WINNER: 2020 Tennessee Williams Poetry Contest!

I’m humbled and ecstatic to announce that I won FIRST PLACE in the 2020 Tennessee Williams Poetry Contest! The annual prestigious contest is held every year by the Key West Historical Society as part of a week long celebration of renowned prolific American poet, playwright, writer, Tennessee Williams. 

Submitted poems must adhere to a specified theme each year. The theme for the contest in 2020 was “The Women of Tennessee Williams”. This could include referencing any of his literary characters or women in his personal life.

Having read most of his works, I was already familiar with many of his literary characters. So as background research to write this poem, I dug deep into the history of his personal life. That’s when I learned about the relationship with his sister, Rose. When I dove further into her history, I learned that she had quite the tragic life due to mental health issues. While they were close as children, their relationship was complicated throughout adulthood.

When he left his home to pursue his career, she was left behind. At her mother’s request, she was eventually lobotomized and kept in a mental institution, unable to function on her own. Tennessee was torn with guilt for what happened to her, which naturally bled into his art. In fact, several of his most famous female characters are based on her. Particularly “Laura” from The Glass Menagerie. He sent money to support her care for the rest of his life and visited her from time to time.

Based on this, I decided to write a poem about their relationship as one might observe from his point of view to answer this question:

If I were an omniscient observer, how would I describe what was in his heart about his sister?

The answer: “A Rose Without Thorns”

I’m so glad to FINALLY be able to share this fantastic news with you! I found out about it in early March 2020 just after the quarantine started. Unfortunately they had to cancel the festival, so they deferred the announcement to this year. Hopefully I’ll get to partake in the festivities with them at some point in the future.

To learn more about the Key West Historical Society and their annual Tennessee Williams Event, you can visit their website here: https://www.kwahs.org/education/twbc

Thank you for reading! ✌🏽👍🏽

#TennesseeWilliams #poetry #poet #artist #writer

Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award

Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award

Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award

I’m very honored and excited to announce that I was chosen as a The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award recipient this year! 

To read more about the Impact Award, you can visit their website here:
https://roddenberryfoundation.org/unreasonableconversation/#impact-awardees 

The grant from the Roddenberry Foundation will towards creating my new non-profit organization, “Cultural Cornucopia – Ethnic Voices on the Page”. I’ve got a basic website landing page up with links to social media: https://culturalcornucopia.org – Please follow the accounts to keep up with the organization as I put all the pieces together and get it going.

The organization will be a development platform for ethnically diverse, unproduced playwrights to get their full length stage plays off the ground 🎭  More details will be released in the near future.

I want to share how this all came down, especially during these extraordinary, tumultuous ties. So, I applied to the foundation’s website just before their deadline several months ago. I received an email a few weeks ago about being selected, just as the civil unrest and protests went into full swing. I was speechless at the confluence of it all. It’s a first step towards my push to change the system from the inside by supporting ethnically diverse storytellers. If true diversity and inclusion are going to make it onto our screens, stages, and pages, we need to champion diverse writers and creators. This is what Cultural Cornucopia intends to do.

Why did I decide to do this?

As a first generation American actor and writer of mixed ethnicity, the lack of cultural representation throughout all facets of the entertainment industry is something that has irked me since I was a child. Rarely, if ever, seeing stories and characters that related directly to me and my diverse friends created a dissonance within me that I still struggle to reconcile. Especially when those rare appearances were stereotypes, or worse, complete misrepresentation playing into prejudices of a myopic perspective.

I’ve been racially profiled on many occasions, which I believe is a result of ignorance largely due to this lack of cultural spectrum in media. The only way to combat this is to have more diverse voices creating content and telling stories. The America of today and beyond is a cornucopia of cultures and ethnicities and we’re way overdue for our entertainment to accurately reflect this wonderful array of diversity.

Both my parents were immigrants, in an interracial marriage. With my odd couple parents in the 1980s steering me through the trials and tribulations of childhood in the American midwest where I grew up, I often felt alienated. There was no outlet where I could truly escape to that related to me in a cathartic way in terms of film, tv, theatre. I eventually rejected my heritage for many years. I tried so hard to “fit in” by assimilating as much as I could. I would show them I could be one of the good ‘ole boy Americans, despite my unconventional pedigree.

Little did I know back then that my diversity was actually my greatest strength. It took me awhile to realize this, but I’m here now and I’m so passionate about telling stories from my particular background as well as encouraging and cultivating other culturally diverse stories.

This is my “Be The Change” skin in the game. What’s yours? Let’s get a conversation going about how we can contribute to #diversity, especially in media/entertainment. Feel free to comment on this post or any of the social media account posts.

Thank you for your support! ✌🏽👍🏽

#BeTheChange #theater #diversitymatters #diversityandinclusion #diversityisourstrength 💪🏽✊🏽🙌🏽