BHM – Celebrating Influential Black Artist Part 3 – MEET Domonique Paton!
MEET Domonique Paton – this week’s featured black artist who broke traditional role barriers when she became the first actress of color to play Anna in Frozen at “Live at The Hyperion”, Disneyland California Adventure!
1. Describe the moment when you first became interested in musical theatre?
I remember I was sitting on the bus to school and my friend Elena Danielle gave me her cd player and let me listen to RENT. I was blown away. I became immediately obsessed and I had to learn every single word. I told my mother that we had to get tickets to the show. I told her that my lifelong dream was to play Mimi Marquez. When the tour came to the Shubert theatre (RIP), my mother got tickets. She walked in completely unaware of the shows context. She was terrified and that night changed my life.
2. Share a bit about your family dynamic growing up? Was there anyone in your immediate or extended family, or from school, etc. that was a real inspiration or mentor when pursuing your dreams?
My grandmother Shirley Walker was kinda a pioneer in the sense that she was dancer for James Brown and Little Richard. She was often one of the first black woman dancers on a lot of variety shows. She was in multiple movies and worked with stars like Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier. My mother danced all thru her life and decided to stop when she became a mother but she would take me to dance classes when I was younger. When I was in my class she would be in her class next door. It was such a great dynamic to have. My family has always loved the arts. We love music, we love dancing and seeing live shows.
3. Share how you learned about the Disney Frozen Anna audition, how you prepared for it, if any hesitation or trepidations about auditioning for a traditionally casted white role?
Well I originally auditioned for the workshop that was called, “H2” It was for a new show, didn’t know where and when. It was eventually announced that we would be working on the opening of a mutli-million dollar production coming to Disneyland. I remember after my second callback, that I was still being called back for ANNA. I remember when I ask my agent about it originally he said, every one we submitted is called back for a lead. They will probably just put you in the ensemble. After my second callback, it still said ANNA. I kept asking my agent if that was a mistake. I believed pretty much all the way up until my first day of rehearsal that they didn’t mean to cast a person of color in this role. Disney would never allow it. My prep for it was the same for everything. I tried to be as authentic to the character as possible. I would watch the scenes from the movie the night before every callback. The more callbacks I had, the more i just wanted to be in the show. Knowing that Disney was taking these moves forward with their casting made me want to be in the show no matter what. But luckily, I got the part.
4. What advice would you share to aspiring young actors of color?
Don’t stop. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t fit in that role.
5. What has been your biggest challenges / road blocks in pursuing your musical theatre / acting aspirations?
I would hate to say my ethnicity, but my ethnicity. Playing Anna really did open the door for me but I think many other production companies are still very hesitant to take the chance on casting POC’s in traditionally white roles. It’s frustrating. TV/ Film have been very open and forward about making changes in regards to diversity in casting. Theatre is still very much in the dark.
6. What was your favorite moment in SDMT’s Rent?
Meeting all the cast mates. I joined the show right before tech and the cast welcomed me with open arms. Also I met some of my lifelong friends from that production. People who I still talk to almost everyday.
7. What future roles would you love to play on Broadway?
I would love to play Christine in Phantom or Glinda in Wicked.