651 ARTS in Association with The New Black Fest presented Live & Outspoken 2012 Dominique Morriseau interviews Tonya Pinkins to kick off the festival on Monday night at the Malcolm x & Betty Shabazz Center. The New Black Fest, formed in 2010, is a theater collective committed to celebrating insurgent voices within the diverse African Diaspora through theater, music and discussion. The New Black Fest is a gathering of artists, thinkers, activists and audiences who are dedicated to stretching, interrogating and uplifting the Black aesthetic in the 21st century.
I was so happy to attend this event with my fellow sisters from the current show I’m in, Children of Killers. Sisters supporting sisters 🙂
What a delightful evening it was. Two beautiful, smart and talented women who’s bios actors dream to have. It was so refreshing to hear these women keep it brutally honest about where we are today as women of color in this business. Dominique, whom made it clear despite her success as a playwright, (two time NAACP Image Award, 2012 PONY Fellow) she is also an actress. She opened up the floor discussing the surge in African American women playwrights and their influence on American Theatre. Shouting out Katori Hall whose works are being the most produced at this time.
Tonya Pinkins, single mom, activist,and author who has 35 years in the business with accolades a mile long, spoke on the present need to oppress women and men not wanting to hear the women’s perspective despite our successes. Ms. Pinkins is known for her frankness which led Dominique to segway on the important notion of the strong black woman vs being labeled the black bitch. Tonya gave such insight on her career and the difficulties she has faced. “Once you decide what you want, the universe steps up to support you”, Tonya tells the audience and reminds us not to say NO to ourselves. Despite being labeled “difficult to work with” , she has such tenacity and drive and continues to soar! She stated, ” Its not that I’m difficult to work with, I just know what I’m worth. I set my price. If you don’t want to pay it, you don’t want me, and that’s okay. I will move on. I’m okay with that.” They went on to discuss the POWER of the Actor. Tonya stated, “Even as an actor we are picked. There is an anointing that happens with all of us. We all know talented people but the powers that be choose. The Powers that be in the business try to keep OUR price down. Actors don’t feel valuable, hence their threshold is weak when negotiating.” In a business where we feel at the bottom of the totem pole and replaceable every artist has to know what their nuisance value is. (JEWEL MOMENT)
Several jewels were given by Tonya & Dominque. Twitter was on fire. Here are the gems I loved!
“You will get good work once I am in the room, but you are going to have to meet me on my terms to get me in the room. I am very clear that I can be replaced, but you just won’t have me.”
“You can be a personality or an Artist. I’m more interested in being an artist and creating humanity”
“A lack of success is not the problem, it is merely a symptom of what is going on inside of you.”
“When someone tells me no, It’s clear that its no for you, but does not mean that it’s no for me”
“You can’t argue with reality – you have to make a different reality.”
“A lot of times in this business people don’t want your brilliance, they want you to put your brilliance on their stupidity.” -George Wolfe
I walked away from this event with such fervor. I am an “actorpreneur” Letting go of the mantra that success is only measured by the model of Broadway, Big Hit TV Show, or Awards. I have success, and will continue to create success in my career! Reminded how important I am! How Powerful I am!
The New Black Fest is running until Saturday October 13th- Check their website for more info: http://www.thenewblackfest.org
Check out Tonya Pinkins Website: http://www.tonyapinkins.com
Follow Dominque @domorisseau