ATLANTA - The first time we met Roman Banks, the then-recent Parkview High School graduate was part of Alliance Theatre’s Palefsy Collision Project, and telling us about his family’s fascinating history.
"My grandfather actually sat in at Woolworth's during the Civil Rights Movement,” Banks told us then. Little did we know how quickly Banks would end up making history of his own.
Less than a year after that July 2017 interview, Banks attended an open call for a Broadway show — and booked the gig. The college freshman became understudy for the role of a lifetime: the title character in the Broadway blockbuster Dear Evan Hansen.
"It was a dream come true in every sense of the phase. I had two dream roles, Aaron Burr in Hamilton...and I had Evan Hansen."
And in December of 2018, with his first steps on a Broadway stage before an audience, Banks became the first actor of color to take on the role of Evan. It was a celebratory moment, not just for the actor but for the entire theatre community.
"People would tell me how it read differently, and how it all the sudden was a new story, which is exciting. And I think that's what theatre's about. I think the more boundaries you break down, and the more the more lines and stigmas that you can wash away, the more interesting a story can become."
Banks left the show in January of 2020, and quickly joined the second season cast of the Disney+ hit “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” He was in Salt Lake City filming the show when production was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "My very first day was my very last day...because of coronavirus,” he says.
Until filming on the show resumes, Banks is focused on his music. He’s just released his debut EP, called Days, containing seven original songs.
"It was a little bit nerve-wracking being like, ‘What will people think?’ And, like, this is a very personal side of me. And there's no real guard up. But the messages and the things people have said to me have really warmed my heart."