Every other Thursday I profile a new incredible woman, each from a different walk of life. Different professions, causes, backgrounds, ethnicities, orientations, and anything/everything else!
So without further delay, let me introduce the amazing Abena Malika…
Have you ever felt the jitters? If Abena Malika has, you wouldn’t know it from the amazing work she does as both an actor and equally talented singer. With an impressive resumé that includes credits from both television and theatre, Abena is also the recipient of the 2007 NAACP Theatre Award for ’Da Kink In My Hair (San Diego Repertory Theatre) and has toured as a singer with Toronto band Jacksoul, as well as opening for James Brown on his last Canadian tour.
Currently performing in Soulpepper’s production of Jitters, which previews today (June 24th) and opens June 30th, Abena has taken time to answer our questions as this week’s Shameless Woman.
What drives you to do what you do?
The thing that drives me to do what I do is my passion and love for my work. I love to create, whether that be the creation of a song, a character, or a piece of dance. The arts are a big part of my life’s purpose, and it feels good to be doing what I feel I’m meant to do.
How does being a woman empower / challenge you?
I love being a woman. My gender is one of my favorite things about me :)
I love the strength, life-giving powers and creativity that is inherent in womanhood. I feel a lot of pride in being a woman and that pride is something that empowers me. Also, when I think about the line of women I come from, my ancestors, and how beautiful and resourceful and loving and determined they were, that empowers me as well.
One of the major challenges of being a woman, for me, involves this pressure to be “perfect”. And that’s on many different levels. But what I’ve discovered is that we are actually perfect as we are…I think anyone of any gender can be a perfectionist, but it seems to be something that women struggle with quite a bit in this society, particularly around ideas of fitting in to some set physical, emotional, or societal “ideal”. I want us to keep reminding ourselves that we are wonderfully fabulous just as we were created!
What advice would you give to young women who want to follow in your footsteps?
The advice I would give to young women is to believe in yourself and your abilities and your dreams, and to try to have a positive attitude about life. Be as fearless and bold as you can in pursuing your dreams! I also think it’s a great idea to reach out to anyone in your community who can serve as a mentor for you. I think mentors are so valuable, they can guide you and nurture you in wonderful ways! And it’s always nice to have someone in your corner pulling for your success!
What is one person, place, or thing every young woman should know about?
I think the one person that every young woman should know about is herself. I think it’s important to start to really get to know yourself, to get to know your own heart, your own mind, what makes you tick, what motivates you, what you’re passionate about, etc. Making knowledge of self a priority is crucial, because it informs the decisions you make in your life.
What is the most important thing we can do in order to change the world?
The most important things we can do in order to change the world is to a) believe that change is possible, and to b) start that change within ourselves. I also think if we humans would work on being able to see situations and people from perspectives other than our own, being able to put ourselves in another person’s shoes, there would be a major positive shift in the world.