Senior spotlight: Matt McCray ‘24

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Matt McCray ‘24 is an artist at Muhlenberg who continues to expand his interests and deepen his understanding of the performing arts on campus and beyond. 

“I feel like I learned a lot. I challenged myself. Being a person of color already on campus could be a lot, but being a person of color within the arts can also be a challenge as well. So I know that I’ve done a lot of good work and hard work in order to get to the actor and human I am today.”

With a major in theatre and a minor in dance, McCray’s previous performance credits include both fields with involvements in multiple dance concerts and theatrical performances at Muhlenberg.

“I feel, dance-wise, doing these past two ‘In Motions’ was really grateful. The first-ever ‘In Motion’ [(2022)] I was a part of with choreographer Randall Anthony Smith [former assistant professor of dance] was very helpful,” said McCray. “The piece was called ‘R.A.I.N.B.O.W.’ and each letter represents something…. And I think that’s what really helped me to really dive deeper into dance because, before college, I was mainly a theatre kid. But coming to Muhlenberg, I was able to really get technical training dance-wise.”

McCray’s involvement with “In Motion” would extend to this spring as well, with works featured by Anito Gavino, visiting assistant professor of dance, and Guest Artist Tommie Waheed Evans. McCray also had experiences with “Reset: New Dances” (2022, 2023) and continues to build his experiences with movement.

“We Are Proud to Present…” (2022) was McCray’s first in-person theatrical production at ‘Berg, after a Zoom performance during his first-year, and stood out for multiple reasons as it was “amazing.” McCray stated, “Shout out to Nigel [Semaj, former visiting assistant professor of theatre], they’re not here anymore, but they really helped me hone in on to my craft as an actor and then also as an activist and as a performer overall and how we have to tell stories of our history and all of our past in order to learn from our past and then grow for the future and what we want to have.”

This passion for theatre started at a young age when McCray was involved with a production of “The Little Mermaid.” This was the moment when McCray realized he wanted to be a performer for the rest of his life. “…[I] played Flounder, sang my song ‘She’s in Love’ and then at the end, I did a split. I had the whole crowd gagging. And the funny thing is the girl that played Ariel was mad at me, because I basically stole the show. After doing the show I told myself, ‘Yeah, I can do this for the rest of my life.’ I like to entertain people, that’s something that I’ve learned.”

While McCray’s roles at Muhlenberg have not been as uplifting as Flounder in “The Little Mermaid,” the artist has found ways to grow and be challenged while supporting himself. 

McCray mentioned, “It’s definitely been a journey of taking on difficult roles and learning how to take off those characters, even though you feel connected to them, but then also making sure that Matthew is fine at the end of the day. It was definitely a great experience of challenging myself and learning each character, learning each movement style.

Beyond the worlds of theatre and dance, McCray has also been involved with film and continues to expand his craft in different academic environments and mediums. These films include the world premiere of Amira Jackson’s ‘24 “The Blessed Kente of the Amobis” (2022) and “Money Lovers” (2022).

He was also involved with the senior showcase course this spring which gave him the opportunity to perform in front of talent agencies in New York City during spring break. The experience provided him with an exciting future in the arts.

“I got three offers. So basically, I’m currently in the conversation with talking with all three of them, and then I’ll make my final decision of what I want to do based off of those meetings. 

Reflecting on his own career at ‘Berg, McCray shared hopes for how the College can continue to improve based on his experiences in the arts, as well as being a hall director in East, former diversity, equity,  inclusion & belonging chair of the Student Government Association and former president of the Men of Color Network. 

“And I just challenge Muhlenberg in their academics, [the Theatre & Dance Department] to continue to strive to make improvements for people of color on campus and for more marginalized voices on campus to be heard and to be seen,” stated McCray. “And to have shows that really showcase the beauty of all perspectives, all voices and all races in order to make something that’s truly meaningful and can show the power of what worthy storytelling can be.”

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Johnny '24 is a Theatre and Media and Communication double major at 'Berg. He loves to highlight the voices of artists across campus and to showcase the wide variety of events at Muhlenberg. He likes to think he is funny, but that is up for debate.

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