We had the good fortune of connecting with Ratoya Banks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ratoya, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
Spending quality time with friends and family makes me happy. That kind of happy where you feel like your soul is smiling. I’ve lost many people in my life and so I don’t take my loved ones for granted because you never know when our time is up. Those deep hearty laughs with friends and family over complete nonsense are priceless and bring me so much joy.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have been a creative as long as I can remember. Whether it was through singing, dancing, acting – any kind of performing best believe I was involved. When it came time for college however I thought I had to become this “serious adult” and get a “real career”. I’m from Arkansas and when I was growing up we weren’t really encouraged to pursue those out of the box careers. So I went to college and obtained my degree in Biomedical Engineering which seems weird now for me to even say lol I got a job working in the medical field and I just wasn’t fulfilled. One day I hesitantly mentioned to my mama that I should move to Los Angeles and pursue acting. I was absolutely terrified to even say that thought out loud but to my surprise, my mama was immediately on board. “Go on in your boss’s office right now and quit!!” LOL that is what her response was. It was only because of her support that I felt confident enough (still very terrified though) to quit my secure high paying job and move to Los Angeles where cost of living is twice what I’m used to and pursue a career that could potentially take many years to break into. I moved to LA with absolutely no knowledge of the entertainment industry or where to even begin. I slowly began picking up bits and pieces of knowledge of the years just by talking to people also on this journey – matter of fact shout out to all the people who willingly gave information without feeling like it was a fight to the death competition. There have been so many tears and so many nights of skipping dinner due to not being financially stable enough to eat multiple times a day everyday. I’ve been on unemployment. Multiple times. I’ve gotten help from my family. So no, it hasn’t been easy at all. But it has been such a transformative journey internally that I would not replace it for anything in the world. To explain, I grew up well off. My parents were successful and worked a lot so I never went without and I always had more than enough. College was fairly easy for me – yes I am a nerd. I got my first job easily and was making boat loads of money and working my way up in my department. So I never really experienced struggle. And maybe you personally didn’t need to experience any struggle to become a better more balanced human being but it is something that I never knew I needed but am so glad I experienced. I am so extremely grateful for this period in my life and the person that I am becoming and the way my faith in God has deepened. I’ve been fortunate enough at this point in my career to have worked on some really great projects with some of the most amazing people full of so much talent. I just recently booked a feature film that will hopefully be in theaters (covid may send it to streaming but here’s to being hopeful). I have learned that I cannot navigate this life on my own and it is so beautiful to have a circle of people who love and support you through it all. I have learned to not quit just because things aren’t falling into my lap like they have my entire life. I have learned that if I put God and His kingdom first above all things that I will always have all I need. This is just the beginning and I have faith that there is so much more in store for me. The little black girl from Little Rock, Arkansas is living in big ole Los Angeles and creating a path for myself and hopefully the generations after me.
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.
Okay so I’m one of those people who loves being at home lol I know y’all think we are so boring but I enjoy myself. I love being in the comfort of my own home and watching a good show on Netflix snuggled up in my blanket. Most of my closest friends are similar to me which helps. But when people come to visit we typically always hit the beach, maybe go on a hike and then just eat as much as we can. I’m very simple. I appreciate the quality time moreso than the actual activities if that makes sense. When I’m with people I love we could sit in a cave and I’d enjoy it lol so I’m probably the worst tour guide in all of LA because I’m always at home.
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?
First I have to shoutout God because without Him I am nothing and it is only because of Him and His grace and mercy that I am where I am today. Second I have to shoutout my parents and my brother who have wholeheartedly supported me throughout this journey whether it be with words of encouragement or with extra money when I was short. Third I have to shoutout my church family. Their love and support means the world to me and it is such a blessing to have Godly community. And lastly I must shoutout my best friend who loves me unconditionally and offers to burn things down when I’m sad LOL
Other: IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8802436/