I often reflect on my life as a woman of colour who moved from my hometown, Windsor Ontario, Canada, in my teens, to reside in South Florida with my parents. During my college years at the University of Central Florida, I met my husband, which I attended twice, earning my Master’s Degree in Music Education and Performance. I taught choirs in Maitland, Florida, by day and sang professionally with the Orlando Opera Company by night. I left teaching to raise two boys. The opera company eventually closed its doors for good leaving me with no creative outlet. I needed one and decided to study acting.
The upside of acting? The acting part! Creating a character from the ground up for an audition or, even better, for the job!. The downside? We actors do not always book jobs even though we are more than capable of doing it. For instance, my very first professional audition was at age 12 in Canada. I auditioned for ‘Annie’ and knocked it out of the park in front of the director and an auditorium packed with Annie hopefuls and their accompanying parents.
In front of the packed audience, the director said to me, ‘I wish I could cast you as our Annie,’ while applauding vigorously and laughing. Laughter? Because in those days, no girl of colour would be cast as the iconic red-headed orphan. Was I capable? Of course? Did I get the part? No! I was cast as the orphan July and enjoyed the experience immensely, but from then on, I simmered with angst wanting to do have more power to do what I wanted creatively, on my terms, and not have to be held back by someone else’s biases.
I found the answer to that later in life. CREATE. Create plays, films, paint, draw, photograph, sew, write – creating creates more opportunities. Create when time allows because it is freeing and cannot be managed by anyone else but yourself and you!
I began to note how many of my friends and relatives were artists, specifically painters, who found joy using their creative gifts. I dug deeper and began to ask these women about their art and their lives. I witnessed creative women freeing themselves from whatever held them back in their past and instead walking confidently and passionately while embracing new promising chapters that awaited them. This examination culminated into a short film series about some of these women.
I wanted to major in drawing and painting but didn’t because I was told repeatedly I would not make money doing it. I believed it and gave it up. But I’m bringing it back, as a result of doing these films. Witness it for yourself. I hope it has the same transformative impact for you as it did for me.
I am an actor, classically trained singer, music educator, hobby wrestling photographer, filmmaker, and soon-to-be painter based in Orlando, Florida.