While Megan Masako Haley (BFA ’14) was still in high school in California, her mother took her to New York City on a whim. They saw a few Broadway shows, but the one show they knew nothing about would change Haley’s life forever: In the Heights.
“Because of how I felt when I left the musical, I knew my outlook on life would never be the same; it was this beautiful piece of heart-felt theater,” she says. “That day, I decided I wanted to pursue acting professionally.”
It seems as if she made the right choice. The music, dance, theater graduate has been cast in the new national tour of Wicked as Nessarose Thropp, the Wicked Witch of the East.
Haley will be on the road for nine months, because her contract ends in September. She will be away from her husband, S. Mark Holmes (BS ’14) and her home in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. Until then though, she will be dancing through life and America, or in her case as Nessa, wheeling.
“My character is in a wheelchair, so I have had a new workout for muscles I didn’t even know I had. She also only sings a little, so I have been preparing much more for an acting role. I’m really lucky that I got to rehearse with my Elphaba and Boq.”
While on a national tour, Haley gets a mere two weeks to rehearse at the beginning. Then the rest of the nine months is dedicated to performing.
After each performance, Haley looks forward to hearing from the fans at the stage door. “This show in particular really speaks to a lot of people about overcoming obstacles and embracing being different. This resonates and inspires people to be who they are,” she says.
Being a stage actress can be difficult. For about eleven months, Haley was an unemployed actress. However, she continued auditioning, networking, and working to perform. And she got her break, even though people sometimes give her a hard time about studying to perform.
“I think some people are intimidated by people who have dreams and are doing the things necessary to make those dreams happen. Many don’t go for their dreams, but I’m living mine. Go for your dream.”
—Collin T. Mathias ('16)