A female entrepreneur in her own right, writer-producer-director Tracie Collins has been hard at work with more than four full-production stage plays under her belt, countless staring roles with Bay Area natives on her side, as they consistently cheer her on. But there’s only one problem — she still continues to stay stagnant on her journey to the top just because of her skin color. Sounds familiar? Indeed, it does — and Tracie wants to do something about the problem that not only she deals with on a daily basis, but all African-American women in the same field, and perhaps beyond.
To make a difference for women of color behind the scenes in the arts to diversify what the world sees on-scene in mainstream media.
We recently spoke with Tracie about the issue at hand, natural hair success on the runway with Angolan model Maria Borges, female director/writer Shonda Rhimes and more.
Check out a few snippets of our interview below:
The power of the dollar in the black community is real! A great example is how a viral video about Pattie LaBelle’s pies have caused sell outsacross America—imagine if we supported black businesses like that across the board!
The same way these other women have. Black women writers in theater are out there but media needs to wake up and pay attention. Stage is either where people start or where they go back to to brush up on there skills. Like Denzel Washington, Debbie Allen, Viola Davis just to name a few. This speaks to the Power of the Stage.I have may projects for television and film already written but stage is where that adrenaline is right now.
I thought it was excellent!!!! I was so happy to see that, especially having been natural for nearly 10 years myself.
Being from the Bay Area is unique in itself. I’ve made stage relevant in an area where folks don’t see it relevant. Not black people anyway. But in my quest, people are always asking Who Is Tracie Collins? Why should we know her or why should be care? Being the type of person I am, I decided to create a show to answer those questions for the naysayers.I wanted to bring my journey to light so others can know, number one, don’t give up on your dreams and two, we all have a purpose and a platform. I will address pivotal moments in my life that shaped the actress or that shaped the producer in me. But more importantly that shape the woman you see. My tenacity really shows through in this piece. I want people to know that being a leader didn’t and sometimes still doesn’t come easily for me, but I know this is where I belong. I want to make a difference in entertainment so our daughters can look on TV and in magazines and see more women that look like them. That is my goal. It’s about the legacy. It’s about the longterm.
This sounds so cliche, but never give up. It’s hard and it’s meant to be that way for a reason. The process weeds out the weak. I’ve cried a hundred tears. I’ve invested thousands of my own money. I’ve sacrificed time with my family for what’s been bestowed upon me to create and do because the work is bigger than Tracie. So my response to that is, just don’t give up. The only thing that separates them from us is they didn’t stop.
Born in San Francisco and bred in Oakland, Tracie Collins was inspired by the sub cultures of art, theater and stage performances anywhere from the avenues right outside of San Francisco to the abstract depth of the cultured Bay Area. While the oldest of her siblings and deemed responsible for their upbringing, Collins’ dreams of her voice to be heard around the world were conceived in these very moments. And it was in these moments that her modernized renaissance tale was conceived.
After honing her acting chops and the importance of the stage from the American Conservatory Theatre, where she mastered her stagecraft under the tutelage of veterans, she landed her first theatrical role as “Lorelle” in the critically acclaimed play “Dream Girls,” which prepared her for the role as “Pam” in “Misery Loves Company.” Collins’ desire to use her beloved platform to develop a new dialogue around women of color in the arts was promoted by this very moment in her bubbling career.
A year later, filmmaker JD Walker cast Collins as “Tonisha” in his new project “The Postwoman.” With a background in fashion and a pure love for black film, she was able to own this role. So much, it gained an honorable mention in The Sundance Table Read My Screenplay Contest. Collins used this opportunity to propel her dreams and take a real chance at success.
Collins made her directorial debut with the sold out, self-produced stage play, The V Monologues: A Black Woman’s Interpretation (October 2013). Inspired by Eve Ensler’s original work The Vagina Monologues, Collins’ off Broadway adaptation chronicled the lives of various African-American women and their struggles to break generational chains and misogynistic falsehoods. In years to come, Collins kept the momentum and produced three more sold-out plays, including “Knocking At Love’s Door” (April 2014), “Girlfriend Chronicles” (June 2014) and “Cold Piece of Werk” (March 2015).
With the resounding success of the launch of Tracie Collins Productions and her electrifying stage productions that have drawn audiences and fans from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, Collins has lined up forthcoming productions including an experiential “One Woman Show,” which are all in development for 2016. Collins’ ability to draw from the many changes happening in Oakland, CA allows her to write, direct and produce entertainment that opens a forum for dialogue and self-awareness.
With a passionate force, Collins is a visionary at the forefront of the arts and film industry. Not only for the culture of the skill but moreover providing a new platform for black women all from behind the scenes. Her career embodies what she stands for the most: blending her love for stage plays with the inception of the new-generation performers creating a distinct balance for the future of the art. Her personal cause for art merges pop culture and the stage. Call it the millennial evolution of stage performance.