Deidre DeJear takes on role with Pyramid Theatre Co.

Deidre DeJear will join Pyramid Theatre Co. for the production of “The Black Feminist Guide to the Human Body” June 22-July 7 at the Des Moines Civic Center’s Stoner Theater. (Photo: Pyramid Theatre Co.)

By Michael Morain

On Father’s Day, Deidre DeJear and her father launched a new podcast called “His Daughter, Her Dad.” In each episode, they chat about his various roles as a son, a husband, a widower, a Christian, a voter and, of course, a supportive dad. He reassures her whenever she needs a boost.

“I’m more nervous for this than running for governor,” she said. “It’s so vulnerable.”

The podcast is just one of several creative projects the 2022 gubernatorial candidate has jumped into over the last year and a half. On Saturday, she’ll step into a starring role in Pyramid Theatre Co.’s production of “The Black Feminist Guide to the Human Body.” It runs through July 7 at the Des Moines Civic Center’s Stoner Theater.

In the play, by Lisa B. Thompson, three actresses portray the mind, body and soul of a middle-aged Black woman who is learning to embrace a “soft life” through radical self-acceptance and self-compassion.

DeJear rattled off a few statistics, noting that Black women face disparities in health care and are more likely than other groups to die from various diseases. Those studies track with DeJear’s own observations among her family and friends. “We take on a lot of stress,” she said. “We condition ourselves to be strong, unyielding, unrelenting. … Sometimes we don’t even feel like we’re allowed to get sick.”

So the play, she said, “forces us to look at our lives and what we go through every day, and to realize we don’t have to settle.”

Beyond that, she added, “it’s a love letter to Black women.” She called it a reminder “to love on yourself, all parts of yourself — the good, the bad and the meh — because those other parts need real love, too.”

Those themes ring especially true for DeJear herself, who’s been working with a handful of nonprofits and “reconfiguring” since the 2022 election, embracing the parts of herself she set aside to run for office. As she put it, “I’m leaning in to my authenticity.”

DeJear participated in speech and debate in high school, in Oklahoma, and performed a monologue that helped her win the Miss Black Iowa crown while she was a student at Drake University, majoring in broadcast journalism. Her next steps on stage are out of her comfort zone, but she jumped in soon as she read the script.

“I knew I wanted to experience this,” she said. “Every part of my being experiences aspects of this play every single day.”


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