Hamilton & School Of Rock Alum In Hairspray Live! Hope To Bring America Together Through Music!By Delaina Dixon | December 5, 2016 | Entertainment
Hairspray Live! is getting the Broadway royal treatment with a host of stage vets — Fierstein, Chenoweth, Hudson, Hayes, Martin — the list goes on. And right up there are two of BroadwayΓÇÖs current brightest: Eprhraim Sykes and 11-year-old Shahadi Wright Joseph, who come fresh from their shows, Hamilton and School of Rock, respectively.
At our Hairspray Live! roundtable from the set in L.A., Ephraim and Shahadi talked openly about how their characters, siblings Seweed and Little Inez — who both experience the sting of segregation circa 1962 — can help America see the bigger picture of unity in these troubling racially divided times today.
Can you talk about how this musical explores issues of racism, something that America is still dealing with today?
Eprhraim: Definitely. ItΓÇÖs America 2016, and we’ve been watching a lot of things dealing with young black men, like me, going through a lot right now. And I’m glad to play this part right now, but this dude Seaweed he’s a lover. What he loves most, which is music, he has nothing buy love in his heart. It’s not about color.
Shahadi: Little Inez, she’s a lover. She doesn’t want any violence — she just wants thing to be right. SheΓÇÖs more of an activist, she knows that segregation is wrong; she knows what Tracy is doing to help her and her family and everybody else around Baltimore and the world; she knows that is right. And I think she really matters in this story because she’s one of those characters that you really notice.
Eprhraim: there’s an innocence to Inez. She thinks, ΓÇÿThis is not right let’s just fix it.ΓÇ¥ She’s a little girl, she only knows what she sees.
A lot of times we can reach people who don’t think like us, donΓÇÖt look like us, that don’t like us sometimes through music… YouΓÇÖre out at the club with someone you don’t like but you end up dancing to the same tune, and it doesn’t matter anymore. Let’s get back to love once again. Hold hands once again. WeΓÇÖre most excited we get to tell this story today. We need it right now.
You are both coming off of Broadway shows. How does the experience of doing a TV movie differ from doing a stage show every night?
Shahadi: This is a little bit of everything. You are doing stage, TV and a movie, and it’s a lot to process, but it’s so much fun to work with everybody. It’s so big you just want to celebrate all the time.
Eprhraim: Coming from eight shows a week, it’s the best of both worlds. It’s that heightened element that you get from the stage, and that don’t know what you’re gonna get from live TV on Dec. 7 and there’s no rewinding. But at the same time knowing where the cameras are at and know┬áangles┬áand where the cameras are. There’s a whole other layer on top of rehearsing that we normally do. But we have a great team and they are allowing us to do what we do best as they capture it. It’s gonna be good.
Catch Eprhraim, Shahadi and the whole cast of Hairspray Live! Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. on NBC.