Juneteenth speaker Maria Broom began with a meditative ritual inviting the boys to be still, breathe, and “send love to someone you know who needs it.”
Broom is an actor, dancer, teacher, and storyteller with more than 40 years of various experiences. “They use stories to teach lessons and values in the village,” Broom said on Thursday, March 9 at the Middle School assembly.
After the grounding exercise, she told an animated story that touched on themes of gratitude, greed, and wastefulness. One of the lessons of the story: “Share with the people that you know and share with the people that you don’t know.” She ended the assembly teaching the boys how to sign “peace and love” in American Sign Language.
Later on at Upper School assembly, co-chair of the CIE Council Noah Parker ’23 sat opposite Broom on the stage and interviewed her. She shared about her experience working on the popular HBO series, “The Wire,” where she played Marla Daniels for five seasons. For creating a complex fictional world in its second season, in 2003, the show won a Peabody Award. Broom said, “The writers created characters and gave them humanity.”
She talked about the impact of the 24-hour news cycle and media of today and the difference between governance and politics. She compared the jobs she’s held as a teacher or a storyteller where she speaks directly to her audiences, getting instant feedback, versus as an actor or a news reporter performing to a little red light on a camera.
On her experiences as a Black woman, Broom said, “I’ve had a great deal of success because I am a Black woman,” adding that she realizes this is not common. Broom studied dance in Germany in the 1970s, and she was called upon for acting roles and modeling opportunities. “I am so aware of how tough it is for people of color, and I am constantly aware of my blessings as a Black woman who has been able to succeed,” she said. “I do not take it for granted.”
When asked about her thoughts on the impact of COVID, Broom talked about observing a loss of common courtesy and people’s ability to interact with one another at a human level. Her parting words of advice for the students: “Being with each other is so important. Talk to each other.”
About Maria Broom
Although nationally known as an actress for her recurring roles in HBO’s “The Wire” and “The Corner,” Maria is also a storyteller and dancer with more than 40 years of experience performing and teaching in the United States and across the globe. She is a Fulbright scholar and former news reporter for the ABC affiliates in Miami and Baltimore.
A native of Baltimore, Maria has received many awards and honors, including the Eubie Blake Award, the Sarah’s Circle Award and the 2004 Governor’s Arts Award for Individual Artist. In 2007, she was named Artist of the Year by Young Audiences of Maryland, Inc. In addition to her work as performer and educator, Maria is much requested as a speaker and presenter. With a background in yoga, meditation, Homa therapy and dance therapy, she conducts staff retreats, workshops and weekly classes that help people to release stress and feel at peace.