OK, First and foremost, I did NOT watch the Tony's yet. I'll watch it eventually.
Now that that is out the way, I want to reflect on my theatre experience as a woman of color.
I have not had a dying desire to perform and audition for musicals as much as I have in the past. I would almost say I am falling out of love with musical theatre, but I don't think that is the case. I think I'm just uninspired at the moment. There aren't any musicals that catch my fancy right now. For example, I have lots of friends who love Hamilton. Now- and this is just my opinion so don't hurt me- I don't care for the music. If I get the chance to see the musical some day, I might change my mind- but for now... I just don't like it and I'm personally okay with that.
I am also aware that my growing disinterest for musical theatre has mostly to do with me still living in my hometown where the theatre pool is now, to me, so small that I don't feel like I can grow anymore. I have to remember that the companies I work for are, first and foremost, a business. And the clients (the audience) is first priority because they are the ones who are paying to see these shows and giving their donations and all the things that keep everyone employed. Which means the business has to do shows that the audiences are going to come see. Which, unfortunately, means I will more than likely only be seen on one of these important stages as a stereotypical black woman character/role. And I'm tired of that.
But we all know I'm a creative and love performing in many other ways than just the stage, so I have been working to channel my creative energy elsewhere. I have picked back up playing the piano more regularly, I am in the process of creating youtube content, I want to interview and create discussion topics/talking points with content that most folks aren't comfortable talking about. I want to begin painting, drawing, creating music, etc. I've been inspired by the Childish Gambino's and Janelle Monae's of the world. That's the type of creative energy that's been locked up in my brain for far too long. I've only once or twice been able to emote some of those thoughts and ideas out to others on stage these past couple of years.... but now I want to use my time and energy to focus on that more. I'm so excited for what is to come.
I'm ready to be creative for me. Not for anyone else... just me. I'm ready to use art to express my life more. I feel confident I can do that without much thought. If I think too hard, it never comes out right.
I've been having creative vibes lately. Decided to expound some of that energy today in creating and preparing this video for my naturalistas out there. There will be more to come in the future. Especially when I get a faster-working laptop :P Enjoy.
Growing up, I loved sports- But sports didn't love me as much. I played volleyball, basketball, and softball. Of the three, I think I was best at softball. I was tall, which I always thought was the main factor in making the basketball team. Volleyball.. egh. I sometimes had good coordination, but I wasn't always successful with serving the volleyball over the net.
Anyway- I looked much older than I was for my age. I was the tallest student in my entire class til about 6th or 7th grade when the boys finally went through growth spurts. I didn't get as much exercise as most kids my age. And many of my summers consisted of staying home and watching TV/playing video games/etc. I was overweight and not very fit. I was active, and always desired to be more active like a lot of my friends at the time. I just wasn't fit.
I had grandmas and family members that fed me anything and everything I wanted. I remember exactly when I started becoming overweight. It was around 1st grade and I had discovered homemade sandwiches. It was a simple bologna and American cheese sandwich with mayo, mustard, and ketchup on bunny bread. My grandma would make them for me, and I would always come back asking for more because they tasted so good. I could tell I had gained weight significantly in 1st grade because I have seen photos of me during my kindergarten graduation and my end-of-the-year 1st grade ballet recital. Big difference. No pun intended.
Fast forward to the beginning of high school- I tried out for the junior varsity basketball team and didn't make it. Come spring of that year, my physical education teacher, John Mayer (If you're out there somewhere reading this, THANK YOU), convinced me to join the track team. AAAAAnd the rest is history. I became fit, my eating habits changed with no fuss, my body transformed, I craved salads for the first time in my life. It was wonderful. That was twelve years ago.
These days, I still keep up the same fitness habits I picked up whilst on the track team. It has become second nature for me to do some form of physical activity 2-3 times a week. While in college, I utilized their gym and, in the process, quickly found a love for Zumba and fitness classes that were held there (but especially Zumba.) My college is also right across the street from a beautiful park that has a running/walking track of about 1.5 miles. So I ran there on my breaks between classes.
I'm now four years out of college and am still going strong with my fitness journey. The only addition I have nowadays that I didn't in high school or college is that I have now began to utilize weight training because I really want to look and feel good with and without clothes on. Also, I am like a lot of people and want to train to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. Also, I want to set a healthy example for the future kids of the world, including my own. ALSO, in my line of work and the gigs I pick up, it is crucial for me to be healthy and trim. ALSO, I like feeling good, and exercising gives me that. Quick shout-out to Brattain Sports Performance (BSP) and Footprints To Fitness for being the anchors of my post-college fitness endeavors!
Now that I've said all of that--- In case anyone wants to follow a similar routine, or are just curious to see what I do to maintain my physicality, below is my current weekly fitness routine. It's quite simple:
1) TWO TIMES A WEEK MINIMUM
2 miles or 20-30 min jog + five min walking break either in the middle or at the end of the run.
- If you want more of a challenge, sprint for about 50 yards every 5 min, then return to jogging.
2) TWO TIMES A WEEK
Weight training at BSP varies from session to session, and I have a specific program designed to allocate my needs. I'm currently lifting weights, TRXing, rowing, slamming med balls, swinging kettle bells, pushing sleds, slamming hammers, and the list goes on and on. But if you're just starting out, it's as simple as getting familiar and comfortable with the basics before you get to use the fancier equipment. So basically... and I be missing something... Squats, Pushups, Pull-ups, Leg lifts, Reverse Crunches, Bicycles, and Planks.
Once you feel solid with those core fitness movements, you can move on to the fancier stuff.
Writing about fitness has made me hungry. Go figure. Time to take care of that.
Becoming Equity has, so far, been a double-edged sword. I'm finally protected by the union, but this now means, at least within the city of New Orleans, it will take much more time, energy, and auditions for me to get hired. I'm itching to leave the city and work elsewhere. It's been a goal of mine for a very long time. Financially, it has not been in my favor to move to a more Equity-friendly city just yet. I've been vigorously working on making this goal a reality since I graduated college four years ago. I'm just taking a little longer than I had planned, and that's okay. I'm still growing and learning along the way, and that's all that should matter. I had to learn quickly not to compare someone else's journey to my own. Everyone's journey is gonna be different. No one has the same path as to how they got to where they are. . . Everyone's story is unique. So when I'm feeling discouraged, I remember this. I remember that my season is coming. But I have to be ready for it when it gets here.
With that being said, I guess I didn't realize I would have so much more downtime after joining the union. I'm completely okay with it though. It's giving me time to work on my craft and re-visit the basics. Has it been discouraging? Yes. Have I wanted to throw in the towel? Absolutely. But I know my true potential better than anyone, and I see nothing but success in my future. I am equally aware that I will hear more No's than Yes's. Nothing worthwhile in life comes easy. It only takes one "Yes" to change someone's life for the better. Until that time comes for me, I'm gonna enjoy the journey there.
List of things I'm doing in my downtime to prepare and maintain is:
- Exercising (running + weight training)
- Clean eating
- Voice lessons
- Acting classes
- Dance classes
- Gathering media for my reel I'm working on
- Researching and learning new songs for my book
- Researching monologues
- Supporting local theatre/Attending local performances
- Conversing with fellow theatre allies about their journey
+ I focus a lot on my craft in musical theatre, but I am interested in putting my foot back in the door doing TV/film... ESPECIALLY if this downtime continues to linger on for a bit.
+ I've also been interested in taking modeling more seriously. I love taking pictures and being able to show off different personalities through what I'm wearing, how my hair is styled, or where the location of the shoot is. I'm feeling as though I am more of a print/commercial model right now- but that could change. All I know is that I enjoy it and it's another outlet that doesn't feel like work to me.
+ I've ALSO wanted to get back in the studio and record again. I enjoy bringing a producer's vision to life. I also like playing around and creating catchy melodies and eargasmic harmonies.
+ I might venture back into painting/drawing too.
There's so many things I want to do.
Funny how time flies.
I have been doing some serious soul-searching the past few months. In the midst of it all, I've finished another show, traveled a few places, auditioned for numerous companies, achieved physical health goals, prioritized my mental health, and joined the Actor's Equity Association. I'm excited to join and am very eager to land a gig soon, but I am aware that it does get a bit more difficult to find work because of my new status. Working primarily in New Orleans currently is a little tricky now. Hopefully I'll land an out of town gig soon :) Until then, I'll just keep working on auditioning and gathering up video clips for my long-overdue reel.
On another note- I admitted myself into a mental hospital a few short weeks ago. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. It was important that I was finally able to get the help that I needed so I could become my best self. While I was there, I focused on what I could do to make myself better and happier/fulfilled. I met wonderful people who helped me discover that and created ever-lasting memories. One thing I took from there in regards to my profession is that I found comfort in knowing that my love for performing transcends any mental health diagnosis. It is because of music, acting, dancing, singing, inspiring others through what I do, etc. that allows me to have purpose. I give myself to the ones who are ready to receive what I have to offer them. It heals me when I can heal them.
If I'm able in the future, I will go into more detail about my time at the hospital, but I think, in regards to me blogging about my journey, it is important for whoever is following it to know about what is shaping who I am now and what I am to come.