Rhythm of the Future

Accomplished artist shares her passions through performance and as community mentor

Meet Katishma Grey, a local actress, singer and choreographer who is  a teaching fellow and performer at The Redhouse Arts Center. She embodies creativity, knowledge and humility with all of her talents.

Katishma Grey. | Image by Marc Safran Photography

Q: What is your role at The Redhouse Arts Center?
A: My role with The Redhouse Arts Fellowship program has been constantly evolving since my start in 2014. The program has given me opportunities such as assisting with choreography, casting in Redhouse Stage productions, helping to bring “The Little Mermaid” on tour through SCSD (Syracuse City School District) schools and watching the students’ faces light up from their newfound love of theater. I have been a teacher over my three years in the fellowship, teaching self-love, self-respect and community building through dance and design. The Redhouse Program has shown me the value of art and education.

Q: What are some memorable projects?
A: During my time with Redhouse, I have been honored to be part of “Dreamgirls,” “Madea The Greek Myth by Euripides,” “Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens” and “Ragtime.” I had the role of Squeak in “The Color Purple” and have been in two commercials for a local credit union. Each opportunity has been amazing and eye opening but nothing more so than being a part of the Redhouse Fellowship. The people I have met and the things I have learned and continue to learn have been invaluable. Everything from the students, teachers, Redhouse administrators and the unique group of ever-changing co-fellows … did I mention my students — I just love! I cherish this experience and continue to push through all the politics of education to speak to the hearts of our children.

Q: What made you want to get into entertainment?
A: The rhythm of the drumbeat made me want to get into entertainment. It’s what we live by — our heartbeat. The rhythm of a perfectly delivered monologue. The drumbeat in my favorite song. It all moves me and inspires me to want to share that dynamic energy.

Q: What are some major accomplishments you achieved?
A: My biggest accomplishment is any relationship I can cultivate with a child on this planet. Working in the SCSD I have met some incredibly talented, streetwise and intelligent students — children that are so pure of heart, you can’t help but to hug them, support and defend them, just become a soldier for them. The world can be so cold, so when a student trusts me enough to seek me out to help them, I don’t take that for granted. Each connection cultivated with the future (the children) is my greatest accomplishment.

Q: What has the entertainment industry taught you and what advice can you give to others?
A: The entertainment industry has taught me that although (at times) you may be fighting for your dreams alone, your dreams are not yours … alone. There are people you are meant to inspire, motivate and educate, simply … but not so simply, by fighting for and living your dreams. The picture is so much bigger than our worldly desires, bigger than you. Play your part and go after yours!

Q: Do you have a motto or quote for inspiration?
A: I have two. The first happens to be the best advice Oprah said she was ever told, which I recall as “Believe people when they tell you who they are” (which comes from her friend, the late Dr. Maya Angelou.) This is so important because it can save you a lot of time and energy. The second is “forward movement.” We don’t have time to dwell in the moment. The time is now for political action, spiritual action, physical action, action for the food we eat, the air we breathe, our children’s education. The time is now. So, forward movement.

Q: What’s your advice for those who aspire to be an actress, singer or dancer?
A: Define what you are, and be that. Own it —– good, bad or ugly. Hold yourself accountable for what you define yourself as, and listen to your inner voice first. The world is yours!

Q: Any shoutouts?
A: Shoutout to The One, The All, The Universal Creator. I am humbled and thankful for your direction. Pure love as I stand in my light. (To) my ancestors for clearing the path for my mission. To my father, Bunga Grey. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. To my children, Jazzmyn, Celese, Isis and Ra. Who am I without you? To say I love you is an understatement! Shoutout to the staff of Frazer and Danforth middle schools and my entire Redhouse crew. It’s not easy, but it is worth it. Keep pushing, guys! Shoutouts to friends and family who support and believe in me. Thank you with all of my heart! I will make you all proud. I love you!

— Q&A by Tammy Reese, a CNY award-winning writer and actress. She can be reached at tammyreese7@gmail.com

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