Alumni Spotlight: MRH '70 Grad Lives a Life of Drama
Not only is St. Louis home to the largest African-American theatre company in the nation, it also boasts one of the country's most prolific and versatile performers: Linda Kennedy.
A 1970 graduate of Maplewood Richmond Heights High School, Kennedy was a driving force behind the Black Rep for more than 30 years. She held the title of "Artistic Associate," which placed her in charge of community programs and performing arts workshops for youth. The Summer Performing Arts program teaches youngsters everything from the business side of acting to how to effectively promote a production.
On the acting side, Kennedy has wowed audiences with her nuanced performances in shows such as "Chef," the story of an inmate who recounts her life's painful memories while working in the prison kitchen, and "Windmill Baby," in which Kennedy played a dozen separate characters -- including a dog -- in a one-woman show. The Riverfront Times in 2014 called it a "tour de force performance, which is exactly what we've come to expect from this gifted actress."
Kennedy fondly recalls a few "firsts" from her time at MRH. Her first school play was a production of "Finian's Rainbow," a musical which opened to raves when it debuted in 1947. She was the first black MRH cheerleader. Her graduating class in 1970 featured the first black student council president and first black homecoming queen. She has a granddaughter who will graduate from MRH in 2020, and a grandson who works backstage at the Black Rep.
In addition to drama, Kennedy was on the track and gymnastics teams and worked in the school library.
Her message for today's students: "Stay true to yourself. Be dedicated to what you love. Don't let negative people influence you."
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