Why be an Actor?
I feel that acting is a craft that a person can’t master. Technically, there’s no wrong or right way to act. There are so many different techniques, and so many unique people in the world that we all individually bring something special to the table. Two people can say the same thing in the same way, and it will still be different in some way. The influence that comes with acting, and playing different characters is what feeds my Soul. I always felt different, and I always felt special in some way. Even in my darkest moments in my life, I felt like I was destined for greatness. For me, becoming an Actor, and having that influence is that greatness I feel.
How do you maintain your viability in such a competitive industry?
I try to focus on my clear understanding that everyday is different, every experience is worth living, and my love for everything is what matters. Of course, I am human, some days are harder than others but understanding how to separate my emotions, business, and my actions keep me solid. Even keeping these things in the right lane don’t guarantee no accidents. But if accidents come, it’s easier to adjust to the fire.
What inspired you to work in the arts?
I was inspired to work in the arts because it gave me a space to express and explore different parts of myself. I enjoy the gift and power of storytelling through dance, through the body. It is a beautiful way of sharing and seeing the humanity in each other and a tool to fight for everyone’s humanity to be honored and valued.
Tell us about your company.
Red Clay Dance Company lives to awaken “global” change through creating, performing and teaching dances of the African Diaspora–change that transforms cultural and socio-economic inequities in our local and global community. We are Chicago’s premiere Afro-Contemporary dance company that consists of a 7-member all female touring company, a Dance Academy, Youth Ensemble and Community Engagement, Education and Partnerships (CEEP) programs that provide dance education residencies to schools and community space. One of our newest initiative, Dance Pamoja Challenge, a 12-month project led by Red Clay Dance Company to fight Covd-19 that began in June 2020! Pamoja in Swahili means together. By focusing on improving our physical, mental and emotional health as a community we can lower the amount of Covid related deaths in our community due to pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. By engaging black families in exercise through high-energy, spiritually enriching dance forms deeply rooted in the African-Diaspora culture we build the resilience needed to fight off this virus together, PAMOJA!
It’s no secret that Black men in America have a bad rap and are continuously plagued with stereotypes and epithets that all lend themselves to negative connotations. With all of this negativity, it is hard to remain optimistic as the bad reputation attached to the Black man in America takes center stage and his positive contributions are often overlooked and remain unseen. To change this narrative, a robust public relations (PR) campaign is necessary, to say the least, but who’d be willing to take on the task?
In comes a high-powered communications and marketing professional who is a formidable force to be reckoned with and knows how to deliver first-class results. After all, PR is about managing the image of an entity and who better to do so, than a Black man himself. Public relations. Event Planning. Entertainment Marketing. Lifestyle Architecture. What do all of these things have in common? Taroue Brooks, a jack of all trades and a master of all. A far cry from the stereotypes assigned to Black males in society, Brooks is the primary of Taylor & Brooks, LLC., a full-service public relations, event management, and entertainment marketing firm.
How did you begin working as an artist?
I began working as an artist while waiting tables at a restaurant. After finishing my undergraduate degree in Graphic Design at Howard University, I realized that field wasn't for me. I ended up quitting my job in Texas, and moving back to DC where I became a server to make ends meet. After a couple years of this, I finally began to take the leap of faith to start creating. My dream was to become a full-time artist, and after about 3 years I was able to finally quit my restaurant job and pursue art full-time.
When did you realize that your creativity would allow you to pursue art as a career?
I always knew my creativity would allow me to pursue art as a career; the main thing for me was just getting started. Art was something that had come natural to me since I was old enough to hold a crayon. The only uncertainty I had was how long it would take to actually make this dream become a reality.
What is your favorite work of art and why?
My favorite work of art is an oil painting I made in 2019. Growing up, I had always seen pictures of a white Jesus in history books, art courses and even in the media. I wanted to create my own depiction of Christ which was more historically accurate based on where we know he lived, and what the people during that time probably looked like. So I created "Pentimento" which is my version or belief of His appearance ripping through the original canvas depicting his image done by Leonardo DaVinci. His piece was title "Salvator Mundi" and it was documented that the Pope actually commissioned this work, and because of a close family friend was used as the model. I wanted to change and bring awareness to this narrative.