Below you will find an article published by the Fairfax County Times on Broadway star Keven Quillon’s visit to our studio!
Coming from humble beginnings, Keven Quillon was always able to find a way around “you can’t” and find the resources to grow as a male performer: “I wanted to be in the band, because I saw my cousin in it. Then I went into the step team. I was the only white boy on an all-black step squad at Albemarle High School. I just kind of figured out that I loved being out front, doing something different. So, even with the step team, people were like, ‘You’re white; you can’t be on the step team.’ And I was like ‘Yes, I can.’ I grew up in an all-black neighborhood until I was in high school. I had a single mom; she worked three jobs; my friends were black. That was another thing in high school that I was like, ‘Yes, I can do that.’ And I did it for all four years that I was there. And that kind of led me to tap.”
Quillon, who grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia and went to James Madison University (JMU) for theater and dance with a concentration in musical theater, teaches at the Metropolitan School of the Arts every summer. His class was on Monday July 30, “The camp is two weeks, to my knowledge. Week 1 is this week, right now. And then, we’re week 2 next week. I’m coming down on my day off; it’s really great that they work around our schedules to bring us down there to work with them,” said Quillon.
We spoke over the phone and one of the first things he shared that he was a shy kid: “I would turn red and start sweating if I had to talk in front of the class, but becoming someone else, and knowing that it wasn’t me; it kind of allowed me to be freer onstage. (laughs) And so, I could become these different characters and people and explore my personality that way.”
After watching him onstage, people used to tell him, “You’re going to be on Broadway!”
People predicted you would be on Broadway. What qualities do you think take people to Broadway?
QUILLON: I would say number one, you have to be driven; you have to be a laser beam, because just like the story I told you about the step team, people are being like, “You can’t do that, you’re white. You’re not right for that.” That’s the same thing on Broadway, it’s like: “You’re too short for that show.” Or, “You’re too fat. You’re too this; you’re too that.” And you have to be able to say, “No, I’m not. I’m still going to go in.” And I tell that to the kids every summer that I come teach. And I’ve seen them grown. And one of the students right now…he’s in “Mean Girls,” his name is Ben Cook. I started teaching him at nine years old at Metro and now he’s on Broadway. And I go to my theater at “My Fair Lady” and I pass him while he’s going to “Mean Girls.” And I remember being like, “Listen, they are going to tell you ‘no’ over and over again.” You have to be able to say, “No, I will go out for that even though you say I can’t, because I have the goods.” And you have to convince people that you’re right for things sometimes. People don’t have an imagination. Number one is just showing up and not taking “no” and not freaking yourself out, as far as like getting to auditions and going to Broadway. (laughs)
It looks like you enjoy teaching too.
QUILLON: Yeah, I love teaching. I’ve had great teachers in my life. One is teaching there