Abby Jean-Baptiste

Abby Jean-Baptiste headshot


Hi! My name is Abby and I am a rising junior from New York City in the English department. For my entire life, the arts have been a large part of my life and I am an adamant advocate for the power and importance of participating in and creating the arts. When I got to campus I knew that I wanted to be involved in the Lewis Center because I wanted to shape my academics and extracurriculars around the arts. I am primarily involved in theater but also enjoy creative writing. I am pursuing a theater certificate, and have taken at least one theater class a semester, particularly enjoying classes with a focus on how theater interacts with race and gender identities. Outside of the classroom, I have been involved with Princeton University Players, Princeton Triangle Club, Performing Arts Council, Grind Arts Company, and Theatre Intime. I have primarily participated in theater as a performer, but at Princeton I have been trying out various roles from producer to stage manager and most recently director, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed. This summer I am traveling to South Africa to research their black theater practices and theories. I hope to write an ethnographic play about the performance of blackness in South African theater before talking Introduction to Playwriting in the fall. I plan to continue focusing my independent work on black performance during my time at Princeton.

I am excited about being a Lewis Center of the Arts Peer Mentor because my time at Princeton has so strongly relied on the advice, support and friendship of my peers. It is very difficult navigating college on your own because everything is so new. The arts are especially challenging to become involved with because there is often a certain rhetoric and understanding expected. It was the guidance of people like my Princeton Preview host who made me feel comfortable getting involved with the arts. I think that a more formal way to get this guidance is very important because it offers a built in support system that students who are new to the arts can easily access. Something that has been most impactful for me is seeing older students involved in the arts who have similar racial backgrounds as me. I am biracial (black father, white mother) and growing up seeing a lot of theater, I rarely saw myself represented on stage. So coming to Princeton it has been most reassuring to see people who look like me doing what I want to do because I feel confident that I can also participate. I have learned that race and the arts have a very complicated and troubled relationship and being a non-white student of the arts is challenging. I hope that as a peer mentor, I can be a resource for other students to discuss these challenges and feel comfortable being involved with the Lewis Center.

Class of '18

Program in Theater

Residential College