THIS IS JILLIAN WALKER.
Grandparent’s house down the street from Little Stevie Wonder’s place. An Uncle around the corner from Marvin Gaye’s. Papa stepped outside to get a look at the ’67 riots for himself.
I was born in the city of Detroit and lived in Southfield – 20 or so minutes outside of the city limits in a black and white house that my parents bought from a jewish couple. The neighborhood was almost completely black when we lived there. My dad planted me a ginko tree in the front yard on my first birthday and got his haircut at the next-door neighbor’s house.
Upward mobility calls us to a beautiful house built just for me and my sister in the Chicago suburbs where I spend time in the basement making tapes of my voice and dreaming of Arista Records. I make my first (and so far last) film – an adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’, starring my sister, her best friend, and an old doll my mother played with as a child that has one leg (she features as the ghost of Christmas past).
I take time to make director’s notes at the end of the film, not once thinking that is strange to do at eleven.
I win lots of singing competitions, play piano, and hold my own in school. I quit the flute because I’m last chair and I can’t stand being bad at something musical, though, to be fair, I never practice.
NEW YORK CITY
My senior year as an English major at The University of Michigan, I meet and fall in love with a graduate student studying music theory. He is from New York. I float to New York to pursue a career as a recording artist with my new partner in tow to show me the ropes. I sing in empty bars, I record demos. I decide I don’t want to be Rihanna.
I go to acting school and find that the theatre has been dormant inside of me like an empty house I didn’t know I owned. I think I am going to act forever. I become a playwright and fall in love with Dramaturgy.
This is part of the journey. Only part.
Or, if you prefer:
Jillian is a singer, writer, performer, dramaturg, and thought leader with a passion for creating seismic cultural shifts. Her theatrical work bends genre and ruminates on “non-traditional” themes to deliberately disrupt the status quo and dig for a path to collective liberation. Named “one of New York City’s most exciting playwrights” by the Bushwick Starr in 2016, her latest work, SKiNFoLK: An American Show, appeared in 2017 ANT Fest (aka All New Talent Festival) at Ars Nova. Her first playSARAH’S SALT. is the winner of the Columbia@Roundabout Reading Series.
Offstage, Jillian has worked with organizations such as the Brooklyn artspace JACK helping to facilitate their year-long series ‘Reparations365,’ the New England Literature Program, where she taught transcendental literature, poetry and Shakespeare, and the Columbia School of the Arts, where she created and facilitated self-care workshops for fellow graduate students. She is now developing two new plays, dramaturging a new play directed by Taye Diggs (RENT, Empire), and dabbles in social entrepreneurship. She was born in Detroit, MI, and aspires to uphold the tremendous cultural legacy of her birthplace.