.

As a performer, it’s so important to take care of yourself. Yes, the work is hard but you have to be healthy — in whatever healthy means to you — in order to show up and be your best.

Highlight award nominations you received from your role in "A Strange Loop."

  • Tony Awards, nominated, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, 2022
  • Drama Desk Award, winner, Outstanding Actor in a Musical, 2022
  • Drama League Award, nominated, Distinguished Performance Award, 2022
  • Outer Critics Circle Awards, winner, Outstanding Actor in a Musical, 2022
  • Theatre World Award, honoree, 2022
  • Grammy Awards, nominated, Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, 2023

These moments are dreams come true, especially the Tony Awards nomination. Not everyone gets a nomination and that alone was huge. Knowing I was nominated and knowing I was performing at Radio City Music Hall at the Tony Awards, that alone was life-changing.

To win the awards, especially looking at the history of people who won those awards was also a huge blessing. I am at my core little Jaquel from Raleigh, N.C., and any opportunity to perform and inspire, as cliché as it sounds, is enough to me.

Pictured is Jaquel Spivey in Mean Girls by Paramount Pictures.
Spivey as Damian Hubbard in "Mean Girls" by Paramount Pictures

Tell us about your conversation with Tina Fey and how you landed a role in "Mean Girls" by Paramount Pictures.

While on Broadway, my team shared that Tina Fey wanted to talk to me. I hopped on a Zoom call with her and learned that she and her husband, Jeff, saw me in "A Strange Loop." She then told me I would be a great fit as Damian Hubbard in the show she was working on — "Mean Girls" by Paramount Pictures. I told her I was interested, had a conversation with the directors and casting at Paramount and submitted my audition tape. A few months later, I got the part.

Being a part of "Mean Girls" has been an incredible experience. All of the little moments interacting with Tina and this cast have been amazing. I'm forever grateful for this opportunity.

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A post shared by Mean Girls (@meangirls)

What advice do you have for prospective students?

The training is only 50% and everything else is what you take from it. The training is there, the curriculum is there, but how do you show up and prepare to be the best actor today? If that is your thought process you’ll have a great time at Point Park, but understand it is preparing you for one of the most difficult fields you step into professionally. Expect it, don’t wait for it and prepare to show up to be your best self. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Treat the work and the classroom with just as much respect as the work in the mainstage productions.

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to Professors Zeva Barzell, Rich Keitel and Tim Marquette. They, and so many others at Point Park, had a significant impact on my career.

In Their Own Words: What Faculty Are Saying About Jaquel Spivey '21

"Jaquel and I have often reminisced about our first meeting when he auditioned for our program. We just clicked. I met this lovely teenager, talented and eager to learn. Now, six years later, I have so much admiration for what Jaquel has accomplished. What an honor it was to spend four years being part of Jaquel’s journey: working with him, watching him grow and discover and never losing that eagerness to learn and commitment to his craft. I am grateful that we continue to be a part of each other’s lives. I am so proud of him. I know there are many good things ahead!" — Zeva Barzell, M.F.A., professor and director of musical theatre.

"I had the pleasure of teaching Jaquel in my Shakespeare and Improv classes. His talent is only exceeded by his big heart. I was so proud seeing him on Broadway in 'A Strange Loop.'" — Rich Keitel, M.F.A., professor and director of theatre arts.

"Jaquel was one of the most sincere, genuine, and hard-working students, and these traits – along with his incredible talent – are certainly what has led to his amazing success! Seeing him on the Broadway stage was a complete joy; now, I can't wait to see him on the big screen!" — Tim Marquette, M.A., assistant professor and coordinator of private voice.

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More About: theatre, Pittsburgh Playhouse, Conservatory Theatre Company, Conservatory Alumni, musical theatre, Theatre Alumni, alumni, Conservatory of Performing Arts, success story, faculty