Reared in Atlanta, GA, J. Michael Kinsey has personified performing and media arts since his inception. As a very small child, unbeknownst to him, while he would incessantly watch films, not limited to, but directed by Spike Lee, John Singleton, Alex Haley & Kasi Lemmons, he was unaware that he was engaging in work that would foreground his keen eye for art and performance. At the age of nine he began professional training and booked his first professional acting job on the TBS network in that same year. In Atlanta, he trained under actors Elisabeth & Afemo Omilami and the deceased Carol Mitchell-Leon. He also trained at the Atlanta Workshop Players (Whitney Christopher & Lynn Stallings), Jomandi Productions (Marsha Randolph-Jackson) and the Alliance Theatre (Rosemary Newcott). J. Michael continued training and performing throughout his secondary education and graduated from Tri-Cities High School Visual & Performing Arts magnet program. I’m proud to be in a cohort of phenomenal talent including Khandi Burress (Xscape & Real Housewives of Atlanta), Saycon Sengbloh (Broadway Veteran), Kenan Thompson (SNL) & Big Boi (OutKast).
After being accepted and attending the esteemed U of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music where he studied Musical Theatre, he received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts. Immediately after graduation, he moved to New York City and was then cast in the national tour of Miss Saigon, and has performed nationally and internationally in shows such as Five Guys Named Moe, Dreamgirls, Day of Absence, Ragtime, Ain't Misbehavin’, Once on This Island, The Wiz, naming only a few. Because of this work in both Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Andre) and The Wiz (Lion/The Wiz) (Harlem Repertory Theatre) he received an Audelco Award Nomination for Best Actor in a Musical for both performances. J. Michael has shared the stage with Tony Award winner Jennifer Holiday and Grammy award winner Ann Nesby in In the Midnight Hour, a musical illuminating the life of Wilson Pickett. He has collaborated, consulted and performed, with Camille A. Brown and Dancers where his work has been seen at Joe’s Pub, The Joyce, Central Park Summerstage and various other performance sites. He contributed dramatic text and consultation to both Matchstick and Mr. Tol E. Rance where the latter received a 2014 Bessie Award for Outstanding production.
Through this departure from traditional theatre and an interest in exploring original work, Kinsey began work on his one man show while also contemplating graduate school. Serendipitously, he found himself accepting an offer from Cornell University where he is currently pursuing a PhD in Performing and Media Arts. His research interrogates the intersection of race and sexuality in US Black Performance through a media and digital humanities lens. Through this engagement with scholarship, embodied performance and media studies his focus includes Black Queer & Performance Studies, African American Theatre, Dance & Film, Critical Race Studies, Solo Performance, Acting Methods and Directing as Practice. He has presented research and performance at the Black Theatre Network, Association of Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), Hemispheric Institute's Encuentro (Santiago, Chile), and the Summer Institute in Performance Studies (Northwestern University).
Please keep an out for his forthcoming chapter publications in the following anthologies:
The Griot Project Book Series
African American Arts: Activism & Aesthetics edited by Dr. Sharrell Luckett (tentatively released Dec. 2017)
“Slaying Formation: Queering Black Radical Tradition through Shade”
Routledge- Taylor & Francis Group
Routledge Companion to African American Theatre & Performance edited by Dr. Renee Alexander Craft, Dr. Thomas F. DeFrantz, Dr. Kathy A. Perkins, and Dr. Sandra L. Richards
“Queer Representation in Contemporary African American Theatre”