Good afternoon, YouthMundees!
At YouthMundus, we aim to not only be a platform for music, film and global change, but for the artists and global changemakers who create them. Our Artist Spotlight series aims to create a space for discovery of new, budding global talent, while simultaneously offering you an exclusive glimpse into their creative process. In this week’s edition, we’re extremely excited to feature TroyElan, an emerging actress and comedian based out of New York City!
Unlike many artists, TroyElan Richardson found her passion for acting and comedy after a series of failed attempts at sports: “I decided I wanted to find a hobby that I enjoyed, you know, something I might actually be good at.” Eventually, TroyElan did.
After exploring a variety of hobbies in the artistic field, she landed on acting: “I started acting in high school and it just continued until college.”
Graduating from NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, earning her BFA in acting, TroyElan looks towards the future: “Only a few months out of school, I stumbled upon comedy. Comedy was never something I thought I would do. My friends would even say, ‘Your funny, but you’re not that funny.’ I like challenges. So I decided to put them to the test.”
The perfect opportunity materialized in the form of Women Stand Up, an emerging comedy group that helps women hone and debut their stand-up sets for the first time in front of a live audience; “I performed my first set with them on September 19th. I thought it would be my first and last endeavor into the comedic world, but the outpouring of support I received from my friends has encouraged me to pursue comedy as a part of my career.
What inspires you and your creative process?
Representation as a young black woman has been my biggest inspiration. As a kid, I was inspired by other performers I saw on television. Raven Symone was a big one. She was one of my first introduction to seeing a young black woman on television who was not only an actress, but a singer and dancer as well. Nowadays, I am still inspired by other great actresses like Phylicca Rashaad, Angela Bassett, and a very long list of incredible actresses.
In terms of the work I create, I am inspired by storytelling. One of my favorite parts of acting, is how you are able to share a completely new perspective on life and sometimes and old perspective. At the moment, I am very interested in the new wave of black art being created. Much of the new work we see today portrays a new narrative for the young black person in ways we haven't seen before. I am intrigued by this new storytelling and this new perspective of humanity. I think the best work is truly the most honest. As a performer I want to continue to share the honesty of humanity.
What is the connection between your art and social justice? What is the connection between your comedy and social justice (if there's a difference)? Why?
For me as an artist, social justice means inclusion and representation. As I said, I think it is important to share stories from all walks of life. And I like to work on projects that allow space for new stories to be heard. As a black actress and a black comedian, I know that my presence on stage is very important. I would like to inspire other people to get up and create art that is honest, reaI about the black experience as other actors have inspired me. I believe comedy to be inherently political, because you have to have an opinion on something. I am still figuring out my flow as a comedian, but truly my goal is to tell honest stories. I want to be truthful about my presence in the world in a way that is relatable and funny. It is important that people laugh and have a good time. So I want to share stories, that although everyone cannot personally experience, they can enjoy and understand.
What inspired you to pursue comedy and acting? What were the challenges you overcame in this? I have always had a passion for performance. So I have always loved storytelling and getting the opportunity to share a small piece of someone else's life on stage. It truly amazes me that as an actress, I get the privilege to step in someone else's shoes and share their story. I think in that way, it is an honor to be an actress. But on a lighter note, I really do love to make people smile. Comedy give me the chance to share stories that make people laugh. And although I never saw myself becoming a comedian, I enjoy just standing on stage and having fun with the audience. In both types of performance, I have found that the hardest thing to do is to be brave. It is challenging to get up and perform knowing I may fail. But it is also the most rewarding part of both.
What’s been the most rewarding part of being an artist for you? Do you have any advice for future artists? I think the most rewarding parts of performing is knowing that I made someone feel something new. After a show, if someone comes up to me and says they had a great time watching my work or they were moved by the story of the character, then I know that I did my job. If I get the opportunity to make someone feel seen and heard then I have been successful story teller. And I truly have so much fun doing it! My biggest piece of advice would be to have so much fun. As an artist we are giving the tools to express ourselves in so many ways. I hope everyone in the world get the chance to do work they absolutely love and have fun doing it.
Do you have any advice on how we can support emerging artists of color? Create, create, create! At the moment, I have so many friends building new projects for their fellow artists of color. They have allowed us to enter space with a new narrative written for POC.
The best way for us to support each other is to keep making space, entering fields where their are not many of us and creating the room we deserve in this industry. I think it is important to remember that at this point in the world, if one of us succeeds we are all on the come up! So we need to support each others work by building our communities, creating our own work, and attending our performances as much as we can.
TroyElan’s next show will be on October 29th at The Pit, and in her words: “we’ll see what happens…”
Thank you for your continuous support and kindness.
Lots of love, #Team IVA
Interview by conducted & written by Veronica Velez