We had the good fortune of connecting with Alric Davis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alric, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I was 17 years old and a junior in high school when I founded The Sankofa Collective, then titled The Bayou Theatre Company. My friends and I were all multi-versed in theatre, choir, dance and even film but at the time there was only one other African-American arts entity in the city. For the Black artists that were hungry to create, there were not many opportunities for work and most would stop performing once they graduated high school. We created the company to make thought-provoking work that challenged societal stereotypes put onto Black artists and offer opportunities to them on and offstage.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My career has been a testament to my strong belief in spirituality and the intersectionality of purpose and passion. Purpose, in my rough definition, is why you were “created” to be here. Passion is what makes your being here worth it. I have been blessed to know from a young age, nine, that I both my purpose and my passion was to tell stories. Stories that make us better citizens, better people, or at least, feel better. My African ancestry lends itself to oral history, we were indoctrinated to tell our people’s stories and histories through community gatherings, worship and sacrifice. I have dedicated my life to doing that in my own way through my lens. Moreover, I have aligned and continue to align with an ever-evolving group of people who hold me accountable, challenge me, inspire me and more. We push each other to create great art, dream big and never forget where we came from. If I can impart any wisdom into anyone aspiring to create art, it would be to create those support systems where you can grow and build with each other. I think the work I am most proud of is the work that starts conversation. Art without actionable change is just beautiful gowns and pretty pictures. I know my job is done when people can’t stop talking about it afterwards or when I get the random messages or emails asking questions about the show’s themes or describing how it’s impacted them. Some of my favorite moments have been connecting with audience members after and hearing them speak directly about how they see the world differently after the show, or gushing about which character they resonated with the most, etc. When we performed The Mountaintop, a play that humanized the late great Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King Jr, a young Black man told me watching M.L.K.’s sacrifice onstage helped him realize he had to work harder in school. Or Next to Normal, a rock musical traditionally performed by White theatre companies about mental illness, which led many Black audience members to check in on their wellness and seek therapy. It reminds me that I have a job to service my community the best way I can – in a way that makes them feel the most represented, the most challenged and ultimately, the most proud.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Depends on the friend! You might catch me at a library or Buffalo Park reading a book. Northside street vendors near Aldine Rd have the best street tacos. Prospect Park Willowbrook is a fun hang out spot, sometimes they even do karaoke which is always good. I’m a big fan of just walking down Montrose and finding a thrift shop to score a few nice looks. I love reclaiming old things and breathing new life into them, it’s kinda my thing!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would love to shoutout my tremendously supportive family and friends who have been apart of this journey to create our organization. First, my brother and sister partners Trey Morgan Lewis and Yesha Benjamin who work tirelessly to help execute my sometimes insane visions. My grandfather, grandmother and mother Elige, Kethree and Kemba Davis who literally wear any hat required! Their love has been shown time and time again through their unending love. Shelia Lewis for helping us organize and sustaining our mission, and so many beautiful and talented artists we have worked with!
Passing Strange Cast 2015