Key Session ’17 was my hallmate in 200 Church our freshman year, and he’s the first to remark on his loud laugh and huge presence. The theater major has played many roles in his college career, and along the way, he’s become, in his own words, himself. Session sat down with The Argus to talk about his first kiss, his affinity for high heels, and the power of listening.
The Argus: Why are you a WesCeleb?
Key Session: To be honest, I don’t know. Being a WesCeleb is something that has always been in the back of my head, as in, “It would be really cool to be a WesCeleb,” but it’s not something I ever actively sought to [be]. It might be how well I’m connected within the community. I think that’s probably the reason. I try to engage myself with the community as well as possible. I try to know what’s happening, what are issues in the community, but also try to put smiles on people’s faces and create those relationships.
A: What are some notable roles that you’ve had as a theater major?
KS: My sophomore year, I played Creon in “The Oedipus Trilogy.” I played, last year, in a faculty department show—it was “Wes Out Loud,” so a very different kind of show. It was an experiential movement site-specific journey throughout Wesleyan, and my piece was interesting because it was one of the pieces that was split, so it helped the entire piece travel throughout the campus rather than being in a stagnant spot. So I loved that opportunity.
Next week, “Summertime” opens up. Quick promo: Thursday [Nov. 17], Friday [Nov. 18], Saturday [Nov. 19]. Get your tickets. I’m playing Edmund. He is….I don’t want to spoil the character. You guys should actually come see “Summertime.”
A: I hear that you’re the main actor in a senior thesis.
KS: I’m involved in Yael Horowitz [’17]’s senior thesis that she’s putting on through the AFAM Department, via Cardinal Pictures. I’m playing Lucas, the main character in her film. It’s a film around Black Lives Matter, and it’s following Lucas, who’s the babysitter, and essentially it’s teaching the family the experience of being a black male during this time period, and what’s that like. Working with two people who aren’t Wesleyan students, and them also understanding the message, is really special to me. I really thank them for being a part of this project. There’s someone who’s a middle-schooler, and she’s part of this project, and she understands it fully. Hearing her lines, and hearing us talk after she says her lines, is very moving for me. Because she gets it. And that’s all I ask for: for people to understand.
A: Have you ever babysat before?
KS: No. Ahhhh, yes. Yes, I have. Oh, my gosh. Not formally, but I’ve definitely babysat a few of my cousins before. They’ve sat in my living room and watched me play video games. But I’ve never had a formal babysitting job before.
A: What is the story of your first kiss, if you’ve had one?
KS: My first kiss was in dance school, actually. I tap-danced for 13 years—fun fact—and in dance school, there was a girl. Her name was Brittany. We had a little crush on each other. I’d get to dancing school early to hang out with her. And then one day, she was in the bathroom but didn’t lock the door, and I didn’t know that, so I walked into the bathroom. She was washing her hands, and I was like, “I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry!” And she was like, “It’s O.K.! It’s O.K.!” I was like, “O.K.” And then I was like, “Can I kiss you?” And she said, “O.K.” And I kissed her.
Remembering that just made me really happy. It brought me back to a time when I was so cute, and now I’m just an old, gross senior.
A: So did that kiss mean you were dating from then on?
KS: No, we weren’t dating at that point, which was really interesting. We stayed friends. We kept going to dancing school. Then she left the dancing school.
A: Do you wonder what happened to her?
KS: Yeah! Thinking about it now, I really wonder what happened to her. Like, she was a really good friend of mine at dancing school, and that young love just, like, poof. So I kind of wonder what happened to her, and I hadn’t thought about that until just now.
A: I think you should reach out to her.
KS: I think I actually should. I’m going to text my grandma and ask her for her last name. I’m not even joking. Because my grandma was the secretary at the dancing school. But would she remember who—? [Texts grandma] O.K. I just texted her.
A: I remember that freshman year, you were really into high heels.
KS: Oh my God. Yes. Yes. The obsession with high heels you definitely experienced. It’s the style, the various styles of heels. And I think it ties to a bigger idea of me and style. Like, I love fashion. And I think heels are a part of fashion that as a male I don’t get to experience on a day-to-day basis, and I know that heels have been very over-sexualized, and I know that when I say I love heels it comes off like that, but it’s not what it seems. The obsession has definitely [been] reduced. If I see a nice pair of shoes, it’s not the freshman, “Oh my God, let me see your heels!” I think I’ve moved more into boots, different styles of boots. The biker boots, just the way that people have been pairing them with different outfits, has been catching my eye lately.
A: How would you describe your style in a few words?
KS: Cuffed jeans, fun shirts, matching, comfort, and finding myself.
Wherever I go, I make sure my outfit is put together. I make sure my style matches. That’s just something I’ve been developing in college especially.
A: Do you have style icons on campus?
KS: Someone who I think has a lot of style…not that I appreciate what they wear, but I think they have a lot of style, and I can’t believe I’m about to say this, because he’s a sophomore, but Salim Green [’19]. He’s stayed true to his style since I’ve met him, since day one. And it’s a very simplistic, yet extravagant style.
A: You studied abroad, right?
KS: I studied abroad in Prague, the Czech Republic. Good old Prague. It was an absolutely fantastic experience to be in Europe as a college student, to be in Europe in a time when the U.S. was very volatile, where as a black male I didn’t feel safe. It was nice to be in a country where I felt like I didn’t have to look over my shoulder every second. I met some of the greatest people, who I still talk to and I’m still friends with.
I had hard times. I got out of class one day, and I ran into the back of a neo-Nazi rally. And they were holding confederate flags. And, you know, seeing a neo-Nazi rally doesn’t hit me; we think neo-Nazis are more tied to anti-Semitism. But the confederate flags were there. That’s what frightened me. They were holding an American, very vulgar, statement in their hands.
A: Yeah, because you can’t even try to say it’s about “Southern pride.” It’s literally slavery. Like, you’re in the Czech Republic.
KS: Exactly. Slavery. There’s nothing else you can say. So I walked through the back. I was with two of my friends, and they were like, “Key, do you want to go?” But we had to get to our tram. I was like, “We have to. We need to get home.” So we walked through, and things were fine, but at the end I got spat on. We went inside the mall, which was right there, to get some food and calm down, and when we went out we heard chants, just screaming. We were like, “We need to get out of here.”
A: How have you changed since freshman year?
KS: Something that surprises many people is that I didn’t used to have a large self-confidence, and I still don’t have one. That shocks a lot of people, because of the way I carry myself, the way I take up space, the way that I command a room. And I think that something that proved that is I try to combat a lot of things with humor. That’s a very big self-defense mechanism of mine.
I’ve become more open. I came here as an uneducated freshman from Long Island, New York…Queens, New York. I’ve met some of the greatest intellects of my life. I’ve built the greatest bonds and relationships with people. I’ve had fights with people that have made me stronger. People have made me learn, “Key, you’re not always right,” and that’s something I’ve had to struggle with my entire life.
Freshman year Key is still here. He’s not gone. He’s matured. He used to be loud—you lived down the hall from me; you remember—and he was afraid. He was a lot of things that I’m just not anymore, for the better.
A: Do you have an embarrassing story from freshman year?
KS: As people know, I work heavily for the admissions office, and I work WesFest, and that was my baby. And freshman year, the first year of WesFest, I ran into a door leaving 200 Church because I was running down the stairs of 200 Church, and my belt came undone, and I was putting it back on, and I tripped over a pool ball, and I ran into the door, face first. And my nose started bleeding, so I had blood all over my shirt, and I went to the admissions office, and I had blood on my shirt for two hours before I could change.
A: Do you have any enemies?
KS: Not that I know of. And if I do, I hope they let me know that they’re my enemies! I try not to make enemies. If there’s a conflict, I really try to resolve that conflict as soon as possible. I do not like leaving bad blood.
A: What’s the key to conflict resolution?
KS: To listen. Everywhere, we’ve had a really big issue with listening. It’s not that easy to listen. It’s very easy to say, “Listen.” But something I’ve been seeing throughout this election is “Love Trumps Hate.” And the point of listening, and understanding, is that it’s very easy to hate. That emotion is so easy to push. And I try not to.
A: Is there anywhere you won’t set foot?
KS: Summies. I can’t eat at Summies. I think I might have eaten there three times, and it’s just—I don’t know if it’s because it’s in the Butterfields, or if every time I’ve eaten there I’ve had to use the bathroom. When they got the new menu, I tried something on there, and it just didn’t happen. Everyone’s like, Summies cookies, Summies this. Summies just doesn’t get me. You will find me at WesWings, since freshman year.
A: What do you get there?
KS: I get 10 boneless honey ginger wings, with a side of spicy fries. It’s what I always get. I currently have 220 points left thanks to WesWings, and I was on an all-points plan. So I’m going to be eating peanut butter and jelly a lot toward the end of the semester.