October is shaping up to be interview month on '83 To Infinity! This one has got to be one of my favourites, simply because I absolutely love the work this woman creates. When you get to tap the brain of someone who has long inspired you, the resulting info becomes more than just another blog post - it becomes something personal. trey anthony, the comedian/playwright/actress/producer/artist extraordinaire will be back in Toronto this weekend for her Millionaire Artist Workshop, and I HAD to feature her on '83TI.
Her play, I Am Not A Dinner Mint was the first artist outing I took when I moved to Toronto, and the experience has stuck in my mind ever since. From there, I saw her amazing play 'da Kink In My Hair, and cheered for her when 'da Kink was picked up as a television series! trey has the gift of portraying women in all of our strong/intelligent/vulnerable/sensual intricacies, and her work always touches me. Did you know that trey is also the 1st African-Canadian woman to have her own show on a primetime network? Yup - she did that.
Another thing that trey does is give back. From mentoring to volunteer work and more, trey is consistently supporting the community and helping to inspire the next generation of content creators. The Millionaire Artist Workshop on October 20th is trey's latest gift to those of us who want to make our dreams reality. But without further ado, here are trey's thoughts in trey's words!
Introduce yourself to the '83 To Infinity readers! Tell us 3 randomly interesting things about yourself.
1) I have a library card on me at all times that I actively use.
2) I meditate every morning.
3) I love anything with chocolate - especially chocolate ice cream!
Writer, producer, actor - what inspired you to live such an artistic life? Were you always headed down this path, or did you make a career change to follow your passions?
I’ve always been interested in the arts and noticed from a young age that I am talented in this field. I love connecting with an audience. Because of this, I would say that I was always headed down this path. I maintained side gigs such as admin jobs, etc. to pay the bills but I always knew what my bigger picture was and what I ultimately wanted to do. The jobs that I took on outside of my field were mainly to sustain myself and fund my dreams.
I've personally seen 2 of your stage productions, I Am Not A Dinner Mint and 'da Kink In My Hair. Both are extremely empowering, woman-centric works. What were your motivations behind the creation of these productions?
It’s very important for me to give womyn of color a platform to talk about issues that are relevant and important to us. I was motivated by this bigger purpose and belief in myself and my talents. I knew I was good and that I had something interesting and unique to share with audiences. Not even to be conceited, that’s just the damn truth!
You're lauded as the first African-Canadian woman to have her own show on a prime time network. Having 'da Kink on TV was INCREDIBLE for me, to be able to see stories and people that resonated clearly with my experiences. How did the move from the stage to TV impact you? What lessons did you learn from the experience?
The main lesson that I learned was to always have a clear vision of yourself and your work. You need to know exactly what your brand is and what you stand for. I discovered just how powerful of a medium television is. In some ways it taught me to be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. This is because there were many things that I loved, including the ability to actualize my dream. But, there were also many things that I wasn’t prepared for. I didn’t realize that in television and being a part of this huge network that there would be so many people who would be involved in the decision making and a part of your creativity. Coming from creating, writing and producing things on my own previously, I wasn’t used to that.
Later this month, you'll be hosting the Millionaire Artist Workshop, featuring yourself and a number of expert panelists helping artists to realize their potential. Can you tell us some more about this event? What will attendees get out of it?
The Artist Millionaire workshop was sparked by a need, I receive so many emails each week from artists asking for advice on how to be successful and make money from their craft. I want to teach people how to, as one of my favorite artists Jay-Z famously declared in a song, “Not a business man - I’m a business, man”. Being a creative entrepreneur is a hustle that needs to be done smart and run like a business, even if you are just operating it yourself from your home.
The workshop will give attendees a sense of how to go after their dreams, knowledge of what this industry is about through stories shared by myself as well as the group of industry panelists that I have gathered to speak at the event, and learn how to stick to your vision and silence naysayers. It will also be a great chance to network with big industry players as well as fellow like-minded artists.
Through mentoring, volunteering, offering workshops, and now offering an inside look at your success with the Millionaire Artist Workshop - you've been very active in giving back to the community. Why is that so important to you? Do you see enough similar support in Toronto's artistic/entertainment industry?
Giving back is important to me because I care about connecting with people and finding out what issues are relevant to them, what impacts the community. I also like to make sure that the work that I do is sensible to people - that my events are affordable and that there are giveaways so that this form of art is accessible.
I do see similar support in Toronto’s industry but it needs improvement. We don’t support each other all of the time. There is a level of competitiveness that is quite sad. I find that there is still a kind of “old boys’ network” in the industry as we don’t have as big of a network to support womyn, especially womyn of colour.
You've made it no secret that Oprah Winfrey is one of your biggest inspirations. What do you have to say to the people who view you as an inspiration?
Wow, I’m humbled by this. I hope I live up to their expectations. No one is perfect, put no one on a pedestal. You have to believe that you can be where I am because I believe that I can be where Oprah is. Trust your vision and don’t give up. The only person you should never give up on in life is yourself.
What's next for trey anthony? What goal(s) are next to be accomplished?
I am working on producing ‘Da kink in My Hair in Atlanta and bringing the voice of that play to an American audience. I would love to open my own theatre here in Toronto. I also see myself heading into the movie industry to produce a feature film.
Many, many thanks to trey for taking the time to answer my questions! Congrats to Jay, the winner of my Millionaire Workshop giveaway - enjoy the event! If you want to attend, head here to register: http://theartistmillionaireworkshop.eventbrite.com/#, and make sure you catch up with trey online:
And don't forget to submit your votes for '83 To Infinity in the Best International and Best Writing In A Blog categories for the Black Weblog Awards! Finals voting ends on Tuesday!