Singer/actress Thomasina Petrus answers our 10 questions

Race is very much on the mind of singer/actress/cashew brittle mogul Thomasina Petrus these days, partly because of who she is and partly because of the play she appears in.

“The Gospel of Lovingkindness” is a ripped-from-the-headlines drama about two mothers — played by Petrus and her co-star from this winter’s “The Color Purple” at Park Square Theatre, Aimee K. Bryant — whose lives intertwine when their sons are involved in an incident of gun violence. The play’s themes hit home for Petrus, who has two teenage sons.

“That stuff is real. My sons are 14 and 16, so it is the age where we’ve been having these conversations where we have to introduce them to — well, we’ve had to have the driving-while-black conversation. Black parents have to do this with their sons,” Petrus says. “As the mother of young, black men, I have to try to have that conversation with them in a way that doesn’t dismantle them, emotionally.”

That is the tricky part, says Petrus, who lives with her husband, Charles, and their sons, Charles Jr. and Kobe, in Minneapolis’ Powderhorn neighborhood — not far from Pillsbury House Theatre, where “Gospel” is being staged.

“He’s a giant but he’s only 14. He is innocent and he is the sweetest kid ever but the way he looks, other people might not be sure,” Petrus says of Kobe. “It’s so hard to tell your sweet baby boy that he now, to the outside world, is going to be this thing. And it’s hard, when he’s just going to walk four blocks to Powderhorn and we have to remind him to bring his phone and to be respectful and to do all the things we’ve told him to do. By the time we’re done, he’s like, ‘Should I even go?’”

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