When Alphonso Walker, Jr. ’14 made his Broadway debut last fall in Pass Over, the play had just earned rave reviews from the New York Times and made history as the first production to return to Broadway after the extended pandemic cancellations that started in March 2020.
A little more than a decade earlier, Walker’s first-ever theater performance as a young adult came in Daemen’s Wick Social Room – in Fences, by August Wilson (the namesake
of the theater where Walker made his Broadway debut).
Cast as an understudy in Pass Over, the Buffalo-native was featured in three performances of the play, in which just two characters on stage for most of its 95-minute duration – with no intermission – challenging its lead actors to carry the bulk of the show.
He’s since appeared on The Equalizer on CBS (in scenes with the show’s star, Queen Latifah), in the Hulu series Wu-Tang: An American Saga, and returned to Broadway this spring in the Lincoln Center Theater’s revival of Pulitzer Prize-winning The Skin of Our Teeth.
Q. Tell us about when you made your Broadway debut.
After all we’ve gone through during the pandemic, it was so rewarding. I had to stay ready, with all the COVID protocols, in case they needed me.
Still, I feel I’d been preparing my whole life, putting the work in. When I’m not on stage, I run lines and stay ready.
The day of my debut, I danced to the theater. When the curtain lifted, it was one of the most beautiful moments in my life. And to have my family and friends there – I’ll never forget it.
Q. You played Moses in Pass Over. How did you approach bringing the character to life?
Moses is me. He’s a leader. A fighter, a dreamer, and warrior. I want to see my friends do well and create opportunities for them to excel – while being inspiring, especially to those who look like me, people of color.
Q. How did your time at Daemen prepare you to become a professional actor?
I co-founded a student group – Creative Minds – with fellow Daemen student Aishah Rudolph that was sponsored by Robert Waterhouse, associate professor in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, and we staged A Raisin in the Sun and Fences.
Walking out on stage at Daemen, seeing all those people – in that moment I knew I’d found what I’m going to do with my life. It was similar to when I debuted on Broadway. I felt like a kid on the first day of school.
Q. What’s next?
Hopefully, everything… With the challenges of the last few years, I know it would’ve been easy to be discouraged. But I’m grateful and determined. After all, I made it to Broadway without an agent. It’s still surreal every time I walk into my dressing room or onto a set – and I’m thankful.
People should never give up on their dreams. Because you never know when they’ll come true.