London-based actor, singer, playwright, and activist Stephen Hart has been serving as an inspiration to others for many years now for bravely baring his trauma and truth in his work. In 2009, Hart created a critically acclaimed off-Broadway show called Shadowed Dreamer, which addressed his living with HIV as a result of a brutal sexual assault four years prior. The show recently enjoyed a 10-year anniversary revival in New York City in 2019.
Since first writing Dreamer, the gay artist of color (born in Scotland of British and Puerto Rican descent) has become a beacon of light not only in the theater world but also for sexual assault survivors, those living with HIV, and basically anyone who has ever felt like an outcast.
When we contacted Hart to let him know he had been chosen as one of our Amazing People of the Year, he had coincidentally just gotten home from a read-through of a play he’s been working on for two years “about a group of friends living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in 1995.”
“It feels unbelievable! I keep thinking that you sent the email to the wrong person,” the multi-talented 49-year-old says with a laugh. “Being a creator can be a lonely job sometimes, so knowing that what I have done has made enough of a difference to someone that they took the time to put me forward is a complete honor.”
Hart also has a YouTube series called Hart Talks, “a place where people can talk, tell their stories, laugh, cry and watch me make a fool of myself from time to time.”
Of his proudest accomplishments of the last year was “writing a play and having real actors bring these characters to life,” as well as celebrating “five years of my YouTube channel. I am very proud of what it has done over the years.”
“I never started out looking to become a leader, I just wanted to make the journey a bit easier, and less lonely than it had been for me back in 2005,” says Hart. “I was drugged and raped, and my world just came tumbling down around me when this happened — but then six months later [when I found out I was HIV-positive], I felt the air leave my body…. Eventually I realized that I had to make my body start breathing again. This took time but with the help of writing my one-man show…I realized that I had a voice and I had to use it.”