'Hamilton' actor: Align passion, purpose for greatest success

Accomplished actor-singer-songwriter Bryan Terrell Clark – who recently reprised his role of George Washington in the smash Broadway production of “Hamilton” – knows the importance of collaboration. 

“It’s literally the way I live my entire life,” said Clark, who was on campus today to kick off this semester’s HYPE Career Ready® program. In his role in Hamilton, Clark had an excellent role model: the show’s writer and star, Lin Manuel Miranda, whom he called “one of the greatest collaborators.”

The keys to collaboration – the theme for this HYPE Day – are willingness to collaborate and becoming a servant of the process. “You have to let go of your ego and step into who you really are,” Clark said. “Following our passion and serving our purpose will lead to our greatest success.”

While Clark treated the ’Berg audience to a taste of “Hamilton”, rapping part of his character’s introduction – “Who would have ever thought George Washington could be swaggy?” – there’s much more to this multi-dimensional artist and philanthropist than may meet the eye.

In addition to debuting on Broadway in the iconic role of Marvin Gaye in “Motown: The Musical,” Clark has appeared in a wide range of popular television shows. He’s also a philanthropist, co-founding inDEFINED, an initiative that inspires and teaches young people to use their forces to erase constrictive labels in our society.

For his HYPE keynote, he shared his personal wisdom about finding happiness through passion and purpose. While talent may be the vehicle, “passion is actually the compass,” he said.

Clark’s type-A personality comes from his mother, “an angel who taught me to fly.” He first found his voice for performing in a junior high school gospel choir. Later, after seeing a Broadway performance of “Rent,” he knew big-time theatre was a real option. Proving doubters wrong and overcoming various obstacles, he found his place at Temple University and eventually, Yale, before launching his professional career.

Clark spoke passionately about finding purpose – “what really, really drives you and keeps you awake at night.” He challenged ‘Berg students to “follow your passion, and when it aligns with your purpose, it’s like lighting a firecracker.”

To get there, he offered three keys and three challenges:

1. You define success for yourself.

CHALLENGE: Find a way every day to make yourself happy. “It’s your responsibility, not your spouse’s or partner’s job.”

2. Be your best, most authentic self. “If you consume everyone else’s content, that can often blur the authenticity of yours.” 

CHALLENGE: Wake up every morning for the next two weeks and write down three things you’re grateful for.

3. Listen to your inner voice and don’t be afraid to be a rule breaker. “Give up the idea of being liked and accepted. “That’s your superpower. That’s what Lin Manuel Miranda did and it’s what Hamilton did.”

CHALLENGE: Write down three things every day that you like about yourself.

Ultimately, Clark challenged the ‘Berg audience to “find your worthiness and know that in the room, your voice can be heard.”

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