2015 Best Student Actress Nominee: Quiana Holmes as Dorothy Gale in Fiddlehead Theatre Company's "The Wiz"

Before we announce our 2015 ArtsImpulse Award Winners, we are proud to present our 2015 ArtsImpulse Nominee Interview Series. 

NOTE: If you were nominated for a 2015 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award, and you would like to participate in our 2015 ArtsImpulse Nominee Interview Series, please email us at brian@artsimpulse.com

Photo Credit: Jenny Rydstet.

Photo Credit: Jenny Rydstet.

Quiana Holmes embodied Dorothy Gale in Fiddlehead Theatre Company's The Wiz. From her courage and strength to her kindness and warmth, Quiana gave a daring performance with talents well beyond her years as a young college student, performing alongside many Equity performers and excelling, especially in her heartrending "Home." In her Interview, Quiana tells us about how she came to audition for The Wiz, her dream vacation (we want to see all of the pictures!), and her exciting and international new project!

Hi, Quiana, and thank you for joining us for our 2015 ArtsImpulse Nominee Interview Series.  Please tell us about yourself.

Hello! My full name is Quiana Onrae’l Knaombi Javon Holmes. I am from Rome, New York, a little city in upstate New York. I attended Rome Free Academy for high school, and, there, I ultimately fell in love with music. I was involved in most of my school choirs: Rhapsody Show Choir, Symphony Orchestra, Marching Black Knights (marching band), and the musicals! I decided to take my music education further by enrolling at Berklee College of Music, and, so far, I am having the best time of my life. Boston has given me so many wonderful opportunities.

Talk to us about the audition process for Fiddlehead Theatre Company’s The Wiz.  What did you experience and how did you feel?

One day, I was in my dorm room, and my friend texted me and asked me if I was going to audition for The Wiz. I hadn’t heard anything about the audition and I had about 2 hours to figure out what my plan of attack before they closed the audition. I was not going to let that opportunity pass me by. I had never auditioned for anything outside of Berklee at the time, and I had never auditioned for a professional production before. I really did not know what to expect.

Luckily, I had been learning the song “Home” from The Wiz for my vocal proficiency at school, so I already knew what I was going to audition with. I was nervous and scared, but my gut told me to get to the theatre and give them my best.

What were some of the challenges for this role?  What were some of the most exciting moments or experiences?

One of the biggest challenges that I faced with this role was trying to embody a child. I read the script over and over again to try and understand why Dorothy would say a line a certain way and then I had to imagine her body language. I really wanted to convince the audience that I was a child even though I was 20 years old at the time.

(From left to right): The Lion (Damien Norfleet*), Dorothy (Quiana Holmes), Scarecrow (Carl-Michael Ogle*), and Tinman (Justin Raymond Reeves) in Fiddlehead Theatre Company's The Wiz (Photo Credit: Matt McKee) (* Denotes a Member of Actors' Equity Association).

(From left to right): The Lion (Damien Norfleet*), Dorothy (Quiana Holmes), Scarecrow (Carl-Michael Ogle*), and Tinman (Justin Raymond Reeves) in Fiddlehead Theatre Company's The Wiz (Photo Credit: Matt McKee) (* Denotes a Member of Actors' Equity Association).

The most exciting moments were definitely seeing the children in the audience, especially when their faces lit up every time that they saw their favorite character or when they saw a special lighting effect. We were creating magic on stage for them and it only made us have more fun and interact in ways that we never thought we could.

Did you see the NBC’s The Wiz?  If so, what did you think?  If not, why not?

I did see NBC’s production of The Wiz Live! and I was very impressed. It was so cool to see the different visions that each director has for their production of a show. It was NOTHING like our version, but the message came across super clear and was so much fun to watch. That is so inspiring to me. Dorothy was beautiful and the cast was perfect!!

Talk to us about your best friends.  How would you describe them?  How would they describe you?

My best friends are loving, caring, respectful, fun, but, most of all, crazy! They love to have a good time and are always there for me when I need them. They are always cheering me on and I really don’t know what I would do without them. I am so blessed to have such an amazing support system.

I think my friends would describe me as fun, hard-working, determined, loving, and super talkative. If I am just meeting you, you might think I’m quiet and shy, but my friends will let you know that isn’t true!

If you could eat anything for the rest of your life, without gaining any negative health implications, what would it be?

I think this is the hardest question I have ever been asked!! But, if I could eat anything for the rest of my life without any negative health implications, then it would have to be garlic pizza from Boys from Italy. Boys from Italy is a little pizza shop in my home town that serves these GIGANTIC slices of pizza, and I have yet to find a pizza that matches its deliciousness. When I say I LOVE their pizza, I mean that with my whole heart.

What are some of your comforts? 

I have a lot of things that I turn to for comfort. First off, performing. If I haven’t performed in a while, I tend to start feeling anxious and not like myself. I turn to my mother and friends and family in times of need or when I need a laugh.

I love my "Sims." You can find me playing The SIMS 1, 2, 3, or 4. The SIMS is always a must. My mother can definitely testify to this!

Dorothy (Quiana Holmes) embraces The Lion (Damien Norfleet*) in Fiddlehead Theatre Company's The Wiz (Photo Credit: Matt McKee) (* Denotes a Member of Actors' Equity Association).

Dorothy (Quiana Holmes) embraces The Lion (Damien Norfleet*) in Fiddlehead Theatre Company's The Wiz (Photo Credit: Matt McKee) (* Denotes a Member of Actors' Equity Association).

Last but never least, God. I truly believe he is making things in my life fall into place and I am forever grateful for him.

What have been some of your most fulfilling theatre experiences (as a performer or audience member)?  Why?

By being a live performer and acting in live theatre, things can go terribly wrong on stage. I think some of the most fulfilling moments on stage are being able to recover from whatever is going on around you. I love being able to play off of another character if one of us misses a line, or a prop falls, or the lights don’t cut out after a scene. There is a thrill of saving a moment that has not gone the way it was supposed to.

Also, as an audience member, when you see actors staying in character and refusing the break the moment, it can be so relieving and exciting. I also really love the times off stage, when you are quick-changing into a costume and you’re on-time for your next scene, or sharing a laugh with your castmates and then having to revert into your character when you walk on-stage. Those moments are what make being a performer fun, and you can’t match that with anything else.

If you could take a journey to anywhere (real or fictional), where would you go?  Who would you bring with you?  What adventures would have?

I would definitely want to travel Spain! I’ve wanted to go all of my life and I want to learn the language and culture. I would bring my boyfriend, mom, sister, niece, my 5 closest friends, Audra McDonald, and, last but not least, Melba Moore!

We would want to pay a visit to Casa Batllo, Basilica of the Segrada Familia, Palau de la Musica Orfeo Catalana, and just explore every crevice of Spain. We would eat so much food and dance until our legs hurt. That is my dream journey!!

What is one music lyric that speaks to you at this point in your life?

“Suddenly my world’s gone and changed its face,/ but I still know where I’m going./ I have had my mind spun around in space,/ yet I’ve watching it growing.”

This is from “Home” from The Wiz, and this line has spoken to me ever since I left home for college. Even though my surroundings are changing, I see myself getting closer to what I want to achieve and I see that I am growing up from what I used to be and that is not a bad thing.

Do you have any upcoming projects?

I will soon be in rehearsals for a Motown Revue Tour! I will be performing as young Diana Ross and we will be touring all over Canada, and coming back to the northeast of the United States. I am so excited to finally get started!

Do you have anything else to share with our ArtsImpulse readers?

I am honored to have been nominated as Best Student Actress. Playing Dorothy in Fiddlehead’s Production of The Wiz was such a dream come true and it has opened up many doors for me.

So, I want to thank Fiddlehead again for the amazing opportunity and all of my friends and family for coming out and supporting me. Thank you so much for this interview, ArtsImpulse, and congratulations to all of the other amazing nominees!! God Bless!