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Meet Tamara Faith of Sweet Not Stupid in The Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tamara Faith.

Tamara, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Where to begin? Lol, I guess where it all started! I was born in Lancaster, CA to my mother and father as the middle of 5, where I grew up in a Christian household with my siblings. During my child rearing years, I was home schooled, as a result I grew up; very quiet, reserved, awkward, mischievous, but also I was quite active and had an innate eye for creativity. At an early age, I was very motivated and loved to create. Growing up, I was introduced to poetry on a program called Def Poetry on BET, which introduced me to; Dante Basco, Gemineye, Shihan, and musical influences like Common, Alicia Keys, and Kanye West for the very first time.

Moreover, I was also introduced to battle rap on YouTube with the likes of; Dumbfounded, Hitman Holla, Loaded Lux and Conceited along with others. I remember falling in love with rhythm and cadences alike. As a youth, making the transition from home school to public school, middle school was a bit challenging because I was struggling to find my voice. It wasn’t until high school, where I got the chance to thrive as the true extrovert that I was. I exercised both my athleticism and creativity simultaneously throughout high school. Previously finishing the LA Marathon in former years, I competed by; running track, cross-country, playing basketball and even becoming the varsity tennis captain my senior year. However, I also got my feet wet with dance, singing in two choirs and even drawing while maintaining my thirst for literature. I can say even then, I had a well-rounded persona. High School was a great time to explore my involvement in clubs and leadership. And although I was engaged in a lot of interests, it wasn’t until I went off to college at CSUN, California State University Northridge, where I was reintroduced to my first love. Although I knew I loved Poetry and Spoken Word, I kept it to myself. I even went to events alone, afraid that my friends wouldn’t be interested in attending with me. I would often walk across campus and fall into a daydream because I longed to be on stage one day. I kept a journal and continued to write daily, but again, I kept all entries to myself. At the time, anxiety had a hold on me, and I knew I wasn’t ready to perform. Later, I was introduced to an open mic event on campus called Espressions, where I first performed as a singer, which is where I felt most comfortable. After a few more events, I was lead to another event called Vocal artillery, highlighting artistry on a different more raw level, similar to the vibe I grew up on. Singing was where I began. However, I gained more traction and notoriety as I transitioned to performing as a poet. I found that the more I attended events, the more I performed. The more I performed, I got invited to perform across campus to various clubs and be a part of their talent shows. I even found myself at local slams at clothing stores, Collective Lifestyle, and even to UCLA, highlighting women in education.

Upon graduation, I was met with the dilemma most college graduates face, whether to go back home or make it work by any means necessary to stay where I was. I chose the ladder. Immediately I was met with the hardships of working multiple odd jobs and living from paycheck to paycheck and trying to find my place in society all over again. Each job I had, reminded me more and more of my creative ways and I realized I couldn’t see the rest of my life typing behind a desk. I was a dreamer and a creative. It wasn’t until January 2018 I decided to take acting classes and embrace the challenge of balancing both my professional reality and creative desires. The day before I started classes, I lost my job. I remember feeling both liberated and confused at the same time. I lost all direction I thought I had, or did I? My slate was wiped clean, and I had a decision to make. I could beat myself up for a loss, or I could proactively take the steps necessary to embrace the following: Who God created me to be, Why I was here, and what I possessed a vessel in His Kingdom. I just knew, that “if one door closes, surely another door is opened somewhere else.”

I began classes at the previously known, Dustin Felder’s Acting studio (RIP, King Dustin) under the study of KJ Rose and Commercial King Marcus Brown. They both taught me not only about the business of Acting but also emphasizing the importance of being authentic in every way and to embrace who we were unapologetic as creatives. Acting allowed me to embrace performance on stage and adding to my performance as a spoken word artist. Alongside performing poetry, I began working in theater productions, landing a role as a reoccurring character on an award winning web series called Mixed Boy Joy currently on Youtube, Ladies Night, digital commercial spots such as Fabletics and Shea Moistures, and ultimately creating my own work in a new film called “Hope Secured” based on an original piece set to release in 2021. This period of my life was about believing in myself again, writing again, pre-approving myself while seeing what I possessed was as powerful as it was lovely. I had to remind myself that “All I have is all I need.” My whole life poetry said yes to me, but it wasn’t until more recently that I finally said yes back. Since then, I’ve been working on my first written project and performing relentlessly at venues and events such as Wordplay Weekend in DTLA, Love X Gala in Lamar Park, The Love Box in Echo Park, Artist Anonymous and My First Fridays in the Valley, Modern Tea Room back home in the Antelope Valley, and the newest event Social Hookah Lounge on Wednesdays and SpeakEasy Thursdays off La Brea in the heart of LA while now stepping into virtual spaces to perform. In addition, I’ve even had the privilege of opening up for a private movie premiere called “Listen” speaking on Depression and Suicide prevention and serve as a talent guest at USC Prep in East LA, sharing my latest pieces. I can say that now I am a published author and a filmmaker and I would never have seen those two things coming. I am forever grateful. 

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not at all lol I don’t think the road paved with dreams and endless possibility is ever smooth lol As a middle child, I grew up struggling to express myself, so it’s kind of ironic that I’ve been called to speak through such a strong art form. Often times I fought to be heard or seen and I always found myself contemplating on how I would do that. I often battled with if I ever got the chance to express myself, would my message be received the way I intended? Would my words be enough? Or would I ultimately be understood? I struggled in my own mind with; doubt, anxiety, extreme loss, comparisons and I even struggled from the fear of success and imposter syndrome. That the weight of finding my place and walking in purpose was always bigger than me would crush me or intimidate those around me. I also struggled financially from time to time and working a multitude of part time jobs just to make ends meet. Dealing with friends coming in and out of my life, doubt from family members not fully understanding my journey as a creative, all while maintaining faith in God. I also had an attempt at self-publishing my book with the website losing all my work the night before I was ready to approve the final draft. I was beyond discouraged and even battled mild depression. It’s been beyond rough and I’ve cried countless tears trying to make sense of it all. But the crazy part is I wouldn’t trade my journey for anyone else’s.

Sweet Not Stupid – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I specialize in creating a world and bringing my audience on a journey with me all the while opening up their eyes to their own lives. Being able to be powerful, poised, vulnerable and also operating in the exhortation that touches everyone no matter where they find themselves. I am best known for my art form of spoken word but it’s really so much more than that. I derive influences and inspiration from just about anywhere. Anything from cultural norms, my attempts at love, the battle for my sanity, my own disappointments and failures, to even my faith, as I intertwine scriptures from the bible. In addition, what really sets my work apart from others is the energy I bring to the stage. My ability to be present and remain personable in every way has made a great impact in a positive way. I am best described as, “Raw, yet beautiful and poised, yet free”. What brings me the most joy, are the amount of people my work touches provoking them to make power moves in their own lives! It brings me such joy when people share with me that too have begun writing, sharing their own poems, going after their dreams or even having experienced peace in a new way after having heard my performance. It’s the best feeling in the world and I am humbled by it daily and I am reminded, I too am a vessel. You should also keep an eye out for more work from me as I turn original pieces to short films! My first short film called “Hoped Secured”, based on an original piece is set to come out 2021. 

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I was at USC Prep in East LA to perform for Black History Month 2020 in a classroom of high school students. After my last piece, the room fell silent and a teacher came up to me and told me that a few of the girls cried. She expressed how they were profoundly touched by my words and they could identify with where the piece took them. Afterwards, another student approached me and shared with me a poem she had been working on. As I sat to listen, my heart was full and I was reminded of why I do this, why I share poetry in the first place. I just knew that I had to make a more definitive body of work. Which is why I am proud to say that, with the help of my Author Coach, Nikkie Pryce, I have finally finished working on my debut book called “Sweet Not Stupid”. Now it’s available as a paperback and Ebook on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and everywhere books are sold and can be found on my website Tamarafaith.com. In my book I lay out how to find your voice through the power of poetry. That the idea of strength is no longer what society says but what we know to be true for ourselves. 

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Image Credit:
Roman Higgins

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