David Hemphill

David Hemphill is more than just the Black Theatre Troupe's executive director. He's an actor who's been asked to pray during an audition; a singer who occasionally kisses corporate ass; and a director who's told the folks from the Zoni Awards where they can go. Here's proof:

I knew I wanted to be in show business when I met all the other young, wonderful and talented African-American performers.

The worst thing about being an actor is all these other young, wonderful and talented African-American performers!

My worst audition ever was for the National Touring Company of Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope in 1973. The lead performer from the Broadway production "sat in" on the auditions and asked that I first lead the group of hopefuls in prayer. I was cast in the show and immediately started looking over my shoulder for lightning bolts or swarms of locusts.

The happiest day in my life was when I told the Zoni Awards to go procreate with themselves.

If I could be anyone other than myself, it would be twins: the executive director of Oprah's favorite African-American theater company in Arizona and a guy that only has to kiss one big and powerful ass for money. Like Kevin Eubanks does on The Tonight Show.

It's not entirely true, but I sometimes tell people that everyone wants me and that I change lovers more often than BTT changes personnel.

The fictional character I am most like is Scarlet "I'll think about bad things tomorrow" O'Hara from Gone With the Wind.

I am utterly terrified of kissing small asses when big donations are needed.

I laugh uncontrollably at Ben Tyler.

The one thing I absolutely refuse to do on stage is the colorblind version of A Raisin in the Sun.

Something I have never admitted to anyone before is that I have "been friends" with Robrt Pela for years and have videos to prove it.

The first time I got drunk I woke up chained to a bed between two Great Danes who were lovingly licking the Afro-Sheen out of my hair.

Like my mother used to say, "If someone thinks enough of you to invite you to dinner, leave a little dessert on your plate -- it shows good home training." (She also said, "Stop your acting out this minute and do your homework! Paul Robeson is the only black man I know that has made a successful career being histrionic!")

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela