We had the good fortune of connecting with ShaWanna Renee Rivon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi ShaWanna Renee, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Being an artist pursued me…hard! I would never have thought to be an artist let alone make a career out of it. This is a field you get told “no” more in a year than most will hear in their life. It’s hard to make a living as artists, so who would choose a career where you will struggle? I believe God made me to be an artist, because with all of the odds against artists, I still will have it no other way, and I love it. I am able to view the state of the world and create art about what’s going on, or for entertainment that will brighten someones day. I have an artistic career because I’m an artist 24/7.
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’m an artist activist. Nina Simone’s music turned into a revolutionary movement about the state of Black life. My plays are equivalent to Nina Simone’s music. But it’s also Moms Mabley’s Comedy. Those two are such a contradiction, that’s me, that’s my writing. My writer’s heart rests in creating period-pieced comedies. There are countless stories of women that remain to be given a voice on stage, whose voices beacon for support and inclusion, and whose voices still stand and sound in women like me today. I write to amplify their voice. This is what excites me, I can wake up any day and decide to tell our stories.
My journey has been an adventure to get to where I am, and each step was needed to produce the woman I am today. I was an actress in Los Angeles doing cartoon shows and I was not happy with the roles I was going up for (very young roles) so I decided to start writing the roles I wanted, then I started to enjoy creating characters. My first play was produced for a national tour and my budding writing career started to bloom. I was able to overcome all of the many challenges I faced through prayer and continuing to produce work and train. Training should be inevitable.
I have learned that not everyone is going to believe in you and that’s okay as long as you believe in yourself, you will succeed. God gives you the vision, the talents and gifts, so what others think doesn’t matter.
I’m head over heels in love with writing and all that comes with it. I found my purpose when I sat down and started to write, especially when I started writing conscious comedic stories.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love hanging out in the Heights, Third Ward, Downtown area. I love museums and I would take them to Project Row Houses, and Museum of Fine Arts Houston. We would eat at Mo Better Brews, The Breakfast Club, Phil & Dereks, The Turkey Leg Hut and that night hang out at Axelrad. We would go to a play or ballet downtown at the Hobby or The Alley Theatre. Catch a concert at House of Blues and a movie at Rooftop Cinema or MoonStruck Drive-In. Enjoy the weather and hang out at Hermann Park. We have to go to a Rockets or Astros game depending on the season.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my daughter Morgan Milan Goffney. When my daughter was born I was already a playwright/artist. I had to learn to be a mommy and an artist and it was hard for both of us. There were times I had rehearsals or all night writing sessions that took away time from Morgan. She grew up in the theatre with me and she fell right in, she always understood what I did and she never complained. She is supportive, and she pays attention to details of my shows and always gives me honest feedback. She is the reason I work even harder because I want to create a lasting legacy for generations to come.
Facebook: ShaWanna Renee Goffney
Danitza Ladwig Elizabeth Conley Dezreal