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  • Writer's pictureJamal Gerald

Where I Am At


I hope you're happy and well. I am sending you all love and light!

I currently have COVID for the fourth time, but it's mild. And at least I only have to self-isolate for five days, and it's the fifth day, so it's all good.

I just thought it would be good to discuss where I am at. I'm a combination of things.

My mental health is up and down. But I'm so happy because Beyoncé has released a new single, ‘Break My Soul’. It’s everything I need in my life right now. And her new album, ‘Renaissance’, is coming out on 29th July. And I can't wait! She gives me so much life. And she always seems to know when I need her.

I'm also both excited and nervous about the future. I got the Another Route fellowship! Something that I'm so thrilled about. It feels too good to be true, as I didn't think I would get it. It's such a fantastic platform, and I hope it will be something that can continue in the future so more artists can experience it.

I participated in a writers’ group with Royal Court and Sister Pictures.

We focused on how to move from playwriting to writing for TV. Which is something I’ve always been curious about. I LOVE TV; it's such a beautiful art form. And the writers in the group and staff members at Sister are such a lovely bunch.

I led a workshop recently, which reminded me that I've been doing some good work. And some people appreciate me and my art practice. I was also asked to mentor one of the VRAs at Leeds Arts University, which I’m so flattered by.

I also recently got a DYCP! Yay! Thanks, Arts Council! I’ll share what I'm working on in another blog post. So, career-wise, I can't complain. Things are happening. And the fact that things are happening even though JUMBIE was cancelled shows that my track record still stands. Yasss!

When I told people about these opportunities, I kept downplaying them for some reason. I didn't realise it, but I suffer from imposter syndrome. Something that I didn't think I had ever experienced before. I need to spend some time working through that.

And engaging with people in the writers’ group and Another Route, I was surprised that people were friendly to me. Sounds ridiculous, right? But the JUMBIE process fucked me up so much; I'm amazed that people are being nice to me. That's not normal. So, I will be going back to therapy. I have some sessions coming up soon, and I'm looking forward to them.

I want to thank everyone who reached out in response to my previous blog post.

I’m happy and relieved that I'm not alone in what I’ve experienced. But I'm also sad that people are hurting and afraid to speak out. Something needs to be put in place to support people in leadership positions. Oops. Is that controversial? Some people might say so because it's easy to dismiss the feelings of someone with power.

And let's be clear, who has power? And what power do they have exactly? I have power as a lead artist and an artistic director of my own company. But do I have the same power as the artistic director of the National Theatre? Newsflash! I don't.

Some have power due to their respect and influence in the sector, whether they realise it or not. And no matter how much money they make annually, the power is still there. All they need to do is speak their mind. This sector is full of shit anyway. “Let's make a change!” You’ll hear this a lot. I’ve said this before, but I still feel a lot of people are secretly happy with how things are. I'm still waiting for us to burn everything down, but hey ho.

Because let's say someone wants to speak out, and then a pussycat says: “No, don't do that. Think about your reputation.” Which one is it? Is calling shit out and wanting to be treated with respect wrong? I was in a process where some people spoke to me like they were about that street life. And you want me to keep silent? Kmt.

I attend sparring sessions, and my coach, who leads the sessions, has his way of doing things. And if people don't like it, they can find another gym. And guess what? No one questions him. You know why? Because they respect him. One would say, “respect should be earned”, but why would you go into someone’s artistic process if you didn't already respect them?

And I hate to be the person that's just complaining. However, it just shows how much damage was done to my self-esteem. I have some ideas for new projects, but I'm afraid to start them. I feel a bit more motivated now since Beyoncé has come to save us! I know failure is a part of life, but that's not something I want to happen again. I'm probably being too hard on myself, as many things were out of my control.

As time has passed, I’ve come across people who would have been more fitting to work with. Some people I have realised do not have the calibre. I'm learning more about taking the time to find the right collaborators and communicating with clarity. Some know how to support a vision but don't know how to develop their own. Some people want to be artists but don't know how to be. And that's no shade; that's just T.

I was told in the JUMBIE process that there is a thing of cis men taking credit for cis women's work, which is true. I was told this by a straight white woman who was my dramaturg, which is quite amusing as I'm the one who invited her into the process to explore something to do with my Montserratian heritage, African ancestry and queerness.

I know my fault; working with her on this project was a mistake. And it was evident that she was more focused on making herself look good rather than focusing on the true intentions of the work. She said: "I want to make something that I'm proud of!"

It's not your work, boo. Go and make your own!

She responded to my research and vision and, of course, contributed with her ideas, which a dramaturg is supposed to do. But she thought I was taking credit for her work, which I didn't. She was going to be credited. The two years of research were done without her. In the research process, I experienced homophobic abuse, and people blocked me after some communication. I was called a coon; I was accused of not being Montserratian; I was called a sell-out. I went through all of this and more to find out as much as I could about the Jumbie dance of Montserrat. And I'm taking credit for a cis woman’s work? Hahaha. The vision would have still existed without her, but it wouldn't have existed without me.

I would call myself a recovering perfectionist. I do have my relapses, though. But I'm in a place where I don't care too much about making ‘the perfect show’. More so interested in exploring things that I'm passionate about. I have given Black excellence. Therefore, people should be ready to accept my Black mediocrity, or even me just being Black and doing what the fuck I want. I'm not giving Black excellence all the time because it's exhausting. I know some people will feel some type a way about that, and that’s cool. But I’m not interested in dancing for Massa. I'm interested in dancing for my ancestors.

And I will end on this. There is a reason why I am where I am. And there is a reason why some people are not where they want to be. Put some respect on my motherfucking name!

Thank you!

J xx

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