thesalting spotlight | James Harkness | broadway actor/ singer | photographed in nyc by ellen mc dermott with bridget sciales
thesalting spotlight | James Harkness | broadway actor/ singer | photographed in nyc by ellen mc dermott with bridget sciales

thesalting: James! thank you for your time and good energy! it seems you are always singing/ always sharing: songs, thoughts, laughter: what is your definition of happiness?

James harkness: a few things: being in a creative space both physically, emotionally and mentally; being in an environment where and having people in my life with whom I can be who I am on all levels; seeing others happy whether I know them of not. happiness is one of the best energies in the world.


ts: best advice you've ever received?

jh: learn how to communicate. it is the key to happiness. finding out the best way for you to do that with yourself, with this in your life in all aspects is truly a valuable thing, probably the most valuable.


ts: 3 movies that have inspired you most?

jh: most recently: coda (such a beautiful work), a chorus line, American anthem.


ts: 3 favorite broadway/ off broadway shows?

jh: my tastes are varied: cry baby, American utopia, for colored girlsweo have considered suicide, when the rainbow is enuf.


ts: dream role?

jh: anything that results in me becoming a better artist and person.


ts: do you create your own music and lyrics?

jh: I do. thought he way I write music is not the conventional way. I sing or vocalize the parts to whichever musician I am working with. I have been very blessed that the musicians I have worked with thus far have been so willing to understand my process and help me when I don't know how to get from one part I have conceived to another and/ or will explain why something I am doing isn't correct but will also do everything to help bring the music in my mind and heart to life.


ts: we often ask questions pertains to nyc....3 favorite New York resturants?

jh: 1/ lido- great food and atmosphere. 2/ hold fast- really good upscale pub style food, very welcoming neighborhood vibe. 3/ glasshouse tavern- consistently good food and wonderful service.


ts: favorite nyc neighborhood and why?

jh: I don't really have one. there are many places I find myself in that I think are beautiful and interesting and wonder what it would be like to live or spend more time there but none can be singled out as favorite. thetas the beauty of New York - keeps me exploring and revisiting.


ts: do you remember your very first audition? please share...

jh: I don't remember my very first professional one. I do remember one of my earliest in my career and one of the most significant.

it was for Debbie Allen for the oscars. I was so excited and so nervous. the nerves overtook the excitement once I arrived though. I found myself in a room filled with so many dancers that I had been watching on tv and filmgoer so many years. I was immediately intimidated and allowed that feeling to let me pick up my bag and walk out before it started.

I got halfway from the entrance and I stopped and turned around. if you don't do this you will never know. I went back. and made it to the call back for the following day! Debbie shook our hands!! my hand!!!and said work on it and I'll see you tomorrow. I was in heaven! tomorrow came. I got cut. and it was all right because I faced a fear of not being good enough. I faced that fear still and its good for me to retell the story to remind myself that I can.

that audition also introduced me to a man that would become significant in my life and career. one of Debbie assistants was Sergio Trujillo, the now toy award winning choreographer of "aint too proud" . circle complete!!


ts: please tell us about your experience being with and working with Betty Buckley.

jh: Betty is a force. she's also a light. she tells it like she sees it. she will help you if she can. she's funny. kind. down to earth and in the clouds at the same time. I wasn't sure what to expect the first time. there are stories that have become legend. there may be truths and they are probably embellishments. my story? I love Betty Lynn and look forward to doing it again.


ts: how do you erase hate in your every day life?

jh: by not leaning into it. I believe it can be something a person can do easier than one might think. its easy to get upset. it's easy to feel hurt. It's easy to take a negative away from a moment even when positives have been part of the equation. hate runs along with those same veins. so, I work to identify when I might be feeling that way either of myself, towards me or someone or something else and move away form it. if I have the power to I will use my literal and/ or figurative voice to lend to shifting away from it. that doesn't mean that I don't like things.I do have strongwomen opinions "insert chuckle and maybe a little eye roll". I am vocal about things but I work be aware of how I put that out there. I can't control another persons perception but I can take action within myself as to how I perceive and relate to things and stay near kindness and love. It's work worth doing.