How did you come of age as an artist? How did you come to your current practice?
I feel like I've had several coming of age moments as an artist. All of these small milestones that changed me, that made me the artist that I am. Like the first time I ever performed a poem. I was so afraid I had to sit down on the stage, I couldn't stand up. Or the moment that I totally forgot my whole poem in front of a crowded auditorium of about seven hundred people. Or the moment I tried to get a government job and realized when I wasn't writing I wasn't happy. I think that a few years ago, during a very cold winter in Chicago, I felt like something in my voice clicked. That moment was when I realized, in a lot of ways, the reason why I was a writer, why I was doing this. It was after a period of immense rejection, when I felt like I wanted to walk away or give up, and I found myself at the table again. Praise is a fickle little shit. We want it, but it can't be our fuel. If its our only fuel, we risk losing ourselves. I had kept putting myself and my self-confidence at the whim of other peoples praise, and I was destroying myself. I had to have a hard conversation with myself, about how I couldn't let anyone else tell me if I was good or not. If the work that I was doing was important or not. I couldn't let institutional acknowledgment define my idea of my success. Either, I was going to create or I wasn't. And if I was going to create, it would have to be for the communities that I came from, the communities that raised me. Once I had that, my voice clicked. I knew who I was writing for. I knew why I was writing, and what stories I was drawn to and wanted to tell.
What was the inspiration for your Open TV project?
The inspiration for Brown Girls is my relationship with my best friend, Jamila Woods. My relationship with Jamila is one of the most important relationships in my life. I've never seen a relationship like ours represented in TV or media. Usually when TV shows depict two women of color from different racial backgrounds, they are usually there to serve in contrast to each other, or to tear each other down. That's never been my reality. That's never been where my politics are at. So I wanted to create something that felt closer to my world. Also, being a person of color in America is so hard. Theres always so much heartbreak politically. I wanted to make something that could bring my friends joy in a politically turbulent time. Something that showed the beauty of the communities of color that I come from, not just the pain or the turbulence.
What’s next for you or your series?
I just finished a draft of Season Two, so Inshallah we'll have that to look forward to soon.