Tracie Collins is Making Noise
Black women are at the helm of some of the biggest shows and films these days. Shonda Rhimes (Scandal/Grey’s Anatomy/How to Get Away With Murder), Mara Brock Akil (Being Mary Jane) and Courtney Kemp Agboh (Power) along with Ava Duvernay (Selma) and Gina Prince Bythewood (Beyond the Lights) have been lighting up the small and big screens alike and are slowly becoming household names, and it calls into question- where are the black female writers taking over the stage? This was the question poised to writer/producer/director Tracie Collins and she replied with a simple, “right here.” The Bay Area native has been making major strides, particularly speaking from the voices of women that most often go unheard. But even with four notable stage plays under her belt, it’s likely that you haven’t heard of Collins and even she’s questioning why her success and others like her-self starting, African American women creators-have seemingly been overlooked by mainstream.
Collins, who honed her acting skills at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and has starred in countless productions, is focusing her skill set behind the scenes more these days. Frustrated by the lack of moments for African American women in a white, male dominated field, to tell their stories, she launched Tracie Collins Productions in 2009 and hasn’t looked back since.
“Unfortunately our culture hasn’t been taught to take theater seriously anymore, but if you really want to see talent, that’s really where it’s at. There are so many things you can do with stage that can’t be done with film and television.”
Since making her directorial debut in 2013 with the stage play “The V Monologues: A Black Women’s Interpretation”, Collins has help create more opportunities for black women in front of and behind the curtain. By anchoring her own productions she is challenging and changing the role of black women in the arts.
At the cusp of her next production entitled, ‘Who is Tracie Collins?’ she is preparing for the world to not simply know her name and her story, but with her hustle hopes to encourage women, primarily those of color, reminding us that artistry does not begin or end solely in front of the camera. “I never looked at myself as a playwright, I kinda just leaped into it,” she explains, “but it gives me life, its my fuel, to be able to create.” With a fiery passion to help women see their honest and complex selves reflected in all mediums of art and entertainment, Collins has no qualms about causing an uproar, because as she puts it, she’s simply “a girl with a dream, who doesn’t take no for an answer.”
Be sure to check her one woman show ‘Who is Tracie Collins?’ running January 9-16th in Oakland, California.