Nonbinary Actor Antonio Beverly Talks ‘TINA’ National Tour and Why Black Women Are Simply The Best
For eight shows a week in the North American Tour of "TINA—The Tina Turner Musical," Antonio Beverly steps into the role of Ronnie Turner, the son of the iconic Grammy award-winning singer, opposite Naomi Rogers and Zurin Villanueva, two actresses tasked with sharing the physical and emotional demands of playing Turner four times a week across the country. "TINA" will play Atlanta's Fox Theatre February 21-26.
An uplifting comeback story like no other, "TINA – The Tina Turner Musical" is the inspiring journey of a woman who broke barriers and became the Queen of Rock' n' Roll. Also starring in "TINA" is Garrett Turner as Ike Turner, Roz White as Zelma Bullock, Ann Nesby as Gran Georgeanna, and Lael Van Keuren as Rhonda.
Beverly, a Baltimore, Maryland native, who identifies as nonbinary and also understudies the role of Ike Turner, joined the national tour last fall. They spoke to 2.0 about the responsibility of telling Turner's story each night and how the Black women they share the stage with have become an extension of their upbringing in Baltimore.
"I predominantly grew up around women," Beverly says. "My mom and my grandmother built such a safe community for me growing up and made sure that my transition from Baltimore out into the suburbs was safe for me to be free and to be myself," they said. "They encouraged me to get into any and everything. And I remember as soon as I moved out into the suburbs, I fully came into my queerness because I found art in such a profound way because of my family's support. And I know a lot of Black boys don't get that."
Beverly tells 2.0 that their family never had any "qualms surrounding their queerness" but acknowledges the distance between their father and other men in their life compared to the Black women they revered.
"I don't have the closest relationship to my father, but whenever I see him, it's like, 'I'm proud of you.' My father has always been distant," Beverly says. "And I think, in a way, it has created this freedom for me just to be who I am."
"I have always felt so detached from men in a protective sense because I have had so much protection from these strong Black women in my life for so long that I didn't need anything else," they said. "They crafted a space for me to be free, so I wasn't missing out on anything I never really had."
The Fox Theatre stop on the "Tina" tour marks Beverly's return to Atlanta in over a decade. They tell 2.0 that the entire cast is excited about bringing the critically-acclaimed show to the Black Gay Mecca and are ready to roar on stage and, quite possibly, off.
"I'm not trying to get in trouble now! "But I am excited," Beverly says through laughter.
One critic described "TINA" as "mind-blowing and life-changing." It’s not a surprise, but Beverly agrees with this review.
"Telling her story is such a healing and powerful way to perform live theater," they said. "A strong Black woman is a strong Black woman, is a strong Black woman. Tina makes all of these possibilities limitless."
“TINA—The Tina Turner Musical” runs at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre from Feb. 21-26, 2023. Tickets can be purchased here.