Behind the Poster: The Wiz with MaRah Williams

We sat down with MaRah Williams, the reigning Miss Norfolk State University and our poster model for The Wiz. We've also enjoyed having her at Virginia Stage as our student intern stage manager for Venus in Fur. You may remember seeing photos of MaRah in this post, where our graphic designer shared the process behind this season's poster images, but we had so much fun hanging out with her during our photo shoot, we wanted to get to know her better.

MaRah is studying English and Theatre with a technical theatre concentration at Norfolk State University. Originally from Stone Mountain, Georgia, she met VSC's Associate Producer Patrick Mullins when he co-directed Choir Boy with Anthony Stockard (Producing Artistic Director of NSU Theatre and co-director of The Wiz), a show that she was stage managing.  When we needed a model for our Wiz poster redesign, MaRah was the first person Patrick thought of and we were thrilled she was available to join us. She was a joy to have in the 'studio', ready for anything and so full of joy and laughter.

So, tell us about the photoshoot? Was it fun? What did you do?
Oh it was loads of fun, it really didn’t seem to last long at all cause everyone was having such a good time. Coming in, the production team had showed me the stock images they were using and so I went through my closet. I went a little crazy and brought practically my whole closet; shoes and everything, haha. But we went through everything, found what worked best, I just remember…one of the interns, Olivia, was ‘playing the wind that was blowing my skirt’ and we just couldn’t stop laughing. It was an awesome day with awesome people, and at the end of the day I think we totally got what we needed.

  MaRah (and intern Olivia) during the photoshoot in our Main Street admin offices. (Photos by Jeff Gallo.)

MaRah (and intern Olivia) during the photoshoot in our Main Street admin offices. (Photos by Jeff Gallo.)

So do you perform a lot, or plan to audition for shows this year?
I dabble for performance, but I love technical theatre (particularly stage management). There’s just something about working on a show from the bottom up, from that first meeting when the team decides what the show will be…all the way to the performance. I just…it’s something I can do day in and day out and never get tired of it. 

Is there anyone over at NSU that you would call the your inspirational Faculty/Staff Member? Why?
Oh, well I’d have to say Professor Stockard, for sure. Not many people know, but he was a professor at Alabama State where I was before he transferred to Norfolk State. It was actually thanks to him that learned about NSU and that there was a school with opportunities like that in Norfolk for me. I’ve been here for just over a year and he has been a wonderful guide; helping me with scholarships and financial aid to make my education affordable and of course being a teacher and mentor for me. He just, really as an all-around human being, is an amazing mentor and guide to have.

If you could guide your future to have it any way you’d like, and skip the next five years, where would you be?
Wow, yeah that is a little bit of ‘simple but hard one’ huh? … WelI, I plan to be out of grad school, into my career in New York and would love to be stage managing touring shows, or working on and off-Broadway. By the time I’m done with grad school I don’t want to be working anymore side jobs, I want to be in New York making money off my craft doing as many jobs as possible.

We hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes glimpse into The Wiz and our process for promotional images, as well as learning more about MaRah, model and stage management intern with us. We've loved having her around!

Read more about our Season 38 poster series and photos shoots.

Initial poster options for The Wiz ▲     ▼ Final Promotional Image

The Wiz is being produced in collaboration with Norfolk State University Theatre, and we're so excited to deepen our relationship with Anthony and their theatre department. We love teaching and providing opportunities for students to learn and gain practical, professional experiences in theatre.