We had the good fortune of connecting with River Amir Collins and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi River Amir, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
As a growing actor it’s my job to take risk both on/off stage. These opportunities that present themselves for me to learn more or become a better version of myself allow me to build my rolodex of special skills so that I can tell more stories and play through all these different realities with a present and open mind. Risk taking is a needed part of finding authentic growth. There are moments in your life where you face the unknown. Leaving you with the option to either go into that unknown or remain in a habitual stasis. History has shown us, it’s those who step into that unknown, that find a whole new meaning to living their version of their life. You take risks everyday, when you choose to change how you live and make choices. By becoming familiar with taking those risk, you gain experience which helps you too better your decision making and build resilience for when you face challenges or risks in your life.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I view myself first and foremost as an actor. I am in love with all the arts and I bring these other forms into my acting performances. I’m typically casted for androgynous, revolutionary, femme fatale, or movement based roles and as an artist and individual I’m not entirely against that. I think all of those aspects are just pieces of what define me and grant me strength allowing me to exist as a channel for theater and film outside of the classical landscape. My journey of learning to love my body, mind, dancing and that divine connection to my vessel has served me in telling stories. When acting, I undergo this metamorphosis where I release history from the body to create a field of energy in these creative spaces that make people ask questions and learn to have no answers to them, or let the experience be the answer.

I’m currently working on a film and poetry book that encapsulates these facets of my artistic ability. While also telling a story of my experience as someone who is non-binary, queer, and Afro-Carribean. Letting my experiences as someone who is, not acknowledged as the norm in society, be enough to speak for my art. So that I educate my viewers through the lens of my community while also finding similarities to draw connections to my audience. Which plants my existence as a needed message in history rather than have it erased in the echoes of whiteness that is entertainment stealing queer black culture.
It wasn’t always easy stepping to my work like this. It took re-evaluating my relationships, time spent, and morals as an individual who wants to carry themselves as a lovable, respectable, and professional, artist. “What do I want to stand for as an artist and how can I fulfill that authentically and to the best of my ability?” A question I’ve answered, worked, and watch grow for 8 years now. I will continue to see that growth in myself, with the new risk and challenges my life presents and I definitely see it reflecting in others around 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.
I would start off obviously showing them the places I peep on the way to where I was staying, which would most likely be my home in North Long Beach. Then I’d show them some good food spots and chill spots in my neighborhood which varies from culture to culture since North Long Beach is super diverse. Then we’d work our way toward South Long Beach seeing things between North and South Side. Most likely, go to a show at night, at a bar or club and see one of my friends like Yalubba DJ, some RB and melodic classics. The next day we’d check out some hidden gem spots in East and West side LB and go to an expensive dinner at night, and a show afterwards if we have energy. I’d spend the last few days checking out different food spots in different cities in LA. For example, Inglewood with New Orleans and York or Simply Wholesome, then you have Crenshaw which has Leimert Park, A1 Burgers, Soul food, Jamaican food, and Cajun food. Korea town which has numerous good Boba, Ramen, and Chicken spots. We’d see, Fairfax and Hollywood area, and maybe finish off at the Griffith observatory. The next day we’d hit the Santa Monica area and check out the beach and go up PCH and see the whole coast and finish off back in Santa Monica at this restaurant called the MoonShadow which has super expensive but delicious seafood. Next on the list we’d drive through downtown LA and hit the Central Market and get a nice breakfast with lunch to go. Then head toward, North LA, Burbank, and Santa Barbara area to find a nice river trail or star gazing spot to relax near, meditate, do a ritual, and cleanse our energy fields at. Then come back down and eat at a diner or Classic restaurant, maybe go to a movie. On the last day we’d go do some thrift shopping, eating, and then at night go see my friends from the Tunnel TV collective do a techno set and I’d be playing as well. I’d return them home next day with a nice breakfast, afternoon museum trip and then a flight at night.

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 would love to give a shoutout to my parents and siblings, for always pushing me to be a better version of myself and explore all that I love and do to the best of my ability. A huge thank to Patricia Spievak (SPEE-VACK) from the Will Rogers Middle School Drama Club, who was my first acting coach. An enormous thank you too Ms. Susan Thrasher my High School Acting Mother who along with Alison Hart, Danae McWatt, Kimiko Johnson, Sinammon Hauser, Kelly Ray, Keith Johnson, and Alyse Rockett as my dance teachers worked themselves and me to become the professional working artist I am today. Of course I also give a gargantuan thank you too the entire CalArts dance, creative writing, film, music, and acting faculty for taking this journey of the past 4 years with me to take my artistic value, technique, and self-worth/care to the next level. A special thank you to Gabrielle Civil, Andrea Leblanc, Jesse Bonnell, Toni Smith, Lars Jan, Daniel Passer, and Monty Cole for allowing me to be not just an exceptional artist but a transformative revolutionary who can shape and share stories in a healthy, authentic, and captivating way. A huge hug to Marissa Chibas for being my first introduction to CalArts in the CAP program and guiding me to go to the school of my dreams to be the best of the best. Finally a warm thank you to Yalubba for having me in her first fashion show for my first runway and in her soon to be released second magazine Miel Y Avena for my first feature as an, on the rise, model!

Instagram: @rivussy https://www.instagram.com/rivussy/

Twitter: gyalsmooth https://twitter.com/GyalSmooth

Facebook: River Collins https://www.facebook.com/river.collins.583/

Other: https://www.backstage.com/talent/grid/?actor=721328 Backstage account

Image Credits
Daniel Hermosillo, Bryan Octaviano, Lamont Robertson, Baile David, Jay Smalls, Jackie Dimailig, Maddi Mays

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