In the world of Social Media you can get to know a lot about someone via Facebook and Twitter- and based on what I’ve seen- one of the hardest working men in New York is Kevin Benoit, owner of Parle Magazine. So when Kevin told me about the play, Georgia he was producing/directing I knew the play had to be on point, and I immediately reached out to the amazing writer/actress Fariso Jordan.
“Kevin saw me perform a short 7 minute version of the play when it was in its infancy stage,” Fariso told me when we met up in Harlem for a chat. “When he found out I was developing it into a full blown play, he decided he wanted to help me bring it to the stage.”
Veralyn Media: What is Georgia about?
Fariso Jordan: Georgia is a love story about a young couple fighting to survive after a rape takes place within their relationship. I play 4 different characters- the main character named Georgia, Georgia’s immigrant mother, her best friend, and finally Ronnie, Georgia’s significant other. Through these 4 characters, the audience gets 4 completely different perspectives of the rape and Georgia and Ronnie’s relationship as a whole.
VM: How did you come up with the concept?
Fariso: I have always been fascinated by differing perspectives. The concept for Georgia came to me in Fall 2009 during a class I took in college called Flying Solo. We were to construct a 7-minute solo performance piece. After I wrote the first draft, it came out to be over 20 minutes long so I had to cut it down dramatically to meet the criteria of the class, but I felt I hadn’t even begun yet. I knew there was so much more.
VM: You tackle some deep issues in this play- like rape and abuse. Why did you feel it was important to go there? And is it hard going into those scenes night after night?
Fariso: It takes a lot. Rape is one of those words- topics- that people try to stay away from because it makes them uncomfortable. I love being uncomfortable, and I love making others uncomfortable. That’s how I know I’m in the right place. I think a lot of people, both men and women, get offended, and will even criticize rape as a subject matter because they feel like it’s been “overdone.” Well- the fact of the matter is- that nearly 1 in 3 women still experience at least one physical assault by a partner as an adult – that’s outrageous! There’s something our society still is not getting… As an artist, as a human being, as a person I make it my responsibility of give voice to stories that will impact lives.
VM: What has been the feedback from the play?
Fariso: Woman of all ages have approached me saying, “I felt like you were telling my story,” and they’re almost shocked that it happens to other people. I feel like there’s a sense of loneliness when it comes to sexual and physical abuse because no one wants to talk about it. Changing that is one of my biggest motivations.
VM: You recently graduated from Fordham University, majoring in drama, Congratulations! What were your expectations for when you graduated, career-wise?
Fariso: I knew it would be important for me to take my career into my own hands. I wanted ownership and control. I didn’t want the success of my career to be based on what someone else’s opinion was of who they thought I am or should be. Thankfully, I am not only an actor but have been gifted as a writer as well. Writing has been the most important tool that has allowed me to do what I do. I wrote the play and took the steps necessary to begin performing it immediately out of college.
VM: Did you imagine you’d be performing in your own one-woman show right now?
Fariso: I didn’t sit down and plan any of this out. One day I’m writing a class assignment, the next day it has turned into a professional play. We’ve taken the play to New Jersey, DC, the play has been accepted into various festivals, and we still have future performances planned for Houston, Atlanta, and San Francisco. It has taken on a life of its own. It blows my mind how amazing this journey has been. But then again I expect these things to happen to me because I love God and He seeks nothing but to love and prosper His children when we make ourselves available.
VM: Amen! — It takes a lot of business skills to put on a production around the country. Talk about how important it is to not just focus on the artistic-side of things.
Fariso: I cannot stress enough how important it is to get involved behind the scenes. Learning your craft as a whole is essential. Knowing the business puts you in the better position of choosing the pieces of work you want to be apart of and creating those pieces of work you want to offer into the world.
VM: Tell me about your team. How important is it to have a good people to work with?
Fariso: It may be a one-woman show but I have the most amazing team who make everything possible. Kevin of course is the director/producer (Left), and Marcus Wright is our stage manager and creative consultant (Right). They have found a way to support me in my vision for this play, while at the same time bringing all of their talents and abilities to the table. We just vibe. And we all love what we do.
I think the most important part of what makes us such a good team– everyone is able to let go of their ego. We sacrifice, we disagree, we compromise, but at the end of the day we all want the best for the play as a whole.
VM: What has been the most challenging part of what you’re doing?
Fariso: This is the first time I’ve been the actor and writer at the same time. As a writer, you give direction but as an actor you take direction. So it’s been a challenge to balance these two- learning when to be which, and how to be both at the same time. It’s a huge responsibility but has been an incredible learning experience.
VM: What advice would you give to others trying to figure out how to do what they love and get paid for it?
Fariso: Know your worth. Know that you are valuable. Know that your gifts are needed. To quote one of my heroines Beah Richards: “The last word has not been spoken.” The world needs your input so never give up.
Go see Georgia! It’s going to be showing in New York at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe starting this Friday. Here are all the dates and links to ticket info: Friday July 29th, Saturday July 30th, Friday August 5th, & Friday August 12th