What drives your work, what is your why?

My why is nurturing and being the example young women of color need in the Arts. I didn’t have close examples, so my why is cultivating my purpose and making an impact for brown girls to grow and develop in the Arts. This has paved the way for my own non-profit, SHE IS ART. SHE IS ART is a non-profit that exposes young women of color to diversified fields within the arts. It is a shadow based initiative that allows working professionals to be shadowed for a day and to gain experience and exposure in the specified field. Being involved in the Arts has allowed me to find my purpose. Being an example and having an outlet in the arts through my non-profit is my “why”.

What is the moment/event/situation that inspired you to enter the field you are in now?

I always sang in church, my whole life. I was in academia, undergrad, and I was working for NBC 5 Chicago when my supervisor at the time encouraged me to pursue acting. I never knew it was possible to have an actual career in this field. To be able to be on stage or in front of the camera was like turning on a light switch. I felt at home and it came natural to me. I love the craft, the script analysis etc. It truly has helped my personal and professional growth in the arts.

What do you believe best prepared you to be successful in your career?

Patience! I have hadto understand patience and timing. Having an “I want it now” attitude won’t get you too far. Learning to listen has helped as well. It’s essential. Also, life experiences, heart breaks, lost loves, broken friendships, and loss has had a way of allowing me to understand how to relate to life and translating from scripts to match my experiences have prepared me tremendously. I’m STILL learning how to live life and the truth of that makes me NOT the best actress I can be, yet. There are still some experiences I haven’t had in life. Once those experiences happen, I can relate better and portray and convey what is needed through my work on stage and in front of the screen. LIFE IS THE BEST TEACHER. You HAVE to go through rough patches to know what it’s like to truly come out on top. Identifying who you are is the BEST preparation!

Who is the mentor that has made the most impact in your life and why? What was the best advice they gave you, and how has it stuck with you throughout your career?

Taron Patton. Hands down! She is the Executive Director of Congo Square Theatre founded in Chicago. The company has so much history and prestige and she gives me so much advice on what it’s truly like. She understands me as a PERSON and not just a performer and calls me on my mess! She is a great and SMART businesswoman. The best advice she has given me was to make sure my mind stays strong. I’m not easily manipulated and she has told me that some casting directors or directors period, may not take to that characteristic because it means they can’t offer you “any contract”. I think having a certain level of intellect helps in this field as well and she has truly shown me how to understand OTHER people’s wants. Once you understand the wants of someone else, you can gauge what you’re willing to give which leaves the ball in your court. This has stuck with me for years and allowed me to leverage my career in a way I never would have imagined!