A Little Background
I’m from Gary, Indiana which, at the time was the start of my theater experience in so many ways. We couldn’t listen to any secular music, dance, watch cable or rated R movies (at the time, there weren’t any ratings, but stuff like Porky’s or National Lampoon was out of the question). I am the second child of six girls. No boys in the family. And don’t even ask…both of my parents had all of us! Anyway, as a kid, we used our imagination a lot. From our basement puppet shows in the doorway of our laundry room, singing in the fan (“Transformers, more than meets the eye”), watching old musicals (Bye, Bye, Birdie, and anything with Doris Day as the lead), karate flicks, homemade movies with such original classic theme songs like “Sit back and relax and eat your blood!” (Really, I’m not making this up.) We’ve learned how to play wood wind instruments to string, to even six…no five part harmony (Danielle really couldn’t sing, bless her heart!).
Follow the Leader
As a kid I remember wanting to be the the leader in everything we did. If were playing school, I wanted to be the teacher, actually i wanted to be the principal so that i could carry a paddle and smack people around. If we were playing doctor, I was the doctor, the lead cop in Cops and Robbers. I even formed my own presidency in 4th grade. I became president of my class and made paper desk tags with my name on it. I had a VP and other subordinates. You’d think that i was in charge, no thanks to the mean cousins Arlena and Norvella Smith but that’s a whole ‘nuther story, and this one is winning in length.
It was my momma who had her hand in getting us to do this stuff. My mom was great at coming up with ways to make our home more “artistic.” We didn’t have the means, to go to all of the plays, dances, or museums at all. As a matter of fact, I only remember one play that I actually went to as a child. And that was at eta Creative Arts in Chicago. I remember sitting in the front row, trying not to enjoy myself. Mainly because I was afraid that if I “got into it” then I’d get a big whooping when I got home.
High School & College Years
By the time I made it to high school, I became enthralled in chemistry. I had no intention of being on the stage. I was a quiet, smart alec nerdy, high school student. My first production in a play was The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe. When I got on that stage, something transformed. I was made anew, like being baptized in holy water!
In college, it began as an acting class here and there and turned into a major. I felt empowered, important and I had a voice. My freshman TA told me that I should consider directing. She said I had such natural instincts and if I channeled it right, I could be a brilliant director. I started a theater company while I was in school and went on to produce 5 plays while I was there. I lived on the 9th floor of the library because that’s where I could find all of the black plays.
I’m not the typical theater person. I didn’t go to any acting schools, summer camps or anything related to acting. I was a natural ham. I asked my mentor why do people do this “theater thing?” My mentor says that people fall into three categories; The Spiritual Enlightened “Called” Theater Artist, The “I’m-Actually-Good-at- Something,” Artist or lastly the “This is Just a Job!” Artist. This is my calling, it was written in my journey, long before I arrived.
What Can this Site Do For You?
I’ve envisioned this site as a place solely for DIRECTING! I don’t know if you know this, but there aren’t really any sites dedicated to the art of Stage Directing. This site will be a place for directors, artistic innovators, visual artist, actors, and designers to find out what really goes on in a directors’ head. There will be videos, interviews and podcasts. Thanks for reading my trip down memory lane and how I’ve made it here. Check back for daily information! The Boss has Spoken, see you soon!