“This year has really opened the theater world’s eyes to what we’ve been talking about for a long time,” asserts actress Dametria “Dee” Selmore.
Several years ago, Selmore co-founded Tallahassee’s Essential Theatrical Associates (ETA) with fellow FAMU Essential Theater alumnae Monica R. Woods, K. Sidney Bronson, Bryan F. Mitchell, Lilita Forbes and Carol Hill.
The mission of the organization is to give life to the Black experience and create open-minded spaces for creatives to grow and hone their talents. In November, ETA presented “Err’thing Glitters Ain’t Gold,” a production written by local playwright Natasha Edwards-Williams.
“We are trying to create these spaces for artists who were not being serviced as well as they could have been, and we are finally being listened to,” adds Selmore. “Our own community has been asking what they can do, so we’ve been working with theaters to help increase diversity.”
In the past few months, ETA’s shows have shifted from live performances to livestreams. Similarly, Selmore’s energies have shifted from traveling as an actor to teaching classes with her online program, Oluse Performing Arts.
Education and teaching runs deep within Selmore’s roots. Her mother taught in primary school for 40 years and her father was her assistant principal in high school. If it wasn’t for her father’s advice to take an extra elective her senior year, she would have never discovered theater.
Selmore admits she was shy growing up, and was afraid to sing, dance or act in front of people. As a senior in the introduction to theater class, she remembers her teacher showing a VHS tape of Broadway’s “Ain’t Misbehavin.” She quickly became a fan of actress and playwright Charlayne Woodard, who starred in the production. Selmore will direct Woodard’s “Pretty Fire,” an autobiographical play in five vignettes, for ETA in January.
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