Exclusive Interview with Actor Sakinah Iman Smith! My name is Sakinah Iman Smith, or simply Sakinah Iman (meaning Tranquility and Faith), I‟m 23 years old and I‟m anActress/Vocalist/Spoken Word Artist from Brooklyn, NY. I love meeting new people, traveling around the world, and hearing/viewing new art forms. I dislike people who are very inconsiderate, and I really dislike knowing how much money there is in this world and then seeing millions of good people suffer simply because they don‟t have the means to take care of themselves and their family. I deeply hope that one day I can make a huge difference in the lives of many of those good people. What kind of art or performing do you do? I ACT on stage and in independent short films. I‟ve played many dramatic and comedic roles, from a sister who‟s lost her brother due to gun violence, to a crazy Jamaican lady who‟s an emergency telephone operator. I SING background vocals when I can for up and local and international artists . I HOST events that need a crazy, fun, bubbly person to show the crowd a good time and introduce some extraordinary talent! And I also WRITE Spoken Word pieces about almost everything, and I PERFORM them at local clubs and events in NYC. How long have you been doing this? I‟ve been acting, singing and writing since I was 9 but I‟ve only been performing professionally for the past 3 years now and I love it!
Where did your inspiration come from? My inspiration comes from Greatness. When I see people who Love, who Conquer, who Overcome when things were impossible, who break boundaries, who see greatness in people who are considered „less than‟, people who see NO difference in color of skin or social status, and people who see every person as a beautiful individual who can do anything that they put their mind to. In a world like this, people like that, are NOTHING BUT GREAT! my grandmother was Great, Martin Luther King, Operah, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandelah, Sean Penn, and many others are all Great. I strive for greatness, so that‟s where my inspiration lies. Do you remember the moment you fell in love with it? If so can you describe it? In 2007, my freshman year of college, I performed in the critically acclaimed play from Ntozake Shange, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow was Enuf”. I played the role of „Lady In Red‟ and I fell IN LOVE with the process of interpreting that character. It‟s such a beautiful and delicate thing to do, to build a whole person‟s mind and history through the words of characters in a play. She lost both her children and the only man she ever loved. She masked her sorrow by manipulating many different men; having them fall in love with her to then only break their hearts. That night when I played Lady In Red, I was so open and vulnerable on that stage, so much so that her helplessness actually brought me to tears. I discovered myself and all my true feelings through her. Before that night, I never felt more truthful and like myself, than I did in that moment on stage in front of all those people. I was saying her words, but evoking my true emotions. It was this epiphonic moment where I said to myself, “WOW, so this is what love feels like…”. Ever since then, I play all my roles with all my heart; I give the audience all I got, and it‟s a feeling that is absolutely irreplaceable. What drew you to this particular field/talent? I was drawn to the performing arts for the simple the fact that it‟s allowed me to rediscover myself and fall in love with humanity . All forms of art continue to show me how beautifully flawed we all equally are, and I believe that having that perspective is essential to living in this world while simultaneously having a peaceful state of mind. Tell us about your current projects or activities. I‟m currently (1) just finishing a street productions of Romeo and Juliet, (2) shooting a film by ITTAKS Entertainment entitled “It‟s Your Fault You‟re Single”, (3) performing with Brooklyn‟s finest Reggae band “Reggaelution” on Governor‟s Island on Sept 27th, (4) I‟m performing my original Spoken Word Pieces at “Katra” (217 Bowery Street, NY, NY) on Wednesday September 19th 7-10pm, (5) working with “Meta4ikal Minds” Production at their Spoken Meta4 events, recording my spoken word in the studio, (6) taking dance and vocal classes to stay sharp in this wonderful cut throat business, (7) and continuing to audition, audition, audition!! Which of your projects are you most proud of and why? One of my proudest projects was a play that I wrote, directed, produced and performed entitled “African|American”. The play was performed at Steamer 10 Theatre in Albany, NY under the jurisdiction
of Too Deep Entertainment. It was about 2 sisters (Zola and Brianna), who were both bred from the same parents, an African father and an American mother. Zola was born and raised in South Africa by her father, and Brianna in America with her mother. The play starts with Zola coming to visit Brianna in America, and the rest is history from there! Comedy, drama, and issues on race, culture, self hatred, politics, prejudices, rape, death, love, and so much more. The response from the audience members were overwhelming. Everyone told me that they laughed, cried and just saw the sisters‟ struggle through their individual journeys. I will never forget that, it was truly a blessing, I needed that! Which of your projects do you believe defines you as an artist the most? My Spoken Word. When I‟m performing my spoken word I‟m incorporating song, rhythm, movement, acting, audience interaction, poetry, and live theatre all in one. It‟s all the things I love together at the same time! For me, it couldn‟t get any better than that! Well, unless I‟m getting paid billions to do it; that‟ll be the ultimate project!! ^_^ What sets you apart from other artists in your field? My history, how I was brought up, my family and my background. I am half Garifuna (descendants of Carib, Arawak and West African tribes) and half Jamaican. The culture of my family raised me up in a way that‟s almost hard to describe. For example, I‟ve actually never gotten a beaten before, and as an African American female growing up in Brooklyn, NY, that‟s IMPOSSIBLE. I‟m a rare species that some say may have been extinct since 400BC! … Instead of getting physically hit, I‟ve always been told the whys and hows and who‟s of things. I was brought up by ancient lessons and stories of my people. I was taught to love with spiritual compassion; to see with your soul and not with your eyes. So the way I view the world, my perspective at times can be so out of this world, and it truly shows through my writing, my performances, and even in the way I relate to my friends and random strangers. One comment that I‟ve always heard growing up, and STILL continue to hear till this day, from friends, acquaintances, and even friends of strangers is, “Wow, you‟re REALLY cool, I‟ve honestly never met anyone like you.” Like any powerful emotion, it‟s not entirely something that can be explained, it‟s just a „feeling‟ that you know is real. What is one of your most memorable moments/experiences in your field? I have some really good and really bad. I remember the really good moments where certain characters that I played, helped me to learn something that I‟ve never realized about myself. And then I have those memories of negative people in the industry that taught me how brutal this business can really be, and I absolutely cherish all the good and the bad alike. I learned so much and I grew allot stronger! What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to when you first started? TAKE BALLET AND TAP!! LOL! That‟s one thing I really regret is not being a kick ass dancer. I can move very well and hip hop/reggae dancing has been imbedded in me through my culture and growing up in Brooklyn. But when I go on auditions for certain plays and I get past round 1 and round 2, round THREE is always this intense dancing and movement section where I‟m like WHAT!? Just so lost! So now I take ballet and gymnastics classes, I‟m going to work my way up to tap! I‟m getting allot better with turns and certain flips in the air, but I still got a little ways to go to where I wanna be. I wanna be
120% on my A game when I‟m on stage, and taking more dance classes will definitely help with that! I actually have a dance audition tomorrow, wish me LUCK! If you could be doing anything in your artistic/performing career right now, what would you be doing? The SAME thing I‟m doing now, but just with more artists that I‟ve learned from and looked up to since I was little like Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Denzel, Spike Lee, Mos Def, Angela Basset, Regina King, Jim Carey, Whoopi Goldberg and so many more. How can people contact you or follow your progress? I‟m having a website up soon, but for right now I mostly have youtube videos from different sources so I pasted a few below. You can always reach me on Facebook (link below) where I can keep you updated with my upcoming performances!! Most Recent Projects: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkx-onRQWUY