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ANW Love Story: Malik & Kelsey

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Photo by Maya Ayanna Darasaw.

By A Noise Within
September 23, 2020

Calling all romantics! Apparently, you can find love not only in the stories on stage, but even in our theatre’s lobby. Get to know Malik B. El-Amin and Kelsey Scott, two artists who met at A Noise Within last summer and are now newlyweds as well as creative collaborators!

Tell us about yourselves and what you do in the arts.

KELSEY: I’m a happy hyphenate (Actor-Writer-Producer) from Atlanta. These days, my resume primarily boasts film and television. But my roots and my first acting love will always be theatre.

MALIK: I’ll take this one for Kelsey – she won’t tell you everything, if you leave it to her. Kelsey’s a two-time Emmy-nominated actress. You’ve seen her as Anne Northup in the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave and as Wes Gibbins’ mother, Rose, on How to Get Away with Murder. You might have also caught her on Insecure, NCIS, Grey’s Anatomy, and True Detective.

KELSEY: Okay, we’re doing that? Well, Malik is the Artistic Director and Co-founder of Griot Theatre. If you ask him where he’s from, he’ll likely say, “Historically I’m from Africa. But more recently, St. Louis is where I grew up.” He’s been nominated as ‘Best Actor’ by both the NAACP and LA Weekly Theater Awards, and has performed at Indiana Repertory Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, and Colorado Shakespeare Festival – to name a few. He’s a producer and director, and has brought plays like Julius Caesar, Voices, The Archer from Malis, An Accident, and Othello to life. He also bakes a to-die-for pound cake, from his Grandma’s recipe. 

How did you first hear about A Noise Within?

KELSEY: My introduction to A Noise Within was through the 2019 production of Frankenstein. I’m good friends with two of the actors in the cast (Harrison White and Thomas Hobson), and Harrison invited me to the opening night performance.  

MALIK: I studied under Michael Murray when he led the MFA Acting program at Brandeis University. When I moved to Los Angeles and found that he’d also relocated here, I saw his Romeo & Juliet back when ANW was at the Glendale location. I’ve been a fan ever since. 

Tell us about your love story! How did you two first meet? How did you get together?

 MALIK: We both attended the opening night of Frankenstein at ANW last year; Kelsey at the invite of a cast member, me after having directed a show as part of the Noise Now series. During the reception after the show, I saw that the actors had come out from backstage and I moved to congratulate them. Kelsey was standing in my way. At this point I could have said, “Excuse me.”, or I could have said “Hello.” I said “Hello.” and we took it from there.

Have you collaborated on creative/artistic projects together? Are you working on anything now?

KELSEY: Our love of the arts put us in the same room. And our first post-meet conversation was supposed to be about how we could collaborate artistically. A little more than a year, and a Zoom-wedding later, we’re even more committed to meshing our talents, networks and resources, to not just create projects, but to construct an artistic legacy. We’ve begun that process by taking active (and proactive) initiatives in support of each other’s individual artistic goals.

MALIK: For example, Kelsey is moving a book she optioned toward television development and distribution. It’s been an absolute joy for me to talk with her about strategy and to see her consider and incorporate some of those thoughts into her plans and actions. And, she’s let me take a look at some screenplays she’s developing, and it’s been very cool to see that a comment or question I raised about the script is reflected in the next draft.

Similarly, Kelsey was vital in helping me plot out how to move forward with Griot Theatre, under pandemic conditions. We’d sit in our shared office and talk through how virtual play readings would allow Griot Theatre to explore scripts in greater numbers than we could with in-person readings. Also, I had the kernel of an idea to give our audiences a glimpse into the artist’s process. But Kelsey helped me think through what will now be a series of masterclasses, offered virtually to our audiences and the greater theatre community.

KELSEY: Yeah. We have rudely ambitious plans brewing on our collective drafting table.

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