1. 39 STEPS TO 40

Monday 6th April, 2020

40min 51sec

 

With her 40th Birthday around the corner, actor Tonia Daley-Campbell decided to write a book about the life she had led that meant she finally felt like her authentic self.  I decided to borrow that title for this episode as it perfectly encapsulated our conversation about overcoming barriers how we sometimes don't notice the steps we - or others - take.

Tonia is an actor from Wolverhampton, and also a producer across the performing and visual arts. We chat about dealing with imposter syndrome, and how a childhood audition for Wizard of Oz has led to producing a supernatural TV series and comic!

You can listen to the episode for free on this page or via any of your usual podcast hosts - links to the major ones are at the foot of the page. The transcript of the episode is also available below.

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NATHAN:

Eyup, I'm Nathan Human. Welcome to Humanish. 

Today's Humanish "thing": I get so excited about having lunch somedays that I start singing. Often changing the lyrics to songs to fit my eating. No. No. I'm not sharing one now. But one MIGHT have been “MY LUNCH” to the tune of “MY HUMPS” by Black Eyed Peas.

In this episode: Tonia Daley Campbell. Theatre. Black representation. Barriers. Producing a comic. And something she loves.

Tonia Daley-Campbell
Tonia Daley-Campbell

This episode is part of a mini-series where I not only have a conversation with someone I admire about their work and life; but also find out about something they love – that you might love too. Guests have been invited to tell me about a passion of theirs – this might be a place, a book, a song, an idea, a hobby – pretty much anything.

For this episode, we time travel to when the world was normal-ish and I visited the – frankly awesome – Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton to chat with producer, actor, and all creative force Tonia-Daley Campbell. As well as discussing her work in theatre and producing a superhero comic, Tonia tells me about finding inspiration in seeing people like her on stage on the screen as well as what it is that she loves. 

 

NATHAN

Could you tell me about when and how you wanted to get into being an actor or performer?

 

TONIA

I remember from the age of eight, that is when I really started to have the feelings of "I want to be an actor". I don't know that I realised that it was called actor, actress, or anything but I recognised that I wanted to perform and entertain, yeah, so that was the key. I used to watch the TV quite a lot and watch different soaps and things like that, films – mainly American films because that's what I used to see, I'd get a lot of information from those because there would be more black faces because for me I wouldn't see many British films with black or brown faces. Whenever I did see any black or brown faces I was like “yeeeess! I wanna be there, I could do that” that kind of feeling. My first experience of theatre was for a massive audition for the Wizard of Oz.

That was an amazing experience, it was just electric to go to the theatre, see a show and then to actually audition for it. Amazing.

 

 

NATHAN

Did you then go to see shows and were you aware of “there aren't many people that look like me” on stage? 

 

TONIA

Definitely. My mum was a single mum, who brought six of us up on her own; so for her, she didn't really know that world at all. Not even a little bit. She wouldn't think, ooh, let me take them to theatre, sort of thing, so I got those experiences through school and they were limited but they were still there. Then I took myself, found things for myself. I remember one poignant moment for me, iBenjamin Zephaniah came to my school, my secondary school to do some poems, he's a famous poet, yeah, from Birmingham. He came and hid poems in patois. In my school, in the whole of my school year were all white, I was the only black girl, and there was a black boy. 

 

NATHAN

So this must have felt like a show for you?

 

TONIA

Let em tell you, so when he spoke in patois and he did his poem in patois, I sat there and I could see everyone else's faces like they couldn't quite understand him but I felt ten feet tall. Because I understood the language – this is how my grandparents speak and some of my family speak. I understood the language and it was pure jokes and I just felt like I could win right now, I felt ten feet tall. And that was important. It was important. And afterwards I went and spoke to him and I said to him “I wanna do things like this, I wanna perform and stuff” and he said “You can do it, you can do it.” Me and my friend bought a ticket – this is me now as a young teenager – and went to watch him at the Civic. 

 

NATHAN

Wow.

 

TONIA

Yeah. Because that's how much I was really invested and interested. Also, in secondary school, they didn't have drama on the curriculum and I was just like “Well, what am I gonna do? You haven't got anything for me?” So I protested to get Drama put on the curriculum.

Yeah. Because that's how much I was really invested and interested. Also, in secondary school, they didn't have drama on the curriculum and I was just like “Well, what am I gonna do? You haven't got anything for me?” So I protested to get Drama put on the curriculum.

 

NATHAN

Brilliant.

 

TONIA

What my English teacher said to me was “Look, Tonia, if you can get about around ten people to do drama, then we'll think about it but it's not really a thing people want to do as a GCSE.” I went round and I spoke to every friend every non-friend, every potential friend, anybody – please could you do drama? I got eight people, including myself and my English teacher couldn't actually believe it. He thought that he was just saying something to me and that I wasn't going to do anything.

 

NATHAN

They underestimated you...

 

TONIA

UNDERESTIMATED! He put it on the curriculum and we were able to do drama. I didn't realise at the time how much writing there was! I'm a performer and my dyslexia – I didn't realise I was dyslexic – so when I was doing and I got a 'B' I was thinking “I should have got an A!”

 

NATHAN

Another barrier.

 

TONIA

I didn't realise about the barrier until I went to Uni', and that's when I realised about the dyslexia and now I'm understanding that I'm intelligent but I have different ways to work through these things. But I just thought I'm so dumb. I'm so dumb. The only thing I'm really good at is performing, you know? 

 

NATHAN

It's a different type of intelligence. I think that's what's frustrating in education; that you being a performer, being able to speak eloquently, be able to put ideas across and create, that isn't weighted in the same way as someone that can write a sentence with the correct punctuation.

 

TONIA

Exactly. That is something that I pass down to my young people, down to my kids – my own children and the young people I work with. The power of the creative arts and the performing arts is second to none, you can't beat it and I think people are waking up to this.

 

NATHAN

I kind of find it fascinating, that whenever I hear how people got into theatre, it's not a big history – it's not due to someone in their family. But if we read about famous people we often find some background of privilege – it was quite prominent in the news last year. That seems a distant world to somewhere like we are now, in the Arena – do you see it as almost two separate things? Or I am seeing it wrong? That's there's a world of people who make theatre every day – we often don't hear about – and then there's almost mythical other place of fame and celebrity?

 

TONIA

100% Nathan. Honestly. I feel it's so accessible, it's so tangible. If you're creative, you can make theatre...but...without the fees, without the money, without the finance, without the support. Sometimes you'll get support; the Arena theatre is really brilliant for that, for supporting emerging artists and emerging talent. There is definitely a massive gaping hole – I still believe - with the whole elitism, the elite side of theatre. Even sometimes now for me, I feel like an imposter when I'm in those circles.

 

NATHAN

You've got imposter syndrome?

 

TONIA

Yeah, I do. I hear these words batted around and I didn't realise it was a thing and then someone said it and I was like “I've got that! I've felt that!” Do you know? I put my hand up for it, “Excuse me? Hello? That's me.” So what I did – what I've always done – is use my acting skills to kind of act my way amongst people and feel like I belong in circles where I don't really feel like I belong. Do you know what I mean? 

 

NATHAN

That's quite a common thing and I know you work with a lot of young people so do you try and help them get over that and say “that's ok, that's how I felt?” But my second part of the questions is, if so, isn't that really draining?

 

TONIA

Oh my goodness I love you so much. You are so on point with the questions! It is MORE than draining and hence why, from when I turned 39, I wrote a book. It's called 39 Steps to 40 and I decided to write it as little gift to myself because I did find this whole holding things up and being like that just too draining. Earlier on I said to you I'm now my most authentic self because of [losing] that whole feeling that it's a heavy burden. I don't want to say I was being someone else, because that's not quite right, but you're constantly being aware, and I'll go further Nathan, being a black artist, you're always trying to fit in as well. So it's not just the class situation, it's also a race situation, and then for me being from Wolverhampton IS ANOTHER SITUATION!

Let me tell you something, because if you're not in London, it's one thing, even if you're not in Birmingham! I love Birmingham, I'm so close with Birmingham and what it has to offer and Birmingham has welcomed me, but being from Wolverhampton you do feel like you're from a place called nowhere. As quoting Beverly Knight's song! My sister my sister Beverly! But you do feel like you're from nowhere, and it is tiring to keep being in those spaces and being able to speak (puts on strong West Mids accent) how you wanna speak! (Laughs.)

 

 

NATHAN

That's the invisible thing that sometimes I think people don't understand – we see you come in, excited, full of energy; and maybe not aware that that's taken a lot of effort for you to go “I need to present this person for you to accept. And I've got to overcome these barriers that you might not see.” How do you cope with that? Is there something extra you have to do like “I need extra energy because I've got to put on these two extra masks, these extra performances", and then perform as an actual actor. 

 

TONIA

Definitely, and let me before I answer that last bit – think about Robin Williams. Think about him. Think about how many loved his energy. Think about how many people loved his energy, how many people loved what he did; he was a comedian, an amazing actor, and he was full to the brim with so much anxiety and so much depression and we know how the story ends. Think about people like that. And then add to that, being a black woman. 

 

NATHAN

Do you get that from the young people you work with? Do you feel – even if they don't say to you – can you sense that in a “oh, I know what you're having to go through, the extra burden you having to carry”?

 

TONIA

I see it, but it's different because right about now, the ground is quite fertile and there's a lot of waymakers; a lot of people like myself that are making ways, doors opening for those young people who if they were in my time would be feeling all this anxiousness. There are more people like me, who have made the ground fertile for them to be able to come along, and it's been cultivated, do you get what I mean? So I do see it, but it's different. The way young people communicate is different, through social media, online, it's a different expression.

 

NATHAN

Do you think some of that is a result of what you were talking about earlier? You were talking about being 8 years old and watching TV, and getting excited because “there's a black face!” Do you think some of the changes for young people are because children today ares eeing black faces; that they're feeling even more that this is possible because they're seeing it everywhere?

 

TONIA

I think they are seeing it a bit more and it's more tangible for them. There are a lot more doors that are being opened for them but also I think there is an era now of you can become what you want to become just be being an online star, through YouTube or Instagram – Instafame as my kids say!

A lot of the time they're holding things in and just putting it online. And for them, I think there's a lot of pressure to be in competition with each other. What I try and encourage and instill is to not feel like you're in competition with other people because there's no other person like you. There's no other person like me. So, you're not in competition with somebody, even if there are ten black people going for a role, those are ten different people, so you've got to feel comfortable and confident in what you're bringing. If that job's not for you, then it's not for you.

My kids always say “Mum, we should do a YouTube channel, you'd be famous.” Listen, I work in this industry of fame and fortune and I'm not interested in fame! That has never been the case for me. I love my job, I love what I do: I love performing, I love entertaining but nowhere in my mind have I thought “right, let me try and prepare because I need to become famous.”

 

NATHAN

What? You've never practised your interview for late night hosts?

 

TONIA

Never! (puts on Jamaican accent) WHEN d'ey want to interview me, dey gonta get d'raw me!

 

NATHAN

I'm just picturing you on Graham Norton now!

 

TONIA

Oh I love him! I love him. He'd love me as well. I think it would be great!

 

 

NATHAN

Whilst I see if I can google Graham Norton's agent, it's time for a quick break and for me to do a teensy bit of admin and tell you how you can get in touch. I do this podcast on my own so it always makes me super pleased when someone does get in touch. You can find more

You can do that via the website: thehumanish.co .uk and also follow and chat via social media where you can find humanishy on twitter, facebook, and instagram. You can subscribe to the podcast wherever you normally get your shows from and obviously, as well as sharing with your friends and nearest and dearest, if you want to leave a review and rating on iTunes, it will help not only help others find the show but give me warm and fuzzies.

 

Ok, back to the Arena Theatre and Tonia Daley-Campbell. One of Tonia's recent and ongoing projects is ambitious, bold, authentic, and tells an entertaining story with a black representation at its heart. So what is Lucid the Dreamwalker?

 

TONIA

Lucid the Dreamwalker is a brand new TV series that has been written by a young man called Oraine Johnson, a close friend of mine, who's my business partner and I am the producer.

 

NATHAN

Check you out!

 

TONIA

I know, give myself a little round of applause – whoop whoop! So, I'm the producer and I will be featured in it eventually. Lucid the Dreamwalker is about a young black boy, called Joseph Jacobs, who on the eve of his birthday finds out that he has supernatural powers. He is from a long line of Dreamwalkers, he's the last Dreamwalker. 

 

NATHAN

I'm loving it already.

 

TONIA

It's amazing. Oraine's creative mind is absolutely mind-blowing. I remember when Oraine told me about this idea, I was blown away and I said, “Look bro', I'm going to stand by you, and we're gonna make this happen.” For me, producing this TV series is all about not waiting to be asked to have a seat around the table, but to build your own table, create your own chairs, bring people in that you want to work with and that is what I'm doing and that is why it's taken us so long. A lot of people are like “oh you filmed this ages ago” but we filmed the first pilot episode and we're now looking for investors for the whole season 1. We've got all the scripts and everything, so we're in talks with investors. 

 

NATHAN

Can you get Netflix on board?

 

TONIA

Netflix is interested.

 

NATHAN

(Gasps) Get out of town!

 

TONIA

Amazon prime. We've got the links, we just need the finances. And that is a bit of a shout out really! (Laughs). 

 

NATHAN

Obviously, everyone that's heard this will think this sounds brilliant and want to find out more, where can people find out more, or watch a trailer – I believe there's a trailer? And a comic?

 

TONIA

I was just about to say, people can buy the comic and that is really important. If you want to get behind the world of Lucid the Dreamwalker, buy the comic. You can get it on Comixology – it's out now.

 

NATHAN

Awesome – get it on your iPad.

 

TONIA

We do have some hard copies as well, which are exclusive ones. We've been going around doing touring at the MCM Comic cons, so we've been doing that and we will be at small little festivals selling our comics. You can just follow us, the company – our company is called Themis Creative. So you can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.

 

MUSIC

 

NATHAN

Please do support the project – the Comixology apps free and you can get the first part of Lucid the Dreamwalker for the bargain price of £1.99.

 

On March 2nd this year, producer, writer, and host James Lipton passed away. There was a time when his show The Actor's Studio would go out on TV here on a weekend morning and it was part of my routine for a while. James would invite actors into the Actor's Studio for an interview about their lives and their craft in front of an audience of the studio's students. These were indepth interviews that avoided gossip and went down a biographical route before analysing their films and work. One of my favourite parts was when they would end the interview with a quick-fire round of questions that James said he'd based on a questionnaire by french host Bernard Pivot. I've decided to shamelessly rip off this idea but have at least come up with my own 10 questions that I hope will provide a quirky insight to my guests.

 

END MUSIC

 

NATHAN

Ok, we're now getting to the second part so this is going to be ten, very quick fire questions before we find out what it is that you love.

 

TONIA

Ok, I'll try.

 

NATHAN

No need to overthink these, this is like a drama game – what comes to mind. Ok. What was the last live event or exhibition you went to?

 

TONIA

The last live event that I was in? Or that I went to?

 

NATHAN

That you saw.

 

TONIA

Oh. 14/48. Here at the Arena Theatre. Because I was thinking, the last things I've been doing it's been me in it cos I never get chance to watch because I'm always in it!

 

NATHAN

So you saw 14/48 The World's Quickest Theatre festival.

 

TONIA

The world's quickest theatre festival – great, sorry! Yes, I'm ready!

 

NATHAN

What was the last book you recommended to someone?

 

TONIA

Cheeky, it was my book! 39 Steps to 40 by Tonia Daley-Campbell. That was because they wanted to know a bit more about me so I recommended the book! (Laughs.) 

 

NATHAN

That's perfectly valid, we're all ok with that. You are DJ-ing a party, what’s the track you play to kick the night off?

 

TONIA

Okay. Simple. Lauryn Hill – That Thing. (Sings) Girl, you know you better watch out. You know that tune! Put it on and I'll be dancing.

 

NATHAN

Brilliant DJ. If you’re at home feeling a bit poorly, what film or TV show do you turn to most often?

 

TONIA

See, I don't always do that. But my favourite all-time film is The Colour Purple. It's my favourite. It's not necessarily that I want to watch it when I'm feeling unwell but that is my favourite of all time. I'm not really one of those people that's like “urgh, let me watch something” when I'm not feeling well, I just wanna -

 

NATHAN

Be ill?

 

TONIA

Just switch off. Netflix is really getting me at the moment, I'm liking all the great stuff like How to Get Away With Murder, come on! Annalise Keating – amazing character.

 

NATHAN

You win a holiday to go anywhere for a weekend – what’s your choice?

 

TONIA

Can I get two in?!

 

NATHAN

(Reluctantly) I'll let you get two in...

 

TONIA

Right, I really love Jamaica, it's beautiful, but I wanna go back to Portugal. I love it. Simple. Oooh!

 

NATHAN

No! That's it!

 

TONIA

That's enough isn't? (Laughs.)

 

NATHAN

You can't just keep giving answers! Ok, these ones are on a scale of one to ten. So, one being you're not happy or confident with this situation, and ten being you're totally happy and confident. So how do you feel about these situations: Putting together flat-pack furniture.

 

TONIA

(Laughs) Errr...4!

 

NATHAN

Admitting you are wrong.

 

TONIA

9?

 

NATHAN

That's pretty impressive. Spending a few days alone.

 

TONIA

8.

 

NATHAN

Cooking something new from a recipe.

 

TONIA

(Confidently) 10! C'mon.

 

NATHAN

Confronting a friend when you think they’ve done something disagreeable.

 

TONIA

7.

 

NATHAN

Ok, good, honest answers there. They are your quick fires one done – thank you!

 

TONIA

Yeah! I love that.

 

BRIEF MUSIC INTERLUDE

 

NATHAN

Ok, now on to the big one. So, I know you struggled with this, trying to think of just one thing to talk about that you love, but could you tell us the one thing that you love.

 

TONIA

Ok. I absolutely love to dance. I love it with a passion. Dancing, for me, means freedom. Dancing for me, is expressive. Dancing, for me, is communication, and I am NOT a trained dancer. I love dancing.

 

NATHAN I love that you said it's part of communIcation, that's just stuck in my head straight away as “of course it is” but maybe that isn't the first people think of when they communicate. When you say that, it feels like you really want to communicate your emotion, or am I off base with that?

 

TONIA

You're on the base!

 

NATHAN

I've landed on base.

 

TONIA

You've touched base! For sure, like, I use dance in so many ways, I use dance to worship God, I use dance to flirt – ummhuh I do. I use dance to tell a story, I use dance when I'm angry. 

 

NATHAN

Oh really? You dance angry?

 

TONIA

I'll put on music, if something's effected me, instead of like f-ing and blinding like that, I'll put on track, maybe a bit of grime, or something and I will fight it out with my body.

 

NATHAN

So it's getting the aggression out through energy, I thought you just meant like angry dancing, stomping around...

 

TONIA

(Laughs.)

 

NATHAN

(Growls angry dancing.) Like trying to find an angry song, was it Kelis? I hate you so much right now?

 

TONIA

(Sings/shouts) I hate you so much right now! Well...you could do angry dancing and stomping. But mine's more using my body to communicate to get that frustration out there.

 

NATHAN

To get out that energy that's built up, that adrenaline?

 

TONIA

Yeah.

 

NATHAN

I know you've talked about being influenced by performance, even though you didn't know it was acting, did you see dancing at a young age as well, or was it just part of what you did?

 

TONIA

I don't know why, but it was just in me. Dance is just in me and that's why it's weird because I've never been trained but you put on any bit of music – I'm moving now as I'm talking to you - 

 

NATHAN

She really is!

 

TONIA

But if you put on music, it doesn't matter what it is, like I'm feeling it and I know I can communicate something. And it doesn't have to be polished, I think that's what I love about the rawness of dance and moving your body, it doesn't have to be a polished thing. I love beautiful, polished, trained dancers, I also like dad dancers dad dancing, dancing is just brilliant communication – it just tells you a lot about someone. I mean, look at Theresa May (laughs.)

 

NATHAN

Funnily enough, you saying about communicating, is it the absence of words that makes it more powerful in a way?

 

TONIA

100%. 100%. We can communicate in all different ways but I believe dance is a very powerful tool to communicate what you want to say. Especially, I suppose for me, growing up as a teenager in Wolverhampton I used to go to these places called Dance Energy and it was a really great space for young under 18 year olds to just come, dance, and it was organised by youth leaders in the area. And they'd be playing hip hop – my goodness – I was a hip hop HEAD. (Laughs.)

 

NATHAN

Have you got a favourite hip hop artist for dancing?

 

TONIA

So I like all sorts, I liked Mary J, which is more R&B, I liked Wu Tang Clan (laughs) I liked Buster Rhymes – oh my days – there's just so many, trust me.

 

NATHAN

Do you like dance for any of the cultural reasons, or is it just this visceral, physicality of it?

 

TONIA

So the rawness of it is just in me, it's just part of me, but yes, I am aware and culturally, from my background, listening to the reggae beats, growing up with the reggae music and having blues parties and all those kind of things that was definitely an influence. Culturally, music and dance are married together, you know for us, it's a union-ship but the history of street dance goes way back. I mean, if you look at some of the grounded moves, it goes way back to African dancing you know. I remember seeing a video about krumping and it was like a religion – there were off their heads with it. Literally, they were krumping and they would just go off into like a whole new world with the krumping.

 

NATHAN

But that's interesting because the way you talk about dancing is almost religious-like of what it means to you, and you did say that you dance for God.

 

TONIA

For worship, yeah.

 

NATHAN

Do you feel it's got a link to that for you – of trying to communicate faith?

 

TONIA

A million percent. I know that sometimes my words fail me. Sometimes I cannot express, I can't articulate what I need to say, but I can really – my body can tell you how I'm feeling. And I know that unspoken word goes to a deeper level, a spiritual realm, it goes on deeper into the spiritual realm. Whether or not you believe in spirits and a spirit world – that doesn't bother me because I just know, that I know that I know there is a spirit world! I am not afraid – now – to communicate in that way. It sounds a bit – wuaah - (makes universal noise for “that's a bit out there”.)

 

NATHAN

That does sound a little bit like you're going to start doing a ritual dance!

 

TONIA

No, I won't be! For me, it's a powerful way to worship and communicate with my God.

 

NATHAN

Are you someone - that when anyone is planning a night out - are you someone that is leading the charge saying “we need to go somewhere to dance.”

 

TONIA

Well, I'm the person if we go out, I hate it if we go out and everyone's on the side, in the corners just listening to music and all “oooh, I've just got a drink.” No, no, no. I'm not going out just to have a drink – I'm not interested. I could go out and not have any alcohol, I do have a bit, but I could have none and still be dancing. People would be thinking “She's had a bit to drink.” No. I would be the party starter, I would go in the centre, if no one's there – better for me – more space! But I would be there dancing. And I also use dancing as a way of making friends. I will see a stranger, who's maybe quite shy but you can see that they're enjoying me, and I'll go over and I'll be like “coooome” and I'll dance with them and make them feel comfortable and make them feel confident. And eventually, you'll see the whole place is peppered with people just dancing their best dance, and it doesn't matter what it looks like. In fact, I was hired once – not once, a few times - back in the day we used to go on these weekenders, these R&B weekenders away and they would get me to start the party.

 

NATHAN

I was just about to say, I found recently, that I found out from a friend of friend – their friend's job is to be like a party leader, and to get people up. They've just come back from [bleeped name of wealthy person's residence].

 

TONIA

Er, hello, they definitely need me! You need to hook me up.

 

NATHAN

That also just seems interesting – have we got to a point where people need a party leader like yourself? We've got to a point where we're so self-conscious that we need someone to lead?

 

TONIA

I think people are very self-conscious. A lot of people put out a persona online now, when you see them in reality, it's not always the same person that they're portraying online.

 

NATHAN

Maybe people need to dance first; like you said it's not important if you're trained or not.

 

TONIA

It doesn't matter! It's the best feeling in the world.

 

NATHAN

You were saying earlier about you now feel comfortable about your trust and who you are. Is that maybe one element of it that you say “you know what, I do just love dance.” Or have you always been like that, were you the child that would be leaping up and dancing anyway?

 

TONIA

Yeah, I've always been the dancer and my family always tell me about this memory when I was two or three and my Grandma on my Dad's side had given me a Christmas present of a basket, and I know it sounds like a small Christmas present but I was only two or three and I don't know if it had fruit in it but it was a little basket and I picked it up and I must have done a little shimmy a little Caribbean kind of shimmy-shimmy and I was so in rhythm and so mesmerising that everyone was just commenting about this little baby – my family call me Tanny – so this little “Tanny Tanny!” she's got these dance moves so it was from a young age. So I've always danced to be honest, it's always been part of me. But there was a time in my life where I felt very self-conscious about it. Because I just want to enjoy dancing, I'm not thinking about it for anyone else.

 

NATHAN

It's for you, personal for you.

 

TONIA

Yeah, but then I did go through a time when people would comment and say “ooh, look at her she thinks she's very “extra” - in Caribbean – she's extra, it's “eggs up” Extra is eggs up.

 

NATHAN

I have never heard of that!

 

TONIA

Oh I love giving you a new word!

 

NATHAN

What is eggs up?

 

TONIA

Eggs up means she's like, she's extra, she's over the top.

 

NATHAN

I can't get away with saying that can I?

 

TONIA

Well...try it. Try it and see. Say (Puts on Caribbean accent) Ya too eggs up.

 

NATHAN

I can't just call someone “eggs up”...

 

TONIA

No. You can't. Forget it! (Laughs.)

 

NATHAN

I just said it my head and -

 

TONIA

No, it's not going to work! But at least you've learnt that new word.

 

NATHAN

Yeah, I'm going to listen out for it now.

 

TONIA

It's because you're saying it too nice though, cos you said (mimics voice) “I can't call someone eggs up.” You can't say it like that, you've gotta go EGGS UP MAN. (Laughs.)

 

NATHAN

I might try it again later.

 

TONIA

Find...find your safe space! Do it with your safe people.

 

NATHAN

If it works, I'll let you know. So, I'm curious as you were saying you're not a trained dancer but you seem to love dancing so much, was it something you never wanted to do further and get training or was it just not an option?

 

TONIA

Hmm. That's a really good question because I've never really thought about it. I think, for me, I felt like I could dance. Because I felt like I could dance, I didn't think of it as something I needed to train in. I suppose, I did do a little bit of dance – not proper training – but when I went to College – I went to College, then University, then Drama school – within performing arts there was elements of Dance. So I learnt a little bit of period dance, the Lindihop, which is one of the best dances out. So I learnt a little bit of that, and learning those dances was great but I just didn't think in my head...I don't know to be honest Nathan.

 

NATHAN

Maybe it's just a stupid question – why does something have to be going any further other than you just love doing it, there doesn't have to be an end point.  sometimes we all need to remember that like “Actually, I just enjoy telling jokes, it doesn't mean I'm going to be a comedian” or “I enjoy cooking food, doesn't mean I'm going to be a chef.” Just love it for the thing it is.

 

TONIA

Yeah, yeah. I suppose that is true. Now thinking about it, I just don't know why I never did it because I incorporate it in my performances anyway but I never really thought of myself as going off and being a dancer, as a career. I wanted to tell stories and I knew that was part of my skill and I could use that.

 

NATHAN

I guess also, just hearing myself ask that; it's almost what we're programmed to believe – well you can't do that until you're trained. I don't know if you've heard of Kurt Vonnegut the author? There was this one story that a student wrote to him one time asking for advice to write their short story and the advice he gave was to go home, write what you thought your best story was and then screw it up and throw it away.

 

TONIA

Ok, yeah.

 

NATHAN

Because it wasn't for anyone else, it should be for the joy of just wanting to write. And that's a good reminder, you just saying you didn't think of further training is that the whole point is we shouldn't think of an end goal, we should just do it for the sake of the fun you get from doing it.

 

TONIA

Definitely. Like, I can't imagine my life without music and dance, without being able to dance. Even if music was obsolete, and there was no more music in the world, there would still be music in my heart. There would be music in my head. And I would just dance. My kids laugh at me all the time because I will literally get up, and I'll just start dancing. “There's no music though Mom!” I don't care I need to dance right now! Dancing is happening. 

 

NATHAN

Do your kids join in, have they taken it from you, or is it like instead of an embarrassing Dad dance, it's embarrassing mum?

 

TONIA

The whole family join in. In fact, on my birthday just gone, I posted a video of me and my family all dancing, literally just all dancing, it was awesome. Love it. One of my daughters is actually taking Dance more seriously and she is going down the training route and she loves it. She absolutely loves it and she's said to me “I'd love to tour the world.” She wants to go to different countries anyway but she aid “Mum, I'd love to be able to do that as a dancer.” So I'm currently looking into that for her; because whatever I can do to support my kids on their journey, I'll just do whatever I can.

 

NATHAN

I think we've come full circle to something else you love, the journey from you starting out, to then talk about the journey your daughter's going on. That sounds like the perfect point to end on. Thank you so much. I've really enjoyed talking with you and hopefully we'll get to do it again soon. A reminder for everyone to check out Lucid the Dreamwalker.

 

TONIA

Follow us on Themis Creative, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and the comic is on Comixology.

 

NATHAN

Thank you very much, take care, bye!

 

TONIA

Thank you, byeeee.

 

 

NATHAN

As well thanking Tonia Daley Campbell for her time, a big thank you to Theatre Manager Neil Reading and the team at Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton for letting us plonk down in their main auditorium for this chat.

 

Next episode my conversation is with Jenna Omeltschenko who talks about the importance of providing an experience of theatre to the next generation:

 

JENNA With the currents in arts and theatre in school, lots of young people have never seen theatre so how do they know if they like it or not? How do they know if it's something that they want to do, or that t hey might enjoy? I think it's about opening up opportunity for people to see stuff and then if you don't like it, and you hate the art form – fine. But you should have a choice.

 

NATHAN

And also tells me about the something that she loves:

JENNA

There's not a moment of my life, I don't remember not knowing what Man United was, really. I don't think I had any choice, if I'd been anything but United, I think I'd have been disowned. 

 

NATHAN

That's next time on Humanish. I hope you will join us.

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