Please tell us your story! How did you get to where you are today?
Where to begin! I grew up watching dance movies and I loved singing. After realising my dream of becoming a gymnast was no longer in alignment, I decided I wanted to become an actor after doing my first musical in primary school. I loved the idea that there was a space where I could combine my love for singing, dancing and acting all in one. When I started high school, I did the musicals every year and fell more in love with it. At that time, doing the school musicals was my training. I studied music and theatre in VCE as well. After I graduated, I went into first year at the VCA and sadly, due to covid, I spent my entire first year learning online at home. It wasn’t ideal, and that year definitely pushed me to reflect and rethink what I wanted to do. I took the following year off, and decided to train in dance full time, while focusing on healing my physical and mental health.
The plan was to return to VCA after my year of deferral to finish my last 2 years, but then I saw auditions for Hamilton come around, and I thought, I have to try out. After I found out that I was being cast, I left uni and my job at the time and here we are!
Why did you want to get into the music industry?
I was used to a lot of change in my life, but art was always a constant and my love for it never wavered. I realised pretty early on in my life that I was a creative and music and performing healed me in so many ways. The more energy I invested into my craft, the more I realised how this was a way I could express my true self, and I could create impactful work.
Do you feel that higher education is a necessary step to enter the music industry?
No! I think it’s a great option if it’s available to you and/or it feels in alignment with you, but I don’t think tertiary education is necessary to be where you want to be in the industry. There are so many workshops, casual classes, books and online resources you can use to make your way into the industry. I would say that training/studying your craft in a way that is specific to your goals is important, and for some artists, that specified training doesn’t look like/involve tertiary education.
A lot of what I know started from observing and studying the artists that I look up to, reading and listening to work that inspires me and involving the art of play into my practice! I feel like my work is most meaningful and honest when it is rooted in a deep understanding of who I am – how I learn things, how I see the world, how my body and mind translates/absorbs information etc.
Let’s talk about the highs vs the lows of your career. What is your greatest achievement? And are there any moments you would like to share that you learnt greatly from?
I’m blessed to say that I’ve had many moments in my journey so far that have felt like major accomplishments. Winning the AOC Initiative scholarship was a big highlight in my life. I learned the importance of pushing past self-doubt and putting yourself out there. Landing my first principal role in my first show (which has been a dream show of mine for a long time) also felt like one of greatest achievements. It was something I never expected to happen so quickly. Those alongside other great moments have inspired me to continue dreaming big and trusting myself. I’ve had my fair share of lows too, and they have taught me the importance of resilience and being gracious with myself as I figure things out.
Who has been your biggest champion in your career?
My mentors and those I consider family. They always believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and I could always turn to them when I was struggling or felt lost. I owe a lot of my success and knowledge to them.
What is the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
You truly must be your own biggest fan and your biggest supporter. From prioritising your health to setting boundaries, you must do everything in your power to protect yourself and know that you deserve better. you can be in a room full of people who don’t believe in you but honestly, as cliché as it sounds, none of that matters when you really believe in yourself.
How we see ourselves and talk to ourselves echoes the kind of life that will manifest. Heal on the inside and love yourself so deeply that the life you envision will become your reality – its just a matter of time.
What would you tell your younger self if you could tell them anything?
No dream is too ambitious and to trust your intuition more. What you envision for yourself doesn’t have to make sense to everyone and it will probably be misunderstood by some. It doesn’t mean you should ever settle or believe this makes your dreams less valid! You are fierce, loved and divinely protected. Rest and recharging is just as important as working hard, so take more time off and enjoy living. Be more gracious towards yourself, it is okay to be the work in progress that you are!
What is your big picture career goal?
Honestly, I would just love to be able to do this for as long as possible. My goal is to pursue a diverse range of creative ventures and to create work or be a part of work that creates deep impact. I never want to be defined as one type of artist or person, because I am many things and I love to express myself in many ways. I want people who see what I do feel inspired to go after their own dreams and know they are deserving and in fact, implored to take up space, especially to all the young black creatives out there.
Tokenism, Colourism, Discrimination & Representation are extremely important issues that are lightly discussed in the music industry, particularly in panels.
As a BI&POC artist, have you seen positives that have come from those discussions? Do they delve deep enough? Is there anything missing from the conversation?
I think the more we delve into and discuss these issues as an industry, the better the awareness, which is great. But words followed by inaction are just words. The question is, do producing companies and creators of shows listen in to these conversations and follow through with a suitable course of action? From what I have seen, it’s usually BIPOC artists unpacking these issues and speaking in great detail about their experiences, which is beautiful. But I would also like to see more discussions led by non-BIPOC folks who are the ones producing and funding shows. I would like to see their involvement and whether or not they want to be a part of changing how the musical theatre industry is here.
Do you think the Australian Music Industry is where it needs to be in regards to diversity? If yes or no, what would you like to see?
I definitely think we have made some major strides in the past few years, but we still have a long way to go. The fight for diversity isn’t just for casting. It extends to the creative team, the production team, the management team and the crew. It’s beautiful to finally see ourselves being represented on major commercial shows, however, what are these major productions doing behind the scenes to protect the black and brown folks who are cast? Those in higher positions, those who call the shots and are the people you go to when you seek protection, support and guidance in a major show, I would like to see that body of people be comprised of a diverse range of people. I would like to see a more diverse range of crew hired on to shows, especially hair and makeup artists.
How does Australia compare to international markets when it comes to BI&POC representation in mainstream media?
We have made major strides, but I believe we can still do so much better. In regard to musical theatre, there are still many shows that are predominately or all white cast which, frankly, is quite disappointing. We often see a return of major musicals but the casting doesn’t always reflect the amount of BIPOC artists that are in the industry.
What does true allyship look like to you?
Allyship involves a lot of listening and self-reflection/self-awareness. Listen to those who speak on issues that affect their communities and make use of the thousands of resources available today to educate yourself instead of asking others to educate you! No harm in asking questions but be considerate and prepared for the fact that not everyone has capacity to educate or explain what they have to go through every day. Be conscious of your own privilege and how that plays a part in your perspective. Be more welcoming towards opportunities to learn how to do better and leave defensiveness at the door. Allyship involves a lot of unlearning for some, and in that case, it is important to acknowledge mistakes or a shift in perspective when presented with new information. It’s okay!
What is performance activism? How can allies in the music industry best support BI&POC artists and avoid performative activism?
Performance activism to me is when people talk or show support towards social justice issues in a way that is inconsistent, when it is in support of the stance of an issue that is seen as the “majority,” without the person doing their own research/active listening, or when supporting a stance on an issue that could benefit the person in anyway. Performance activism can be easily identified for me, when someone has previously spoken on an issue, but when the matter is brought up again, often at a time when it becomes more dire/pressing and voices of support are more important than ever, the person chooses silence or to abstain showing support entirely. Hence why a pattern of inconsistency is a huge part of performative activism.
There isn’t one way to show your support and be an ally. I do believe however, to be an ally, your actions must be rooted in deep self-reflection. You must unpack your privileges and do your own extensive research without relying on information being handed to you by BIPOC. Be a part of conversations that may be uncomfortable and use active listening. Analyse the structures that are in place at your work, home and/or social environment and reflect on how your privilege may grant you an opportunity to dismantle them to be more inclusive, supportive and reflective of the diverse people who actually live and create in the world today.
What does a BI&POC safe space look like to you?
If I use the example of a theatre production, for me, it involves seeing BIPOC in the cast, crew, creative team and production team. Now, it is not enough to see BIPOC in just the casting. Having a BIPOC advisor/consultant/counsellor on board would also be nice to see. Someone who is well versed on the types of issues that may arise in productions, whom BIPOC can liaise with and confide in – a person with the same authoritative power as the producer. That way, when these discussions are made, we are comforted that it will be taken seriously and will be followed by a tangible set of actions. It will also be communicated with
the appropriate channels and hopefully, allow folks the space to focus on what they actually signed up to do.
As an artist what is important for you as an artist to see at your shows when it comes to audience engagement, what message would you love for them to take away?
I want to encourage BIPOC artists who come and see any body of work that I am a part of to take up space and know that they are so important. Never be limited to the box that is often created for us, that tells us what we can and can’t do. Your blackness is power and you decide how you want to show up in the industry. whatever you choose to do, know that means a great deal to someone out there watching you.
What advice do you have for BI&POC folk who are coming up in the industry, particularly in your line of work?
Immerse yourself in a wide range of art and take your time refining the vision you have for yourself. Invest time in your skills and don’t focus on what everyone else is doing and where they are at. Our journeys are uniquely personal, so treat yours as such. Observation will be your best friend. Observe everything and be attached to nothing. Embrace failure and mistakes because you will have many moments of this and the lesson through these moments end up being the most pivotal. Prioritise rest and filling your cup outside of your work. This is not an easy career and you only get one body, mind, and spirit in this life – listen to her and treat her with your deepest love. Most of all, be gracious with yourself and kind to others as you navigate this industry.
What was it like growing up & experiencing the industry outside looking in? Now that you’re in it, what has your experience been like?
I knew pretty early on that I wanted to be a performer but I didn’t really see many people who looked like me on the stages here. I kept training and teaching myself but the industry always felt a little out of my reach because of that. there were times were I felt discouraged and debated pursuing something else, but honestly, I didn’t find myself being aligned to anything else. Now being in the industry, it feels a little wild to be honest! I guess it still doesn’t feel that way sometimes because I’m still new and constantly working on bettering myself. I would say my experience has been quite unique and unexpected. I never thought I would achieve the things that I did in such a short time and learn things the way that I had to, which was mostly on the fly. It has been a joyous, difficult, exciting and surprising journey so far. There were lots of tears and lots of celebrations, and I look forward to having many more.
Most people don’t see the mountain of work that goes into your art till you’re towards the peak, what was the hardest obstacle you’ve had to overcome as an artist?
I started training quite late and didn’t always have the financial stability I needed to invest in the kind of training I wanted. Sometimes I felt like I was playing a big game of catchup and often spent hours teaching myself a lot of things. Thankfully, I had mentors who were incredibly supportive and helped me get the training I needed in whatever way I could.
Then, when I entered the industry, I felt like being the youngest and having the most “non-traditional” training experience, I guess was viewed as an obstacle. I know my capabilities were questioned because of these factors. There were a lot of times where I felt like I had to prove myself repeatedly. Until I released that mentality and spent more time learning how to trust myself. So, at the root of it, I think my biggest obstacle was myself. I can be a perfectionist sometimes and there were times where I compared myself to my peers and downplayed by abilities. I am slowly learning to embrace the work in progress that I am and
to celebrate the gifts that I do have. Ive been working hard to stop dimming my light just to be digestible to others!
Self identity & imposter syndrome are issues women in the industry struggle with. Have you faced this issue? If so/not, what tips can you give to encourage others to stand in their truth?
Of course! I’ve experienced this so many times and still do! What helps me get through it is surrounding myself with my loved ones who remind me of my strengths and encourage me. I would also try to ask myself why I feel imposter syndrome and try to get to the root of it. Once I figure that out, which is usually the fear of failing or not being good enough for something, I allow myself to sit in it for a bit, then introduce more loving/positive affirmations to replace the negative thoughts. I try to remind myself why I love performing in the first place, and that at the end of day, I have nothing to prove, and everything to share.
2024 New Year & new resolutions. What do we look forward to seeing from you in 2024?
I look forward to living my life in a way that is rooted in deep trust in my intuition. I can’t exactly describe what that will look like on the outside, but I know that each choice I make after I listen to my gut, is the right one for me. I look forward to expanding my artistry and learning more about my craft. I look forward to meeting/working/exchanging with more black and brown creatives.
What is your go-to Karaoke song?
Misty by Ella Fitzgerald