Lawrence Boys and Girls Club


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On Stage: Kiara Pichardo is a ‘Top Girl’

May 07, 2018

When she was a club kid, Kiara Pichardo says she received constant encouragement from the staff, especially Education Director Karen Kravchuk "who has always been my No. 1 fan."

Now a poet, painter, and stage, film and voice actor, Kiara is still buoyed by the club's support. In fact, Karen and Operations Director Billy Robertson recently attended a performance of "Top Girls" in which she played the roles of Kit, Shona and Waitress at the Huntington Theatre in Boston. She was the only non-equity actor in the cast of seven women in the production.

"Every time I had a different idea for my future, Karen was always up for it," says Kiara, now 24. "That still means a lot."

Kiara joined BGCL in the seventh grade at the urging of her aunt, Tere Veras, who is the club's registrar. She did her homework daily in the computer lab and education center, where she was given supplies for school projects that weren't available at home, and she loved performing community service projects through the Keystone Club. Kiara ate supper at the club each night, and during an especially hard time for her family, Program Services Director Manny Ayala gave her a donated coat. As a high school student, she worked as a summer counselor and earned three college scholarships.

"Those things all helped tremendously, but the club also gave me a purpose and a place to go every day after school," Kiara says. "My best friend and I literally lived at the club. It was our second home, and our lives revolved around it."

After graduating from Lawrence High School's Performing & Fine Arts Academy in 2012, Kiara attended Northern Essex Community College to study photography. After tagging along with her cousin who was auditioning for "The Beaux Stratagem" at Northern Essex, she came away with the role of Cherry and a new career direction.

Kiara was nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in 2013, 2014 and 2015. She earned an Associate in Liberal Arts: Theatre Option with honors from Northern Essex in 2015, and a Bachelor of Science in Communication Media with a concentration in Theatre with honors from Fitchburg State University in 2017. That year, she was awarded "Best Actor" at the Revolution Me Film Festival in Brooklyn, N.Y. for a short film she was involved in while at Fitchburg State.

Kiara, who still lives in Lawrence, says she was "super humbled and honored" to perform in "Top Girls," her first professional show which was directed by Tony Award nominee Liesl Tommy.

"I enjoy acting because I like being able to allow the audience to feel emotions they may not be comfortable showing around their family or friends. Comedy is great, too, because laughter is therapeutic not only for the audience but for me, too," said Kiara, who aspires to star in her own sitcom. "Life is so much happier when you're doing something you love."


Did You Know?

The Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence is the only club in the country (among 4,200) that has had four members go to the National Youth of the Year competition.