We had the good fortune of connecting with Blesst Bowden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Blesst, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
I think people are sometimes unaware of the deeply collaborative nature of acting and entertainment, not only as it pertains to creating art, but as it pertains to solving some of the industry’s problems. As an actress and performer, my job and performance is the result of more than just my own hard work. It is also the result of work done by directors, writers, casting directors, and so many more. Therefore, when it comes to the topic of racial and ethnic diversity and representation on screen or on stage for instance, the lack of that diversity is the result of a lack in those other areas as well. In order to continue to build on the increase in racial and ethnic minority representation we’ve seen as an industry, it is vital for more than just actors like me to be involved. The involvement needs to extend to all facets of entertainment. The weight of the outsider perspective and opinion, which in relation to film/tv/theatre is often the audience’s perspective, is something that most are also unaware of. The audience plays a huge role in what gets made because content is made for them and they pay to support that content. So, if the audience starts to demand greater racial and ethnic diversity not only for the people they see, but for the people they can’t see as well, greater change is possible. The change might also become less financially motivated because you’ll have people behind the scenes that recognize how necessary it is to include people of color in storytelling. It is time to move away from adding a token person of color for the sake of quotas or to draw in a specific audience solely for financial gain.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In terms of my art, I always try to create art that means something to me. I care about the opinions of the audience of course and entertainment is a business, so money matters. Still, I think the easiest way for an audience to connect to art of any kind is for them to get the sense that the artist connected to it as well. Whether it’s a comedic video I create about the struggles I had as a double major in college, or a video about being proud of my race and ethnicity, or a short story I write about the role of race in the Latinx community, I always make sure that I care about the subject matter. The same goes for when I act or dance in material that I didn’t write or create. I have to find a way to care about my characters’ life and passions in the same way I care about my own life and passions. It hasn’t always been easy to navigate the entertainment industry, especially as a young actress of color. It can be very difficult to combat systemic racism, patriarchy, and the resulting stereotypes. I think that’s also something that sets my work apart, whether I’ve created it or I’m just performing in it. I really strive to challenge the stereotypes that women of color deal with as a result of racism and patriarchy in the entertainment industry. To me, it is so important that women of color, particularly black women, can be seen as beautiful and sexy without it playing into a negative stereotype or feeding a fetish. It is difficult to go against a system that has been in place for so long. I sound like a broken record, but to do it, advocating for representation of people of color in non-stereotypical roles is necessary. Including people of color in the storytelling process so that the truth of our experiences can be showcased is also necessary. It is most important that as an artistic community we do not let up and let that kind of subtle, and sometimes blatant, discrimination continue. In general, I’ve learned to always stay true to who I am. I think that will help me and anyone else navigate any problems or struggles that may arise.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I think any trip to the greater Los Angeles area, warrants a trip to Disneyland. Disneyland is in Anaheim, but I still count it. The pandemic might delay the Disneyland trip but it’s still a must. Next, I’d say the Getty Villa. It has beautiful pieces of history and beautiful views. For similar reasons I’d recommend Griffith Observatory. This is another classic Los Angeles staple. It is apart of LA history and also has beautiful views of the city. Another staple is Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers are a huge part of LA culture and I definitely think when sporting events are allowed to continue post-pandemic, a Dodger game is worth attending. Just like with the Dodgers, the Lakers are a huge part of LA culture and I would recommend spending some time at LA Live and seeing a Lakers game at the Staples Center. In relation to food, I’d recommend Versailles Cuban Restaurant. There are a couple of locations in LA. I love Versailles because it is culturally important to me. LA is somewhat famous for its plethora of Mexican and Asian food options. However, Versailles offers a nice change and a taste of the Caribbean side of the Latinx experience that isn’t as common in LA. I’d also recommend a “Mural Trip” across the city. It would require quite a bit of driving, but I think it’s absolutely worth it. So much of LA’s rich racial/ethnic culture and entertainment culture is present in its murals. I definitely think someone could get a great sense of where the city has been, where it is, and where it is going by seeing the murals. I would specifically recommend visiting South LA and Downtown, East LA, and Hollywood.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to give a shout out to my parents, siblings, and friends for their constant encouragement, love, and involvement in my career. They have done, and still do so much to help me on my journey and for that I am grateful. It is difficult to build something with no foundation. The foundation that my family and friends have created allows me to be the best version of myself as an artist and a person. Again, sometimes the people behind the scenes and the people standing in the wings are just as responsible for the success of the performance as the performer. They deserve to be showcased as well.