We had the good fortune of connecting with Bryan-Keyth Wilson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bryan-Keyth, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I moved to NYC in 1999 to finish my degree in theatre and work on Broadway aka “The Great White Way.” While studying in NYC I had the chance to learn from some of the best in the biz and I knew that once I graduated I was ready to hit the ground running. HA! What a reality check! I went on a few auditions and worked professionally but always was the token in the room and there was no one who looked liked me in management. So after the reality check of the business I had to ask myself do I want to continue to wait for the white gatekeepers to give me my shot or do I take things into my own hands. That’s what I did. I formed my first production company and produced my own written material Off-Off Broadway at The Variety Cafe’ at Rockefeller Center. I’ve been in theatre production all my life and one thing I knew how to do was put up a show, and that’s what I did. With the financial backing of my parents Lawrence & Shirley Wilson I did it and have been doing it for over 21 years. There wasn’t a lane for me so I created one for myself!
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.
I started this creative journey as a performer. I always wanted to be like my cousins Ephraim and Berniece. Ephraim was a Broadway star and Berniece was an Opera Diva. So as a little kid I had a love for classical music. Days on end I would get in my room and listen to records of Leontyne Price and Jessye Norman. I knew one day I was going to be headlining at The Met, but then I discovered Musical Theatre. So I set out to study at NYU where I was accepted but my parents didn’t want their 17 year old living in the big city alone so I opted for Sam Houston State University. I immersed myself in all aspects of the arts from singing, acting and dancing to directing, playwriting, stage management and costume design. I had a flair for the big musicals and plays DREAMGIRLS, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND and anything by August Wilson and Ntozake Shange. It was the works of Shange and WIlson that echoed within me as a black man and theatre maker. I found that my stories began to speak on the black experience. At times I tried to suppress this and opt out for the more acceptable “commercial” approach. I began to accept it and out of that came my first novel THE HOOD BOY CHRONICLES and the play of the same name. It felt good to talk about black people and write dynamic characters for black actors and actresses. My work tackles the elephant in the room and no matter the subject matter the authenticity of the story is at the core of my work. After the death of Trayvon Martin our dynamic in the world started to shift. Once Michael Brown was killed and the images began to flood our timelines I began to feel helpless and there was something that I wanted to do As about it but didn’t know how. I didn’t want to get into politics but I felt that I needed to do something. So I began to write. I started writing poems and for a while I wasn’t comfortable sharing them with anyone. My friend Patricia Haley was the first person I let read this collection and she was floored. She loved it. I hated it! LOL! But it was her analysis I began to find confidence in my poetry. I want to thank my friend for her words of wisdom and pushing me to get this work out there. Patricia has passed on and is with the ancestors and I know that she is cheering me on in heaven. So out of this came FOR COLORED BOYZ on the verge of a nervous breakdown/ when freedom aint enuff. My choreopoem dedicated to my black and brown brothas. As an artist this road is confusing and at times down right evil but you must know who you are; who’s you are and never let their no be your be all end all here. As an artist I want the world to know that our stores matter. BLACK STORES MATTER, BLACK ART MATTER, BLACK DANCE BLACK THEATRE MATTER! We have placed so much importance on the European model and now in 2021 that is over! Tell your story unapologetically and that is what I will continue to do as a artist.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First we would stop for breakfast at The Breakfast Klub and then probably hit up a few boutiques and black owned businesses like Queen’s Attic. As lunch times comes around I would like to stop by The Turkey Leg Hut. Now if they are vegan we gotta stop by The Soul Food Vegan for the boudin balls. I like to primp and pamper do some shopping at The Galleria and I would set up an appointment at Tru Essence Spa. As the evening rolls around we would stop by The Four Seasons for a few cocktails and their infamous charcuterie board. Now my favorite hotel would be the Double Tree so I would set up a nice room for my guests and definitely see some live theatre. If I’m not producing a show we have to check out The Ensemble or The Sankofa Collective. After the show we would head to Midtown and stop by Axelrad and Alley Kat. Then end the night at my favorite Taco spot Tacos A Go Go, then head back to the hotel bar for a night cap and Couture Cravings dessert. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I give all thanks and honor to God and my parents Lawrence & Shirley Wilson. They have been there since day one and continue to be a beacon of strength and support. I also want to thank my Creative Co-Lab Fam! You’ve been there through it all. Good, bad or ugly you worked tirelessly to see my vision come to the stage. I am so thankful for each and everyone of you. My attorney and my Sound Bout Right Fam! Let’s do this! So thankful for a team or creatives that I can call my people! Last but not least I want to thank anyone who has bought a ticket, sat in the theatre, bought a book or donated to my creative endeavors. If it were not for you there wouldn’t be me.