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She Gives Us Strength - FOR COLORED GIRLS... Creative Team Interview #8 (Deah Love Harriott)

Ntozake Shange left behind a legacy, creating a collective language for many women of color with her work. To celebrate this revival and the all-women of color creative team of FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE/WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF, we invited photographer CHRISTINE CHAMBERS to capture the creative team through the lens of her portrait photography. Outside the photography studio, we asked the team to reflect on what being on this production and part of an all-women of color creative team means today and for the future.
 
Eighth in this series of interviews is Deah Love Harriott.

What does the legacy of for colored girls… mean to you, and how has that impacted your work?

The legacy of for colored girls is a rich one, simply because as a black girl in Nebraska, I caught wind of it. The monologue "I want my stuff back" is the one that seemed to resonate with evvvverybody, because that's what I recall hearing as a child. I've understood the legacy a whole lot more as an adult black woman, however. We all have more commonalities than not, and if we chose to delve a little deeper than the surface, we'd all truly grasp this concept of sisterhood.

What has your experience working on an all women of color design team been like?

My experiences working with an all women of color design team have always been positive. There is always a bit of hesitancy from what I've experienced; however, I am a person who enjoys a team because I actually enjoy teamwork to execute an elaborate vision. The moment you feel as if you're the only one that is capable enough to carry out an elaborate production all by yourself, the dream has failed in my opinion. Your vision is from one scope of view. You could indeed succeed on your own, but I've learned that three heads are definitely better than one, especially in order to create a vision of legacy. Ntozake's work is what this is. As long as no one gets clouded in ego and insecurity, working on a team with all women and women of color should be an uplifting experience, with sisterhood at the nucleus of it all. We are all interconnected. 

Who/what inspires you in your designs

Oprah is my inspiration for everything. She has done it all. She was told she was too fat, too black, too broken, too abused, had no pedigree, and mainly that she was a woman...and she still did it all. She is the queen. Oh yeah, and she's filthy freakin’ rich.

What is your advice to women of color interested in pursuing a career similar to yours?

My advice to other women wanting to pursue and career in music is to know who you are, because people in the industry will try to tell you who you are, what you can and can't do. I've built my career based on hard work, talent, and faith in my abilities. I choose the projects that are best for me. I listen to my gut, my instincts. I don't shy away nor dim my light because I am the only female in an event space doing what I do. I don’t try to be anything I'm not and stay true to my gifts and my soul. 

I give thanks to my parents who instilled confidence in me as a child. They told me I could do and be anything I chose to be. I had the nerve to believe them. In a nutshell, I've always known who I am and what I'm here on this earth to do, and I will fulfill it through music and the arts. I am confident that I will leave a legacy like Ntozake, Oprah, my mom, and my ancestors before me. Huge shoes huh? Well, we are all capable of this, if we help and uplift each other. I am humbled, blessed, and honored to be a part of this current legacy.

 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photo by Christine Chambers


Photographer Christine Jean Chambers was a cherished member of The Public Theater community and we are saddened to share the news of her passing. Christine captured the strength of our for colored girls... all women of color creative team in addition to other projects at The Public. We felt Christine's presence in the audience of last night's all women of color attended performance of for colored girls... and will be missed greatly.