We had the good fortune of connecting with Soma Okoye and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Soma, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
When I was young I spent a lot of time making mini-films on my phone with friends, taking photos for my online blog, and coercing my younger siblings to help me put on full-fledged productions for our neighborhood—to be real with you—these are still things I still do today. I’m a true multidisciplinary artist that enjoys the freedom of taking on different projects. Nothing fulfills me more than being able to create something with people I love for communities I love. Permitting myself to honor the multi-passionate child inside of me is what has made me successful. Whether I’m playing the role of performance artist, director, model, or curator my creative work has always been about bold, passionate, self-expression, and it’s this energy that has caught the attention of filmmakers, photographers, brands, and other amazing creatives I’ve had the opportunity to work with this early on in my career.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I had a very multicultural upbringing and because of that I have always been fascinated by how cultural experiences inform identity. For example, I am the daughter of two immigrants from Nigeria, I was raised between multiple states, I am both a city kid and a country kid and on top of that I am a tall, queer, black woman who loves to create— because of my experiences my identity is complex but exciting! Although navigating my place in the world has been challenging it’s these experiences that I credit for shaping my multidisciplinary work today. Because of the multiplicity of my experience, I’ve always felt that I’ve needed multiple mediums to tell my story. I went to school at NYU Tisch School of Arts where I studied drama but I spent a lot of my time there experimenting with how to build performances with mixed mediums such as fine art, film, photography, social media, and other forms of technology and how to use these mediums to build communities that can bring people together. Whether I am performing, directing, or curating, the through-line is to foster creative spaces for people to to share and explore their own and other cultures and identities. Most recently, I’ve been committed to working on projects that depict worlds where black joy and pleasure are centered. I’m currently working on a film called “Feed Me” which is a coming of age story that centers on two queer black women and celebrates intimacy, sensuality, and pleasure. This film is a part of my ongoing exploration of ‘pleasure activism’ (as coined by Adrienne Maria Brown), by which the pursuit of joy, desire, and pleasure is a necessary practice especially for queer people of color and their communities. I wanted to imagine the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of a romantic realm liberated from narratives of oppression. My hope is to bring this experience to life in the community through a live event with art, poetry, film and performance curated around the same topic.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My best friend is currently in England studying music (check out her music @youre.youre) but when she gets back, we will be going out! I am planning to reunite her with New York City with Venezuelan street food at Chapas y Mas in Ridgewood or a bottomless brunch at Meza Azteca’s backyard green space in Bushwick. We would definitely hit up Prospect Park for some roller skating or L-Train Vintage for some thrift finds. We’d end the evening with some sonic DJ sounds at Elsewhere Rooftop in Bushwick or live Jazz at East Village Social in the Village!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Where do I start?! First, I have to thank Donald Glover for showing me that it is possible to be a jack of all trades and a master of ALL! He is an incredible actor, writer, musician, producer, and creative mind. It was through him that I had that “ah-ha!” moment and realized that I could indeed pursue multiple disciples.To writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, thank you! I am Nigerian-American and her book ‘Americana’ was the first book I read that I saw myself in. That is the greatest gift a young person can ask for. She made me recognize the importance of telling my story. And finally, thank you to my parents and mentors who understood the value of an artistic education and provided the knowledge and resources needed for me to explore my passions. I hope we are headed towards a future where art and arts education is more highly valued. (Phew, perhaps I’ll use this for my Oscar Speach—verbatim—haha)