On this episode of Minnie Questions, Minnie Driver talks with Jeremy O. Harris, the playwright behind the Broadway hit Slave Play, which has garnered critical acclaim and 12 Tony nominations - more than any other non-musical show. “Every time I talk to him I feel like I’m talking to the future,” Minnie says. “A super tall, hot, progressive future.” She asks him her seven questions, which are adapted from Proust’s Questionnaire, which used to be a parlor game designed to reveal a person’s true nature - but also discovers a lot about the process of writing Slave Play, his experiences in performing arts schools, what caused him to start to writing in the first place, why he wants to interview Barack Obama, and so much more.
He says when he was cut from drama school – a process which he compares to Survivor or The Bachelor – he was told he “wasn’t castable” and “you seem to like writing, why don’t you do that?” So he set out to prove them wrong by being cast in “every major show in Chicago” for two years before moving to L.A. “I didn’t want to say I was an actor,” he says, “so I started telling people I was a writer. And my entire identity changed.” Minnie gets it; when she graduated from her performing arts high school, she was the only one without an agent. She compares their experiences to Neo in The Matrix, when the Oracle told him he wasn’t The One. “The moments in our lives where life is telling you it’s not you….those are the moments where we have the most growth,” she says. “You have to disagree with it in order to carry on, or you have to become something else.”
He tells her about the “fallout” in his graduate program over Slave Play, and how many of the creative team were his classmates, involved with the process since the very beginning. “12 Tony nominations have very little to do with Jeremy O. Harris writing this play, and everything to do with the community of people around this play that I wrote,” he says. And his mother gets a lot of love as well as he commends her for working three jobs to support him and his sister financially through school. He felt he and his mother’s work was “affirmed and vindicated” when he was participating in the MacDowell writing residency with Pulitzer winners; he was feeling weird that these accomplished people cared about what he had to say until one of them told him, “Why does it feel weird? We’re all sitting at the same table.” Hear more about Jeremy O. Harris, like the subsidized ticket program he championed and the saucy questions he’d love to ask Barack Obama, on this episode of Minnie Questions.
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