dA-Zed Guide: Jeremy O. Harris on theatre, family, Rihanna’s scent and more

As the US playwright makes his UK theatre debut with “Daddy”, he breaks down his life and career in an exclusive video with Dazed

In case you haven’t heard, Jeremy O. Harris’s hit play Daddy has finally arrived at the Almeida Theatre, marking the US playwright’s UK theatre debut. The process hasn’t been easy. Besides years of pandemic-related delays, the production has involved Harris fighting jetlag to travel between London and LA, at one point embarking on two transatlantic flights in the space of 24 hours. That probably explains why Americanos occupy the first spot in Dazed’s A-Z profile of the playwright (he drinks five a day on average, FYI).

Elsewhere in the dA-Zed guide, Harris shouts out the main stars of his first play in London – Terique Jarrett (who plays a young, Black, gay artist named Franklin), and Claes Bang (an older white art collector, and the eponymous Daddy) – alongside his mother and sister, and acclaimed collaborators.

D, of course, is for Daddy itself, which was penned prior to Harris’s Broadway hit Slave Play. “Daddy is a very, very important play to me,” Harris says. “It’s the first full-length, three-act play I ever wrote.” Daddy originally premiered in NYC in 2019. “It was a wild year to premiere a play,” he adds. “Not only was I still in grad school, but I had just had this play [Slave Play] that had been top ten best plays of the year in every major publication. There was a lot of pressure on this play when it premiered in New York.”

Working through the alphabet, Harris arrives at Fenty (as in Robyn Rihanna Fenty, as in Rihanna), whose effortless success served as a formative inspiration. Oh, and he can confirm the rumour that the musician smells amazing. “The only scent I’ve ever had a deep attraction to was Rihanna’s scent,” he adds. “She actually has this encompassing smell. I met her for the first time in a chocolate shop, so chocolate was everywhere around us, the smell. And yet all I could smell when she walked through the door was her scent.”

For a complete rundown of Jeremy O. Harris’s life and career – including touching tales from his childhood, and the “cultural differences” involved in speaking the N-word onstage in front of UK audiences – watch the full dA-Zed guide above.