trey anthony is the definition of #BlackGirlMagic. The Canadian playwright, actress and comedian’s groundbreaking play, “da Kink in my Hair,” which took the Canadian theatre scene by storm, broke box-office records and earned a place among the top 10 plays in Canada’s theatrical history is set to begin its Atlanta run on July 14 at Horizon Theatre.
anthony, who prefers the attention to be directed at her creative output instead of her name, hence the lower case presentation, is currently the National New Play Network Playwright-in-Residence at Horizon Theatre. She identifies as queer and migrated to Atlanta from Toronto over three years ago to expand her Canadian success into the American market. And with Broadway plays focusing on the African-American female experience such as “Eclipsed,” starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and the Tony award-winning revival of “The Color Purple,” interest appears to be at an all-time high for stories reflecting the diversity of the African-American experience.
“da Kink in my Hair” is an emotionally charged stage musical with unforgettable stories of love, hope, survival and redemption as told through the lived experiences of eight dynamic women.
The winner of four NAACP Theatre awards, anthony made history when “da Kink” was adapted for Canadian television, making her the first black Canadian woman to write and produce a television program in prime-time.
Georgia Voice caught up with the multi-talented artist ahead of the Atlanta opening and days before she’s scheduled to take off to mount two new productions of “da Kink” in Canada. anthony dishes about her queer identity and the journey to get “da Kink” from the page to the stage.
Georgia Voice: So tell us about the creation of “da Kink” and the journey that has led you to this moment.
trey anthony: I was an actress/comedian going out on auditions and I really got tired of the stereotypical roles that were being offered to me: Baby Mama #1, Baby Mama #2. I remember going into an audition and they were like, ‘Can you sassy it up or mix it up a little bit more for us?’ I was just like; I’m so done with this. I really began writing “da Kink” out of that frustration to see myself reflected onstage authentically.
How would you describe the show?
The story is about women’s lives. It takes you on the journey of our relationships, our lover-ships, our friendships and our healing place. It’s really about the unmasking of women and of what we share publicly and what really is happening with us privately. And in that, the women onstage happen to be black women, but I truly do believe that this play from all experiences has transcended race, gender, sexuality…because it really is all about these women trying to find love and acceptance within themselves and I think everybody can relate.
When we did the (Canadian) Broadway production the audience was primarily white, upper-middle class women who came out to see this play and were crying in the front row along with everyone else. It really is a connection piece.
I heard you have a pretty interesting story around coming into your queerness.
At the time I was writing “da Kink,” I was engaged to a man—my childhood sweetheart— and we were about to get married. I started working at an overnight shelter for homeless women and I ended up falling in love with a co-worker. Yeah, that went over really well with my Jamaican family (laughs). They were ecstatic! I was coming out as queer, I was ending a marriage and then I announced I was going to write a play. It was a really trying time in my life and my writing really became therapeutic for me—the place where I was working out the kinks.
Jamaicans have a reputation for being extremely homophobic and you’ve hinted that your coming out experience was challenging. Can you expound?
I was in such a vulnerable place in my life when I was writing “da Kink.” I was estranged from my family who wasn’t really dealing with my queerness very well. There’s this thing around queerness and the Jamaican community. I know people tend to think that Jamaicans are more homophobic than every other community. I don’t want to speak for all Jamaicans, but I can say my family was very homophobic.
Have they come around?
Oh yes. It’s been amazing! My mom now sets me up with women. My mother has come a long way, but it was a long journey for her and she struggled. My mother never knew anyone else who was queer. She saw it as a very white ideal. I think for her, she had to let go of who she thought her daughter was and the dream.
Speaking of dreams. What are yours now that you’ve had such huge success with “da Kink?”
I hope to get more productions of “da Kink” across the U.S. I’m also going to be opening my own theater company here in Atlanta. It’s gonna be a company that’s geared towards telling women of color stories, producing women of color playwrights and making sure that we have a home for those stories. It’s called the trey anthony Dream Theatre—“We dream everything in color.”
“da Kink” will be re-imagined for Horizon audiences by Horizon Associate Artist, director Thomas W. Jones II, and revered musical director S. Renee Clark teaming up again after past Horizon hits like Three Sistahs, Right On and Uprising. Terry Burrell, last seen as the star of the Alliance Theatre’s acclaimed show Ethel, will lead the cast of talented women through this moving musical night.
“da Kink in my Hair”
July 15-Aug. 28
Performances are Wed, Thurs and Fri at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m., and 8:30 p.m., and Sunday at 5 p.m.