Alum spotlight: Kim Exum (BFA ’10)

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Kim Exum, BFA ’10, performance

Kim found VCU by chance when looking at colleges. Kim participated in a high school tour of HBCUs and when they arrived in Richmond at Virginia Union University, the office had a mishap and forgot they were coming. The group tour ended up at the VCU welcome center, and Kim discovered another college opportunity to expand on her work in high school and community theatre. (Lucky for VCU!)

While at VCU, Kim remembers, “VCU didn’t teach one standard technique, but I learned something different each year, depending on the teacher. That helped me create my own way of working.” While at VCU she was in Chicago and For Colored Girls… on the VCU mainstage, as well as being involved in the social justice theatre company The Conciliation Project with Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates (fondly known as Dr. T in the department).

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The cast of For Colored Girls… outside of Hodges, directed by Dr. T in 2008

Shortly after graduating in 2010, she and fellow theatre grad Jasmine Eileen Coles (BFA ’10) headed for New York. After working the inevitable waiting job for six months, she got her first gig with TheatreworksUSA, on a National Tour of the children’s production Suessical The Musical. In 2012, she worked with another alum Joshua Boone (BFA ’10) in Central Avenue Breakdown, which toured Korea and played off Broadway.

Kim also spent nine months performing on the cruise ship Carnival Ecstasy. She says, “It was great experience. I made good money and lifelong friends.” When she returned to New York, she booked some off-Broadway work, as well as a national commercial for Sprite and the network TV show Bull (CBS).

Kim, whose love is musical theatre, was offered her first straight play since graduating in San Francisco, but pregnancy (not hers) led her to Broadway instead. Nikki Renee Daniels, the woman playing Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon, stepped down from the role before having her second child. Kim got in the door and landed her first Broadway gig in 2016! A tour of The Book of Mormon followed, but unfortunately stopped production early due to the pandemic. Read about Kim’s experience with her ‘Book of Mormon family’ here.

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Kim in The Book of Mormon

During the lockdown, she’s been taking care of her daughter, Zara, while auditioning via Zoom. She shot four spots last month for TriNet (currently running on CNN) and she helped produced the Antonyo Awards, recognizing excellence of Black artists in theatre.

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Kim and Zara

Thinking back to VCU, Kim muses, “Dr. T had an impact of how I work and what I want to work on. Never being satisfied and having more work to do, the character keeps growing as long as I am growing. This skill has proved especially helpful with Mormon because it’s repetitive and a long run.”

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Written by Liz Hopper (Emeritus Faculty) and Jerry Williams (BFA ’71) for the October 2020 Theatre Alumni Newsletter