A recent NYT piece resonates with Kristi Zea's own experience with Deavere Smith and Lerman. In 2019, Zea met Michela Marino Lerman at a Ford Foundation event where she was tap dancing with a small jazz band at the request of her friend, and Foundation honoree, Anna Deavere Smith.
The feature is particularly timely as Kristi Zea is currently in production on ON TAP, a documentary about Lerman's improvisational approach to tap and the challenges the art form presents to a woman.
The article quotes playwright Deavere Smith and tap dance artist Lerman on mentorship and how they inspire each other. Lerman notes, " What I’ve learned from Anna is this sense of authenticity… She’s not messing around — she really cares." Deavere Smith, for her part, states, "Michela’s not a formal mentee [of mine] — I think of her as a sister. Because it goes both ways, right? I learn from her, too."
Interviews: Maya Phillips, New York Times critic at large
Photographer: Flora Hanitijo