We had the good fortune of connecting with Kayla Marshall and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kayla, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas and have lived here all my life. Brought up in the church, I come from a Christian & Baptist family. A lot of who I am and how I’ve established my identity is through my faith in God, the guidance of my grandparents, and the love of my mother. I found my voice in the church. In my family’s presence I’ve gained wisdom, and built enough patience to withstand life’s challenges. The church allowed me to discover my passion for the Arts. My grandparents, happily married for 57 years, model strength and hard work. I’d like to think my determination and will to follow my dreams come from them. Through unconditional love, sacrifices, and constant support, my mother has set the foundation of who I’m destined to be. The Kayla Marshall today has a lot more growing to do but, has found beauty and peace in her reality.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?

I’ve been involved in Fine Arts pretty much my entire life. In grade school, after-school programs were a place for me to learn different styles of dancing and compete in competitions. In middle school, I performed in talent shows and musicals. From Jr. High up until some College: I decided to take theater courses, participated in choir, led the drill team, and auditioned for shows. I’ve had my fair share of experience. As an adult, I was able to grow in my craft with Kennedale’s Community Theatre. No matter how long I’ve voluntarily been apart of something, nothing could’ve prepared me for February of 2022. I prayed a prayer and made a promise to God, “If You give me one year to do nothing but go and see stage plays or musicals, I’ll seek this passion out professionally.” The joke was on me because one audition turned into eight professional shows and counting in just two years! This was not the plan nor did a seek it out so soon; but I’m grateful.

A good friend of mine sent me audition information for Jubilee Theatre’s production of Dreamgirls. This information brought on hesitation because, I felt I was not ready nor prepared for something like that. On the evening of February 6, I nervously made my way to 506 Main St. in Downtown Fort Worth. Starring in Dreamgirls had been on my bucket list, so I really wanted to be in the number. My Afro was out, I wore all black, had my skimpy resume in hand, and walked into a room of people in front and off to the sides of me. I remember there being a camera and, because I was a nervous wreck, I can’t recall the faces in that room. Talk about nerves heightened! I had tunnel vision, it was surreal. I sang, “Wedding Bell Blues” by the Fifth Dimension. Granted, the audition went better than I’d expected but; I never would’ve thought that it would stick with the one person in that room who took risks and saw potential that others may not have seen. Later I would be contacted be Charles Jackson, Jr., the then Associate Producer of Jubilee Theatre, with a casting opportunity/role. I virtually auditioned for “If Pretty Hurts, Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka“ written by Tori Sampson and later directed by Sasha Maya Ada. This would become my first professional production at Jubilee. To add icing on the cake, I would later accept the role of Stepsister, Dancer, and Ensemble that Summer of 2022 in Jubilee’s production of Dreamgirls at Bass Hall.

After that, well, the rest is history. Later I’d take on the roles of (Rosa) in “Take The Soul Train To Christmas”, (Sweet Mama) in “Bread ‘N’ Gravy: The Songs & Life of Ethel Waters” the stage reading, (Olivia) in “The Color Purple”, (Ensemble) in “The Gospel: Black Nativity”, and (Sweet Mama) in the stage premiere of “Bread ‘N’ Gravy”. I’ve also choreographed two shows professionally in the same frame.

At the time, I was working full-time at Office Depot as the Print & Copy Supervisor and Specialist. So my challenge wasn’t taking chances but rather, balancing work life and actually booking shows. It seemed impossible working a 9 to 5, taking 30 minutes to an 1hr to study before rehearsal, and then being in rehearsal for the rest of the day/night. God made that possible.

After 7 years of working in the corporate world and customer service, I finally decided to walk away and heal. In my healing, I’m currently pursuing something that I was destined to do for so long. Stepping out on faith is never easy, but is definitely rewarding. I look forward to this season of doing nothing but auditioning, marketing, and making a name for myself. I have so much to learn.

I often find myself knowing what I’m capable of, but it seems like the village around me believes in that potential when I don’t see it myself. Their belief and my desire to act full time is what keeps me going. I’ve been in Fort Worth my whole life, but my goal is to travel and make a name for myself beyond my hometown. I’m excited and hopeful for what’s next.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
To be honest, I’m still exploring the beauty of Fort Worth. Crazy right?! I don’t know what’s out there until a friend of mine or a new acquaintance introduces me to a spot in the city. If anything, I will always encourage people to support live theatre by visiting Jubilee, Circle, Stage West, Bass Hall and many other theaters in the Fort Worth area. I love food and food loves me! There are many restaurants in Clearfork that display delicious and tasty food. Lastly, the Stockyards near Downtown Fort Worth give a very authentic and beautifully rustic view of the city.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?

A lot of my support comes from my First Riverside Missionary Baptist Church family & Pastor Alvester Jackson, Sr. The Mount Horum Missionary Baptist Church & Pastor Watking Todd. The Fort Worth Chapter and Contemporary Adult Division of the Gospel Music Workshop of America. Through ministry, all have taught and allowed me to grow.

My theater director Linda Graddy and teacher Doug Parker who keep in touch, have mentored, and allowed me every opportunity to grow in my craft.

Finally, my extended family and friends who’ve been to every show, performance, or program. For 28 years you’ve encouraged and supported me in some way, shape, or form. This is my village and I’m so fortunate to have them.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/soulstar96?igsh=MW1tMHY4ZTNxcGJ5Zw%3D%3D&utm_source=qr

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kayla.s.marshall.7?mibextid=LQQJ4d

Image Credits
Freddie Watkins & Jaren Collins

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