Village Dispatch: Trinidad & Tobago w/ Ayanna

Ancestral Memory: What led you to acting?
Ayanna Cezanne:  You can say I've been acting all my life. I come from a family that is performance bound. We've always had very large get together's with cousins, aunties, uncles and my grandparents where there was always a song, a dance and a performance. Apart from the natural environment of having such a lively, large performance based family, I also have a very clear memory of Form 4 GCSE class in London. I was going to Maria Fideles in Euston. We had a very active drama club. Six months prior, I had come to the UK with my mum. I had  found it very unsettling in the U.K. The initial college I attended was Coloma Convent and I felt pretty displaced and alone. I was one of very few black children so I transferred to Maria Fideles. I immediately found my tribe. Although still a convent, it was a bit of an urban school compared to the previous one, which was a very strict all girls convent. There were many flagrant characters there and I fit in with them immediately and drama club was real. Drama club was where it began.  When I came back to Trinidad, I went to Holy Name Convent. We had dance clubs and different performances in which I was involved. Fast forward down the road, I would say that 2011 was my real decision making year to try to take acting seriously, hone in on some talents and formalise some skills. I kinda went brave and decided that this is what I wanted to do.

AM: What exciting things are happening in the Trinidad & Tobago film industry?
Ayanna: In my perspective, there has been a lot of growth and there have been definite opportunities for film makers and actors to have somewhat of a forum to get a chance to actually hone in on some of the areas they want to develop or have access to that in the past due to funding, lack of resources and other constraints, they weren't able to. These things (obstacles) started to lessen, especially with  the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival and a few of the bodies that came into being - some of which I have been told served some type of a purpose but in my opinion did not see through with the mission they were probably set out to accomplish - but nevertheless, they have provided outlets for us to explore, network and take our craft to the next level. What you can see is that  there is an avenue for film makers, actors and technical people. There is a lot still to be done and a lot still to blossom. There are some truths that need to be spoken and I'm not sure we're ready to have those kinds of honest discussions as yet but you can't poopoo the whole party. There has been growth and there have been amazing people coming out of that growth. We do have to focus on the positives.

AM: What are your hopes for the local arts ecosystem?
Ayanna: On the whole, I want to see and possibly experience some real growth within the head space of Trinidadians as far the way we see ourselves and challenge ourselves to be a lot more than what we are presented with. I have seen representations of things that have been the same for the last 30 to 50 years. You would  think  there would have been far more progress in a lot of areas. There is  a stagnation and myopic view that's a mindset of  people in the society. I hope that people continue to forge forward, putting on film festivals, workshops, making opportunities available and developing craft. There needs to be more development of our human capital. I think that's what it comes down to. But people have to be open to that.We need to mature our audiences as well. I'm hopeful. I hope that there are more people wanting to up the ante, regardless of their role in the industry.

AM: To what do you accredit being an unconventional mother?
Ayanna: My mum was an unconventional mother. My grandmother was an unconventional mother. My great grandmother was an unconventional mother. It in meh blood! (Laughs). I've had some other very strong female around me: my aunt Anna, my aunt Nina, my aunt Julianne, my mum. Single parent but very purposed in her youth. Leaving her little San Fernando home. She had a very unconventional upbringing too. She was involved in the 1970 Revolution with my grandfather. She was kicked out of school at 14 because she marched. At the time, she attended Naparima Girls', a prestigious school in the South and that was just not going to be heard of so she left school at 14 and did not go back. She forged a life for herself. Then Ayanna came along and life continued. I think that because of that I made certain decisions after finding out that I would be having a baby. There were so many definitives for me about how I intended to mother. I intended to be informed. I intended to be very purposed. I intended to learn the most positive ways (that I would have known at the time) in which to bring a child up. I really wanted to explore raising a child without hitting a child. Everything about this role I was taking on was about trying to be a better version of myself.

AM: What are four things you would tell your younger self?
Ayanna: Hmmm...."It ain't that serious Ayanna. It's really not that serious. Let go of things that are not serving you and I don't mean airs and graces. It's  ok to not be ok. You're going to figure it out. Once you're willing to do the work, you're going to figure it out. Do exactly what it is you think you want to do. It's a wicked kind of existence when you march to another drum.

AM: You exude such youthfulness and vitality. What keeps you young and vibrant?
Well, thank you for those compliments. I'm going to be so frank about this. Thank my granny and great granny for some good a$$ genes. I think that's where it begins with some good genes. Apart from that, I've always looked younger than I am. As a teenager I was the youngest looking one...a slow developer. That had its disadvantages *( Laughs) but as you grow older, it is an advantage. You see, the things you didn't like (before) become the things you love. I also believe that music is a huge part of youthfulness. I've been really blessed to know so many genres of music and old music. There's nothing quite like the timeless classics in all genres. There's something about that: the storytelling as well as being able to connect with feelings and emotions, to sing and to get it out. Music really takes you and transports you to different places. Also, having a spirited daughter at 22 has been an added benefit-she has been the icing on the cake. She has definitely kept me young. I don't hold on to age at all. In fact, I don't even conceive of it anymore. I intend to be feeling and looking great at 60, 70, 80, whatever time I turn back into dust and move on to some other plane. Regimen wise, I don't actually have a strict regimen. However, in the last few months I've gone through a spell of learning more about my body, my triggers, mindfulness and trying to centre myself more. I've had to and I've had a very good friend on the journey with me who has helped me maintain balance and remaining centred. I've introduced yoga and I do drop it like hot bread and then pick it back up again so don't sit there and think that I have all my ish together. I fall off and on the bandwagon but there has been a certain consistency of late through understanding how stress manifests itself. Self care is more important to me now. You can't get me to do anything on a Sunday unless I absolutely want to. I read or relax, do webinars, tutorials, play music, dance, maybe put on a bikini and feel sexy. It's my day. Also, I've started to use fewer chemically based products. It's bloody expensive but important. Meditation is key now, I try to do that daily. I don't ever want to say the word regimented but I do try to practise this more because it feels good when I do. That's it really. To live good and I love alot! I love alot!

AM: Where on our islands do you go to be revitalised?
Ayanna: To be honest, I don't really have a favourite place that I go . I love to be near music. I can be a really happy camper in the middle of a party where the right music is being played. That can be my getaway. I would be in my own world, singing and dancing, not caring about anything but the music and me. As far as a physical place though, I like the ocean a lot. Also, I treasure that quiet time at home being alone in my thoughts....Practising the joy of keeping my own company. So my home can actually be my go to space. It might mean being in the outdoor part of my home. I can feel the breeze and spot the ocean. Home is probably the best space for me.

Post a Comment