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In May 2019, SpeakEasy audiences watched Sabrina Victor play Ama, a student of Aburi Girls’ Boarding School vying for the title of Miss Ghana in Jocelyn Bioh’s School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play. Now life imitates art as this November, Sabrina will travel to Memphis to compete for the title of Miss USA. For our first #WhereAreTheyWednesday feature, we interviewed Sabrina about her activism in her work as Miss Massachusetts USA and how her background as a performer has served her on the pageant stage.
What do you remember most about your time working at SpeakEasy on the Boston premiere of School Girls, or the African Mean Girls Play?
I remember being a part of a cast of all Black women, and having a Black woman director — something I never experienced before. The camaraderie and sisterhood I felt with my cast was out of this world! Every rehearsal felt intentional, safe, and real, and it made the show even better.
What did it mean for you to be a part of that show?
Pageantry has had a huge impact in my life — I’m preparing to compete for Miss USA! So this show validated so many of my experiences and feelings — being a Black woman in pageantry, dealing with issues like societal standards and colorism. It was surreal, as if my life was playing out in this story!
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to be an actor?
I’ve been singing my whole life, so I always enjoyed performing. But I began taking acting classes in 7th grade and never looked back. I grew to love being a performer, and sharing important stories with the world, so I decided to pursue the craft in college, and now I am preparing to get my MFA at Columbia University next fall!
It is true that while you were working on School Girls and holding down a full-time job, you were also prepping to appear in local beauty pageants?
YES! What an insanely stressful and fulfilling time it was for me. I would work everyday 9-5, get on I-93 and drive an hour and some change through rush-hour traffic to make it to rehearsals by 6:30 the latest, get home by 11 pm and review my scenes for the next day and do pageant prep, and do it all over again the next day. My weekends were packed with 2 show days and matinees, all in the midst of me prepping mentally and physically to compete for Miss Massachusetts USA. I was tired, but I would do it all over again!
What does it mean to you to serve as Miss Massachusetts? What has been your focus while serving in the role?
I am honored to hold this title, and serve as representation to so many young people out there that you can reach your dreams and conquer adversity. As a performance activist, I am able to encourage and inspire people to use the multiple avenues of art to speak their truths — theater, music, dance, and so many more. I believe if you have a gift, then you have a right, a reason, and a responsibility to use that gift to bring about change!
What do you say to those critics of beauty pageants who feel that these types of events demean or objectify women?
It took me years to embrace my beauty and my confidence. I’m a natural short-haired, young Haitian-American woman. How many people like me have you seen on a pageant stage in the past 50 years? Pageantry is ever-evolving, and I believe we are making strides in terms of inclusivity – making all women feel accepted. Pageantry has created important discussions regarding representation, and I am grateful I have the opportunity to get on a stage and not only embrace my very best self, but share that with others, and show them anything is possible.
Given the times in which we live, what do you know about how this year’s Miss USA pageant will be modified for the COVID era?
We will be adhering to strict safety protocols created by the Miss Universe Organization and the city of Memphis. Contestants will be tested prior to and upon arrivals, and will remain in a bubbled environment to ensure we are all safe!
What would it mean to you to serve as Miss USA at this most troubling time in our country’s history?
Serving as Miss USA at this time in our political, social, and environmental climate, would mean being prepared to tackle important topics that need to be talked about. I believe as a titleholder, I have a responsibility to speak out against injustice, call others to action when necessary, and do whatever I can to make changes in my community and at large. But it would also mean to me that I can bring about positivity and hope the ways I know how – through performance activism. We should use art not only as an avenue of entertainment, but as one of education.
If you’d like to support Sabrina in her journey to become Miss USA, please visit www.sabrinakvictor.com/donate.