Still want to keep track of what those in Calgary’s artistic community are up to during COVID? Caroline Russell-King offers up her latest (Pandemic) Postcard Profile, this time of actor/singer/performer Tenaj Williams (with a nod to Bernard Pivot and James Lipton).
What is the next project for you?
All up in the air! It was to have been Peter Pan, a co-production between the Citadel and the Arts Club. Technically it could come back in May/April.
How do you contribute to these pieces?
It’s a play within a play, I play the actor who plays the stage manager.
What is your greatest creative challenge?
My biggest challenge on stage was Touch Me: Songs for a (Dis) Connected Age. I forced myself to learn the drums for the show. So, I played drums and sang harmony. I can’t stress how difficult that was.
What turns you on creatively?
I love it when directors or producers think outside the box with casting, when they present in the work a fresh vision, something that’s never been done before.
What turns you off creatively?
I hate seeing a stage full of safe choices and there’s a lack of diversity. I have a hard time watching. I have a hard time engaging with pieces like that.
What’s one thing you’re really good at?
I’m an empathetic person. I’m empathetic with the people in the room and the characters in the play. I have a special empathy; I can feel everything.
If you could resurrect and share a drink with a dead person who would it be?
It would be my mother. I never got to meet her. I would like to pick her brain, hear her voice; it would be magical to see if we were the same in a lot of ways.
What is one thing you wish you’d known sooner?
I wish someone would have explained what to expect, in the reality – taxes for example! It’s the lifestyle. You don’t get to go to weddings or special events because you are working. You have no roots anywhere.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I would go to law school and be a lawyer. The class I enjoyed was corporate law, I ate it up. I loved the critical thinking – it just clicked with me.
What would you do with extreme wealth?
I think about it often. I would be semi-selfish with the money and make sure my family was all hooked up. I’d have a house in Calgary and another … I’d travel when the world opens up. I would set aside six months and bring my family with me.
What is one piece of advice you would give to the person who wants to do what you do?
Your worth is not based on your success as an artist. You need to know the industry will chew you up. You need to know your value intrinsically.
Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here at www.carolinerussellking.com.