Why Nasia Thomas Is Grateful for the Times She Didn't Land a Role | Playbill

How Did I Get Here Why Nasia Thomas Is Grateful for the Times She Didn't Land a Role

She currently plays Anna of Cleves in SIX and true to the show's ethos, she doesn't believe in competition, only celebration.

Graphic by Vi Dang

Nasia Thomas, who made her Broadway debut in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, is back on the Main Stem in the international hit musical SIX: The Musical.

The Virginia native is cast as Anna of Cleves in Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow's Tony-nominated musical and delivers a powerhouse, no-holds-barred, from-the-guts portrayal of one of the six Renaissance women who married King Henry VIII. She is a standout in a cast of standouts.

Thomas, whose Broadway credits also include Caroline or Change and Ain't Too Proud, was also seen in the Out of the Box production of The Last Five Years. Her screen credits include The 4400 and That Damn Michael Che.

In the interview below for the Playbill series How Did I Get Here—spotlighting not only actors, but directors, designers, musicians, and others who work on and off the stage to create the magic that is live theatre—Thomas reveals how a school production of Into the Woods changed her life, why a "no" might even be better than a "yes," and the stage door interaction that deeply affected her.

Nasia Thomas takes her first bow in Broadway's Six Michaelah Reynolds

Where did you train/study?
I went to The Governor's School for the Arts in Norfolk, Virginia, in high school, and I graduated with a BFA in Music Theatre from Elon University, class of 2015.

Was there a teacher who was particularly impactful/helpful? What made this instructor standout?
I had so many teachers who helped me along the way, so it’s very hard to choose just one. But I will start with my teachers from my high school, The Governor's School for the Arts, because they are the true reason I am where I am today. They all saw so much potential in me, helped me to recognize and develop the artist I had inside of me. And, most importantly, they never gave up on me, ever. They are still my mentors to this day. Thank you Chip, Jeff, Mark, Kaiser, and Ailish, and Andrew.

Nasia Thomas, Zoe Jensen, Hailee Kaleem Wright, Leandra Ellis-Gaston, Bella Coppola, and Taylor Iman Jones in Six Joan Marcus

Do you have a favorite moment in Six for Anna of Cleves? What makes that moment/part of the show so special?
Oh, how do I choose?! Honestly, my favorite moment as Cleves is, honestly, being on stage with my fellow Queens. We have such a special, strong, silly, unique, and loving bond. We are truly siblings up there. We always find little moments that are just for us. We feel supported by one another, we have each other's backs on and off stage. Everyday before the show, at places, we all meditate on a word. We ask each other what we need to get through. Some of my favorite words we chose have been “grace,” “strength,” “love,” “support,” “grounded,” and “fierce.” Sometimes they are even silly words that I probably shouldn’t repeat here. [laughs]

I know that if I’m having a bad day, and I don’t have much capacity to give, whether it be something I’m going through in life outside of the show or otherwise, I can look at my show siblings and know they will hold me up. I know that there will be whispers of, “I got you” throughout the show. I love it when people say they can tell we all love each other on stage, because it’s absolutely true. That's so rare to find in a cast of a show—that love. It is an honor to share the stage with all the beautiful humans of Six night after night.

Can you share a memory about your first night on a Broadway stage?
Oh yes! My Broadway debut at Beautiful—The Carole King Musical came two days early! I remember being in a costume fitting backstage and the stage manager coming to tell me that I was going on in an abbreviated track that night. I would do my song only, and the swing would do the rest of my ensemble track. 

I remember calling my mom and saying, "I'm making my Broadway debut tonight!" None of my family could be there until Friday, so I called up one of my best friends, Jake Sokoloff [of Style by Sokoloff Stylist]. The show was able to comp him in to see me. I remember coming out to bow, and my breath was taken away. It was exhilarating!

Nya, Harper Miles, and Nasia Thomas in Caroline, or Change

What made you decide to become an actor? Was there a particular production or performance that influenced your decision?
At The Governor's School for The Arts, my sophomore year, I was cast as The Witch in Into the Woods. Listen, prior to that I was a loud, rambunctious, class clown type in school. I was never disrespectful or a “bad kid,” but I definitely enjoyed laughing and making people laugh. When the cast list came out, I remember my teachers pulled me to the side and said, “Nasia, we are going to give you this role, but you have to take it seriously. You are talented, you have potential, but you have to take it seriously.” 

I would like to think that was the day that my entire life changed. My teachers saw potential in me enough to take a chance and let me do this role. Yes, it may seem small to some, but it was the biggest gift I could have ever received.

Tell me about a job/opportunity you really wanted but didn’t get. How did you get over that disappointment?
In 2019, I auditioned for my dream role Nala in The Lion King tour. I got all the way down to auditioning for the VP of Disney—I thought things were looking strong for me. I thought my chances were great. I remember I was just leaving a podcast recording and headed to the theatre. I was doing Ain't Too Proud at the time, and I got the call that it wasn't going my way. I remember that for half of the walk to the theatre, I was trying my best to hold back tears. I was devastated. 

But then something clicked in me, and I said, “Nasia, there is a reason you didn't book this job, this tour. Because something is coming. Something is coming.” And that night I had the best show of Ain't Too Proud. I felt confident, and I felt strong, and I felt hopeful. Even though my dream role didn’t come to me, it didn't mean my dream was over. That next week or so, I booked the revival of Caroline, or Change

If I went on that Lion King tour, there would have been no way I would even be in the city to audition. That no was the biggest blessing I could have received. Thank God for the no's, thank God for the “closed doors.” They only lead to different doors. Doors you were always meant to step through.

Taylor Symone Jackson, Candice Marie Woods, and Nasia Thomas in Ain't Too Proud

What advice would you give your younger self or anyone starting out? 
To start and lead with self love. It all begins with loving yourself and telling yourself that you are enough. Saying what you have to offer is what the world needs. The things that make you special are the things to celebrate! Also, that there should be no competition with your peers, only celebration of one another. 

And, also, what's meant for you will never pass you up. And whatever passes you up was never meant for you. And that no's can actually be the biggest blessings in your life.

What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now?
That there is nothing that I can’t do. The possibilities are endless. All the times people will try to put me in the box and limit the types of characters I can play, characters that don't have any reflection of what my actual, true potential is. Like our good sister witch Elphaba says, “Unlimited, my future is unlimited.”

What is your proudest achievement as an actor?
My proudest achievement as an actor would be the time a younger Black woman came up to me at the stage door after a performance of Six and told me, “You make me proud to be a Black woman.” I started to cry, it was the most touching thing anyone has ever said to me. She was a stranger, but she deeply impacted my life.

Photos: Broadway's SIX Celebrates 600th Performance

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