Artist to Watch: Terrace Wyatt, Jr.

(photo by Jim Barcus)

The popular Kansas City actor and budding playwright recently established his own production company

Terrace Wyatt, Jr. dreams big. “My spirit animal is Tyler Perry,” the Kansas City actor said in a recent interview. Perry is an award-winning actor, filmmaker and playwright. He is also an entertainment tycoon — Tyler Perry Studios is one of the largest in the nation.

For his part, Wyatt has distinguished himself before KC audiences for years, delivering award-nominated performances and gracing nearly every stage in town: KC Rep, Starlight, the Unicorn, Music Theater Heritage, the White Theatre, Kansas City Public Theatre, The Black Box, Mesner Puppet Theater (now What if Puppets), the Barn Players, Theatre in the Park, Jewell Theatre Company and Leawood Stage Company.

Wyatt has been a regular with The Coterie, appearing in the 2023 holiday production of “Rudolph” and in “The Lighting Thief” and “Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed” earlier this year. He’s performed with the Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City in “Memphis” and “Raisin in the Sun.” In the last year he’s appeared in Whim Productions’ “Boxed,” “Is God Is” at the Melting Pot, KC Rep’s “The Royale” and “Peter Pan and Wendy,” “Dreamgirls” at New Theatre, “Grapes of Wrath” at Arts Asylum and in the Black Box cabaret “Fa La La Fizz.”

Like his role model Perry, Wyatt is also keen to master the business side of his chosen field. Going forward, his onstage appearances may be taking a back seat to his work as a playwright and his establishment of Terrace Studios, LLC, which is presenting its first production — Wyatt’s play, “Black Man, MO [Missouri]” — at the 2024 Kansas City Fringe Festival, July 12-28.

“Black Man, MO [Missouri]” revolves around the death of a wrongly accused Black teen and is basically a conversation/confrontation between the teen’s mother and a police officer. This year’s Fringe production marked its second appearance; its first was in June 2023, when Wyatt made his professional debut as a playwright and producer at Theatre Community Fund of Kansas City’s 2nd Annual Crescendo Awards Festival at the Arts Asylum and was awarded $2,500.

Since “Black Man, MO” Wyatt said, “I’ve been reading and attending as many plays as I can get to. Studying their structures of storytelling and…why this play exists. I’m open to reading plays from all playwrights. My main ones are August Wilson, Lynn Nottage, Tom Stoppard, Suzan-Lori Parks, Tyler Perry, Jeremy O’ Harris, and Dominique Morisseau. I’m a storyteller and (I’d) rather let my script present my acting versus my physical appearances on stage.”

Growing up in Overland Park, Wyatt got his start at Starlight’s Children’s Theatre and Starlight Stars of Tomorrow, and later Music Theatre Kansas City. He attended Hogan Prep and then went on to hone his skills as a writer at William Jewell College, where he received a BFA in theatre in 2020.

“Writing has been my gem since forever,” he said. “I believe because growing up from dealing with trauma, laughter, and curiosity, I wanted to express my emotions on paper, but I didn’t feel the adrenaline till my senior year at William Jewell College. There’s a universe inside my head I wanted to share as a storyteller. (The) play I wrote in college was a test drive to see if I wanted to do it as a career. (In) ‘Mel’n E [Melanin & Educated],’ a college senior…explains the meaning of melanin through pop culture at a predominantly white school. Yes, it was a comedic mess, but the message was there.”

Wyatt’s current focus is developing Terrace Studios. Coming up is “the biggest chapter of my career,” he said, a “rollercoaster that won’t stop. The goal is to have it set before I’m in my 30s, not only to produce original work but also to produce plays and musical revivals. Co-producing projects with other productions starting in KC and working my way up to Broadway, National Theatre, Netflix, A24, Tyler Perry Studios, MonkeyPaws Productions, Hulu, Prime, MAX, etc.”

Terrace Studios already has a busy schedule, including producing and directing a new play written by Phillip Dixon, a local filmmaker with his own production company, BrothaAbe Films. Wyatt also has an upcoming project with KU-based emerging filmmaker Jordan Nevels, who is working on a short film about singer Tammi Terrell, duet partner with Marvin Gaye.

Wyatt has previously done short films with Wide Awake Films, a Wendy’s ad for TikTok with Bark Productions and a music video with Tech N9ne. “In my opinion, KC is literally New York in the Midwest,” he said. “I want to put my city on the map that’ll bring a bigger light on KC just as much as Chicago, Atlanta, LA, and New York.

“I’m not afraid to take risks.”

For more information, www.instagram.com/terracewyatt.jr. Fringe Festival performances of “Black Man Missouri” will be presented July 19-26 at City Stage at Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Rd. For tickets, kcfringe.org/2024-shows/terrace-wyatt-jr-s-black-man-missouri.

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith is an impassioned supporter of local performances of all types, who welcomes the  opportunity to promote them to KC Studio readers.

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