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Artist of the Issue: Malik Gaye

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While others chose baseball bats and paintbrushes, Malik Gaye ‘18 chose masks and microphones. He has a pronounced gift for theater—especially comedy—and enjoys making people laugh, especially his peers and younger Grotonians. The way he presents himself not only on stage as an actor, but also as a singer and photographer is unique: he is able to take lines, songs, or lenses and add his own flair to them.

At age nine, Malik fell in love with theater after a fulfilling first performance of After Ever After. Feeling liberated by the applause at the end of the show, he concluded that the cathartic rush justified the hard work he had poured in throughout the previous weeks. As a result, Malik’s career as an actor went into full speed when he stepped foot on the Circle.

“My first show at Groton was Romeo and Juliet in Second Form. I didn’t land a huge role, but it was a role nonetheless,” says Malik, “I got a lot from that experience.” He became friends with upper schoolers Griffin Dickson ‘14, Elizabeth Dickson ‘15, and Kevin Maldonado ’14, all of whom “made a huge impact on me.”

Malik appreciates the support and love he received as the youngest member in the cast. He says that he wishes that he had worried less as a new student: “It’s not like I was planning on being Romeo in the play, but I kept asking myself: what will happen if I don’t make it? Will I never grow?”

His growth came through experience rather than by having a big role. Malik says, “If I could go back, I would definitely tell myself to just enjoy and learn from the experience—don’t worry so much about what you’re doing right now.”
Consistently the Groton community has been enchanted by Malik’s charm, especially in his favorite performance, The Wiz, performed in the winter of his Fourth Form year. “Everyone loved the Lion—I looked cute or something,” Malik says, laughing, “It was definitely a huge change from small ensemble roles to small parts to medium parts to finally a first true spotlight moment. It was really exciting to do.”
The theater program at Groton has played a significant role in Malik’s life both a student and senior prefect. “What Malik does best on the stage is relate,” says Josie Fulton ‘18. “A lot of times actors and actresses will act for themselves and not for others, but Malik is really focused on connecting with the audience both on and off the stage. It really shows in his art, but also as a friend and senior prefect.”

“It’s definitely helped me with public appearances,” says Malik, “When I realized at the beginning of the school year that I had to guide and talk to a lot of the new students, having been in front of crowds multiple times, being funny, being dramatic, in different times it’s allowed me to work crowds better.”

Malik also acknowledges the difficulty at Groton to balance outside classroom passions and academics. “I love the theater; it’s something I do at least twice a year,” he says, “Every Groton student has thoughts and desires to do certain things, but you only have three terms a year to do everything you want to do. I wish I could do more.”  

Despite the sometimes relentless pushes and pulls of the Groton grind, Malik has found a way to ground himself in theatre.
“I think less about what others think of me, and I’ve become more free with myself. Like when I was in the Protean Trio, when I had to act as a fool for two hours, and in The Wiz when I had to fake cry in front of the audience, or in Putnam [The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee] and be a tough guy who is not who I really am. Theatre has helped me be comfortable as who I am much more than I was when I first auditioned for Romeo and Juliet.

Malik’s transformation from an eager second former to inspirational senior prefect can be attributed greatly to his theatrical experience here on the Circle. Unswerving and bold in his own manner, Malik is a role model to not only the budding artists of Groton but also to his peers.

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