DeJuan, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
When I think of it, my Grandmother Florence Foxworth was my first teacher in the arts. As a child, she would make me learn scriptures and passages from the Bible and present them in church. She would say, “Be assertive with your presence, project your voice, understand your message and connect with your audience!” I don’t think either one of us knew that she was preparing me for my future career. Maybe she did, she’s a wise woman. When I was in 8th grade my older cousin, Cindy Williams Campbell told me, when I enter high school, I should audition for the Drama Club.
I initially despised the idea of doing theatre! I told her I wasn’t going to do theatre. My words were, “I’m a ball player. I can’t get on stage wearing tights. That’s against the code.” She replied, “You’re 13, I don’t want to hear anything about a code. You can continue to play ball, but you’re doing theatre next year too!” Because of her significance in my life, I reported to the theatre in 9th grade for an audition, and as they say, the rest is history.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress”- Frederick Douglass It hasn’t been an easy journey this far, but I’m still standing tall, strong, proud, and determined. On my journey, a few loved ones have transitioned to the ancestral realm, those of whom love, grace, sacrifices, and guidance are my foundation. This very foundation sustains me while I work diligently to manifest my vision so many miles away from home.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am an actor, teacher, director,and producer. I’m most proud to be able to use my gifts with my sisters and brothers of the Black Creators Collective. We are an organization with the mission of bringing the highest standard of theatre, film, and education to our underserved communities. With every stride I make towards the finish line of success, I make a conscious effort to still be of service to others. My grandmother always says, “Juan in order to fly you have to have someone that is willing to be the air beneath your wings.” I’ve been very fortunate to have met people on my journey who have helped me to soar. I want to do my best to help others who look like me fly as well. The view is so beautiful from the sky! I live by a quote that was given by the great scholar, Dr. John Henrik Clarke. “Whatever talent the creator has bestowed upon you, it’s your duty to nurture it and use it for the edification and liberation of your people.”
What was your favorite childhood memory?
As a child, I would love to sit and watch my parents, uncles, aunties, and older cousins tell stories of the past filled with embellishments. Where I’m from, they call it shooting the breeze! I would also enjoy them telling those stories over family dinners or card games like Tonk and Bid-Whiz.
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