Live from New York… FloArts alum presents a Zoom "master class"
Florida School of the Arts alum, Monet, along with actor, singer and theatrical producer Brandon Victor Dixon, who received a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway performance in "The Color Purple," recently engaged FloArts students, alumni, faculty and staff via a live Zoom master class, "Live From New York City."
Exploring the concept of connecting art and activism, Monet explained, "My partner Brandon and I are always seeking to talk to young artists, not only about being artists and offering the lessons we've learned along the way, but maybe, more importantly, the power we have as artists. We like to ask, 'Are art and activism synonymous?' We want to engage them in a discussion about why storytelling is so powerful and be conscious of the impact that we can have, not only on our audiences, but our community," said Monet. "Brandon and I have both had experiences where we have witnessed how art of all mediums can literally change peoples lives, and that was the genesis of the WeAre Foundation."
Founded by Monet, the WeAre Foundation (http://www.weare.org) "uses the connective power of the arts to amplify voices that emphasize our shared humanity."
What else has Monet been up to since graduating from FloArts? What does she consider to be her biggest takeaway from FloArts? What's her advice to students during these unprecedented times? Believing that "all of us have a unique place and point of view to lift our communities up," read on to hear what other noteworthy insights Monet shares.
HOW DID YOUR LIFE'S JOURNEY CONTINUE AFTER FLOARTS?
After FloArts, I completed my BFA in Acting at Marshall University. Identifying what success looked like for me, I went on to attain my MFA in Acting from Harvard/A.R.T. The day after graduation, I drove to NYC and began my next chapters. I've spent the years doing theatre, short films, commercials and voice over work, and it has been challenging and a joy. I wouldn't trade it. In addition to acting in the city, I am a mentor and an acting coach for all levels. I also am the president of Qurator, an app that democratizes movie reviews. And, in the last year, I founded the WeAre Foundation.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FROM FLOARTS?
FloArts, to date, is one of the most special and extraordinary places I've ever been part of. The foundations for acting that I learned there are the only reason I have success as an actor today. Not only does FloArts nurture the pure joy of the arts, but my teachers taught me discipline in practice and gave me the fire to always seek the 'story' that you're trying to tell and why you want to tell it. Over the years, I've witnessed it in every discipline within those walls.
HOW DID PRESENTING THE MASTER CLASS WITH BRANDON VICTOR DIXON COME TO BE?
Since leaving Florida, I try to make it a point to come back to FloArts at least every 18 months. That way, I don't miss any class of students. I have a close relationship with Ms. Crotty (acting and stage management professor), and she and Dean Hentschel always welcome me to come and teach a master class or talk to the students. I think that it's important because, while FloArts is a smaller program and a little geographically removed, it's one of the best. And while I can't give monetarily, I will continue to pour out any knowledge or resources I have to support them. The WeAre Foundation was supposed to have events in the area regarding voter registration, so Brandon and I planned to come to the School to do a master class in person, but current circumstances prevented that from happening, so Zoom was the way!
WHAT WERE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF THE CLASS BEING HELD IN A ZOOM ENVIRONMENT? DID YOU GET GOOD INTERACTIVE PARTICIPATION FROM THE STUDENTS WHO ATTENDED?
The thing about the Zoom master classes is that we all can't exchange energy. So when you're talking, you don't know if people are responding and receiving it as a whole. Then, there is a delay when you're trying to have back-and-forth conversation. So while I think these are beneficial and of great value, especially when you can connect with people far away, I think that when at all possible, in person is superior. With that said, we were getting great questions throughout; we got through all of them, and the students were wholly engaged. It was a good time, and we received tons of 'thank you' emails. We look forward to doing it in person in the future.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE ABOUT THE CLASS AND/OR THE ARTS?
I'm always inspired after talking with FloArts students. It reminds me that we all share this love for what we do and gives me hope that not only will there be a great many new artists on the rise, but maybe, even more needed, great leaders. And in these times, that's comforting.
WHAT ADVICE/WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT WOULD YOU GIVE TO STUDENTS DURING THESE TIMES? Wow, so much to say, but I will attempt to be concise. As artists, we often feel deeply, think deeply and frequently - not even on purpose - but move as empaths. Be kind to yourself and take solace in the fact that we have a sight and tools that many others don't cultivate. All of us have a unique place and point of view to lift our communities up. Work hard, listen, learn and seek the ways that you can be a part of the positive, a part of the change, a part of the healing. And by all means, continue to make art. We need it more than ever, for all the ways that it can teach, question, make us laugh, love and bring truth to light.
Learn more about Monet by visiting http://askformonet.com/.
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