If that’s what it is? Then that’s what it is, and this is what it is— part eight of the TheatreBloom exclusive interview series “A Little More Homework” where we’re getting to know the cast of Third Wall Productions’ 13: The Musical. Taking her turn at the microphone to give us the truth about life in middle school, we’re sitting down with Ma’issa Wright-Kerr for her take on the show.
If you’d give us a little introduction, Ma’issa, we’ll get started.
Ma’issa Wright-Kerr: I’m Ma’issa Wright-Kerr, I’m playing Charlotte, I’m in 11th grade at Towson High School and I’m 17.
Tell us a little bit about Charlotte:
Ma’issa: So Charlotte is the gossipy character. There’s even a song where they say that everything Charlotte says is a lie. Everyone talks about her, and there are rumors that get spread. So she comes in and starts saying that everything everyone else says is a lie and that they’re gossiping about her. She just starts drama. Charlotte is a cheerleader. She’s best friends with Cassie and Molly, also cheerleaders, and she’s under Kendra and Lucy on the squad.
How are you and Charlotte similar and how are you different?
Ma’issa: I don’t spread rumors, so there’s the big difference right there. We’re the same in the fact that we’re both really involved at school. I’m not a cheerleader but I do school spirit and I’m in the marching band at my school. I play sousaphone, the marching band tuba. I only started playing tuba two years ago, before that I played trumpet.
Have you done a lot of performing before this show?
Ma’issa: Yeah, I do a lot of acting with my school, but only since I got to high school. I was in the ensemble for Charlie Brown and also I was in Hairspray, I was mostly ensemble but I got to play the mother, Motor Mouth Maybelle, for two shows.
What’s your favorite song in the show?
Ma’issa: I like “Brand New You” which is at the end of the show. The song talks about how people have changed and now they have these better ways of being more accepting of each other. At the beginning people judged each other and the song talks about how now everyone sees each other without judging each other based on looks and labels.
Do you think it’s important to be popular in school?
Ma’issa: In a certain sense, maybe, but that definitely shouldn’t be all that you care about. It helps you to have friends but you don’t need to be “popular” to do that. You should focus on having friends that you trust and being around people who accept you for you.
The show talks about bullying. How do you feel about bullying?
Ma’issa: It’s definitely very wrong. I’ve had friends that have been bullied before. I don’t condone it at all. I don’t think anyone should condone it. You should be able to talk about it when it’s happening to you, which is why it’s so important to have those friends that you can trust so you can come to them and discuss it with them. You know there have been serious consequences from people who are bullied, suicide and things like that. It’s not a joke.
The show also talks about labels. How do you feel about labels?
Ma’issa: Well, certain labels can be good? Like class-clown? Those can be good labels. But other things, like slut-shaming and things like that, those are not good things. It depends on what kind of label it is? Either way— whether you consider it to be a good label or a bad one or however you meant or didn’t mean it— if the person you’re labeling doesn’t feel comfortable with it, then you need to not do it. Labels stick and they can do as much harm and damage as bullying.
You’re 17 but Charlotte is only 13. What has that been like?
Ma’issa: It’s weird going back to middle school. But it’s also kind of humbling in a weird sort of way.
What do you want to do when you grow up?
Ma’issa: I go to school for law and public policy at Towson. But I don’t know if I want to do civil law or family law as a lawyer or pursue one of those as a psychologist. I’m also in groups that focus on med. at school too? So I don’t really know, medicine? Psychology? Law? Any of those, really.
What has been the most challenging thing about being a part of this show?
Ma’issa: Hmm. Well, the songs— maybe not, because at my middle school we actually did 13, so I already knew some of them. Maybe the dances? They’re definitely a hard part. We have to learn cheers. I was a cheerleader back in middle school but I haven’t done anything with that since then so that was definitely hard trying to go back and remember cheerleading cheers and all that movement.
What’s your favorite scene in the show?
Ma’issa: The starting number. All of us are on stage together and it’s just cool to have us all there together to get things going.
When you’re not in school or doing theatre, what do you like to do with your free time?
Ma’issa: I barely get free time. But when I do I sing a lot. That’s definitely a huge part of my time. I also volunteer— I’m an intern at a hospital. I primarily work in the maternity ward. I shadow doctors and it’s really cool.
What is it you think people will learn from seeing this production:
Ma’issa: You forget how people live in middle school. People just think of middle schoolers as basic children going through basic things that nobody should care about. But it’s nice to consider everyone’s perspective. Everyone considers their troubles to be big troubles so it’s nice to see that type of thing happening.
What has being a part of this show taught you about yourself?
Ma’issa: That I can see things from other people’s perspectives. And it’s helped my singing a lot.
Why do you want people to come and see you in the show?
Ma’issa: I think I’ve gotten better at singing. I think everyone in the lovely cast has gotten better at singing, I’m really proud of what I’m doing, I’m really proud of them. We’re all really proud of all the hard work we’re doing, so people should come and see it.
13: The Musical opens on May 13, 2016 and plays through May 22, 2016 with Third Wall Productions at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah— 5801 Hartford Road in Baltimore’s Hamilton neighborhood. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 443-838-4064 or purchasing them online.
To read Part 1 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Taylor Casalena, click here.
To read Part 2 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Jake Clark, click here.
To read Part 3 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Andi Rudai, click here.
To read Part 4 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Morgan Hewitt, click here.
To read Part 5 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Margaret Hamilton, click here.
To read Part 6 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Christopher Owens, click here.
To read Part 7 of “A Little More Homework” featuring Carly Victor, click here.