I was watching interviews featuring the cast of Orange is the New Black, after finishing the second season in its entirety and came across something interesting. Cast mates were complimenting each other’s singing skills, and Lea Delaria’s name came up. Delaria, who plays “Big Boo” on the show has been an actor, stand-up comic, actor, and acclaimed jazz singer for years. Jazz singer! So, that led me to research, because, as always, I love research. Holy moly, I did not realize that Delaria has been on Broadway: Twice. How cool is that? In most interviews with the OITNB cast, Uzo Aduba’s name has become synonymous with “Broadway vet.”
However, many actors, especially New York actors, have theater training and may even have some Broadway experience. Delaria has appeared in the 1998 revival of On the Town with Modern Family star, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and in the 2000 revival of The Rocky Horror Picture Show as Dr. Scott and Eddie. Her jazz skills are quite amazing. Here’s a clip of her on the Rosie O’Donnell Show performing “I Can Cook Too” featuring Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
She’s active in the NYC jazz scene, and her website is pretty cool too. Fab voice Lea Delaria! You rock!
Bonus: She does an amazing jazz cover of “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”
UPDATE: Lea Delaria herself tweeted me after reading my article:
@StephanieGould the the REAL Broadway vets on our show are Annie Golden and Beth Fowler. Compared to them I'm a late comer.
A few years ago, I started working on the concept of a solo performance that dealt with my learning to walk again at the age of 13. A few months ago, I wrote an article about my life as an actor with a disability called Early for Everything. Expanding on that article, and continuing the work that I started a few years ago, I am writing a solo show dealing with my disability–or as I like to refer to it, “Different Ability.” Both a gratifying and emotionally taxing process, writing this show and seeing it to fruition is both a personal and professional goal. I think there needs to be more diversity in casting, not just with ethnicity or gender, but in terms of different abilities. People with disabilities, myself included, deal with stigmas and adversity on a daily basis. Whether we are battling our demons or trying to clarify “what we have” to someone who doesn’t understand, our disabilities are always with us. The thing about us as performers that led us to be excluded from things like gym class (seriously, I was in third grade and told to sit out because I would “slow the other kids down”) becomes one of the things that makes us stand out. We are intelligent and we are just as alive as anyone else and it’s important that others realize that. Over the years, I have been scared of being myself. Even as an adult, I have been afraid of rejection if the “truth comes out” about my cerebral palsy. Then I realized, I never let it hold me back as a kid, why let it hold me back as an adult? Writing the show has been cause for reflection–some good, some bad–but in the end I’ve realized that my voice needs to be heard. I need to help people understand that just because someone is physically disabled doesn’t mean they are any less worthy of achieving their dreams.
We play it so much we find it hard to sleep at night without getting to the next level. It’s the most successful mobile app of all-time, and people have even been diagnosed as clinically addicted to it: CANDY CRUSH SAGA. I was thinking about this last night in my delirium at 3;00 in the morning because, come to think of it, show business is a lot like the popular candy app. In this business, like the game, some levels are going to seem easier than others. There will be times when we as actors book one gig after another just like going up the levels in Candy Crush. There will also be times when we’ll need a little nudge from friends and family to give us extra lives in order to move to the next stage, there will also be those damned people in the game that are like the gosh-darn chocolate fudge that smother your dreams and try to keep you from your goals. You can’t get to the next level by not meeting the task at hand. If the game wants you to “clear all the jelly” or “move all the ingredients to the bottom,” why would you waste your time trying to just match the same colors together?
We have to remember the objective of our personal journeys and what we need to do to meet our goals. Eventually, we will get to the next level, but occasionally, we’ll be stuck on the same level for months (seriously, I was stuck on level 65 for 4 months.) Not working sucks, but it’s the nature of the beast. Dry spells are going to happen in this business, but with hard work and determination, along with some concentration and a little help from our friends, we will persevere and make it. No matter what your goal is in this business, it’s all attainable. Everyone’s Candy Crush Saga/Show biz journey is different. Embrace it. Hopefully this post made sense. It totally made sense in my head. If you play Candy Crush, think about the parallels for a minute. Now if I could only get past Level 76…