KS: Tell us a little about the college decision you made? Did you always want to study at Berklee?
QH: So my senior year I was very stressed about this decision. I didn’t know what I was doing and the decision had to be made. So I was looking at Potsdam, Fredonia, Ithaca, and Eastman. But there was something about Berklee. And it’s not because those schools aren’t great, but I am an R&B singer, and a pop singer, and I didn’t want to go to a school that would focus me on only classical music because I would be losing out on a lot of the abilities I have. So I decided on Berklee because it allowed me musical theater. It allowed me jazz, classical, any of other genres you can think of. Berklee is in a big city, and that’s where I wanted to be, as I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and step into a new place. So Berklee was the perfect place for me.
KS: The Wiz. Talk to us a little about how that came about and the experience of performing in that production.
QH: So I was in my dorm room practicing for my proficiency; doing my homework for the day, and my friend texted me, “Quiana are you trying out for the Wiz?” I hadn’t heard anything about this. So he said, “Quiana, you have to get right down here because they are going to stop auditions in two hours.” I thought, “What? Okay, this is a big deal,” and thank God I had been rehearsing “Home,” which is in the show, for my proficiency exam so I had already known that song. I literally threw on some clothes, ran out of my dorm room, and got a cab down to The Strand Theater, which is in Dorchester, MA. When I arrived, no one was there, it almost looked liked they had closed up auditions, and I asked, “Please can I audition?” and they allowed me to. I sang “Home.” They had me do some readings, and this was my first professional audition, so it was so very exciting.
KS: Well you obviously nailed it, as you ended up with the lead, so congratulations! Talk to us a little about Dancing In The Streets, Motown’s Greatest Hits. How did you learn about the show? Audition? Learning about receiving the part? School? I understand that your focus is still to return to school after this semester off and complete your degree?
QH: So I found out about the audition through “Backstage.” That is normally what I do to see which auditions are around me. And it’s funny because I end up finding out about my auditions really late for some reason. For this one I realized that Dancing In The Streets auditions are tomorrow so I have to get to Philly. So I told all my professors I was sorry I wasn’t going to be in class tomorrow because I was going to audition for this show, handed in all my homework, and off I went to Philly to audition.
A few days later, I heard from them that they wanted me to tour with them. This show was originally produced in the UK, and they are coming over to Canada and America to test out their running show to see how it does in the States. So we are basically their first cast in America.
This show actually has nothing to do with Motown the musical. It’s a very different show. It’s more of a concert. I am playing young Diana Ross, so I am singing a lot of the Supremes. You’ll be hearing a lot of Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops, and Martha and the Vandellas, that kind of thing. And it’s been so cool so far. We just returned to the States today, and the cast is wonderful. There are seven of us, and a wonderful band, and so far it’s been amazing, and I’m so excited for my family and friends to see.