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Nation Builder Interpreter - Lydia Broadnax

Nation Builder Interpreter - Lydia Broadnax

Colonial Williamsburg
Williamsburg, VA

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Who We Are

Founded in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is a private, not-for-profit educational, historic, and cultural institution that owns and operates one of the largest and best-known museum complexes in the world. Our mission is “that the future may learn from the past” through preserving and restoring 18th-century Williamsburg, Virginia’s colonial capital. We engage, inform, and inspire people to learn about this historic capital, the events that occurred here, and the diverse peoples who helped shape a new nation. Today, Colonial Williamsburg is the largest living history museum in the U.S. The Historic Area is the 301-acre restored colonial capital with 88 original buildings and 525 buildings reconstructed to how they appeared in the 18th century through extensive archaeological, architectural, and documentary research. The Historic Area is staffed by highly trained, historically dressed interpreters and expert tradespeople who bring the 18th century to life. The Foundation also owns and operates two world-class museums, the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, The Bob and Marion Wilson Teacher Instituteand a renowned research library, the John D Rockefeller Jr Library. Additionally, Colonial Williamsburg is home to five world class accommodations at the Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg Lodge Autograph Collection, the Griffin Hotel, the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotels and Suites and the unique Colonial Houses in the Historical Area. Visitors may also indulge in food and drink at our many on site restaurants and taverns that blend a historically inspired dining experience with today’s evolved tastes. Each year over 5 million people visit Williamsburg and another 20 million engage with us digitally.

About the Position

Nation Builder Interpreters portray a significant historical figure of 18th century Williamsburg in interpretive programming, improvisational interactions, and theatrical performances in and outside of Colonial Williamsburg’s historic area, using a variety of sophisticated presentation techniques and interpretive themes. They engage with and educate guests from all walks of life and make relevant connections with diverse audiences. They serve as a resource on their character and role model in the fields of interpretation, scholarship, and guest relations. Nation Builders work collaboratively with people and departments across the Foundation to achieve the mission of Colonial Williamsburg and be an ambassador for the Foundation.

Research and portray Lydia Broadnax, a woman enslaved to George and Elizabeth Wythe, who received her freedom, owned her own business, and participated in important events of America’s founding-era history. Her life story is an important element in Colonial Williamsburg’s exploration of the meanings of freedom.

Utilize extensive primary and secondary source research, sophisticated presentation techniques, and interpretive themes to develop, produce, and perform meaningful programming that sparks insight and understanding of Williamsburg’s—and America’s—founding-era history.

The successful candidate must be able to convincingly portray the specific Nation Builder. They must be charismatic on stage and with individual guests both in and out of character, develop and maintain extensive scholarship and research, and create and perform a wide variety of programming that connects with guests of all ages and backgrounds and meets interpretive goals of the Foundation.

Essential Functions:

  1. Research and analyze primary and secondary sources to gain an extensive and in-depth knowledge and understanding of Lydia Broadnax, her diverse 18th century world, and the themes/universals that defined her existence.
  2. Portray Lydia Broadnax, and other historical figures when needed, in scripted scenes, outlined presentations, and impromptu interactions. Engage with guests possessing various levels of pre-existing knowledge in a variety of settings in and outside of Colonial Williamsburg’s historic area.
  3. Develop, produce, and perform meaningful, thought provoking, engaging programming based on primary resources, contemporary research, and general historiography all tied to relevant topics for modern audiences.
  4. Work with historians, marketing, development, digital, special event staff, and other departments to advance the mission of Colonial Williamsburg through onsite, online, and special programming.
  5. Provide elevated donor engagement and represent the Foundation as requested, including developing and presenting programming for specific audiences, both in character as well as out.
  6. Contribute as an active member of the department and work collaboratively across the Foundation to create dynamic, inspiring, educational experiences for guests and a healthy and positive work environment for staff.
  7. Perform with positivity, flexibility, and resiliency in a changing work environment, and perform other related duties as required.

Required and Preferred Education and Experience: 

Required: Professional acting, presenting, or performance experience. Research experience. Writing, storytelling, interpretation, or teaching experience. Guest service experience. Combination of education and experience comparable to a four-year college degree and five years of related experience

Preferred:  Experience developing historical and theatrical programming. Experience presenting and discussing sensitive topics such as slavery, racism, religion, politics, American Indian experience, and gender issues.


  • Able to credibly portray Lydia Broadnax, through appearance, deportment, and mannerisms.
  • Interpretive skills- including ability to research and synthesize information, to think critically regarding storytelling and education, to present programming on sensitive topics, and to make relevant connections for guests
  • Knowledge and understanding of American history
  • Acting skills- including improvisation and ability to work from a memorized script, good sense of timing and blocking, excellent projection and vocal skills, and versatility to adapt to variable performance environments
  • Possess strong writing skills to develop credible and engaging programming.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, including demonstrated consistency in establishing and maintaining cordial, positive, and productive relationships with co-workers and guests.
  • Ability to work independently and take initiative within guidelines and procedures
  • Ability to multitask; organizing and recalling vast amounts of information, including preparation and presentation of upcoming programs and details of scheduled events.
  • Ability to adapt to a changing work environment and perform effectively and professionally under pressure.
  • Ability to work a flexible schedule including evenings, weekends and holidays
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Colonial Williamsburg

Management Company

The Colonial Williamsburg Company has been driven by the same core values since 1930, when the ideas were first established by Williamsburg Tavern and Ordinaries, Inc. With a new formation of hotel properties, the opening of the Williamsburg Inn by Mr. John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1937, we’ve hosted and entertained guests from across the globe with our rich history and impressive collection of amenities.

Today, we offer gorgeous guestrooms & colonial homes, over 20 food and beverage outlets, three championship golf courses, a 30,000 sq. ft. spa wellness & fitness center, and a retail shopping district – all supporting The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s education mission and historic preservation. By utilizing our relevance, craftsmanship, courage, and inclusion we’ve continued to fuel our passion in providing captivating experiences for our guests and rewarding opportunities and benefits for each of our trusted employees. And as an Equal Opportunity Employer, we embrace diversity and incorporate culture to unite our team and ensure that we always exceed our guests’ expectations.