Clutching a stack of books to her chest, Pitt undergrad Tasha Michelle Smith looks out into the dark auditorium.
Four strikes against me, she sings, her character wishing her father would notice how smart she is, how serious. Smiths deep, resonant voice reaches toward the audience.
Emma Sheridan, the character Smith plays in the Kuntu Repertory Theatres production of The Tap Dance Kid, wants to be a lawyer when she grows up. But Emmas a girl, and in the eyes of her father, still a child.
I connected with her right away, says Smith. Emma wants the freedom to be whoever she wants to be.
Though outwardly confident, Emma is full of self-recriminations and doubt. Its hard for Emma to look in the mirror and say, Im a beautiful black girl, Smith continues.
As a teenager auditioning for her first part, Smith was so afraid of being cast in the lead, she sang purposely off key. It worked; she was relegated to the chorus.
Now, Smith walks to the lighted edge of the stage, her strong voice gaining momentum as she opens her mouth wide to sing Emmas closing argument. Four strikes against me, Smith belts out, Im gonna find a way to fly."