NYM: Where do you find inspiration?
Joshua Henry: I’m really inspired any time I see growth. Seeing someone jog for the first time in years trying to get healthy, seeing a dancer trying a step in rehearsal they’ve never tried before, or following a recording artist like Adele or India Arie throughout the years as they grow as artists. Scenes like those give me all the fuel I need to try (and I do mean try) to be the best version of myself.
NYM: What is a hobby of yours outside of the theater?
JH: I love to write and arrange music, and I love having jam sessions with other artists. Doesn’t have to be formally working on a song. A lot of times when I’m in my dressing room on breaks from a show, I’ll invite some of my cast mates to come sing their favorite tune or style of music, and I’ll accompany them on guitar. Someone might be singing, another might be tapping on a piece of wood, and we’ll just create a mood, a feeling, something that never existed before. Everyone’s experimenting, discovering, using new muscles in the moment—THAT is one of my favorite things to do.
NYM: What is a long-term career goal for you?
JH: One of my long term goals is recording my original music. I’ve been blessed to perform at several venues in NYC and a couple symphonies around the country. I love Being myself, connecting with an audience through my music is something I plan on doing a lot more of in the near future.
NYM: What have you liked about working on Shuffle Along out later this month on Broadway?
JH: I’ve grown to love the character I play, Noble Sissle. At first, I wasn’t a fan until I go to know him deeply. He’s a super talented composer/singer/arranger/performer with an insane work ethic who’s caught between his dreams of achieving and getting the respect he deserves. From his speech pattern to the way he moves physically, to his complicated emotional journey as a African-American artist in the 1920’s, I’ve never been more challenged with a role. But that is big reason why I did it- hopefully to keep stretching and growing as an actor.
NYM: Having been in a number of Broadway plays, are you partial to theater? Or do you have interests in exploring other acting mediums?
JH: This past summer in Europe, I co-starred on a big budget, action film for five months called The Lake. I got to play a navy seal and lived out my 10-year-old fantasy of being a navy seal- Jam! Thankfully, I’ve done a few movies and some television and want to do much more, but theater is my first love because of the live aspect the audience brings as well as the sense of ensemble a company must have to make each performance come to life.
NYM: If you could describe how you feel opening night of a show in two words, what would they be?
JH: Dreaming Awake.
NYM: What band/artist are you listening to at the moment?
JH: I’m becoming a big fan of Kendrick Lamar now. Didn’t know much about him before that amazing Grammy performance, but that got me in, and the pictures he paints with his rhymes could be actual paintings. In fact I hope someone gets commissioned to do just that! Talk about a fresh voice. Also, love me some Snarky Puppy.
NYM: What is your favorite museum in the city? Why?
JH: The MOMA is my favorite. My cast mates and I were recently taken there to see rare film footage to research for Shuffle Along. Apparently the film was created between 1915-1918! I love that museums preserve such incredibly rare pieces like this. It sure helped inform what people will be seeing on stage when they come see the show at the Music Box Theater.