Timmia Hearn DeRoy
I'm passionate about social justice story-telling that leads us question ourselves and the social structures around us. I work in the mediums of theatre and film to ask complex questions and create spaces in which to contribute to building inclusive, just and equitable ways of being.
I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, part of a little transplant family from the Caribbean and Middle East, where I searched for stories that made me feel like I made sense. I was reminded often by my mother that I come from a mixed family - part African, part Chinese, part European, and half Israeli-Jewish. I remember learning that some of my ancestors had been enslaved, while others were plantation foreman, and struggling to understand how people of my dad's heritage, who were once hunted and exterminated like parasites, now systematically oppress others. I felt different, displaced, and confused about my identity.
Theater and the arts was the place where I was able to explore my own complex realities. It was the place where I learned to identify as a woman of color, where I came to terms with passing for white, but knowing I could never be white. I learned that the gatekeepers of success and cultural creation here in the United States were largely uninterested in the complex narratives of women of color, so I determined to devote myself to spotlighting our many-fold stories and perspectives.
I graduated from high school in 2008, and in the decade that followed, I searched for a place where I could tell the stories that mattered the most to me. I was lucky enough to find homes in a number of different places. I found my home during undergrad among other students of color, searching for our place in the Ivory Tower which often seemed uninterested in our realities. Upon graduating from Yale University with my BA, I moved to Trinidad and Tobago, my mother’s home-country, where I was able to work with giants in theater, film and music and immersed myself in Afro-Caribbean history, tradition, and arts practice. I then moved to Toronto to work for a film festival where I was surrounded by the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora. I recently decided to move back to the American Midwest, to be close to my immediate family. I accepted an offer to pursue a graduate degree in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Kansas.
I hope to use the knowledge that I have gained in the last decade to reconnect to the dreams of the lost child that I was, and to find a home for myself among other transplants and lost and found people of the American Midwest, to build community with others like and unlike me. Through my work as a theater creator, film developer, activist and scholar, I aim to continue to deepen my understanding of the ways in which our social realities are constructed. I see theater and film as empowering mediums through which I can explore my questions, and also spaces I can help create in which to welcome others from across difference, ability, and identity. I am interested in exploring ways in which our cultural practices can be radically inclusive, learning from and expanding on the work of other artists. In a world that has never been safe for so many of us, I want to create better possible futures, current realities, and celebrations that broaden the scope of work that is considered by existing theatrical, film, and scholarly structures. I seek to explore work outside a Western lens, and outside the carefully constructed tradition of the American Theater - drawing on pre-colonial traditions, postcolonial re-imaginations, to re-create the theatrical paradigm, bringing forward stories, told in ways, that can bring joy, healing, and community development to theater makers and audiences alike.
Currently I am PhD candidate at the University of Kansas. I am also open to work in the following areas: