Public Engagement

  • Alumni

    Ariel Seidman-Wright

    Seidman-Wright, Ariel

    Ariel Seidman-Wright, a native of Victoria, Canada, transferred from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) into the Musical Theatre program of the Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students. “I got a scholarship to AMDA, so I moved to New York City when I was 18, and I’ve been here ever since,” says Ariel. “Because The New School accepts your time at the AMDA as half of your undergraduate program, I entered with a huge number of transferable credits.” 

    Inspired by her mother, a professor of Southeast Asian art history, Ariel developed an interest in research at an early age. “I remember in the fifth grade, I had to do a report on Barkerville, a gold rush town in British Columbia, and my mom took me to the Royal British Columbia Archives and said, ‘This is how you load microfilm.’ For me that was just what you did with your mom on the weekend. So doing research for me was like treasure hunting.”

    While she was completing her degree, Ariel acted in a few productions and taught a children’s dance class in a TriBeCa studio. “I would run from work to class or from class to work. It was a bit insane, but the thing that kept me going was that I was interested in what I was learning.”
    One of her courses, Black Women’s Narratives, proved to be life changing. “It began with readings of slave narratives and progressed to more contemporary pieces, and I was hooked,” said Ariel. “I was especially interested in the Harlem Renaissance, so I kind of moved into the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and began exploring Harlem to view original source material. It’s so different from just reading a textbook or somebody else’s opinion.”

    After Ariel wrote her final paper for that class, her teacher, Tracyann Williams, encouraged her to develop her work further and present it at a conference at the University of Delaware. Ariel’s research paper on pioneering businesswoman Madame C. J. Walker earned her an award at the conference.

    “My academic writing definitely improved at The New School, especially because Tracyann just won’t accept any nonsense. She will cut through all the flowery extra bits that don’t need to be there. I got a lot better at developing a style in which I struck a balance between being creative and getting to the point.”