Dominic Santos is a Theatre Artist & HIV Prevention Counselor at Beautiful Gate Outreach Center as well as this week’s #PeopleOfWilmDE. Read their story below.
“I’ve gone to school and worked in Wilmington for twenty four years .I was living in Newark but was bussed into Wilmington to go to school at Pulaski Intermediate. We took a field trip to Cab Calloway School of the Arts to see their production of BIG: The Musical. It was my first introduction to musical theatre and I was adamant that I needed to be enrolled in that school so I could be in a production there. Fast forward two years and I found myself on the CCSA stage as ‘The Knife Grinder’ in Oliver! I was hooked and my journey as a theatrical artist began. The familial connections I made at Cab led me to be enveloped in the theatre community in Wilmington at a very young age.
After graduating Cab, I found myself working various restaurant jobs in Wilmington while I was continuing to pursue theatre in the area and surrounding communities.
I lived in Wilmington for a year but now I’m back in my hometown of New Castle. You will most likely find me at The Wilmington Drama League either on stage or working behind the scenes!
Three interesting facts about me:
- Aside from being a theatre artist, I am a film nerd. The movie theater is my happy place and in the fall/winter (when movie/awards season starts up) I’ll be in a theater at least twice a week.
- If you pause fast enough on episode 1 of season 5 of HBO’s The Wire, you might see me in the background!
- I’m really passionate about activism and equality work. I have a deep love for humanity and I ‘m for the safety for everyone, everywhere, at all times.
There’s so much theatre in Wilmington! Some might say too much but I don’t think there is such a thing. Wilmington Drama League, Delaware Theatre Company, Delaware Children’s Theatre, City Theatre Company, Opera Delaware, Candlelight Theatre, there’s almost something for everyone!
I also love the events held in Rodney Square. The Juneteenth Celebration and The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival are musts. My favorite restaurants are Ubon, Eclipse Bistro (for special occasions), Chelsea Tavern, and Wilma’s!
My ideal night out in Wilmington starts with dinner at Ubon (drunken noodles, please!). Then either a show at WDL or a movie at Brandywine Regal or Penn Cinema, then drinks at Constitution Yards with my friends!
Wilmington has the best energy than any other city in Delaware. The culture and possibilities here are endless! The theatre community here has delivered some of the best work I’ve seen in my lifetime. I’m a person that learns through experience and the lessons I’ve learned from being a part of this community has shaped me into the artist I am today. While I think the community has some ways to go in representing the city demographically, that doesn’t take away from the beautiful and important storytelling that’s happening all over the city.
The small connections I’ve made here have led to big opportunities for me including the work I am doing now.
I’m actually very excited about what is happening at Beautiful Gate. I currently work at Beautiful Gate Outreach Center, a nonprofit HIV Prevention and Testing site in the city that focuses on stopping the spread of the HIV virus specifically in the Black community. Wilmington offers the agency for organizations such as this to be established and service the people that need the help. We are planning events that will geer more toward the LGBTQ community! Movie nights, parties, and some very special guests.
I also love what The Wilmington Library is doing with bringing some prolific guests into their space to do Q&A and meet and greets. I get to meet one of my heroes, Ms. Jenifer Lewis this Thursday (9/16)!
My proudest moments of working in Wilmington is easily my directing work. I’ve had the pleasure of directing several shows in the area that focus on the Black experience (including Memphis and most recently The Color Purple at WDL) that have sold extremely well and have made space for Black actors to authentically be themselves. Representation is important and with the city being over 50% Black, I think it’s necessary that what’s on stage reflects our history and what’s happening in our own community.
I think the city is lacking a safe space for LGBTQ people, in particular, the youth. I would love to see a community center, specifically young LGBTQ folk offering them resources to whatever they may need even if it’s just a fun space to chill. There’s not really anything for us adults either (get better soon, Crimson Moon!) We need to redirect traffic from Philadelphia to here so we can serve the queer and trans people that live and pay taxes here!
If I could give advice to those living and working in Wilmington, I would definitely tell everyone in Wilmington to support their local arts organizations and artists. There is no reason why Wilmington can’t be as big or important of a hub as Philadelphia. There’s so much talent here but we need to keep it flourishing and that requires people to be invested both monetarily and physically. We need to show up for each other!”