Transcript: Struggling to Say I Love You | Jul 05, 2016

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her thirties, with shoulder-length curly brown hair. She's wearing blue-framed glasses, a black blazer, and a magenta blouse.

A caption on screen reads "Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine"
Then, it changes again to "Struggling to say I love you."

Nam says TREY ANTHONY'S
DA KINK IN MY
IN A WAY THAT CONNECTED WITH
HONESTY AND INSIGHT.
HER NEW WORK GOES FURTHER AND
DEEPER STILL, EXPLORING THE
LIVES OF WEST INDIAN MOTHERS AND
DAUGHTERS SEPARATED BY ECONOMIC
NEED, SEVERING FAMILIES AND
LEAVING ITS LASTING MARK.
IN HER DOCUMENTARY
WHEN BLACK
HER NEW PLAY
HOW BLACK MOTHERS
SAY I LOVE YOU,
SHE TACKLES IT
ALL, AND SHE JOINS US FOR MORE.

Trey is in her late forties, with brown hair in an updo. She's wearing a black blazer, blue shirt, and black bowtie.

NAM [EXCITEDLY] says SO EXCITED TO SPEAK TO YOU.

TREY laughs and says THANK
YOU FOR HAVING ME.

Nam says NOW, THE PLAY--I WANT TO SHOW A
CLIP FROM THE DOCUMENTARY.

Trey says YES.

Nam says IN JUST A SECOND.
BUT THE PLAY AND THE DOC HAVE
TWO DIFFERENT NAMES.
WHY THE CHANGE?

Trey says THE CHANGE HAPPENED AFTER WE HAD
ALREADY FILMED THE DOCUMENTARY
AND I WAS WATCHING THIS VERY
RANDOM INTERVIEW BY WILL SMITH
AND HE WAS TALKING ABOUT THE
POWER OF WORDS.
AND HE SAID YOU HAVE TO BE VERY
CAREFUL AS SOMEONE WHO HAS ANY
KIND OF FOLLOWING, OR IN THE
LIMELIGHT, TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT
WHAT YOU PUT OUT THERE, AND WHAT
IS YOUR LEGACY THAT YOU LEAVE
BEHIND.
AND, AND HE SAID THAT THE POWER
OF WORDS, IF YOU'RE NEVER THERE
TO DEFEND IT.
AND I STARTED THINKING ABOUT THE
TITLE OF THE PLAY AND THE
DOCUMENTARY.
AND I WAS LIKE, "NO, I DON'T
WANT TO LEAVE THAT LEGACY BEHIND
OF SAYING BLACK MOTHERS DON'T
LOVE THEIR CHILDREN, SOMEONE'S
GOING TO SAY, 'OH, EVEN TREY
ANTHONY SAID IT AND SHE'S
BLACK.," AND SO IT WAS JUST THIS
FLASH OF INSIGHT AND I JUST
SAID, "WE'VE GOT TO CHANGE IT."
EVEN THOUGH THE DOC IS OUT THERE
I DON'T WANT THE TITLE OF THE
PLAY TO BE OUT THERE ANYMORE
LIKE THAT, AND I SAID,
"I WANT IT TO BE,
HOW BLACK
MOTHERS SAY I LOVE YOU."
BECAUSE ONCE YOU GET TO SEE THE
PLAY, YOU SEE THE PLAY IS ALL
ABOUT HOW MANY DIFFERENT WAYS
THIS MOTHER LOVES HER CHILDREN.
LET'S SEE A CLIP FROM THE
DOCUMENTARY...

TREY SAYS YES.

Nam says AND THEN WE'LL TALK MORE.

TREY SAYS OK.

A clip plays on screen.

In the clip, a woman in her late forties says
IT'S THREE LITTLE WORDS
BUT IT JUST--THEY'RE POWERFUL
WORDS, RIGHT?
ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'VE NEVER
HEARD THEM FROM SOMEBODY WHO
GAVE BIRTH TO YOU, YOU KNOW.

Fast clips show a toddler playing on the floor.

Now a woman in her thirties appears and says
I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A
MOTHER THAT MY MOTHER WASN'T.

A woman in her fifties says
WHEN I WENT BACK TO SEE
HER SHE SAID, "MUM EVERY DAY I
SEE A PLANE PASS, I LOOK TO SEE
IF YOU'RE COMING TO GET ME."

The woman in her thirties says
HAD THEY BEEN GIRLS I
WOULD NOT HAVE LEFT THEM.

The woman in her fifties says
MAYBE I SHOULD SAY MORE
OFTEN "I LOVE YOU" BECAUSE
SOMETIMES MAYBE IT'S THE LAST
YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO SAY THAT WORD.

(music plays)
A black slate with a sepia-tone family picture reads "When black mothers don't say I love you."

The clip ends.

The caption changes to "Three simple words."

Nam says WHERE DID YOU GET THE IDEA TO DO
THIS DOCUMENTARY?

The caption changes to "Trey Anthony. 'When black mothers don't say I love you.'"

Trey says IT CAME FROM MY GRANDMOTHER, SHE
REALLY WAS THE CATALYST FOR IT.
MY GRANDMOTHER WAS DIAGNOSED
WITH TERMINAL CANCER.
AND I WAS READING THIS BOOK
CALLED
THE FIVE REGRETS OF THE
DYING,
AND IT WAS JUST AROUND
THAT TIME SHE WAS DIAGNOSED AND
I WENT TO GO VISIT HER.
AND I HAD MY IPHONE WITH ME AND
I SAID TO HER, I SAID, "GRAN,
LIKE, WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST REGRET
THAT YOU HAVE?"
AND I WAS JUST REALLY SURPRISED
BECAUSE SHE'S USUALLY A VERY
STOIC WOMAN AND ALL OF A SUDDEN
SHE JUST FELT THIS URGE TO START
TALKING.
AND SHE SAID, "MY BIGGEST REGRET
THAT I HAVE IS LEAVING MY
CHILDREN BEHIND IN JAMAICA."
AND SHE SAID, "ESPECIALLY YOUR
MOTHER BECAUSE YOUR MOTHER HAS
NEVER FORGIVEN ME."
AND I WAS JUST REALLY JUST BLOWN
AWAY THAT THIS WOMAN WHO I
THOUGHT DIDN'T REALLY THINK
ABOUT THAT OR HADN'T BEEN
BOTHERED BY THAT JUST STARTED TO
BREAK DOWN CRYING AND JUST
TALKING ABOUT THIS BIG REGRET.
AND WHEN I SHOWED MY MOTHER THE
CLIP, MY MOTHER'S RESPONSE WAS
EXACTLY THE SAME.
AND SHE WAS JUST LIKE, "I NEVER
THOUGHT SHE LOVED ME, I DIDN'T
THINK SHE CARED ABOUT THAT."
AND THAT WAS WHEN I DECIDED I
REALLY WANTED TO EXPLORE THIS
LEGACY OF WOMEN IN OUR FAMILY OF
FEELING LIKE WE WEREN'T LOVED
ENOUGH, OR CHERISHED ENOUGH, OR
DIDN'T HAVE A GREAT RELATIONSHIP
WITH OUR MOTHERS.
AND SO THAT'S REALLY HOW IT ALL
CAME ABOUT.

Nam says AND YOU WERE RAISED BY YOUR
GRANDMOTHER, RIGHT?

Trey says YES, SO THERE WAS A CYCLE IN OUR
FAMILY OF MY GRANDMOTHER LEFT
MY MOTHER.
AND MY MOTHER SHE ALSO LEFT ME
AND I WAS RAISED BY MY
GRANDMOTHER.
AND I WAS ALSO EXPLORING AT THAT
TIME, LOOKING INTO MOTHERHOOD,
AND I KEPT THINKING TO MYSELF,
YOU KNOW, "HOW AM I GOING TO
MOTHER IF I FEEL LIKE I HAVEN'T
BEEN EFFICIENTLY MOTHERED?"
AND I ALSO WAS THINKING, "AM I
GOING TO BE THE MOTHER WHO
ALSO LEAVES BECAUSE I COME FROM
THIS FAMILY WHERE WOMEN LEAVE
THEIR CHILDREN?"
AND SO THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT
REALLY SCARED ME.
AND EVERY TIME PEOPLE STARTED
ASKING ME AROUND MOTHERHOOD I
KEPT SAYING, "I'M NOT SURE IF I
WANT CHILDREN."
AND IT REALLY WAS BECAUSE I
DIDN'T THINK I WOULD BE A GOOD
MOTHER.

NAM SAYS DO YOU STILL WANT CHILDREN?

Trey says OH, DYING!

[NAM AND TREY LAUGH]

Trey says I REALLY DO.
I MEAN, I'M WORKING CURRENTLY
WITH AN ADOPTION AGENCY, AND I'M
ON THE WAITING LIST--AND I'M
WAITING.
YOU KNOW, SO ANY CHILDREN OUT
THERE I'LL TAKE YOU.

[NAM AND TREY LAUGH]

Nam says FINGERS CROSSED FOR YOU.

Trey says FINGERS CROSSED.

Nam says WELL, SOMETHING INTERESTING THAT
YOU SAID THAT YOUR GRANDMOTHER
SAID THAT YOUR MOTHER NEVER
FORGAVE HER.
HAVE YOU FORGIVEN YOUR MOTHER?

Trey says IT TOOK A LONG TIME.
A LOT OF THERAPY SESSIONS.
A LOT OF INNER WORK.
AND I THINK IT WAS AROUND--ONCE
I STARTED TO BE A LOT MORE
FORGIVING OF MYSELF AND DOING A
LOT OF SPIRITUAL WORK, THERAPY,
THAT I STARTED TO BE MORE
FORGIVING OF MY MOTHER AS I
STARTED TO SEE--I HAD THIS
CHECKLIST OF WHAT I THOUGHT
SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN.
AND THIS CHECKLIST WAS REALLY
COMPARING HER TO CLAIR HUXTABLE,
RIGHT?
AND I WAS LIKE, "I WANTED YOU TO
BE THIS, AND BECAUSE YOU DID NOT
DO X, Y AND Z, AND BECAUSE
YOU'RE NOT CLAIRE HUXTABLE,
THEN YOU'RE NOT A GOOD MOTHER."

NAM SAYS AND CLAIRE HUXTABLE...

Trey says YES.

NAM SAYS--IS A FICTIONAL CHARACTER.

[NAM AND TREY LAUGH]

Trey says EXACTLY.
AND SO, I BECAME MUCH MORE
FORGIVING OF MY MOTHER AS I
STARTED TO SEE HER NOT ONLY AS
MY MOTHER BUT A HUMAN BEING WHO
WAS VERY FRACTURED.
WHO WASN'T LOVED PROPERLY
HERSELF.
WHO DIDN'T HAVE A MOTHER WHO
EXPRESSED EMOTIONS.
WHO DIDN'T HAVE ANOTHER WHO SHE
COULD TALK TO.
MY MOTHER CAME FROM A VERY, YOU
KNOW, PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL
ABUSIVE PLACE.
AND I WAS EXPECTING HER TO BE
ALL OF THESE THINGS, AND THEN
SHE ALSO HAD ME AT AGE 17.
AND SO I BECAME JUST A LOT MORE
FORGIVING AND SOFTER WITH HER
AND I STARTED TO AFFIRM DAILY.
I WAS LIKE, "I WANT TO BE MORE
GENTLE WITH MY MOTHER, AND MORE
GENTLE WITH MYSELF."
AND I NEVER TOLD HER I JUST KEPT
SAYING THIS TO MYSELF.
AND AFTER I KEPT SAYING THIS TO
MYSELF, THE DYNAMIC BETWEEN US
STARTED TO CHANGE AND SHE
STARTED TO RESPOND TO ME BEING
MORE GENTLE WITH HER AS WELL.

NAM SAYS AND THE WORDS, WELL THE
WORDS "I LOVE YOU"...

TREY SAYS MM HMM.

Nam says WHY DO YOU THINK IT'S SO HARD
TO SAY THOSE WORDS?

Trey says I THINK FOR MY MOTHER, AND ALSO
MY GRANDMOTHER, AND EVEN A LOT
OF THE WOMEN THAT I INTERVIEWED,
A LOT OF THEM SAID, "I DIDN'T
FEEL I NEEDED TO SAY IT."
THEY WERE LIKE, "IF I PUT FOOD
ON THE TABLE, IF I PUT CLOTHING
ON YOUR BACK, THEN YOU SHOULD
KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU."
AND I THINK A LOT OF THESE WOMEN
ARE VERY MUCH IN SURVIVAL MODE.
AND THEY SEE SAYING "I LOVE YOU."
AS LIKE A SENSE OF WEAKNESS, OR
LIKE "WHY DO I NEED TO SAY THIS,
I'VE SHOWED YOU SO THAT'S
ENOUGH."

Nam says COULD ALSO BE THAT OTHER--THAT
PEOPLE WHO ARE TAKING CARE OF
THEM BEFORE MAYBE DIDN'T SAY
THOSE WORDS AS WELL.

Trey says YEAH, DIDN'T SAY IT.
AND MY GRANDMOTHER THAT WAS THE
SAME THING, SHE NEVER HEARD IT
FROM HER OWN MOTHER.
AND IT JUST WAS SOMETHING THAT
WAS NEVER REALLY SAID.
AND SO I THINK THAT'S WHAT A LOT
OF THESE WOMEN WERE JUST LIKE,
"WHY IS THERE A NEED TO TELL YOU
THIS, YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS."

Nam says I WAS AT THE PREMIÈRE OF THE PLAY...

TREY SAYS YEAH.

Nam says OPENING NIGHT.
AND IS SAYING "I LOVE YOU."
EASIER NOW?

TREY SAYS MM HMM.

Nam says DO YOU SAY IT TO YOUR MOM?
DOES YOUR MOM SAY IT TO YOU?

d says IT REALLY HAS BEEN A SHIFT IN
OUR FAMILY AND I WOULD SAY IN
THE LAST TWO YEARS.
MY SISTER HAD A BABY.
AND THIS LITTLE BEING, HE JUST
CHANGED THE WHOLE DYNAMIC OF OUR
FAMILY.
WE BECAME A SOFTER FAMILY.
AND EVERYWHERE HE GOES HE'S JUST
SUCH THIS LITTLE SPARK OF
ENERGY.
AND HE REACHES OUT HIS ARMS AND
HE SAYS, "I LOVE YOU."
AND HE LEAVES THESE LITTLE CUTE
MESSAGES.
AND ALL OF US JUST HOLD HIM IN
THIS JUST DELICATE PLACE.
AND BECAUSE HE SAYS "I LOVE YOU."
WE SAY "I LOVE YOU."
AND I THINK WE'VE JUST GOTTEN TO
THIS POINT WHERE IF WE CAN SAY
IT TO HIM WHY CAN'T WE NOW SAY
IT TO EACH OTHER.
SO WE'VE STARTED TO SAY IT, BUT
I HAVE TO BE HONEST, EACH TIME
MY MOTHER SAYS IT I STILL KIND
OF GO...

[NAM AND TREY CHUCKLE]

Trey says RIGHT?
IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT'S EASY.
AND SOMETIMES I WILL CALL HER
AND I'LL BE LIKE, "OK MOM," AND
THEN I BE LIKE, "--YEAH,
YEAH--."
AND IT KIND OF GETS STUCK.

NAM SAYS YEAH.

Trey says BUT I NOTICE WE SAY IT A LOT
MORE WHEN EACH OF US ARE GOING
ON A PLANE.

[TREY LAUGHS]

NAM SAYS RIGHT.

Trey says WE SAY IT, SO I DON'T KNOW WHAT
THAT'S ABOUT BUT WE SAY IT A LOT
MORE WHEN WE'RE AT THE AIRPORT.

NAM SAYS IT'S PROBABLY BECAUSE YOU
UNDERSTAND LIFE IS VERY FRAGILE.

TREY SAYS VERY FRAGILE, YEAH.

Nam says I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT THE WOMEN
IN YOUR DOCUMENTARY.
HOW DID YOU MEET THEM?
HOW DID YOU CHOSE THE WOMEN?

The caption changes to "Difficult choices."
Then, it changes again to "Trey Anthony, @treyanthony"

Trey says WELL, FUNNY ENOUGH, ORDENA
STEVENS--SHE PLAYS DAPHNE IN THE
PLAY--AND SHE'S A GREAT FRIEND
OF MINE.
SHE WAS ALSO IN
DA KINK
MANY
YEARS AGO.
WE'VE KNOWN EACH OTHER FOR ABOUT
15 YEARS.
AND WE'VE LIVED VERY PARALLEL
LIVES.
WE ALWAYS SAY THAT WE'RE SISTERS
FROM ANOTHER MISTER, OR
SOMETHING.
AND SHE HAD--THIS WAS HER
STORY--THAT HE MOTHER HAD LEFT
HER BEHIND IN JAMAICA TO COME TO
CANADA--FOR FOUR YEARS SHE WAS
SEPARATED.
SO I REALLY WANTED TO SPEAK TO
HER.
THAT WAS REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME
TO HAVE HER STORY.
AND ALSO TOO BECAUSE I KNEW HER
MOTHER.
AND EVEN--ORDENA HAS SAID THAT
HER MOTHER TELLS ME MORE THAN
SHE ACTUALLY SAYS TO ORDENA.
AND SO IT WAS REALLY GOOD FOR ME
TO ALREADY HAVE THAT TRUST
ALREADY BUILT IN AND I WANTED TO
SPEAK TO HER MOTHER BECAUSE OF
THAT.
AND THEN NAOMI, HOW I MET HER IS
THAT SHE WAS DOING A LOT OF WORK
AROUND WORKING WITH QUEER, BLACK
WOMEN.
AND I WAS REALLY INTERESTED IN
HER STORY AS BEING A BLACK
LESBIAN, AND WHAT MOTHERHOOD
LOOKED LIKE FOR HER.
AND SO SHE WAS VERY EAGER TO
TELL HER STORY BECAUSE SHE WAS
STILL ACTIVELY GOING THROUGH THE
PROCESS.
SHE STILL IS CURRENTLY SEPARATED
FROM HER CHILDREN WHO SHE LEFT
BEHIND IN TRINIDAD BECAUSE SHE
CLAIMED REFUGEE STATUS HERE
BECAUSE HER LIFE WAS THREATENED
BEING A BLACK LESBIAN IN
TRINIDAD.
SO I JUST FELT THE STORIES WERE
SO INTRIGUING.
I KNEW THESE WOMEN BUT I DIDN'T
KNOW THEM INTIMATELY, AND SO I
THOUGHT THAT IT WOULD BE A
REALLY GREAT PLACE TO START FROM
WITH THEM.

Nam says NOW WITH NAOMI, SHE CLAIMED
REFUGEE STATUS.

TREY SAYS YES.

Nam says BUT WHY ARE THE OTHER WOMEN
COMING FROM THE WEST INDIES TO
CANADA AND TO ENGLAND?

Trey says I THINK A LOT OF THEM ARE COMING
BECAUSE THEY FEEL IT'S THE LAND
OF MILK AND HONEY.
I THINK A LOT OF THE WOMEN WHO
COME, THEY SAY, YOU KNOW, THEY
THOUGHT THERE WOULD BE BETTER
OPPORTUNITIES, BETTER WORK
SITUATIONS, BETTER ENVIRONMENTS
TO RAISE THEIR CHILDREN.
YOU KNOW THE DOLLAR VALUE, I
KNOW FOR MY GRANDMOTHER SHE
TRULY THOUGH, YOU KNOW, ENGLAND
REPRESENTED THIS PLACE OF
LIKE--THE STREETS WERE PAVED
WITH GOLD.
SHE REALLY ACTUALLY THOUGHT
THAT.
AND I THINK A LOT OF WOMEN WHO
ARE COMING FROM THE CARIBBEAN,
YOU SEE THAT NOW TOO OF LIKE
WOMEN COMING FROM THE
PHILIPPINES, THEY'RE LEAVING
REALLY--PLACES WHERE
ECONOMICALLY THEY ARE JUST
TRYING TO SURVIVE AND THEY SEE
THAT CANADA REPRESENTS THIS
PLACE OF REALLY HOPE AND FREEDOM
FOR THEM.
AND SO THEY MAKE THESE
SACRIFICES FOR THEIR CHILDREN.

NAM SAYS THEY'RE WILLING TO DO
ANYTHING TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR
CHILDREN.

Trey says EXACTLY.

Nam says IN THE DOCUMENTARY, NAOMI SAYS THAT IF HER CHILDREN WERE
GIRLS...

TREY SAYS MM.

Nam says SHE WOULDN'T HAVE LEFT THEM BEHIND.
WHY IS THAT?

Trey says I FOUND THAT THE MOST COMPELLING
PIECE IN THE DOCUMENTARY WHEN WE
WERE FILMING HER.
AND SHE TALKED ABOUT HAVING THIS
CYCLE OF INCEST AND SEXUAL ABUSE
IN HER FAMILY.
AND SHE ALSO TALKS VERY OPENLY
ABOUT SOME OF THESE FAMILY
MEMBERS STILL BEING IN HER
FAMILY AND HAVING ACCESS TO HER
CHILDREN.
AND SO SHE SAID THAT FOR HERSELF
SHE FELT A LEVEL OF SAFETY
THINKING THAT BECAUSE THEY ARE
BOYS THAT NO ONE WILL SEXUALLY
ABUSE THEM.
AND SO SHE SAYS KNOWS THAT IF
SHE HAD GIRLS SHE NEVER WOULD
HAVE LEFT THEM.

NAM SAYS IT'S HEARTBREAKING.

Trey says BECAUSE SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN
SCARED OF THAT, YEAH.

Nam says BUT THE ONLY THING IS, PEOPLE
ABUSE BOYS AS WELL.

TREY SAYS I KNOW.
AND THAT WAS SOMETHING
THAT--WHEN SHE SAID THAT, IT
JUST KIND OF WAS LEFT THERE IN
THE AIR AND ALL OF US KIND OF
LOOKED AROUND AND GO, "HMM."
I DON'T KNOW IF YOU NEED TO FEEL
THAT LEVEL OF SECURITY BECAUSE
IT HAPPENS WITH BOYS AND GIRLS
AND WE ALL KNOW THAT.

Nam says UNFORTUNATELY, THAT'S HER WAY
WITH COPING.

TREY SAYS YES, EXACTLY.

NAM SAYS I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT YOUR CAREER.

[TREY AND NAM LAUGH]

Nam says I LEARNED ABOUT YOU THROUGH DA
KINK IN YOUR HAIR.

TREY SAYS OK,
KINK IN MY HAIR.

Nam says AND THE TV SERIES...

TREY SAYS YEAH.

Nam says THE PLAY AND THE TV SERIES.
WHEN--BUT ACTING WAS YOUR FIRST LOVE?

Trey says ACTING DEFINITELY WAS MY FIRST LOVE.

NAM SAYS SO HOW DID YOU MOVE FROM
ACTING TO WRITING PLAYS AND DIRECTING?

Trey says AH, I STARTED OUT REALLY DOING
COMEDY--STAND-UP COMEDY--AND
THEN I MOVED TO ACTING...

NAM SAYS I CAN SEE THAT.

[NAM AND TREY LAUGH]

The caption changes to "Trailblazer."

Trey says SO THAT WAS MY THING.
AND I REALLY STARTED WRITING
BECAUSE WHEN I STARTED TO GO OUT
INTO THE INDUSTRY AND GET
AUDITIONS THERE WAS REALLY
JUST NOT THAT MANY ROLES
AVAILABLE FOR A WOMAN WHO
LOOKED LIKE ME, RIGHT?
SO I WAS REALLY TIRED, I WAS
GETTING ALL OF THESE
STEREOTYPICAL ROLES.
I WAS GETTING BABY MOMMA number 1,
CRACK HEAD number 2, YOU KNOW, GIRL ON
WELFARE number 3.
AND I REMEMBER GOING INTO AN
AUDITION ONCE AND THEY WERE
LIKE, "CAN WE--JUST GIVE US A
LITTLE MORE BLACK-GIRL ATTITUDE,
AND DO THAT THING WITH YOUR
NECK."
AND I WAS LIKE, "ARE YOU KIDDING
ME?"
AND I REMEMBER GOING HOME TO MY
GRANDMOTHER AND I WAS
COMPLAINING ABOUT THE LACK OF
ROLES.
AND SHE SAID WELL, "IF THEY'RE
WRITING THIS GARBAGE, YOU MUST
CAN WRITE BETTER GARBAGE THAN
THAT!"

[NAM AND TREY LAUGH]

Trey says AND THAT'S REALLY HOW IT
STARTED, SHE WAS LIKE, "STOP
COMPLAINING."
MY GRANDMOTHER HAS ALWAYS BEEN
THAT TYPE OF PERSON, LIKE SHE
WAS JUST LIKE, "WHY NOT?
WHY NOT YOU?"
AND SHE ALWAYS USED TO SAY, "THE
WORLD OWES YOU
NOTHING--NOTHING."
AND SO I DECIDED THAT I WAS
GOING TO START TO WRITE.
AND
DA KINK
WAS MY FIRST PLAY.
I NEVER THOUGHT IT WOULD HAVE
THE SUCCESS.
I NEVER EVEN IMAGINED--A TV
SHOW, AND TOURING ALL OVER THE
WORLD, ALL OF THAT STUFF.
I WAS JUST LIKE, I WANTED TO
WORK AND I WANTED TO DO QUALITY
ROLES.
AND I THOUGHT THIS WAS THE
OPPORTUNITY TO WRITE SOMETHING
OF SUBSTANCE AND TO HAVE BLACK
WOMEN ROLES THAT WERE AUTHENTIC
AND WELL-ROUNDED CHARACTERS, AND
IT CAME FROM THAT PLACE, OF JUST
REALLY A NECESSITY TO SEE MYSELF
AUTHENTICALLY PORTRAYED IN THE
MEDIA.

Nam says I THINK YOU'VE ALSO GOTTA HAVE A
GRIT, A RESILIENCE...

TREY SAYS MM HMM.

Nam says AND IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU AND
YOUR GRANDMOTHER HAD THIS REALLY
SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP.

TREY SAYS MM HMM.

Nam says SHE DIED.

TREY SAYS MM HMM, MM HMM.

NAM SAYS BUT BEFORE SHE DIED SHE
WANTED TO REALIZE HER OWN
DREAM...

TREY SAYS YEAH.

Nam says WHICH WAS TO BECOME A RAPPER?

TREY laughs and says YES!

[NAM AND TREY LAUGH]

Trey says OH YES, YOU'VE DONE A LOT OF
RESEARCH LADY--YES!
MY GRANDMOTHER REALLY LOVED THE
ARTS.
SHE HAD THIS LOVE OF THE ARTS
AND ENTERTAINMENT, AND THAT WAS
HER THING, LIKE, SHE WANTED TO
BE ON STAGE.
AND I THINK SHE LIVED
VICARIOUSLY THROUGH ME.
AND SHE AT 80 YEARS OLD DECIDED
THAT SHE WANTED TO BE THIS
RAPPING GRANDMA.
AND SHE WENT INTO THE STUDIOS.
SHE RECORDED HER OWN LITTLE CD
AND SHE HAD THREE SONGS ON IT.
AND OFF SHE WENT WITH IT, YOU
KNOW.
AND SHE ENDED UP WINNING LIKE A
BRAMPTON ARTS AWARD.
SHE WAS FEATURED ON TELEVISION
IN ENGLAND.
PEOPLE WERE REALLY INSPIRED BY
HER STORY.
SHE RELEASED A VIDEO ON YOUTUBE.
AND SHE WAS JUST SO EXCITED BY
IT.
AND I THINK IF THERE'S ANYTHING
THAT I'VE LEARNED FROM MY
GRANDMOTHER IT WAS LIKE YOU ARE
THE PERSON WHO'S IN CONTROL OF
YOUR DESTINY, AND IT'S NEVER
OVER UNTIL YOU SAY IT'S OVER.
AND SO, IN THAT MY GRANDMOTHER
LOVED ME VERY FIERCELY BUT THERE
WAS DEFINITELY SOME LEVELS OF
DYSFUNCTION IN OUR CLOSENESS,
BUT I LEARNED A LOT FROM HER,
AND ANYTIME I FELT LIKE I WANTED
TO GIVE UP OR FAIL, I USED TO
ALWAYS THINK TO MYSELF, "I COME
FROM A LEGACY OF WOMEN WHO JUST
DO THINGS."
YOU KNOW, AND WHEN I THINK ABOUT
MY GRANDMOTHER WHO--SHE WENT ON
A BOAT FROM JAMAICA TO ENGLAND
FOR 18 DAYS.
WHEN SHE GOT TO ENGLAND SHE WAS
GREETED BY SIGNS ON DOORS THAT
SAID, "NO DOGS, NO CATS, AND NO
BLACKS."
AND EVERY TIME I THINK ABOUT
THAT, I SAID, "THIS IS A WOMAN
WHO MADE A LIFE FOR HER CHILDREN
AND NO ONE WAS THERE TO HELP HER
AT ALL."
SO I SAID, "WHAT ARE YOU
COMPLAINING ABOUT?"
LIKE, "YOU REALLY HAVE NOTHING
TO COMPLAIN ABOUT."
AND SO THAT'S KIND OF WHAT
ALWAYS KEEPS ME GOING, THAT
LEVEL OF GRIT, BECAUSE THOSE ARE
THE WOMEN I COME FROM.

NAM SAYS YOU HAVE A PERSPECTIVE, RIGHT?

Trey says YES, YES.

Nam says AND IT'S INTERESTING
THAT--CATERING TO A BLACK AUDIENCE...
A BLACK FEMALE AUDIENCE...

TREY SAYS MM HMM.

Nam says WHICH SOME PEOPLE SAY IS IGNORED IN CANADA...

TREY SAYS OH DEFINITELY.

NAM SAYS--HAS REALLY BUILT YOUR CAREER.

Trey says YES.
I ALWAYS SAY THIS, I'M IN LOVE
WITH MY AUDIENCE.
I SEE MYSELF.
I THINK EVEN JUST WITH THE
OPENING OF THE PLAY, WE HEAR
ABOUT HOW BLACK PEOPLE DON'T
COME OUT TO THEATRE AND THEN WE
ALSO HEAR ABOUT THE THEATRE
AUDIENCE DYING IN CANADA.
YOU KNOW, WE HAVE A SOLD-OUT
RUN.
WE OPENED ONE NIGHT AND THE
WHOLE RUN IS SOLD OUT.
AND IT'S PREDOMINANTLY A BLACK,
FEMALE AUDIENCE WHO CONTINUE TO
COME OUT IN DROVES AND SUPPORT
MY WORK, BECAUSE THEY SEE
THEMSELVES.
WE ALL ARE HUNGRY TO SEE
OURSELVES.
WE WANT TO KNOW THAT WE'RE
ACTUALLY VALIDATED.
THAT OUR EXPERIENCES ARE REAL.
AND FOR ME THAT'S WHY I WRITE,
BECAUSE I SO WANT TO KNOW THAT I
CAN GO SOMEWHERE AND SEE MYSELF.
AND IF IT'S NOT HAPPENING, IF
MAINSTREAM MEDIA DOESN'T FEEL
THAT MY EXPERIENCE IS VALIDATED,
OR NEEDS TO BE VALIDATED, THEN I
NEED TO CREATE THAT FOR MYSELF.
AND SO THAT IS MY MARKET.
EVERY SINGLE TIME I SAY, "I
WRITE FOR BLACK WOMEN,"
AND I'M UNAPOLOGETIC ABOUT IT.
AND I THINK THAT'S WHY MY
AUDIENCE COMES OUT BECAUSE THEY
KNOW THERE'S A TRUE LOVE AFFAIR
THAT HAPPENS BETWEEN US.
THEY LOVE ME AND I LOVE THEM
BECAUSE I'M LIKE, "WE'RE IN THIS
TOGETHER GIRL."
YOU COME OUT AND I'M GOING TO
GIVE YOU THAT EXPERIENCE.
AND WE WANT THAT EXPERIENCE.

NAM SAYS AND YOU SEE THEM.

Trey says YES, YES.

Nam says RIGHT.

TREY SAYS I SEE THEM.
I SEE THEM, I KNOW THEM, I
LOVE THEM.
THEY'RE ME.
THEY'RE MY MOTHER, THEY'RE MY
GRANDMOTHER.
AND THAT'S HOW I SEE IT.
I DO NOT TAKE THEM FOR GRANTED
WHATSOEVER.
BECAUSE I'M A TRUE BELIEVER THEY
COULD SPEND THEIR MONEY ANYWHERE
AND YET THEY CHOOSE TO COME INTO
A THEATRE AND SIT WITH ME AND
SAY, "THANK YOU FOR PUTTING ME
UP THERE."
AND SO I DO NOT FOR ONE MINUTE
TAKE THAT FOR GRANTED.

NAM SAYS NOW,
DA KINK IN MY HAIR...

TREY SAYS MM HMM.

Nam says THE PLAY BECAME A TV SERIES...

TREY SAYS YES.

Nam says AND IT WAS GROUND-BREAKING.

TREY SAYS MM HMM.

Nam says AND IT WAS SET IN A SALON AND
YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT ISSUES
PEOPLE PROBABLY WOULD NEVER HAD
A WINDOW TO UNLESS THEY WERE IN
THAT COMMUNITY.
MM HMM.
WHEN YOU LOOK AT CANADIAN
TELEVISION, WHAT DO YOU THINK
ABOUT THE STATE OF CANADIAN
TELEVISION AND DIVERSITY.

Trey says OH DEAR, I THINK WE WOULD NEED
AT LEAST FIVE EPISODES TO COVER THAT...

[NAM AND TREY LAUGH]

Trey says BUT I'LL TRY TO PUT IT IN A
QUICK SOUND BITE FOR YOU.
WE'RE FAILING.
WE ARE FAILING IN A WAY THAT IS
SHAMEFUL.
I THINK EVEN COMING HERE I WAS
ON THE TRAIN--AND I DO THIS
COUNT.
AND I WAS COUNTING ALL OF THE
PEOPLE OF COLOUR, JUST ON THE
TRAIN.
AND WE WERE THE MAJORITY.
AND IF YOU LOOK AT WHO CANADA
IS, AND WHAT COMMUNITIES OF
COLOUR ARE REPRESENTED, YOU
WOULD NEVER KNOW THAT WE WERE
SUCH A DIVERSE COUNTRY IF WE
LOOKED AT WHAT'S HAPPENING IN
OUR MEDIA.
WHAT IS HAPPENING ON OUR STAGES.
YOU WOULD NEVER BELIEVE THAT.
AND I THINK WE HAVE THIS THING
THAT WE DO THIS LITTLE
CHECKLIST, "WELL HE HAD
DA KINK
SEVEN YEARS AGO--WE DID THE
BLACK PEOPLE, RIGHT?"
AND THEN I ALSO HAVE MY FRIENDS
WHO ARE FROM OTHER COMMUNITIES
OF COLOUR.
THEY'RE ALWAYS LIKE, "WELL, YOU
KNOW--."
MY FRIENDS WHO ARE ASIAN, THEY
WERE LIKE, "WELL IF THEY'RE
GOING TO PICK ONE MINORITY IT'S
USUALLY A BLACK GIRL."
NO OTHER MINORITY EVER GETS
REPRESENTED AND I THINK IT'S
SHAMEFUL.
I THINK WE NEED MORE PEOPLE OF
COLOUR IN POSITIONS OF POWER
THAT WE CAN ACTUALLY GREEN LIGHT
PROJECTS.
EVEN MYSELF, WITH THE SUCCESS OF
DA KINK,
YOU WOULD THINK THAT I
WOULD GO TO ANY MAINSTREAM
THEATRE COMPANY AND BE ABLE TO
PRODUCE THIS PLAY.
I WENT TO FOUR, AND WE ALREADY
HAD THE CONTROVERSY OF CAN-STAGE
SO WHITE, I DEVELOPED H
OW BLACK
MOTHERS SAY I LOVE YOU
AS AN
ARTIST-IN-RESIDENT AT
CAN-STAGE.
CAN-STAGE IS ONE OF OUR MAJOR
THEATRE COMPANIES--THEY TURNED
IT DOWN.

Nam says SO WHITE WAS A HASHTAG, RIGHT?

Trey says YEAH, THAT WAS THE HASHTAG.
AND SO WHEN WE HAVE THEATRES AND
TV STATIONS WHO DO NOT WANT TO
REPRESENT PEOPLE OF COLOUR, IT'S
SHAMEFUL.
AND I THINK WE REALLY NEED TO
LOOK AT THIS.
I AM TIRED OF GOING TO DIVERSITY
CONFERENCE AFTER--I DON'T EVEN
SHOW UP ANYMORE BECAUSE I'M
LIKE, "I HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO
SAY."
INSTEAD OF TALKING ABOUT IT,
LET'S ACTUALLY PUT THINGS INTO
ACTION.
AND SO THAT'S WHY I
SELF-PRODUCE.
THAT'S JUST WHY I HAVE MY OWN
FOLLOWING.
BECAUSE I DON'T WISH TO TALK
ABOUT IT ANYMORE.
I'M LIKE, "LET'S JUST DO IT."
"LET'S GET ON WITH IT ALREADY."

Nam says HOW'S CANADA DIFFERENT FROM
THE STATES?

Trey says I FEEL, WITH ME--I'VE DONE A LOT
MORE WORK IN THE US NOW--AND I
FEEL WITH AMERICA--WE DID A
WORKSHOP READING OF
HOW BLACK
JUST REALLY GET IT.
I THINK THEY GET IT A LOT
QUICKER AND FASTER.
I THINK MAYBE BECAUSE OF THE
SUCCESS OF THEIR SHOWS THAT
FEATURE DIVERSITY.
AND WE HAVE THE SHONDA RHIMES,
WHO'S DOING LIKE
SCANDAL AND
HOW YOU GET AWAY WITH MURDER.
THEY'RE REALLY ABOUT, "LET'S GET
THIS GOING."
THAT THERE IS A MARKET THERE AND
WE REALLY NEED TO TAP INTO THAT
MARKET.
AND I'VE FOUND THAT I'VE GOTTEN
A LOT MORE OPPORTUNITIES QUICKER
THAN I'VE GOTTEN HERE IN CANADA.
THAT PEOPLE ARE LIKE, "WHAT ARE
YOU DOING?"
"I WANT TO MEET WITH YOU."
"HOW CAN WE GET YOUR SHOW HERE?"
"WHAT DO YOU NEED?"
"HOW CAN WE MAKE THIS HAPPEN FOR
YOU?"
WHEREAS IN CANADA I FEEL IT'S
THIS THING OF YOU'RE ALWAYS
CONSTANTLY TRYING TO PROVE
YOURSELF.
AND I THINK THAT'S WHY WE LOSE
SOME OF OUR BIGGEST AND
BRIGHTEST STARS BECAUSE WE DON'T
APPRECIATE THEIR TALENTS.
AND I KNOW, IT'S JUST NOT ME,
LIKE I'VE SPOKEN TO A LOT OF US
WHO ARE IN THIS INDUSTRY.
AND IT'S SHAMEFUL HOW WE TREAT
SOME OF OUR BEST AND BRIGHTEST
STARS.
THAT THEY'RE UNEMPLOYED, OR THAT
THEY HAVE LIKE A NIGHT SIDE GIG,
BECAUSE THEY JUST CANNOT GET WORK.

NAM SAYS AND THEN WHEN THEY GO TO
THE STATES...
I FEEL LIKE THAT'S WHEN THEY
GET THE VALIDATION AND THEN WE
WANT THEM TO COME BACK.

Trey says EXACTLY, AND THEN WE WANT THEM
TO COME BACK.

Nam says WHAT ROLE DO YOU THINK FAITH HAS
PLAYED IN YOUR CAREER?

Trey says FAITH HAS BEEN MY BIGGEST GUIDANCE.
I THINK FOR ME I GREW UP IN A
VERY--I WOULD SAY SPIRITUAL,
RELIGIOUS HOUSEHOLD.
AND IT WAS A LOT OF COMPLEXITY
FOR ME BEING ONCE I CAME OUT AS
A BLACK, QUEER WOMAN, OF HOW DO
I ACTUALLY--AM ABLE TO STILL BE
SPIRITUAL AND RELIGIOUS.
AND FOR ME SPIRITUALITY REALLY
WAS THAT FOR ME.
I'M A BIG BELIEVER IN YOUR
CALLING.
I'M A BIG BELIEVER IN THAT ALL
OF US WAS PUT ON THIS EARTH TO
DO SOMETHING REALLY GREAT.
EVERY SINGLE DAY I MEDITATE.
I ASK FOR GUIDANCE AND I ALWAYS
SAY LIKE, "WHERE DO YOU WANT ME
TO GO?"
"WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?"
AND "WHO DO YOU WANT ME TO SPEAK TO?"
AND I'M A BIG BELIEVER IN THAT
YOU TREAT PEOPLE THE WAY THAT
YOU WISH TO BE TREATED.
I BELIEVE TOO, BECAUSE MY FAMILY
ARE VERY WORKING CLASS AND THEY
DID VERY MENIAL WORK, I SEE
EVERY SINGLE PERSON'S WORK AS
VALUE.
AND I BELIEVE THAT YOU GET BACK
WHAT YOU REFLECT OUT INTO THE
WORLD.
AND I'M A BIG BELIEVER IN THAT,
THAT IF SOMETHING IS GOING ON IN
YOUR LIFE THAT YOU DON'T LIKE
YOU NEED TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF
THAT.
AND YOU TREAT PEOPLE THE WAY
THAT YOU WANT TO BE TREATED.
AND I BELIEVE THAT I WAS PLACED
ON THIS EARTH TO HEAL AND TALK
TO BLACK WOMEN.
I REALLY, TRULY BELIEVE THAT MY
WORK IS GUIDED BY A BIGGER HAND,
AND A BIGGER DESTINY THAN I
COULD EVER THINK OF.
AND SO I FUNCTION FROM THAT
PLACE OF, "LET ME BE THE MOST
KINDEST AND GENTLE AND PERSON TO
EVERYONE."
I WANT EVERYONE'S INTERACTION
WITH ME TO BE A POSITIVE
EXPERIENCE.
AND YOU KNOW, SOME DAYS I FAIL.

[TREY LAUGHS]

Trey says BUT I WOULD SAY 90 percent OF THE TIME
I GET IT RIGHT, YOU KNOW.
BUT I'M A BIG BELIEVER IN
PRAYER, SPIRITUALITY, MEDIATION,
AND IT ALSO GIVES ME A WAY TO
SLOW DOWN, AND BE MUCH MORE
KINDER WITH MYSELF AS WELL,
BECAUSE I USED TO BE VERY SUPER
CRITICAL OF MYSELF.
AND I THINK MY SPIRITUALITY HAS
REALLY ALLOWED ME TO BE KINDER
WITH MYSELF.

Nam says GOING FULL CIRCLE...

TREY SAYS MM HMM.

Nam says IF YOU--HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT
ABOUT WHAT YOUR LIFE WOULD HAVE
BEEN LIKE IF YOU HAD BEEN RAISED
BY YOUR MOTHER?

The caption changes to "Coming full circle."

Trey says I THINK ABOUT IT OFTEN.
I DO THINK ABOUT IT.
I DO THINK EVERYTHING HAPPENED
FOR A REASON.
I ALSO THINK A LOT ABOUT, IF MY
MOTHER DIDN'T LEAVE ME IN
ENGLAND AND COME TO CANADA, WHO
WOULD I BE?
MY HAIR
WOULD HAVE HAPPENED
UNLESS I WAS HERE IN CANADA, SO
IT WAS MEANT TO BE.
AND I THINK EACH ONE OF THESE
WOMEN WERE JUST REALLY HUGE
INSPIRATIONS IN MY LIFE.
AND I'VE BEEN ABLE TO APPRECIATE
THEM IN DIFFERENCE WAYS.
AND SO--AND I ALSO THINK BECAUSE
I DIDN'T HAVE THE IDEAL
CHILDHOOD, IT'S ALLOWED ME TO BE
MUCH MORE FORGIVING OF OTHER
PEOPLE.
AND I THINK PEOPLE SEE ME AS
SOMEONE WHO'S YOU KNOW,
"DAMAGED."

TREY LAUGHS AND SAYS RIGHT?

NAM SAYS NEVER.

Trey says RIGHT?

NAM SAYS NO, NEVER.

Trey says BUT THEY SEE--THAT I'M ABLE TO
TELL YOU THIS STORY BECAUSE I
KNOW THAT YOU DIDN'T HAVE THE
PERFECT CHILDHOOD.

Nam says I THINK EVERYBODY'S DAMAGED...

TREY SAYS YEAH.

Nam says --BUT PEOPLE HIDE...

TREY SAYS HIDE IT, YEAH.

NAM SAYS AND I THINK IT TAKES A LOT
OF COURAGE TO BE ABLE TO SAY...

TREY SAYS YEAH.

Nam says WHAT'S HAPPENED TO YOU,
BECAUSE I THINK VERY FEW PEOPLE
IN THIS WORLD GO THROUGH IT
WITHOUT HAVING SOME SCRATCHES OR
SOME SCARS.

TREY SAYS EXACTLY.
YOU'RE RIGHT, YOU'RE DEFINITELY
RIGHT NAM.
AND I THINK THAT PEOPLE SEE ME
AS, THAT THEY'RE LIKE,
"TREY TALKS VERY OPENLY."
YOU KNOW WHAT?
I TALK ABOUT MY OWN FAMILY,
THEIR HOMOPHOBIA.
I TALK ABOUT THE DYSFUNCTION IN
MY FAMILY.
AND I THINK PEOPLE ARE ABLE TO
KIND OF SAY, WELL LIKE,
"IF TREY'S TALKING ABOUT IT THEN
LET ME ALSO TALK ABOUT IT."
YOU KNOW, I'VE GOTTEN LETTERS
JUST FROM--PEOPLE WHO'VE SEEN
THE PLAY WHO SAID THIS IS THE
FIRST TIME THEY BROUGHT THEIR
MOTHERS TO SOMETHING, AND THEIR
MOTHER ACTUALLY BROKE DOWN
CRYING AND TOLD THEM THEY LOVED
THEM.
AND THEY WERE ABLE TO SAY IT TO
THEIR CHILDREN.
AND SO I THINK IN MY OWN HEALING
I'M ABLE TO THEN HEAL OTHERS.
SO I DON'T REGRET MY CHILDHOOD,
AND BEFORE I USED TO BE LIKE,
"I MISSED OUT ON SOMETHING."
AND NOW I'M LIKE, I DON'T THINK
I MISSED OUT AS MUCH AS I
THOUGHT I DID.
BECAUSE THERE WAS A REASON IT
ALL CAME THE WAY IT NEEDED TO.
WELL, CONGRATULATIONS ON
EVERYTHING.
BECAUSE EVEN IN THE PROCESS OF
YOUR BEING OUT, YOU SAVE A LOT
OF YOUNG LIVES.

NAM SAYS ESPECIALLY IN THE
COMMUNITIES, BECAUSE YOU KNOW,
PEOPLE DON'T TALK ABOUT A LOT OF
THINGS.

Trey says OH YES.

NAM SAYS AND TALKING ABOUT THEM...
YOU GIVE IT A VOICE.

Trey says THANK YOU.

The caption changes to "Producer: Colin Ellis, @ColinEllis81"

NAM SAYS SO THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

Trey says OH THANK YOU SO MUCH, THANK YOU.
I LOVED IT, THANK YOU.

NAM SAYS THANK YOU.

Watch: Struggling to Say I Love You