Today we’d like to introduce you to Jelisa Jay Robinson.
Jelisa, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I started out an actress. Memorizing entire Disney films, songs, creating my own stories and performing them for family members. I even thought I wanted to be a singer at one point. I wrote so many songs. But it was theatre that stayed in my heart through all the years.
It’s the storyteller in me that’s always shown up some way. I was always a writer: of songs, of stories, of poems, of goals jotted down in a notebook, but I didn’t decide to be a playwright until 2015. I wrote a play called The Stories of Us, a vignette-based piece that highlighted various experiences I had as an Black American being exposed to Afrolatinx and Latinx cultures. It took the stage in Teatro Vivo’s Austin Latino New Play Festival, became apart of their season the following year, and I’ve been putting on plays ever since. Austin, New York, Detroit, and Chicago are some of spaces my that my plays have been performed. But I am most proud of the readings I’ve had in my hometown. Having my work here means so much to me.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
My plays can be best described as collages of the human experience. They grapple with the meaning of dreams, death, and mortality. My inspiration stems from experiences, people and music. The books I read, to the day job I’ve worked, and many other things ignite my creativity.
I write. A lot. In journals on scraps of paper. In my planner. On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m always writing something. So for everyone play, there are thousands of character sketches, lines, and scenes lying around my house waiting to spark up the next story. Some will stay there, but others will serve as inspiration.
Most of my characters are Black and Latinx, like the community I grew up in. My protagonist has always been a Black woman who is creative and a bit quirky. I write these stories into existence because I was once told there was no space for my being as a leading lady. So I wrote myself into existence and found out that others related too!
How can artists connect with other artists?
I would say my biggest thing is to look on meet up for writers groups, artists groups and the like. There is Artist Inc., Tintero Projects, Scriptwriters-Houston, Fuenteco, Esurient Arts, Fade to Black just to name a few. There are so many groups to plug into, and you can always start your own too! I’ve learned that artists in HTX want to connect and support each other.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
People can support my work by checking out my website jelisajayrobinson.com. It’s where I post updates regularly.
- Website: jelisajayrobinson.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jelisathewriter1/?hl=es
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/jelisathewriter
Photo 1 (me in the green on stage): Photo credit:
Don Lee & Francis Panes, Caption: Jelisa Jay Robinson performing a monologue at the House of Blues
Photo 2 (the man and woman sitting): Photo credit: Errich Petersen, courtesy of Teatro Vivo, Caption Tarik Daniels and Stacye Markey in “The Stories of Us” Teatro Vivo Production
Photo 3 (the group of people at the rec room) Caption: Cast of the Reading of Fae and Paciencia at the Rec Room
Photo 4 (the girl with the afro dancing with the boy) Caption: Krysta Gonzalez and Irving Calderon rocking to the Wobble.
Photo by Errich Petersen, courtesy of Teatro Vivo.
Photo 5 Cast (L-R arianna bermudez, dustin a. salinas, jelisa jay robinson, jill minard, estee burkes, Nasir Villanueva, Stephen Miranda) of the Reading of Delivery in Houston, Texas
Photo 6 (me jumping) Photo credit: Natasha Niván photography