By: Daniel Kundrat, Contributing Writer
Towson University (TU) hosted the “Finding Your Purpose: From Baltimore to Broadway’s Hamilton” event with guest speaker Bryan Terrell Clark, Feb. 22.
Clark is a working actor, who has starred in various feature films, television and theatrical projects. From working in the hit tv shows such as “Empire,” “When They See Us” and “SnowPiercer” to performing on Broadway as George Washington in “Hamilton.”
He studied Theatre at Temple University where he earned his undergraduate degree, followed by The Yale school of Drama for his graduate degree. Clark detailed his undergraduate and graduate experience, and how it began with him disliking musical theatre.
“I hated it,” Clark said. “I didn’t understand why people were singing.”
After seeing the musical “Rent,” Clark changed his view. Soon after graduating from Temple, Clark met acceptances into several TV shows, theatrical productions and programs including NYU and Yale, while pushing past what he called blatant discouragement and racism.
According to Clark, he was discouraged from aiming for top universities, that his chances of both being accepted and able to financially afford it were unlikely because he is Black. Knowing the reputation that he precedes, he attended Yale.
Extending the conversation of racism, Clark recounted his grad school experiences. When pulled over by policemen in the streets of Yale University, he was warned by fellow Black students to give his student ID aside from his drivers license, so that he may not be harassed.
“It blew my mind that in order to survive in this environment, I had to put my school ID on top of my driver’s license,” Clark said. “What about the regular brothers that are just driving around New Haven? What about those people who are staples in the community?”
It was through these experiences that Clark found his drive to work with social programs which uplift those who do not carry certain privileges in their life. He started with the New Haven community’s Dwight/Edgewood Program.
“We help them to create plays and scenes and short films, whatever they wanted to create, to help them channel their voice and their story through the arts,” Clark said.
Clark has realized that in order to find your purpose, one should follow their passion. Clark says he has now taken his purpose in his own hands, and recently co-founded the company InDEFINED. His company began by placing words such as hate or fear on shirts and then crossing them out to allow a person to define it for themselves, on their own terms.
Junior Kaylee Franc enjoyed Clark’s advice on following your passion.
“I came to the event for my job as a Student Leadership Consultant, and I am so happy I went because I got to learn a lot about how to get a hold of my passion and how to pursue it,” Franc said.
Sophomore Gabriel Ortiz was moved by Clark’s story.
“He had such a glowing presence even over zoom, you could feel him sharing the magic of passion with us,” Ortiz said. “Immediately moving hearts with his personal story and journey, it was inspiring.”
In the end, Clark gave TU students and faculty long-lasting advice for following their purpose. He encouraged attendees to re-evaluate how we find our happiness.
“The reason why a lot of people don’t find happiness is because they focus on the lack of what they desire,” Clark said. “Gratitude is the gateway to abundance.”