Here's the thing about singing: I LOVE to sing. "I'm using the word 'LOVE' here." (name that Jack Nicholson reference). Not hyperbole.
The Voice Memos on my phone is 15% audition dialogue and 85% my musical catalogue. My shower is my booth, my living room is my stage, my car... forget about it. It's a concert. My mother sings, my grandmother sings, one of my brothers sings. Fun fact: my father was once on the Apollo. (He never had a chance... You can't follow an ATROCIOUS gospel singer who's used up all of the audience's available patience and expect to get through a whole bar of a Fair Weather Friend by Johnny Gill if you're not Johnny Gill *rolls eyes*). Anyway.
You get my point. But I'm not really a singer. I sing. But I learned the hard way (from a brutal experience with a director) not to call myself a singer. I can't belt. I have short breath control and my range is about as short as Angela Rye's patience for that bullshit. But ask me to sing a jazzy something or other, a classic, or a bluesy standard and I will be all over it... That is, if it is me actually asking myself to sing for moi and no one else is listening. And I'll be damned if I'm not constantly asked to sing. It's my personal version of hell to be asked to sing for something important. Or heaven forbid a performance!
So, I have worked very hard to control what can only be explained by the worst version of stage fright I have known (outside of that one time when I couldn't remember the rest of my routine for a gymnastics recital at 7 years old.) My new response to the cringe-worthy, "Can you sing?" is now: "Yeah, I sing a little and dance a little."
And last night I sang a little. In fact, I created a melody for what will be something between a song and a chant for our Hollywood Fringe Festival show The Goddesses Guide: Adura for the Women of African Diaspora. I steadied my nerves, dropped the key, and used all of the power my little diaphragm could muster. And you know what? It sounded pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.
Pray for me though...
The world is incredibly small.
So, last night was rehearsal day one for a brand new show for the 2018 Hollywood Fringe Festival entitled, The Goddesses Guide: Adura For the Women of African Diaspora. (Info.)
This will be my first time back on stage for a theatrical--that is to say LIVE theater production--since I moved to Los Angeles 6 years ago to become a STAR!! (Kidding, not kidding.) I got all of the tingles remembering what it felt like to choose a monologue, memorize it, and actually hand a printed headshot and resume to the director on the day. Gave me all of the warm and fuzzies. Challenge: the monologue was to be prepared in a West African accent. Not a problem. My ancestors got me (dusts off shoulders).
I go. I act. I get called back. I go. I dance. I sing. I sweat. I leave. A few days later I get an email from my (very capable and definitely my junior) director, Camille that she would like to offer me the role of OYA. YASS! I accept.
Now, regarding this teeny, tiny, world we live in: I feel like I know the director. I think I even mentioned in the callback that perhaps she simply has a familiar face. I let it go. Truth is I feel this way all of the time--as if I know people, when I actually don't. And it can be a bit embarrassing, looking someone deep in the eyes searching for confirmation that we are already acquainted, only to be sneered at... because no one likes to be stared at by strangers. But I didn't really let it go. Before the end of the callback I offer that we've probably just auditioned together back in Atlanta where I find out she once lived. Good enough for me.
A few days before our first rehearsal, I find and add Camille on LinkedIn and discover that we have 1-degree of separation. Several years ago she interned for a theater where I performed many times. Okay, okay. We've definitely run into each other. I'm satisfied. At the appropriate time, we'll bring it up and have two seconds of the obligatory, "Oh really? Yeah. Oh, how funny." responses. It'll be a cute connective tissue, a way to build camaraderie. Such a small world.
First rehearsal arrives. My cast members are great, our stage manager, Bri, is my spirit animal, the choreographer has a warm smile and great eyebrows, the read-thru leaves me inspired! We talk about how there are no coincidences. They simply do not exist. This amazing show, with these talented people, about the Orishas is going to be electric, and we can all feel it. Camille looks me deeply in the eyes when she speaks... I KNOW THAT I KNOW her.
Rehearsal ends and I drive from Beverly Hills eastbound with a mission. I will crack this code... And I did.
While in Atlanta I supplemented my acting income with photography. I had a built-in clientele of actors needing headshots. So, as soon as I get home, I unearth my old hard drive, open a folder called Photo Gallery, find a folder named Academy Theatre, click the blue folder labeled Interns... and I'll be DAMN (by the way shout out to Kendrick Lamar for winning the Pulitzer Prize)!
Eight years ago I shot a small group of interns for Academy Theatre... one of which was a bubbly, young brown skinned girl dressed in yellow by the name of Camille Jenkins!
I copied the headshot to my dropbox immediately. Wait until I find the perfect moment to reveal our full-circle connection on Thursday...
enisha b jane
In my own words.