Interview: Regina Taylor Shares Details About Inspiring Conversation and Change Through THE BLACK ALBUM

The black album is comprised of 'the black album.2020.resistance' and 'the black album mixtape'.

By: Mar. 29, 2021
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

Interview: Regina Taylor Shares Details About Inspiring Conversation and Change Through THE BLACK ALBUM

Golden Globe and NAACP Image award-winner Regina Taylor is inspiring conversation, enacting change, and educating young generations through her impactful, creative project 'the black album'.

Created and run by Taylor, 'the black album' was born in response to the conversation about systemic injustice and its connection to racial identity. 'The black album' is a creative, interactive project comprised of the virtual play, 'the black album.2020.resistance', originally presented in partnership with her alma mater SMU (Southern Methodist University), and the virtual time capsule 'the black album mixtape', which allows participants to express their feelings about 2020 and hopes for 2021.

Take a look at 'the black album mixtape' HERE.

'The black album' is continuing to grow, with presentations and events planned for spring and summer, promoting nationwide conversations about identity, social justice and more.

We spoke with Regina Taylor about what 'the black album' means to her, her hopes and goals for the months and years ahead, and much more.

Can you tell me about the 'the black album'? What inspired you to create this project?

It is where we are right now in this world. And my having had so many spins around the sun, where we are right now is quite disturbing to me. It feels very familiar and yet very different. It terrifies me, but it holds so much hope and promise at the same time, depending on our actions. We're on the precipice at this moment in time where we either fall or fly, and we can't be silent in this moment. I think, for me, this past year has been one of the roughest years of my life. There is a chance of survival, but we have to speak, and we have to act on what we wish to happen. With that, I wanted to speak out speak on this past year through the piece, 'the black album.2020.resistance.' about what it is to be black in 2020, off of the circumstances of COVID-19 in this past year, the circumstances of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the eruptions of protest throughout this country, in terms of the very incendiary political process that we just experienced, between Biden and Trump and others. We don't know where we stand sometimes because the earth is shifting under our feet in this present. But we do need to take a stand. And we do need to voice it.

So, with that, I wrote this piece for African American students at SMU. I am from Dallas, Texas. I did attend Southern Methodist University. And there were protest marches led by African American students at SMU, so I wanted to write this piece for African American students. I wanted to have it be about the issues of the day and to present it online. We are sequestered, how do we continue to reach out to each other? How do we continue to move, touch, inspire each other through a different process? That's what it was about, this play. How do we continue to teach and create and motivate each other through this time, online? So that's where the play came out of the conversation.

How did you come up with the idea for 'the black album mixtape' and what does it mean to you to be able to create a platform for people to voice their thoughts and experiences and hopes?

It was to continue the conversation. I enjoy working with the students very much, they inspired me. They gave me a lot of hope and wanted to continue the conversation through these initiatives, these creations by students, of where we are and how we got here and where we might be going. So, it was to give the students an opportunity to respond, to create. And to create across the board, whether the medium was to write a play, or to create a video, or music, or movement.

I think it's very important to give people across the board a voice, to speak in this moment in time, to provide a leveled field for both experts and laymen, people from different backgrounds. To find the space, whether you are a student, or a person of renown, to share your ideas, to share your hopes, to share your process in moving through this world at this moment in time. To let people know that they are not alone. That's why I'm doing this piece right now.

From SMU to NYU to Spelman, to Howard University, to The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, to New York Stage and Film, to working with a women's shelter in Los Angeles, Genesis, near and dear to my heart, to individuals across the country of all ages, all backgrounds in the United States and UK and Africa, we find connection. What is interesting about this moment in time is we are being forced to adapt, and I think that people are finding ways to, if it's not that connection in the same room, sharing breath, side by side, then that spirit connection is the challenge, communicating online, through the screen.

Can you tell me what you have planned for Spring and Summer for 'the black album?'

The site that we'll share, this myriad of people and perspectives is the main event. There are events that happen along the way, the re-viewing of 'the black album.2020.resistance.' the play, featuring these amazing students at SMU, to virtual dinners that we'll have, food for thought. The first dinner with Meadows (SMU Meadows School of the Arts) features Pearl Cleage, Nataki Garrett, Robert Fleming, speaking on activism, art, technology and change. Then roundtable events featuring people such as Dianne McIntyre to Carl Hancock Rux to politicians, to activists in different cities, joined online at dinners that we'll hold. And other events. We'll be doing a lot in May, where we'll be featuring our group of collaborators in different cities.

What has been the most meaningful part for you about putting out this project?

I'm humbled by this project. It is an undertaking, and I am humbled by the response. I'm humbled by the people who want to contribute. I'm humbled by how confident they are and creative, continuing to reach out with their work. I am banging the can for people to join, to create or to participate, to watch, to be witness to. And to inspire them to have other conversations.

Do you have any ideas for future projects under 'the black album' umbrella that will allow you to continue to promote conversations about social justice, identity, artistry?

I would love for this to continue, and I think it is in the hands of our collaborators, those who want to continue the dialogue, in what ways and where. The opportunities are endless. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day. I was born into certain clarity as to purpose, why I'm here, I'm a certain age, coming of age in the 70s, and I'd grown up with a segregated environment. So, I was prepared from my first breath to disrupt and be okay with that. Disrupt and understand the rules of that, of being a light to those who will follow. That's how I was raised. Whether that was integrated school systems, whether that was being the only black person on the set, or the characters that I've portrayed or what I choose to write about, how I engage with anyone, how I am viewed.

Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share? Hopes for the future, pieces of advice that you would give to young people in this country right now, young artists?

This has been a challenging year. Sometimes we are on the floor and don't think we'll get back up again. We have to know where we came from. A history of resilience is within us - When we feel we are in the dark we need to remember where we came from and breath deeply- knowing that if we hang on - the season of darkness will fade. Hold on and know with surety that light awaits us is always present - We just have to sometimes shift perspective. We are adapting. Sometimes forced to change - other times embracing - letting go of what we no longer need and holding on to that which sustains as we move forward. Growing. I would love for people to speak on these matters on the platform - common ground called 'the black album mixtape'. This is not the time to be silent. It is the time to share - revealing light to those who are waiting in the dark.