Good afternoon, YouthMundees!
Hailing from a long line of proud Caribbean ancestry, Mickalia Forrester-Ewen was born and raised in what she describes, “the best borough of New York City: Brooklyn!”.
A recent graduate from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Drama and a minor in producing, Mickalia’s primary focus is acting for film and television. Mickalia’s multiple talents in her field, including singing, writing, and producing, were all honed due to her intense attraction to art that pushes boundaries, asks its audience to discuss politics, and focuses heavily on diversity.
What inspires you and your creative process?
“Like many people, watching different mediums of art inspire my creative process, whether it be a painting, a movement piece or a movie. I love watching old films, international cinema, and iconic shows from my childhood. I usually use this content, reimagining it and using it to fuel my writing and acting.”
“On another note, my creative process is inspired by artists who, in a sense, paved a path for themselves. I'm talking about the woman who created her own YouTube web series, that eventually turned into an Emmy nominated HBO series, Issa Rae. Or those the two extremely talented sisters, Chloe and Halle, who continuously posted song covers and ended up becoming Beyoncé’s apprentices. I LOVE BEYONĆE. Anyway, all this to say, I am inspired by people who take control of their destinies and continue to fight for their craft even if they're the only one fighting.”
What is the connection between your art and social justice? Why?
“As a black woman on a screen, it is hard not to have political influence or impact. Whether I know it or not, my face, my presence, and my voice send out a political message. And I'm okay with that. In this age of heated political debates and messy hierarchy, I feel that it should be every artists' duty to speak about the injustices, tyranny, and social issues among communities. With my art, I am dedicated to sharing the voices of underrepresented people and making sure they are not displayed distastefully or in a way that perpetuates harmful stereotypes of people of color, immigrant communities, and queer culture.”
What inspired you to pursue acting? What were the challenges you overcame in this?
“I have always wanted to perform or create something...food, paintings, a mess in my bedroom. I also knew I wanted to entertain, make people feel happy, or scare people (I'm really into horror) and more recently making people uncomfortable using: my political content, my intriguing smirk, or an intense soundtrack behind experimental visuals to take someone out their comfort zone for a bit and challenging their thoughts and beliefs.”
“One of my main challenges pursuing acting was not having the money or social support to get started. When I first realized my passion for acting in middle school, I did not have the financial resources to go to acting camp or take acting classes, there wasn't even an acting program at my school (and there never was for me until I got to college).”
“Frankly, everything was too expensive, especially living in NYC. They may have been free programs, but I never knew of them and neither did the people in my community. What is an actress or a performer? It was always, get you a degree and be a doctor. My family, coming from the small island of Grenada, a population of a little more than 100,000 people, did not know how to support my artistic endeavors one bit. The ideas of auditions, callbacks, unions, and production were all foreign concepts to them. And to be honest, it still is. I'm not mad about it or complaining about it because it's something that tested my love for the craft and made me work extremely hard to be where I'm at. So, in a sense, I love being challenged by this! This everlasting struggle has made me the determined person I am today.”
What’s been the most rewarding part of being an artist for you? Do you have any advice for future artists?
“The most rewarding part of being an artist for me is being able to produce 'change' in every sense of the word. As an avid movie-goer and TV watcher, my life, morals, and actions are very much determined by the media I consume. And as stated previously watching different art forms fuels my creative passions. So, realizing that I have the ability to influence and encourage someone’s passion or goals is the most rewarding for me.”
“During my sophomore year of college, I performed in an experimental Cabaret performance that shared music and stories of the early 80’s bringing awareness to the AIDs epidemic and other social issues that were occurring around the time. After the show, I received a plethora of comments some of which took me all the way out! One lady said I made her cry so hard. I made someone cry with my voice. someone cried because they heard me sing, like what? Also, another audience member said the experimental piece brought him back to when he was in his early 20’s and made him reminisce about all the hardships and triumphs he had during the time as a gay man of color. We held a thick conversation about how politics have transformed over the years and he thanked the entire class for bringing back such an imperative story from his younger years. Our art made him feel, I love making people feel!”
Has today's current political climate affected your art in any way?
“The political climate has encouraged me to produce more work of my own. Although I love being in front of the camera, I know how imperative it is to have artists of color in the writing room, directing and working on set. Hence, I have taken it upon myself to learn about editing, producing and lighting, bringing POC voices in numerous aspects of the entertainment world.”
Thank you for your continuous support and love,
Lots of love, #Team IVA
Interview conducted & written by Veronica Velez