Kareema Wambuii auditioned to be part of the cast of In Her Words in 2013 and inspired the production’s producing director to create a role for her a day later.
“Kareema has a certain charisma that is undeniable, I had to have her part of the show,” says In Her Words director Khadijah Ali-Coleman. After Kareema auditioned for the roles of Nina Simone and Lena Horne—both roles already filled—Khadijah contacted Kareema to see if she would be interested in telling legendary dancer Katherine Dunhan’s story. Lucky for the production, Kareema was interested.
Kareema Wambuii comes to the In Her Words production with a strong resume in creative fields such as acting, spoken word, modeling and singing and is committed to portraying Katherine Dunham with her signature marks of grace and strength. She says of the production, “I hope the audience learns that there was more to the beautiful faces and voices–these women were performers but also people with hearts and opinions. Most of all, they were Black women in America during some of the roughest, most grueling times and while it was ‘respectful’ to keep your opinions to yourself, there came a time in each one of their lives where, according to Katherine Dunham, they just couldn’t take it anymore.”
In following Q & A, Kareema shares how she is similar to Katherine Dunham and why theater is important.
Tell us a little bit about who you are as a performer and what led you to Liberated Muse’s production of IN HER WORDS.
I am a singer, poet, actress who was led to Liberated Muse! I truly believe it. I just happen to be on Facebook one day and saw the audition link. I saw the production briefly last in Virginia and knew there was something special about portraying such courage, such history. I had to be a part of it!
Tell us about who you portraying in the production. Are they anything like you?
I am portraying legendary dancer and activist Katherine Dunham. Am I like her? I know she has a strong spiritual foundation and I have a strong spiritual foundation as well. Also, I used to be an African dancer throughout my years in high school; our teacher was from Nigeria. So I have a bit of experience as a dancer as well.
What were some things that you learned while preparing for your role?
I learned that there is a “Katherine Dunham Technique” and people all over use it and honor it, even today!
Why is theater important when it comes to learning about historical figures?
With so many media outlets today, you can get bombarded with what’s going on today with this celebrity and this act of horror and even everyday people. Theatre allows us to keep historical people in your face, to remind you of the things of yesterday that some of us may want to remember and some of us may not. It brings it to you—hard and explosive! Theatre says, “Here I am, I won’t be denied”.
Where can folks learn more about your work and who you are?
They can find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kareemawambuii and also come out to our upcoming In Her Words shows that will be touring in March throughout the DC , Maryland and Virginia area where I will be participating in a talk-back after each show.
Tickets are now on sale for the concert Natural Woman: A Collage of Female Creativity. Kareema Wambuii will be performing her original poetry as well as performing an excerpt from In Her Words in her role as Katherine Dunham. This event will feature excerpt scenes from In Her Words during an evening of live music, spoken word, vendors and food. Use the code KAREEMA to get a dollar off of your $10 online ticket. Tickets are $15 at the door. Tickets to this event support the In Her Words 2014 tour that will travel through Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC. Buy your ticket now.