Meet Yolo Solo's 13-Year-Old Performer Kennedy Waterman

It's been a good year for Kennedy Waterman. She earned a DFW Theater Critics Forum Award for her performance in a re-imagining of Glengarry Glen Ross, she's premiering her first solo performance piece this week and she's about halfway through seventh grade.

Her short play Allergic Me, directed by Dallas Observer Mastermind Jeff Swearingen, premieres as part of Audacity Theatre Lab's YOLO Solo Festival. Curated by Observer critic Elaine Liner, this brand new festival is happening at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park through January 26 and presents eight short plays from local artists, all on the theme "You only live once."

In between rehearsals, writing and homework, Waterman squeezed us in for a quick interview where we talked about lunch lines, Ellen, and the way she's used a very serious peanut allergy as inspiration for a play.

So, how old are you exactly? I turned 13 in December.

What got you into theater in the first place? Well, when I was younger, like 5 or 6, my mom found me on the computer emailing a talent agency. I wanted to act. I told her they needed a shot of my head. That summer she signed me up for a theater camp, and I have been doing it ever since.

Do you see yourself pursuing this through college and beyond? I would love to pursue theater and film in the future. I have a goal to write, direct and act in my own film.

When the Critics Forum was discussing your award, somebody called you a child Meryl Streep. Do you have a celebrity you identify with? Ellen Degeneres really inspires me. I think we both have the same sense of humor and I'm working on having her comedic timing. When I have the time, I memorize different portions of her stand-up routine and perform them for anyone who will watch.

Where were you when you heard you won the Critics Forum award? I was in lunch when my math teacher found me in the cafeteria and called me over. Apparently, my mom had called and told her to show me the article. It was pretty exciting. I remember getting back in the lunch line and buying a cookie for myself to celebrate. Later, in homeroom, the principal even announced it over the loudspeaker! My friends thought it was neat, but I don't know if they really understood.

Have you ever written or performed a solo show before? I have not ... but hope this is not my last.

Tell me a little bit about Allergic Me. Allergic Me is a story about hardships and hope ... and my allergy to peanuts. It talks about scary times and funny times and the cold, hard facts about the way the allergy affects me. It conveys hope -- for me and for others.

I want the audience to understand that sometimes you have to fight, even when it's the harder choice. Not just for yourself but for those who can't. Peanuts are small, but important. They make me who I am.

Will you get a chance to see the other shows in the festival? I will be staying to see some of them. I'm really interested in seeing the different writing styles and I can't wait to meet the other actors.

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Lauren Smart
Contact: Lauren Smart