Ankitha Donepudi/MiC.

Lights, Camera, Action! As the sun started to set, crowds of students gathered on the Diag to watch their friends and peers light up the makeshift stage on the front steps of Hatcher Graduate Library. Students took the liberty of bringing their own blankets and snacks in preparation for the show. On Oct. 5, Michigan in Color hosted its first-ever annual Open MiC Night, a public event intended to showcase the talent of performers of Color on campus.

Ankitha Donepudi/MiC.

Before the show started, the Diag was already brimming with an excited audience. MiC Managing Editor Eliya Imtiaz, a Business senior, opened the event. She emphasized the importance of showcasing student artwork.

“We wanted to do Open MiC Night to amplify the talents of students of Color on campus and showcase that Michigan in Color, and to a larger extent. The Michigan Daily is for and by the students that it reports and covers,” Imtiaz said. “MiC is increasingly focusing more on multimedia and this event gave us a perfect opportunity to share the artistry of everyday students.”

Before starting the show, audience members were encouraged to check out the student organizations (Asian American High School Conference, South Asian Awareness Network (SAAN) and Thai Student Association) tabling around the iconic Block ‘M.’ These clubs promoted themselves to potential new members and spread their organizations’ missions.

SAAN is a South Asian identity-based social justice coalition that hosts trailblazing social justice advocates at its annual conference. Easheta Shah, Public Health senior and SAAN community relations chair, thought the event was a great way to interact with University of Michigan students. 

“I really hope (Open MiC Night) becomes an annual thing,” she said. “I think it’s really great to see so much community.”

In addition, the Thai Student Association advertised for their show, Thai Night, an annual festivity with exhibits and Thai food to celebrate their culture.

At 7:30 p.m., the performances began. Performers had the unique opportunity to showcase their talents, ranging from comedy skits to monologues to song and dance.

The show started with a stand-up comedy routine by LSA sophomore Joe Gailey. He said he felt like the event provided a judgment-free space for performers to escape the typical confines found in other places on campus. Gailey also said he was also grateful for the stage time that the event provided so people could share their craft. 

“Growing up, I was always feeling like I don’t (relate) as much as other very prominent Asian comedians that are out there, so kind of bridging the gap is something I am still trying to work on,” Gailey said.

Ankitha Donepudi/MiC.

During intermission, students explored the static art displays showcased along the edge of the Diag. Art & Design junior Nina Walker’s mixed media piece included a self-portrait to express the internal pressures she set on herself as she navigates adulthood post-pandemic.

“As a nontraditional artist, I was glad to share my work in a space where my pieces could truly be understood and appreciated,” Walker said. “I got to feel famous for the night. It felt nice to have my art on display in such a unique environment.”

Ankitha Donepudi/MiC.

Following an intermission, Business junior Roman Rhone performed two pieces on his steel drums: “The Girl is Mine” by Michael Jackson featuring Paul McCartney and a self-composed piece. Rhone said he finds the history of the steel drum empowering. Enslaved people in the Caribbean island of Trinidad created steel drums out of oil barrels after colonists prevented them from playing on normal drums. Rhone connected this resilience to the purpose of Open MiC Night.

“You can make beauty out of where you come from, so that’s why I enjoy playing here and sharing this space with everyone,” Rhone said. “It made me remember how much I love playing.”

Ankitha Donepudi/MiC.

LSA junior Kendall Grayson said it was beautiful to see students appreciating the art and talents of people of Color on campus during the show.

“It really shows all the love these people have for each other,” Grayson said. “It is not often when you get to see other people of Color represented in forms of art like this. I feel represented and reflected in the art that’s on the stage.”

Ankitha Donepudi/MiC.

Open MiC Night provided a unique atmosphere for spotlighting performers of Color and giving them an outlet to display their talents in a comfortable environment. Michigan in Color wants to thank all the performers and individuals who made this night so special. In the future, we hope to make this an annual event for student organizations to recruit new members and provide a space for performers of Color to showcase their art at the heart of campus. Thank you to everyone who showed up and to those who didn’t, we hope to see you next time!

MiC Assistant Editor Deven Parikh can be reached at