Bryan Terrell Clark lights up Broadway as George Washington in Hamilton. His turns on TV shows like Empire have cemented his icon status, but when he’s not on stage or screen, this actor and musician turns his focus toward activism with his new charity, in-defined.com, a social fashion brand whose proceeds ($90,000 last year) go towards helping at-risk youth get exposure to the arts and access to arts education.
How’s your creative journey been so far?
I asked my mother recently, “When did I first say I wanted to be an actor?” She said, “Before you could talk. If you heard your favorite song, or your favorite show on television, you would immediately start smiling and bouncing.” The journey of life is hard at times. My career has had great highs and great lows. But all of the journey is valid and helped shape who I am. The hardest part of the industry is being patient and handling rejection. Once I allowed myself to learn the discipline of being present, and I accepted that rejection is often times life’s direction, I’ve enjoyed the journey a lot more.
What inspires you?
I’m a storyteller and a student of life. Life and all of its experiences feed my soul. Also, great art [and] artists inspire me. I celebrate my fellow artists and it pushes me to walk in artistic excellence, as they do.
Is there advice you live by?
Follow your heart. Your passion and the things you desire are the compass of your life. Life is the journey. Your talents and your gifts and your intellect are the vehicle… but your heart is the compass, always follow that.
Let’s talk about the charity you founded, InDefined.
InDefined started with me and my business partner Robert Raeder. All we knew is that we wanted to make a difference. We created a fashion line and the funding went towards helping at-risk youth have access to arts education. This was [early 2017], and we had no idea that when Donald Trump was in office one of the first things to be attacked was funding for the arts. Since then our work has expanded. We have helped to raise over $90,000 for various charities and organizations impacting and empowering people around the globe. We are now more than just a fashion line. We are an empowering movement—finding ways to empower people through what we call “incentivized altruism.” When you shop InDefined, you really are making a difference.
How has being a man of color impacted your work as an actor and musician?
My race has fortunately and unfortunately been part of every aspect of my career. Because there is a cultural experience that helped shape my point of view as a creator, there is a wealth in the experience of this melanin. Unfortunately, people that run these industries often exploit that wealth, or limit and restrict it. Those restrictions are often limited to genre or often opportunity.
Take us through a typical work day for you.
My days are jam-packed. I start my day writing down what I’m grateful for, and I pray and meditate. Then I’m off to the races. During the day, I’m usually in meetings for philanthropic endeavors, auditions, interviews, writing in the studio, or [in] script development sessions. Sometimes we’re called to “brush up” rehearsals for Hamilton. I try to hit the gym before my show every night. Then it’s three hours on stage, meeting guests after the show, and before I’m off to sleep I’m usually learning lines for the next audition or writing for future projects. It’s a busy life, but I love it.
Tell be about an amazing moment you’ve had on stage.
One of my favorite experiences was my first night on as George Washington in Hamilton. I was singing “One Last Time” and I realized in the middle of the song, that President Barack Obama was in Chicago giving his “One Last Time” speech at the same time. When I got to the end of the stage and finished the song, I was shaking and weeping, and the audience was in tears as well. I think we collectively had an awareness of the moment at the same time.