The Art at Work series highlights TCU College of Fine Arts alumni who are putting their passion into practice.
Taking to the Stage
“My first memorable introduction to the arts was seeing The Lion King on stage when I was 12,” said John Devereaux ’12. “[I remember] how joyful and in awe I was, and said, ‘I want to make people feel what I’m feeling right now.’”
Today, Devereaux indeed has the power to impact audiences through live theatre, performing in the ensemble on the first national tour of the critically-acclaimed Hamilton: An American Musical.
Despite his early interest in the arts, the Houston native initially didn’t want to pursue acting professionally. Yet, resisting the urge to be on stage didn’t last long into his time at TCU.
“During my sophomore year, I picked up a theatre minor, and by my second semester, I petitioned to become a theatre major,” he said.
As a Theatre TCU student, Devereaux performed in numerous productions ranging from the dramatic play No Exit to Seussical and Oklahoma!; he credits “a long list” of theatre faculty who impacted his path as a theatre artist.
“All of the faculty who I had the opportunity to have class with or to do a show with really helped me with my confidence in their specific field of expertise,” said Devereaux. “I am indebted to the entire Theatre TCU faculty because while I was saying, ‘I don’t know if I can’ in college, they were saying, ‘Well, we do, and yes, you can.’ And that’s the confidence I carry with me to this day onstage and off.”
From TCU to Hamilton—And Everything in Between
After graduating from TCU in 2012 with a BFA in theatre with an acting emphasis, Devereaux performed as Coalhouse Walker, Jr. in a summer stock production of Ragtime before heading out west to build his acting career.
“I moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting for television and film, but the stage couldn’t let me go!” said Devereaux.
Over the course of six years in Los Angeles, Devereaux performed in local professional productions of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Mitch Mahoney) and RENT (Collins) as well as originated the role of rock and roll singer Jesse Belvin in the world premiere of Recorded in Hollywood, a musical based on the true story of Los Angeles music producer John Dolphin. He later traveled around the U.S. and the world in a touring production of Dreamgirls and the 20th anniversary tour of RENT.
While his list of credits is impressive, Devereaux says the beginning of his career was particularly challenging because he felt overlooked at auditions or would lose out on booking jobs in the final rounds of callbacks.
“I wanted to quit,” said Devereaux. “I got fed up [with] the rejection, …and it felt like, ‘We like you, we like you, but we don’t want you.’”
Devereaux credits acting and auditioning classes and his day job at a Los Angeles casting office with helping him learn how to manage rejection.
“Ultimately, I learned, as an actor, all you can control in this industry is you,” said Devereaux. “If you come into an audition prepared, give your best and leave knowing that you did what you were supposed to do, that’s all you can do.”
That perspective is part of what helped Deveraux land an ensemble role on the first national tour of the hit musical Hamilton.
In Hamilton, Devereaux plays Man 6 and covers the roles of George Washington, Hercules Mulligan/James Madison and King George III. Last March, the cast and crew were at a stop in Miami, celebrating the third anniversary of the tour, when performances were halted indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Spark of Inspiration
Like thousands of other actors, the hiatus of live theatre has impacted Devereaux’s performing career. Yet, he has found a spark of inspiration in a new venture he launched last year: Of Yours Candle Company.
“I had all this creative energy not being put to use, so I put it into creating my own candle company,” said Devereaux. “With Broadway closures continuing into the summer—affecting thousands of crew and performing personnel, including myself—it seemed all the more important for me to create a way to help bring people home in a sense.”
Devereaux says that the name Of Yours is tied to the idea that scents trigger memories of a person, place or moment—something of yours.
A Full Circle Moment
Devereaux will again hit the road with the tour of Hamilton when live performances can safely resume.
Despite not being able to perform on stage during the pandemic, Devereaux remains proud of his achievement to have a career doing what he loves and studied at TCU.
He likens his work in the theatre to something with which all Horned Frogs should be familiar: the TCU mission statement.
“The collaborative effort of every single person inside the theater is putting their focus and energy into one moment, one show—from the actors onstage and the crew backstage to the audience, ushers, box office workers [and] security,” said Devereaux. “That really speaks to me as a metaphor for how the world could be working together if we all focused on what’s important, as TCU’s mission statement presents, ‘as responsible citizens in the global community.’”
John Devereaux is a native Houstonian and actor who has been seen on stages across the U.S. and the world in multiple professional productions including RENT, Dreamgirls and currently Hamilton: An American Musical. To learn more, visit his website.
John Devereaux’s Advice to Bourgeoning Professional Actors
- Be a student of life. Be observant and keep the spirit of learning alive. James Earl Jones to this day still considers himself a novice learning the mastery of the craft of acting.
- There will be other jobs.Do you and do you well. There are too many things about the audition process that are out of one’s own control to be worried about them. If you book the job, it’s because everything lined up how it was meant. If not, it’s because everything lined up how it was meant be.
- Be gentle with yourself and with others. You have to be vulnerable and open with yourself to be successful in the performance industry. Sometimes that will lead to heightened insecurities that have you thinking you’re not a good artist or even a good person, but realize that it’s all in your head. We put so much effort and energy into other projects that sometimes we forget about ourselves (and others) being human beings just trying to do our best.
- Be judicious with your words.It’s fine to talk about your experiences and how they affected you—I actually encourage it—but don’t talk trash about industry folks to other industry folks. The professional theatre community is smaller than you can imagine, and you don’t know who knows who.