Editor's note: Chicago high school student Ireon Roach was featured this week in a New York Times story on actors and their experiences with the work of playwright August Wilson. This story was originally published by DNAinfo in May of 2016.
EDGEWATER — It's a long way every day from Englewood to Edgewater, but Senn High School junior Ireon Roach turns those lemons into lemonade — or art, rather.
The 17-year-old South Side native participates in Senn's Fine and Magnet Arts Performing Program, and she's been writing, creating and performing art since she was 2 with no plans of stopping soon.
This week, Roach did what most high school students could only dream of: She skipped the ACTs for a whirlwind trip to Broadway to perform a three-minute monologue on stage and hang with the casts of "Hamilton" and "The Color Purple."
She took home the first-place prize for her performance at the Eighth Annual August Wilson Monologue Competition, with the support of teacher Joel Ewing.
It was hardly Ireon's first rodeo — earlier this year she showed off her spoken word skills at Louder Than A Bomb and has been in other acclaimed Senn productions.
She said she's inspired by everything from day-to-day life, to social movements like Black Lives Matter to the budget crisis at Chicago Public Schools.
She also looks within, she said, and draws from her experience as a young, creative black woman moving between the city's polar ends while upheaval, change and protest swirl around her.
Get to know her below, and see how this Chicago teen is touching hearts through art.
Watch Roach perform her award-winning monologue:
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