An actress who is active in various theatres in and around Seattle, Hamilton ‘just knew from a young age that I want to tell stories’. Also dedicated to the representation matter of actors of color in Seattle, Hamilton is ready to join the conversation of having more actors of color telling their own unique stories, and encourage everyone to follow their passion, and chase their dreams, despite what society may have in mind because of our gender, age, and ethnicity.
Having always been a performer, Hamilton wanted to become a pop singer, when she was young. Her passion for music made her the girl who sang in the bathroom and bedroom, holding a comb as the microphone, but her eighth grade drama teacher changed her life. After a school performance, her drama teacher told her and her family that she ‘had a knack for it’, and starting from thirteen years old, she has been dreaming of becoming an actress.
Away for school, Hamilton came back to Seattle in August, 2014, and did many auditions in various Seattle theatres. ‘As an actor, I’ve always wanted to work at the big playhouses here, SCT being one of them’, commented Hamilton. After receiving some positive feedbacks from her general audition with Seattle Children’s Theatre (SCT), she again auditioned with SCT, when it was casting ‘The Lamp is the Moon’. Chosen to be the actress for this one-person-play about a girl who dreams of going onto the Moon, she made her debut with SCT on April 12, and has since ‘infused a lot of myself into her (Shawn)’.
‘The Lamp is the Moon’, a play that revolves around a girl who does not want to take a nap, and who makes plans in landing on the Moon, has Hamilton become a girl; though their dreams are different, Hamilton has seen much similarity between them, and she enjoys that ‘I am that girl that you can relate to’. An actress of color, Hamilton stresses the importance in kids seeing people of color on stage and telling universal stories of dreams, imagination and science. No longer looking at her as a girl of color, the kids in the audience just see her as another girl, who they can easily relate to and connect.
From a young age, Hamilton has found that most of the plays she saw had the same group of actors who came from the same cultural background. Desperate to find someone she could relate to, and thinking that ‘I could play that part; I could tell that story’, she wanted from a young age to ‘put people of color on stage’. With society having the norm of men in science, it is refreshing for her to play a girl who has a deep well of knowledge on science and the universe, and instrumental for all the audiences, especially the girls, to see a girl who has a passion for science, and who is ready to take things into her own hands.
As an actress of color, Hamilton is excited to see all her audiences are of different shades, and to find that Seattle theatres are being more aware of the representation matter of actors of color. Hamilton believes that ‘we have a way to go, but I don’t think we are there yet’. An issue that is not a quick fix, Hamilton sees the danger of people starting to relax after seeing some more actors of color being represented, and urges everyone, audiences and theatre production teams alike, to help push the representation movement and conversation forward.
Having seen most of the productions in SCT’s current season, Hamilton is confident to say that SCT has provided a diverse range of productions, and looks forward to what it is going to add to its already diverse productions next year.
Though SCT is called Seattle Children’s Theatre, it is not a theatre that is solely for children. To many, it is an opportunity ‘to see your childhood favorite stories onstage’, but most importantly, it is ‘an opportunity for families to come together’, and enjoy a play. It is a theatre where all children and adults’ eyes light up, and they learn all about the simple and yet hard-to-accomplish lessons of diversity, acceptance, confidence, beauty, friendship, and many more qualities that we tend to forget as we get older.
Since her childhood, Hamilton has gained invaluable help and pleasure from the many categories of performing arts; as performing arts are continuously being put down or neglected, Hamilton stresses that ‘it’s (performing arts) not a luxury, it’s a necessity’. ‘An opportunity for the imagination to be at the forefront’, performing arts awakens our creativity and our dreams, and to her, it is an essential part of humanity.
Article | Tracy Wang
Video | Zita Lam
Photo | Seattle Children Theatre