I have fallen in love with the imagination. And if you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere, and it can do anything. - Alice Walker
In a nutshell, who is JaMeeka? The Artist and The Human
A baby-sibling; My mama's youngest child. A crying ass, creative ass Cancer born at the end of the ’80s! Outside of theatre, I enjoy partying, getting my nails done, naps, shopping, good food, reading & road trips!
Momma to a curious, funny, high-strung, Roblox -playin' affectionate yet often aloof 10-year-old, Aquarius kid who believes in Unicorns and don’t play about her mama.
Lord of the Ring and Hobbit trilogy’s super-fan - like, I could spend an entire Saturday watching the extended editions of each film and it is the best day of my life.
Proud Member of the Beyhive. Beyonce is the GOAT. and I aint gon’ argue with nobody about it. Country Music is my 2nd favorite genre of music. I’m from the South, what can I say? My favorite artists to listen to typically falls somewhere in sub-genres of hip-hop.
Black people are the source of my inspiration. I love us in all our kaleidoscopic ways. We are the currents and currency of culture! Know your worth!
I like Shakespeare, a lot, yes. I have a genuine interest in his plays. With his work in the public domain, as an artist, I love the opportunity it offers me to remix, reimagine, and completely change the lens. I love the conversations this exploration can inspire. I imagine it’s what music artists feel when they get to cover and vocally reimagine and rearrange great songs from the past or by artists they've admired.
Nothing in performance has the ability to remind me of my connection to humanity, the depths of my capacity to emote, feel, and be touched by live theatre, like works by contemporary Black playwrights and new works. I want to direct more plays by Black playwrights.
I LOVE my family and my home city (Durham, NC) in a very transcendental way. Neither ain’t perfect-sometimes I don’t like either one of them. And yet, everything I am as an artist, a human, a thinker, I owe to them, and to my rearing in the Southern Black church.
This is me in a nutshell. more on my origins as an artist below...
Here are some of my best-loved photos that I feel capture the essence of me and folk I love
The Makings of an Artist
my hometown, a scrappy, charming city full of intricate history and secrets, home to some of the most intriguing people with unique stories and sometimes mystery, is going through the stages of "revitalization". When I was younger my friends and I craved more things to do in the city, often speaking disparagingly, saying how wack and boring it was. Now the city has much more to offer. I'm excited about its future and to be a part of its growth yet often find myself frustrated and worried about our economically oppressed as development increases and prices rise -I find myself missing what it used to be. Throughout my entire adult life, I've moved fluidly between loving Durham and hating it, wanting to leave it, then leaving it and longing for it. Introspection of this tension has resulted in interesting archs' for me that continues to expand moment to moment. Just like in an enthralling play, our stormy relationship led me to take risks and have to make emboldened choices, like moving to NYC with $1,800 when I was 20, and has ultimately shaped my character and triggered meaningful discovery.
With my cousins I learned how to use my imagination and to be adventurous - none of our homes were luxurious but we were innovative and could entertain ourselves for hours. We built forts out of blankets, acted out our perceptions of adult life playing "House" when we'd take on characteristics and mimick adults we knew. We, just like the adults in our lives became experts at resourcing something out of very little. Since my adolescence, I recall being very perplexed by the complex nature of humans, and the curiosity began with the adults in my family. The dynamics of their relationships/interactions - the different tactics used to pursue their wants and needs (from each other and their children) and how they varied based on circumstance or who was in the room; and how completely transformed one could be after buying new outfits and taking a trip to the Beauty World, barbershop or salon. This directly correlates to how I connect with contextualizing, acting techniques, and my interest in the subterranes of the human heart and mind.
I woke up to “holy ghost” "spirit-filled" Sunday mornings. It was during Sunday school, through scriptures, where I first became intimately linked to and reflective of text and fascinated with a use of language unique to how I spoke. Following Sunday School was a soul-stirring charismatic service with a “word” preached by a woman pastor whose robes were museum-worthy. The synergy between her and the piano player/organist accented her movement and amplified her efficiency behind the mic and on her raised pulpit. Her soulful interpretations and rousing delivery of god's word were tailored directly to the needs of her congregation. The impacts were evident when hundreds of people rose to their feet wanting to get saved. The structuring and design of theatre find very similar parallels in churches. From the setup of a central visual focus to the placement of the audience/congregation, elaborate robes; song and dance; programs and committees, and more often than not, they both lean on the community's benevolence to survive. It's been a while since I've attended church but its linkage to my career path is clear. Memories of my pastors' ability to stir and ignite with words, even when condemnatory, live among the most masterful I've EVER seen.
These elements are more than just an external auxiliary of my craft or an entertaining story to share in interviews but are the backbone of my artistic expression and ability to see the value/ imagine art out of/in everyone/thing. It's given me a unique yet resonant vantage point from which I hope others can also access and relate to acting and dramatic structure, And it has positioned me to reflect and pushback on current theatrical traditions and conventions that continue to reinforce structural impressions of who/what qualifies as artists| art. All things considered, my experiential knowledge has only been enriched by the research and scholarship of formally-trained and academically associated practitioners. I share admiration for all the ways that call folks towards this art form. After all, It was my 8th-grade technical theatre teacher who handed me my first plays- they were Fences by August Wilson; Wedding Band by Alice Childress, and The Second Mrs. Tanqueray by Authur Wing Pinero. He was a gray-bearded white man, but he saw me. And I am grateful.
Thanks for reading all the way down here. Let's touch base soon!