School Friends

So I joined a Facebook group before we arrived in New Haven, Conn., where I posted that I was planning a reading of my play “Daddy,” in case anyone wanted to get to know my work. That was how I met one of my two great friends at Yale. I categorize Michael Breslin, who’s an actor and playwright, and Amauta M. Firmino, who’s a screenwriter, as my “great friends,” because we were inseparable at school: Michael and I lived together, and Amauta was like our third — he was in our apartment every night drinking wine, watching TV and doing homework.

There’s that maxim about grad school: “You don’t go for the education, you go for the people.” I always thought that sounded gross, like it was a networking thing. But I was able to find others who spoke my language; no teacher challenged me the way Michael and Amauta did. I felt more creatively and artistically engaged by those who I lay in bed with and got messy with and was vulnerable with — another friend, the writer-director Em Weinstein, directed the first production of my next piece, “Slave Play,” in our second year.

After graduation in 2019, I knew everything was going to change. A lot of my Black friends moved to Los Angeles, became successful and went through cultural and social shifts — I think people lose themselves and those who are really important to them — and I didn’t want that to happen. Over the next six months, our lives would become completely different, but I was trying to create pockets of normalcy.

So we decided to have a big birthday party in a Hamptons house that I rented with the actress Louisa Jacobson, another classmate. We cooked dinner together every night, we sat outside, we drank in the pool, we told crazy stories and made some weird pact to find ways to get together as a group, as regularly as possible, outside of our work.

Often, we’re celebrating each other. We go to every opening. We go to every major life event. We try to be there in person or we send text messages. That’s a grounding force for me, personally, inside all of this nonsense, because these are the people who saw me with my pants down, you know? They saw all the bad drafts.

At top: AMAUTA M. FIRMINO wears Maximilian pants, about $903,; and his own shirt and shoes. JEREMY O. HARRIS wears a Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello jacket, $2,290,; Hermès shirt, $1,225,; Louis Vuitton pants, about $935,; Moscot glasses, $380,; and Tiffany & Co. signet ring, $4,300, and slice ring, $2,100, EDMUND DONOVAN wears Hermès pants, $890; and his own sweater, ring, shoes and socks. CAT RODRÍGUEZ wears a Celine by Hedi Slimane jacket, $2,250,; and her own top, pants and jewelry. Hair by Latisha Chong using Dyson. Makeup by Raisa Flowers. Set design by Todd Knopke.

Interviews have been edited and condensed. Production: Hen’s Tooth Productions. Digital tech: Pineapple. Photo assistants: Tim Hoffman, Andres Norwood, Shen Williams-Thomas. Hair assistants: Karen Zamor, Khyrei Ortiz. Makeup assistants: Eunice Kristen, Alexandra DiRoma. Set assistant: Nick Van Woert

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