What’s most important to you right now? 

My relationship with god is super important. I grew up in the South behind the church. It’s always been very very important to me. Trying to stay connected in that sense; seeing the greater good and trying to remain positive. I believe that we can get beyond the horribleness of the situation and see the good that’s coming out of it. We’re acknowledging each other again in New York City. The acknowledgement of humanity and that we’re all going through this. There are more dire situations, but for me, I’m trying to see that side of things. It’s a lot like 9/11. It was a moment after everything happened–New York just acknowledged humanity, and we realized that nothing [else] mattered because we all could be attacked. I see a little bit of that happening now; an awareness. We can be very closed off, which is fine, but for me, the only way I’m able to see the good is understanding that god’s got our back. See the beauty of creation and humanity, and that only comes because of that faith.

What was most important to you before you had to social distance? 

So much was career based. My Broadway tag was taken away. I didn’t have that normal job, so I was really trying to create this new writer life and make sure that it was established that I was moving onto full-time writing. When this happened and Broadway shut down too, the hope of booking another show or summer stock job–when all of that gets taken away, your priorities have to change. Well, now what? When you don’t have that daily validation. Artists always go back to some form of zero. If your security and confidence lie in that only, then it’s shaky ground. My foundation as a writer was even taken away–you can write all day long, but if no theater is open to do your show then what are you going to do? Luckily for me, all of this happened at the same time. This kind of refocused my life on my relationship with god. I want to put positive things out there. That lesson happened all at the same time–you can’t put all your stock in work and what you’re producing because that stuff goes away. It definitely was a shift in perspective. 

What’s the first thing you’ll do when this is over? 

Go hug people! I miss that. I want to go home to North Carolina and hug my mom and dad and see my sister. I definitely would love to take a trip down south and get out of the city. When the city reopens, I’m actually wanting to go away. 

What are you doing to pass the time? 

I am turning my home into the headquarters of what I’m hoping will become an entertainment conglomerate. I love writing, but I also love interior design. I’ve been turning my home into a showcase for what I would like my company to become. There’s a bible verse in the old testament that says “write your vision and make it plain” so what I did was basically turn my apartment into what I want it to become. My apartment is this love letter to New York. I want potential investors and people to come over and to be able to show them that this is the dream for my life–this is what I’m working towards. The New York PAUSE moment has allowed me no excuse but to do the work. We can’t say “I don’t have time to paint” because what else are you going to do? My situation is not like everyone else’s and that’s why it’s important for me to be grateful and to say “No, I’m one of the lucky ones.” I know this is not normal for everyone. I want to work hard to stay positive and try to help. 

What makes you happy right now?

Being alive! When you struggle with alcohol and addictions, every day that you’re alive is a great day. What makes me happy right now is waking up and seeing my apartment and my hard work paying off. Being at home. Seeing my dreams start to happen. I’m doing the work and am able to work during this time at home. It makes me happy to sit down and have a new idea for a show and to start creating characters and stories. There is good that can come out of these things. There’s beauty that can come out of this. In the midst of what can be such a dark and dire thing, artists are helping us see beauty. That makes me happy. Feeling like I’m part of this artistic community that is attempting to still find ways to encourage each other and get our art out there. 

What would you tell yourself two months ago with the knowledge you have today? 

Be patient. Keep going. This is not the end of the story, this is just part of the story. The Shakespeare quote “what’s past is prologue”–that is what I would tell myself. Your past is not even the story, it’s the prologue to the story; to what you’re building now. It might have saved myself a lot of tears and time. When beautiful closed it was so hard–I did the show for six years. Because of the holidays, I didn’t realize how hard it was until January. It got a little darker for me. I would tell him “a new dream is coming. Broadway was always meant to be a step to what you really want to do.” Every single human has a specific place and purpose on this earth. We all have something that we’re created for. Go after your destiny. It’s so much more fun and fulfilling. We have no choice right now because of this reset. I’m only the center of my universe but there are other people and they are just as important and just as valid. All of these institutions that we’ve had are just kind of being shaken up a little bit and make us get back to the fact that we’re humans. There is no privilege with a virus, there is no privilege with terrorism and things like that–every single person has to step back and be human. 


Melvin T-New York City

DAY 29