She makes her story.
“Six” star Hailee Kaleem Wright revealed on Monday that she overcame homelessness twice before fulfilling her Broadway dreams.
“It took a lot of strength,” she told People magazine of landing the role of Catherine of Aragon in the Tony-winning musical.
“2022 has been so many firsts,” Wright added. “It was like all dreams came true, especially after such a long time without work.”
Wright was first bitten by the acting bug when she saw her mother being cast in a regional production of “Hairspray.” She, too, landed a production role as part of the set, so her family moved to New York from Texas.
“I fell in love with acting,” the budding starlet said. “My mom and I looked at each other and were like, ‘Let’s get our stuff and go to New York. Let’s try to do this. And, uh, it didn’t work out very well.
Wright said she and her family were struggling to find accommodation and the money “dried up quickly” after staying in several hotels.
The Wrights then ended up at the Department of Homeless Services.
The ‘Paradise Square’ actress recalled that waiting 4 p.m. just to find shelter was “one of the most dehumanizing processes I’ve ever been through.”
“The first place we went was Southside Jamaica, Queens,” Wright said. “We had bedbugs and horrible, horrible scenarios.”
“That fight went on for a long time,” Wright said, noting that she could barely get by while working in retail for minimum wage.
Eventually, the future star managed to land an agent and was the subject of MTV’s reality show “True Life,” which she saw as “an opportunity to tell my story.”
“When it aired, we didn’t even have cable, so I couldn’t watch it,” she said. “I was watching the live Twitter feed of people talking about my life.”
After returning home to Texas and getting a “cabin job,” she then got a gig in Japan at Universal Studios and, according to Wright, it changed her life.
“I was 20 and making the most money I’ve ever made,” she said. “I couldn’t believe I auditioned for this at a shelter.”
But after that gig, she and her family were once again homeless in Texas.
“After I returned from Japan, my family and I were homeless again,” she said, “which was not just devastating; Mentally, it was catastrophic.
Taking his last $200, the rising Broadway star took a chance and booked himself a hostel and a one-way plane ticket to New York.
“I took that money and took a one-way flight to New York. It had been maybe three or four months living in and out of the car, in and out of hotels, and I was so miserable Wright said. “I bet on myself.”
“I got a hostel and I got a plane ticket,” she added. “I stayed there for a week. I received three contract offers.
Wright revealed that she prepped for bathroom auditions and did makeup on the subway before taking another break from the nationwide tour of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”
“I’m a firm believer in never giving up,” said Wright, who was cast in the musical “Paradise Square” last year.
On December 5, Wright made her Broadway debut in the Tony-winning musical “Six” as Catherine of Aragon, the first of King Henry VIII’s wives.
“My mother was right in front of me [in the audience], and the minute I walked out, I just saw her,” Wright said. “It felt so special and divine, and I felt so grateful to have truly been a co-creator in the life I wanted.
“Being a little black girl from the South who came from very humble beginnings and made it to Broadway. . . I didn’t lose sight of how vast the options were for me to fail and the fact that I was able to succeed,” she added. “I look at my life now, and I’m not the same person anymore.”