Hello Creatives! BTC is back every other Wednesday to profile some awesome creatives doing some work! This is our 2nd Installment and I am so excited for it!
Starting off this installment is talent actress Renika Williams! Renika is a stage and film actress based in NYC! Renika and I have know each other through friends for years, we both grew up in Dayton, Ohio and were involved in the performing arts in our own ways. Fast forward some years and we both are living in NYC pursuing our dreams!
It's been inspiring to watch Renika's growth and the successes she's earned! She is really making a name for herself in the theatre industry, both on screen and off! Within the past few months, Renika has performed in the Fresh Fruit Theatre Festival in the Lower East Side, NYC and was a teaching artist with the Classical Theatre of Harlem for the Summer '17 program. Currently she is a lead actress in the online series, Placeholders, and is .... ASK RENIKA WHATS NEW
Read how Renika is LIVING LIFE BEYOND THE CLOUDS below!
Where are you from?
Dayton, OH but I currently reside in Brooklyn, NY
How do you identify?
Black Woman, Daughter, Sister, Friend
What are your passions and interests?
My #1 passion is acting. Storytelling. It always has been. But I’m interested in a lot of things. Writing, reading (fiction, motivational/spiritual, biographies), dancing to Bey, eating Chipotle, making “music videos” with my friends (I’m really good at lip syncing hahaha). I’m also in love with my hair. I think I’m a Youtube Naturalista in my dreams.
How did you find your passions and how did they blossom?
I started doing plays at my elementary school when I was nine. Then I auditioned for Stivers School for the Arts in the 6th grade and I actually got in. My first theatre teacher, Mrs. Tomaselli, took me under her wing and changed my life. Even though I didn’t remain at the school for personal reasons, she and I still talk to this day! But I totally found my love for theatre at Stivers!
What is the mission with your work?
My goal is to always represent little brown girls everywhere. I want little girls to see me on stage or on a screen and say “Wow, she looks like me.” Because even with all the new found diversity and inclusion in entertainment, there still a lack of representation for Black Women.
I know what it feels like to grow up and look around to see that no one looks like you. From classmates to teachers. (I went to private school for some time and my Acting Program at Wright State University was pretty pale, too.) To the people I saw on stage or on tv. I desperately wanted an artistic leader who looked like me. That has always been important to me. So, my mission is to always be that for some little girl.
What has been a huge breakthrough in your creative/entrepreneurial journey?
I think my biggest breakthrough was accepting that if I were supposed to have something, like a specific role, I would have it. I believe that God makes no mistakes and if you do not receive something that you want.. it’s okay because He has something better for you, for your divine purpose. My belief in purpose has grown tremendously since I graduated two years ago and it has saved my life. It has saved me from feeling the heart break of this industry that so many feel. Granted, I’m just getting started. But I sleep soundly knowing that God has a plan and all I have to do is be open, listen, and follow.. with a little hard work, of course.
What has been the biggest struggle in your creative/entrepreneurial journey? What has it taught you?
I think my biggest struggle so far has been moving to New York City. I never wanted to live here. I planned on moving to Chicago. I even thought about D.C. But I was called here and it was undeniable. And it’s hard living here. Just like I suspected. It’s expensive. It’s dirty. There are way too many people. (I’m a country girl.. I literally grew up across the street from a farm!) I’m away from my family for the first time and I miss them. I’m not so good at transitions. Sometimes, I think people look at me and think that my journey has been easy. But trust me, I am feeling these damn growing pains. LOL. Adulting is NOT the move.
How do you practice self love and rejuvenation when you're overwhelmed by your work?
Ugh. To be honest, I’m SO bad at rejuvenation. Like, if I had a two show day or had a few auditions in one day and then went straight to work afterwards, you’d think one would get home and have a self care ritual, right? Wrong. Not me. And I’m not proud of it. It’s something I need to work on. I either go home and start working on something again.. like a new monologue or my website.. or I’ll go straight to sleep. Which I’m learning doesn’t help either. But I am starting to be kind to myself. Now I no longer work on Sundays. (I’m clearly a workaholic) I leave Sundays open for my spirit. Sometimes I go to church, sometimes I go see a play because theatre for me is a spiritual experience, and sometimes I lay on the couch and watch tv because I rarely allow myself to do that. So, Sundays are for self care.
What investments have you made for yourself?
I recently wrote myself six vows to myself. They’re personal but they have to do with how maneuver different relationships and they remind me of my values and standards that seem to have fallen off the last couple of years.
I eat cleaner than I used to. I’m working on making a healthy diet my new lifestyle.
Physical activity is huge part of my life now for several reasons and it’s an investment in my career. I lost two grandparents within a year, graduated, learned how to “Adult” and so I started to eat A LOT. It was fun being “thick” for a second but now I’m back to feeling like myself. I feel like I have the stamina and agility to perform ten shows a week or teach fifteen kids theatre in Morningside Park. I feel great and it’s an investment I will continue to make.
What projects are you working on or have coming up?
Placeholders the Series is an Instagram series that I am in and I'm super excited about it! It’s basically about Black millennials, their desire for love, but their fear of it as well. My cast is full of LITERAL superstars like Teyonah Parris, Corey Hawkins, W. Tre’ Davis (he’s on the new season of Orange is the New Black), and the talented Maechi Aharanwa who is the producer, director, and star of the series! I feel super blessed to be a part of it.
In August, I performed in the Fresh Fruit Theatre Festival in the Lower East Side. I also had the opportunity to work as a teaching artist with the Classical Theatre of Harlem over the summer.
What advice can you offer to our who are hesitant to dive head first in their dreams or struggling to balance it all?
Just leap. Leaping into your purpose is one of the most freeing things you can do for yourself. I believe fighting against what is meant for us because of fear only hurts us more. So, just leap. Live your best life.
How do you live beyond the clouds?
That is a question I have not found the answer to yet. But I’m always searching. I’m always asking. I’m always working towards something bigger and better than I did yesterday. I try to continue to create work that I stand for..whether others agree with it or not. Because it’s mine. To me? That’s living. As for beyond the clouds? I think that’ll take a lifetime to answer.
How can we follow/support your journey?
My website is renikawilliams1.com and you can follow me on Instagram @_renikadanielle …I always post my upcoming projects! Oh, and come see a play!!
What is your favorite genre of movie?
This is oddly specific, but early 2000s Black comedies.