An Award-Winning Actress, Crystal Lucas-Perry has performed and originated roles regionally and throughout New York City while continuing to workshop new works in development at various theatre companies, including The Sundance Institute, Manhattan Theater Club, New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Horizons and others. With so many successes under her belt since graduating in 2010, Crystal is the recipient of our Early Career Award.
When Broadway returns, Crystal will lead the cast as John Adams in the musical revival 1776. She is the creator of the new musical comedy Ready or Not, co-writer of the critically acclaimed Jackie Wilson Story: The Eve of Jackie, and served as both an Executive Producer through her production company and actor in the recently released horror feature film: Mimesis Nosferatu. She is also a solo music artist and continues to compose, produce, and perform her original music at venues across the country while collaborating on librettos and scores for both the stage and screen
Let’s look back at your college experience. What made Western Michigan University your school of choice?
Not only does the program have an incredible reputation of theatrical excellence, state-of-the-art facilities with strong professional and educational relationships — but it also has some of the most phenomenal people you could ever hope to learn from and guide you on your academic undergraduate journey. I vividly remember my audition process and how from the moment I entered the glass doors of the Gilmore Theater Complex — it felt like I was home. My conversations with current students, faculty and staff only confirmed what I already knew: that this is where I was meant to be — and that this is where I want to explore, stretch, build, and celebrate the artistry within me. I firmly believe that the individuals who make up the WMU theatre family are national treasures with an abundance of knowledge, experience, curiosity and compassion — and it’s evident that these same values and traits are reflected in the personnel they employ, as well as the scholars they admit. Throughout my development as a young artist, I often felt limited in my pursuits simply because there was so much pressure to specialize and focus on only one passion. So when I came across a place that encouraged the exploration of my talents and interests — a place that was dedicated to the development of self and not just my chosen major – I could not pass that up. I knew the difference between spaces that made me feel small and spaces that welcomed and appreciated my fullness — which is exactly why I chose Western, year after year, after year. It was an environment designed to nurture the whole artist, not just the actor.
What’s your favorite memory from your time at WMU?
There are way too many to count. I recall feeling great pride representing our program as a two-time Irene Ryan Award regional and national finalist. I have fond memories of peering up at the giant windows in the atrium during voice and speech class — where we would lay on top of each other listening to our bodies Distinguished Alumnus Award — WMU Theatre — Crystal Lucas-Perry — Class of ‘10 breathe. I remember how much it meant to have my grandmother and entire family waiting for me in the lobby after a performance. There was the laughter and joy that found its way into every scene rehearsal, dressing room, practicum hour, backstage run-crew, social gathering and late-night study group. Every corner of that GTC building is tied to a memory of some kind — and there were so many beautiful ones with so many beautiful people. Thank goodness I took so many photos so I can look back and remember them all.
What is the first thing you did after graduating to apply your degree to the real world?
Fortunately, our program is geared toward prepping scholars for further education — if they so choose. I knew early on that I would be continuing my education at the graduate level and was greatly supported by the faculty, staff, and administration — who matched my drive and dedication throughout every step of the process. It's not often that every core faculty member, let alone the chair of your department, spends hours of their personal time helping to advise, refine and sharpen your audition, interview, and portfolio materials. I felt confident, prepared, and equipped for every graduate audition I walked into — and this has set the tone for how I enter the room for every professional endeavor I pursue today.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I get to meet and connect with a lot of different people — and not one of them is solely defined by their ‘job’. Whether it be a reading that lasts a day or a production that lasts for months — there’s always an opportunity to connect with someone on more than just an artistic level — and I love that. It keeps life interesting. Another important aspect of this work is that I have the privilege of telling stories that need and deserve to be told — which has the potential to bring about awareness, healing and real change. There is an opportunity to affect and infect the minds, hearts and souls of an audience — offering a chance for the dialogue to continue long after the curtain has closed.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Scheduling. Fortunately, the industry has kept me engaged with multiple opportunities which can make it challenging to plan ahead. Let’s just say, I’ve missed a few weddings.
What tips would you give to current students and graduating seniors as they prepare to enter the "real world" and secure work?
Here are few ‘Quotes by Crystal’ that you may find useful:
“Unlike other professions, your body is your instrument — so take good care of it, because you only get one.”
“You can be in the same profession as someone else with a completely different definition of success. Decide how you define it and set your goals accordingly.”
“Booking a job doesn’t give you permission to make or participate in art — that's a right you’ve had all along.”
“It’s very possible your dream role has yet to be written. It's very possible you are the one to write it.”
What does it mean to you to be recognized as a distinguished alumnus?
Whenever someone asks where I attended undergrad, I proudly say that I trained at Western — because I recognize how pivotal this institution has been for my trajectory, both personally and professionally. I have immense respect and admiration for this place and what it continues to do for so many others. After all, WMU was my first home away from home — so it feels good to know that I’m making my family proud. I am deeply humbled, incredibly grateful and truly honored to receive this recognition.