JL: Give us a little background on where you’re from originally, where you grew up, and how you ended up where you are now…
TB: I am a native of Boston, MA. I grew up in Dorchester and have lived there for the better part of my life. Right now i'm living across the street from Fenway Park which wraps up my trilogy of Boston living pretty well.
JL: Why did you decide to get into theater? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
TB: It's really funny actually , while I found theatre at a young age it wasn't something that i was particularly interested in. I remember being ridiculously shy from grades 1-7. I suffered from extreme shyness I legit didn't speak, it was crippling. Then for what ever reason in my 8th grade year I decided to perform a book report for the book 'Maniac Magee' in the style of Siskle and Ebert' with a classmate and we tore the house down, which in 8th grade lingo means we got a few girls to laugh and got some guys to stop pencil fighting for a few moments. My english teacher Elizabeth Craig saw it and pulled me aside to tell me that I should really think about doing theatre. She handed me an application for a school I had never heard of called Boston Arts Academy. The rest is history.
JL: What is unique about being an artist where you live?
TB: The most unique thing about being an artist where I live is that the streets are literally running with inspiration. Boston is the classic big town with a small town feel and I love exploring that. Sometimes the highlight of my day is just sitting by my window and listening to all of the organized chaos that is going on. From pick up lines to politics Boston really gives you an interesting palat to chose from if you ever need it.
JL: You are an actor and founder and head writer at ARTiculation Starting an arts organization isn't easy. What inspired you send what do you hope to accomplish?
TB: Whenever someone asks me how or why did I start ARTiculation I always give the same answer, change. One of the benefits to going to an arts school at such a young age is that you are exposed to a lot of theatre. I had the privilege to go to a lot of shows that were touted as 'leaders of the new school' and the 'voice of the youth'. While I loved all of the shows there was this glaring contradiction looking at me at the end of each curtain call and that was the fact that these productions while being amazing were written, directed, and performed by people who were in their late 30s early 40's. So at the age of 17 I took a hard look at theatre for my generation and decided to add my own piece to the playing field by creating a show that truly would be the voice of the youth because it would be written, directed, and performed by the very audience that we were trying to represent. We have been going strong for about 7 years now and our mission has changed quite a bit. We have gone from 18 year olds who just wanted to do a fun show to 25 year olds who are standing on the edge of taking control of spoken word theatre in the city of Boston. At the end of the day I really just want to be in a position where I can open doors for young artists the same way they were opened for me.
JL: You're also an arts educator at Urban Improv, which sounds really cool! How did you get involved with Urban Improv and what keeps you there?
TB: In terms of Urban Improv it's my dream job. It represents my two worlds or teaching and theater smashing into one another. The thing that keeps me there is knowing what other jobs are like and how fortunate I am to be a part of something so important and special.
JL: Who nominated you to be a Young Leaders of Color Award Recipient?
TB: My high school theatre teacher Juanita Rodrigues.
JL: What excited you most about taking part in the conference and the program?
TB: The thing that excited me most about taking part in the conference was the chance to meet a lot of different people who were in my field but at completely different levels. The opportunity to pick a lot of brains was very exciting to me.
JL: What was the most valuable lesson you learned from the conference?
TB: When I heard Seth Godin say "Don't strive to be heard when your here. Work to be missed when your not." during his session I really took that to heart. That quote really made a huge impact on me because as a young artist everything is right now. It's hard for me sometimes to think of a plan that goes beyond a year because everything just needs to happen so quickly for me and I need results now. So to hear someone say slow down because the real results are going to come when you take a step back from it was just awesome.
JL: What are some of the challenges you have faced as an artist of color? What have you learned from these experiences?
TB: Being severely underestimated. I am 25 years old with a resume that rivals most working professionals who have been doing it for much longer than I have. But at the end of the day in many circles i'm just a kid. So I have had a lot of experiences where people have decided to lowball me or not show me the respect I deserve by just generally having the mantra of "he's young and black so he should be grateful for whatever we give him". I love those experiences though because the second I get into a classroom or on stage and show people what I can do and what I can bring to the table I am always respected at the end of the day.
JL: What advice do you have for other young artists of color in the theatre?
TB: Acknowledge and revel in the fact that people don't expect that much from you. Use that as a springboard to excel to levels no one could of even thought was imaginable.
JL: What’s up next for you and where can keep up with your amazing work?
TB: A lot. The past year (especially after TCG) has been a very big shift for me artistically and I'm finally investing myself in a few projects that have been taking the back burner for a bit. I'm shooting my first animated short, doing a lot of ghost writing, continuing to full court press with ARTiculation, and putting the final touches on a secrete project that I can't let the world know about quite yet. But if you want to keep up with me the best way is to just find me on Facebook and send me a friends request!
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!