JACKSON TWP. “My mom was an angel and my dad was a dragon and they both taught me to fly,” Bryan Terrell Clark told the audience at the last event of the 29th season of the Featured Speaker Series at Kent State University at Stark on March 10.
Clark is a singer-songwriter, philanthropist and actor, perhaps best known for his starring role as George Washington in the record-breaking hit “Hamilton: An American Musical” on Broadway. His TV credits include “Empire”, “CSI: NY” and “Blue Bloods”, and musically, he has performed with stars Brandy, Ciara and Michael Bublé.
Clark made his Broadway debut playing the iconic role of Marvin Gaye in “Motown: The Musical,” which received a 2014 Grammy Award nomination for Best Musical Theater Album.
Clark is the co-founder of the philanthropic lifestyle brand inDEFINED, launched in 2017 to inspire and teach young people to use their voices to dispel constrictive labels in society. The online apparel brand supports arts education programs for at-risk youth.
The audience had many young people who listened intently as Clark gave a presentation that was funny at times, autobiographical at other points and motivational and inspirational.
He started out by reciting some of the opening lines from “Hamilton: An American Musical”.
Clark went on to describe his life growing up with two parents who were complete opposites. He described his mother as a “woman of principle” and his father as a “drug dealer and addict.” Clark said his father went to rehab 22 times over his life.
“They discovered that my father had a chemical in-balance and when they found that, he was able to come off the drugs,” Clark said.
Clark talked about how many times he auditioned for “Hamilton” before he got the part.
“I auditioned four times and didn’t get it,” he said. “I went back and auditioned two more times and didn’t get and I told myself that I wasn’t going to try for it again. But then I thought about my father going to rehab 22 times and it hit me that if he can keep trying that many times, I can go audition again for “Hamilton” so did and I got the part.“
Just a few of the motivational and inspirational moments included:
• “I was quiet as a young kid and didn’t talk much. I started singing in the church choir and that’s when I found my voice in the arts.”
• “It’s imperative that you get in touch with your inner voice and be able to listen to your gut. Humans are the only creature that can override their instinct with our minds and our thoughts.”
• “Purpose is your reason why in life. Unhappy people either have lost or forgot their passion and lost their reason why.”
At the end of his presentation, Clark offered the audience three challenges: “Every day, write down things in your life you are grateful for; take responsibility for making yourself happy; and always be your most authentic self which is the most powerful gift you can give to others.”