My freshman year at the University of Michigan, I was aware that I had entered an artistic world that did not want me in all my queer, biracial glory, and a canon full of stories about people that did not look like me. But that same year, I had the incredible opportunity to perform in the Color Cabaret, a biennial student-curated project. We shared an evening of music and stories uplifting the voices of BIPOC students and trailblazers, and pulling back the curtain on a long history of racism in the musical theatre industry, beginning with minstrel shows and continuing up to the token casting of today. This experience empowered me to practice active anti-racism in my work as an artist, which led me to co-produce the Color Cabaret in the winter of my junior year.
I have served as a student representative in my department for three years and as such, I am aware that we have a long way to go before our educational spaces will truly be anti-racist. In a predominantly white institution with an overwhelmingly white faculty, it has consistently fallen upon BIPOC students to advocate for themselves. However, in the last several months, in response to the nationwide resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, I have witnessed an energetic shift. My classmates and I have engaged head-on with issues of racism in our own community in ways we never have before, and feel empowered to demand more of our institution and our industry. Art and anti-racism are both labors of love, and I am eager to work with our faculty and student body to create a culture of anti-racism and community accountability that permeates our classrooms, rehearsal spaces, and artistic lives.
My name is Thani Brant (they/them) and I am a senior undergrad pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre and a Minor in Musical Theatre Composition/Writing. I grew up in Fresno, CA where I fell in love with the performing arts. If I’m not working on a creative project, you can usually find me playing guitar, eating sushi with friends, or digging into some queer feminist theory (or all of the above at once)! In my career, I hope to continue creating and sharing art and to work as an arts educator for young people.