Theatre Major Studio is where our current or graduated college students receive continued training, coaching, and support as they start their career.
Tanairi Sade Vazquez has made her mark in all avenues of the entertainment world in Broadway, Television and film. Recently seen in Steven Spielberg’s remake of WEST SIDE STORY as a featured Shark girl named Charita. She was also part of the recent “Annie Live!” on NBC cast and The Life at City Center directed by Billy Porter. Tanairi’s Broadway credits include 2009 Revival Cast of West Side Story, Wonderland, Gigi, On Your Feet, and Hamilton on Broadway. Her TV credits are “Orange is the New Black” as Annie Valdez, “Let the Right One In”, “FBI Most Wanted”, “A Luv Tale as Tammy Shaw”, “Law and Order SVU”, “The Blacklist”, “The Deuce”, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, “Fosse/Verdon”, and NBC’s “Smash”.
In HIGH SCHOOL, I was obsessed with Musical Theatre and jumped at any opportunity to perform. I was raised in a rural community in eastern Kentucky, so my parents would drive me to rehearsal, sometimes two hours each way, just so I could do shows. I was determined to be a professional performer, getting my hands on anything I could that might help me be a better artist. I took piano lessons, ballet classes, gymnastics, and even started a fully student-run theatre company in my hometown. I loved all things singing, dancing, and acting.
In COLLEGE, I discovered the core of why I was so dang passionate about performance. I did a lot of soul searching, and landed on the idea that our performances can be a ripple of understanding and impact for the world around us. We can cause social action, policy change, and at our most intimate, deeply personal reflection and inspiration. As a double major in Musical Theatre and Political Science, I bounced from voice lessons to courses on political theory; from dance company rehearsals to rallies for justice. I also studied abroad in Accra, Ghana, where I helped create a drama therapy program for youth at the West Africa AIDS Foundation. I continued to explore my own craft, but I also unpacked the ways in which my interconnected identities as an actor, educator, and activist might continue to impact the world around me.
TODAY, I find myself still as passionate as ever about the magic of acting and musical theatre to tell important stories and change hearts. I recently worked in the Obama White House where I helped initiate Arts Education programming to many under-resourced schools in America. I now work as an actor at the Kennedy Center in DC and continue my practice as an educator, working with young people who, like me, can’t stop dreaming and chasing their dreams of changing the world… one shuffle-ball-step at a time.
Jordan Campbell (he/him/his) brings a dynamic blend of experiences to the Theatre Major coaching team. Hailing from the Appalachian hills of eastern Kentucky, the local arts center was Jordan’s haven for creative inspiration as a young person. Today, his career centers on ensuring access to the rich experiences he had as a youth in his rural hometown. In a career that traverses the fields of theatre, education, research, and policy, Jordan leverages his interdisciplinary background to foster constructive social impact and amplify the voices of marginalized youth.
Jordan has performed to audiences across the world including shows at the John F. Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and on U.S. & international Broadway tours. As an educator, Jordan has instructed courses on a diverse range of topics related to arts & culture in the United States, India, Ghana, and China. He also serves as a teaching artist, director, and acting coach for various regional theaters and arts organizations. Following his acting class under the tutelage of Anna Deavere Smith, Jordan created a justice-driven documentary theatre strategy through Harvard University which has been piloted in schools globally. As a researcher, Jordan has authored original research on topics ranging from mentorship models to musical theatre history. As a consultant, Jordan has collaborated with several arts & cultural organizations and global NGOs on strategic planning, instructional design, content development, implementation, and program evaluation. He served in the Obama White House as a staff point-person on Arts and Education issues, has collaborated with the Department of Education on arts-related grant programs, and worked on numerous progressive U.S. political campaigns as a voice for the arts & cultural sector. Jordan holds a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BFA in Musical Theatre & BA in Political Science from Western Kentucky University.
In high school, I was incredibly active, from Cheerleading, to Gymnastics, while doing Track and Field. I had many passions, but I wasn’t fully aware of my love of theatre and performance.
In college, I majored in Communications with a minor in Theatre, something I jumped into on a whim. And I wouldn’t change a thing. I fell in love with theatre while working on a Shakespeare Sonnet and my love for Shakespeare has only grown since then.
I decided to continue on with acting so I went to graduate school and got my MFA in Acting from Mason Gross School of the Arts; while there I was able to study at Shakespeare’s Globe in London England where my love for classical texts grew.
Since graduating, I have been working as an actor in regional theater’s across the country, as well as teaching Stage Combat at Yale School of Drama. I do this work because it brings me joy, it’s incredible to meet so many different people and share stories from all over.
Kelsey is an actress based out of the ancestral lands of the Munsee Lenape people, or today’s Hudson County. Onstage, she has most recently been seen in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Hamlet alongside Michael Urie, and in The Folger Theatre’s Love’s Labor’s Lost. Other credits include productions at The Flea, Capital Repertory Theater, and Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Kelsey was also seen in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe Sam Wanamaker Festival. Kelsey’s on screen credits include “Elementary”, “Madam Secretary”, and “Broad City”. Kelsey is a Faculty Lecturer in Acting at the Yale School of Drama and is one of their faculty Intimacy and Fight Directors. Kelsey has recently worked as Intimacy Coach on A Raisin in the Sun at Yale Repertory Theatre, and has partnered with Michael Rossmy on the intimacy direction for Susan Lori Parks’ White Noise directed by Oskar Eustis, Measure For Measure for The Public’s Mobile Unit, and Blue’s For An Alabama Sky with the Keen Company. At YSD, Kelsey has collaborated on multiple productions. She received her MFA in Acting from Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts and Shakespeare’s Globe London. She has taken part in many workshops for physical theatre with Pig Iron Theatre Company’s Dito van Reigersberg, Basil Twist, and Everett Quinton.
Leayne Dempsey is the CEO of Theatre Major, author of the @dearfuturetheatremajor letters, and a proud member of the Actor’s Equity Association. She is a resident dramaturg for the National Theatre Foundation in DC. She is an Associate Member of the Independent Educational Consultant Association, member of the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling, international director, Actor, acting coach, Maryland state-certified teacher and a Master Teacher for the Maryland Office of Fine Arts. Leayne holds a B.A. in Theatre, B.A. in English, Masters in Education and Masters in Mental Health Counseling specializing in Expressive Arts Therapy. Leayne’s thesis, “Drama Therapy with Active Duty Service Members”, has been published and presented at NYU’s Theatre and Health Symposium.
Leayne is a goal-oriented professional who gives the very best to her students. Her coaching and unique process for developing college audition repertoire has helped many receive full artistic scholarships to some of the world’s top higher education theatre programs. Leayne does this work because she loves it – the craft, the theories, and the process. The networking she has gained through theatre is immeasurable. Leayne is thankful for her roots in the arts and her time as a Proud Theatre Major in college. Leayne believes there is a place in theatre for you, a place only YOU can fill!
In HIGH SCHOOL, I was always in something: school shows, color guard, student government. I was busy. I’m talking quick changes from ballet leotards to cheerleading uniform busy. Spend all day at band camp, then go to show choir practice busy. I’ve loved theatre since I was in my first musical, The Sound of Music. I still love it…Perhaps even more today.
In COLLEGE, I was a dual degree student in Theatre and Education. Sophomore year, I added English. I was working on three degrees! Between performing the words of August Wilson and Carlo Gozzi, discovering theatre theories, and being a Vocal Minor in the school of music; I was all in.
TODAY, I do this work because I love it. I love the craft. The theories. The theatre-makers I get to meet, both young and old. I believe there is a place in theatre for you; a place only YOU can fill.