Big Speaker event brings Bryan Terrell Clark to the Stage

Mel PardockStaff Writer

In alternating years the Campus Activities Board brings a “Big Speaker” to campus. The event allows CAB to provide students with a speaker to gleam knowledge, inspiration, and guidance from. This year’s big speaker is Bryan Terrell Clark, an actor and singer/songwriter that has performed in successful Broadway shows and a wide range of popular television programs. In 2019, Terrell Clark reprised the role he is most known for: an alternate for George Washington in the Broadway sensation musical Hamilton.

“Bryan Terrell Clark made his Broadway debut playing the iconic role of Marvin Gaye in Motown: The Musical, which received a 2014 Grammy Award nomination for ‘Best Musical Theater Album’. Most recently, Bryan appeared in Ava DuVernay’s 2020 Peabody Award winning Netflix mini-series “When They See Us”, Shonda Rhymes’ “Inventing Anna” on Netflix, Warner Brothers “Snowpiercer” in 2020, “Cherish the Day” and “Queen Sugar” on the OWN network,” CAB Assistant Director Garrett Meier said. 

Clark is also the co-founder of inDEFINED, an initiative that inspires and teaches young people to use their voices to erase constrictive labels in our society.  He is the recipient of the 2018 Voice for Social Justice Award From Rutgers University, the 2019 Gallery of Success Award from Temple University, and the Help USA 2019 Help Hero Award for Volunteerism for his ongoing commitment to social change and activism.  

The Big Speaker for the fall is chosen by a survey sent out to Gusties the spring beforehand. Among the nominees for the 2022 speaker were CBS News correspondent Weijia Jiang, Olympic gymnast and gold medalist Laurie Hernandez, Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American woman to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab, and Mars Rover engineer Dr. Moogega Cooper. Despite the tough competition, Terrell Clark was chosen to be this year’s Big Speaker. 

“Bryan Terrell Clark was selected based on student responses to a survey sent out last spring. Gustavus students indicated that they wanted to learn from creative individuals whose interests intersected with social justice and mental health. Bryan Terrell Clark was one of five names sent to the student body earlier this year, and garnered enough votes to be chosen as our biennial speaker,” Sophomore and CAB member Elizabeth Orton said.

At this year’s event, Terrell Clark will be discussing his personal journey as an actor, artist, and activist. He will be speaking about the personal trials and tribulations he encountered on the path toward success, as well as providing a question and answer session in which attendees can get to know him, his career, and the industries in which he works better. There will also be a meet and greet with Terrell Clark following the Q&A.

“He will be speaking on his journey ‘from Baltimore to Broadway.’ In his discussion, which will include a Q&A where students can ask him about Hamilton, ‘Empire’, and other projects– he will detail the personal struggles and successes that have brought him to where he is in his career. Additionally, he will speak on overcoming adversity and becoming a better version of oneself,” Orton said. 

“Bryan is a powerful speaker with an amazing story. The topics he will cover will be extremely relatable to all Gusties. It is not often that you get to hear a Grammy nominated Musician/TV/Movie/Broadway star speak and maybe even sing! The Big Speaker is a Gustavus tradition that is returning with a boom this year and you don’t want to miss it,” Meier said.

In addition to hearing Terrell Clark speak and participating in the Q&A and meet and greet sessions, the Big Speaker Event will provide attendees with the opportunity to win prizes via a raffle. 

Gusties who attend the event will be entered into a drawing where they are eligible to win one of three prize packages. In prize package one, winners will receive two free tickets to Hamilton in Minneapolis this April. Prize package two, which CAB has dubbed the “Breakfast Bundle,” includes a Keurig coffee maker, k-cups, a smoothie maker, and a mini waffle maker. Prize package three, the “Self-Care Swag Bag,” has a diffuser with essential oils, a light therapy lamp, and a weighted dinosaur stuffed animal.

“In addition to it being a great show, CAB is giving away spring Hamilton tickets to two lucky attendees, offering a free meal with Bryan to a few students, as well as other door prizes,” Meier said.

“Most importantly, all Gusties who attend will experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet a Broadway actor who has achieved much success outside of the entertainment industry. Bryan Terrell Clark will teach students how to be the best versions of themselves in order to inspire change within their community. This message is especially important for young people to hear, as we have the opportunity and the ability to make change in our communities and beyond,” Orton said. 

Terrell Clark himself shared his excitement toward the event in a video posted to the Campus Activities Board’s Instagram page on Nov. 8.

“I am super, super excited to be coming to visit you on November 16th! …We have so much to talk about. I’m going to be sharing a very authentic, very vulnerable journey with you about how I used my passion to find my purpose and how that ultimately took me from Baltimore to Broadway. …We are going to have an amazing time! I hope to see you all there,” Terrell Clark said. 

The Big Speaker Event will be taking place on Nov. 16 from 7 p.m to 8:30 p.m in Christ Chapel. Gusties are encouraged to attend for an evening of inspiration and fun, as well as the chance to win some outstanding prizes.