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Meet Tdjiri Yakini

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tdjiri Yakini.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
There are many tiers in life that one has to champion before elevating. I learned that quickly once I chose a profession as unconventional as acting. I fell in love with acting at eleven. I didn’t know how I was going to go about pursuing it, but I knew once I saw “Eve’s Bayou”, that an actor is what I wanted to become, though at that time, my immediate focus had been dance.

I’ve been dancing since I was three. I even attended a performing arts high school for dance. But, I knew in my heart that I wanted to be a professional actor. So, once I graduated high school I went on to major in Theatre at Texas Southern University before transferring to University of Michigan my sophomore year. During undergrad, I performed in a plethora of theatre plays, and a small number of short films before graduating. I learned a lot during that time. I learned about my habits as an actor, where I had to reach and what was in my wheelhouse, but most importantly, how much I had grown as a person and performer.

I decided to continue my education at American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) both in New York and Los Angeles. During my study there, I became more disciplined; beginning to understand the hard work and time needed to develop as an artist. I questioned whether I had what it took to be great and soon realized that talent alone would not guarantee me a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I needed to become a student of the industry. And after graduating from AMDA, I began to feel the pressure.

I did not book any auditions for a little over a year after graduating. I will say my focus was on surviving. The financial climate was a huge leap from Michigan, and that took a toll. From headshots to active casting sites, acting became too expensive to not even get an audition, but by God’s grace, I met some wonderful people doing immersive theatre, and I have been meeting people and booking projects ever since. I am currently apart of QT Series, a quarantine series that delves into the lives of people learning how to navigate their career, dating, the political climate, and their health during this pandemic. In brief, I am humbled by the experiences I have been blessed to live through. Another tier down, many more to go.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Not at all. A smooth road is what I had hoped would be my journey, but God had other plans. Swallowing the pills of not even booking an audition for a year was difficult. Navigating, living in LA while working to build a career as an actor is a struggle in itself. I’m still working to find that balance. I have struggled to keep my headshots updated, as they are an investment, and my hair was growing from a short cut. Not to mention, getting an agent to even get seen in some of these rooms is another part-time job. Thankfully I am now represented.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am my brand and business. I am an actor, dancer, and writer from Detroit, with an old soul and unique perspective on childhood. I am most proud that I kept going. No matter what, I continued to push through the obstacles that once appeared to destroy me, but as my vision changed I realized they were planted to make me stronger. It stretched me to mold me, broke me to build me, and for that I am forever grateful. We all have our own stories and experiences that became a catalyst for where we are today. What sets me apart is my own perspective and lens of this world.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
There are many people who have had a hand in creating the woman before you. From family to friends, teachers, to my now mentors at ASTV, I wouldn’t be the same without them. If I named everyone, I would be writing for a while, but to those people I say thank you. They have aided in ways that either involved raising me from childhood, supporting me in my work, or shaping me as an artist. All of which I am grateful.

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Image Credit:

Journee Productions. Wyoh Photography. Artistic Standard TV. Grant Yanney

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