We had the good fortune of connecting with Ana-Nube Thompson & Toni Houston and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ana-Nube & Toni, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
A: This is Ana, I am just one part of B.E. Artform Production/Beautifully Ethnic. I am naturally a creative, like most. When people would ask me what do you want to be when you grow up, I would shrug and say, “A doctor, a teacher, I don’t know. Something helping people.” But as time went on I began to realize that I couldn’t see myself in just one field for the rest of my life. I am much too indecisive for that. I like having the availability to switch up whenever I feel the need to, not to be tied down to any one thing. Being an artist gave me the chance to create with no limits. Exploring my artistic side has helped me learn myself and appreciate what I have to offer. Art/Expression fills me with so much joy. Now, I am able to share and inspire others. I finally get to live in my purpose and passion.
T: Hello my name is Toni and I am co-founder of B.E. Artform Productions & Beautifully Ethnic. To be honest, I use to lie a lot as a little girl to block out traumatic experiences or to just make my life seem better than what it was. Fortunately, this negative trait helped with my creative storytelling ability. In elementary school, I wrote chapter books, wrote and put on play productions for my neighbors in our apartment complex. I wrote religiously in my diary everyday until my late twenties and attended school for screenwriting, but it wasn’t until Ana and I started B.E. Artform that my creative skills were put to the test because I had to share my works with the public, in more professional settings, and not just a classroom. I truly fell in love with writing again and believed in myself to share my art with the world. Putting myself out there was scary at first but the positive responses reassured that I can continue pursuing my dreams to create and share wholesomely rich content with our communities.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
A: Well, for starters we are women in a field dominated by men, on top of that women of color. It doesn’t stop there, we’re also mothers, we bring our kids on set and will wear every single hat that’s needed to get the job done. We took a risk and decided to jump into something that we felt would benefit not just ourselves, but build up the whole community. We had our family looking at us like, “What is y’all doing?” We’re creating possibilities. It’s time for a new perspective and value of self. Growing up in an era where artistic expression was considered a hobby and not a career. We out here making dreams come true. If you have always wanted to act, direct, film, be a part of a production, have your story told, let’s talk.
T: To the world, we have a friendship of eleven years, became mothers around the same time, and created a film production company and a non profit soon after, B.E. Artform Productions and Beautifully Ethnic. Under Beautifully Ethnic we put on free or low cost events for the community. B.E. Artform produces empowering and thought provoking content. Balancing family life with our careers is not easy. We are both very passionate about what we do and sometimes our excitement pushes us to jump on any project we can get our hands on and that can take away valuable time from our children. We are still trying to find our balance. We got to where we are today by pushing each other and being each others support system. We motivate one another to keep going no matter what life throws our way.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
A: If my best friend was coming to visit me, I’m going to be real. We’d be at my house the whole week. HAHA. Just Kidding. First day we’d lounge and then go to Mingles Tea in Inglewood for a cup of bomb tea.
Second day, we’re going to Cabrillo Beach to go kick it on the rocks as the waves crash in, to talk about life.
Of course, we have to hit up Michoacána for refreshing palleta Fresca. We can also head down to Long Beach to visit Shades of Africa and get us essential oils because you know we have to smell good. Thursday-Sunday we are headed to POM (Peace of Mind, Compton), a King Q event, and a B.E. event as well, to get a taste of the culture and to be around forward/like minded people. On their last day in town, we’d go to Compton Community Garden to hang out with Justin and Temu to chop it up about how we are actively working to heal our community and collect some greens for dinner.
T: What Ana said. No, seriously. Mingles Tea is the place to be, the owner Lara was very hospitable, made us feel right at home, and not only was the tea A1, it calmed our nerves and totally relaxed us. We didn’t want to leave. And yes, for sure headed to a King Q event to break out of our shell and hold conversations with unfamiliar faces, all while checking out performances put on by raw LA talent. Peace of Mind is where you’ll meet chill innovators and creators. It’s def the spot to unwind and network at the same time. I would love to attend a B.E. event as a guest and not a coordinator, to see how the show feeds my spirit. Our supporters give us positive reviews, I’d like to be in their shoes and experience what it is they take away from our events.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
God for allowing us to still be here! Our parents Daniel & Christina (Ana’s), Micheal & Barbara (Toni’s) for birthing and raising us to the best of their abilities. Ebony, Camille, & Maritza for helping us get started. Carlton for always believing in us. All of our family members that either showed up at our events or babysat our kids so we could put on our shows. Our day one supporters, y’all know we love y’all! Our children for being the driving force behind our works.