Genevieve Ngosa Takes You On A Journey

by Sabine Wilson-Patrick

Acting | Journey | Inspiring

Photo by Bianca Jenkins

Genevieve Ngosa is a graduate and latest recipient of the Charles Jehlinger Award at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts class of 2023. Originally from Guyana, her art has taken her to Barbados, California and now New York.

What started you on this journey to pursue acting not just as an art but as a career?

I went to Los Angeles, California, with a friend from Barbados as we were trying to work on a project together, however, that fell through and I went back to Barbados. Things were kind of up in the air in my life at that point in time. I felt unsettled, like I could no longer stand on the ground beneath me. When you're being called for something more and you ignore it, it harms more than it helps as you begin to perpetuate an unconscious cycle of stagnation which doesn’t serve the betterment of your being or your community.

So here I was back on the island staying with a friend and I have this obsession with actors on actors. I love to watch roundtable talks, I love to hear creatives gush about their journeys, and what life was like for them and what their process is like. It's the same way I feel about biographies. It allows me to tap into an aspect of that artist’s life and I resonate with the fact that if they made it (whatever that means for the individual, it’s very subjective as everyone has or should have their own idea of success) then you know, there's a possibility that perhaps I can too, probably not in the same likelihood that they did, but in my own way. The inclination that this person had this life or these trials and challenges and obstacles, but they still persevered to make their dream a reality is what fascinates me the most - the will to keep going.

I was watching Moonlight’s interview and Mahershala Ali was talking about what acting did for him, and how it saved his life, and he couldn't see himself doing anything else. I remember just weeping, I was in foetal position, actually. I felt like it hit a part of my soul, where I just knew that's what I needed to do, at least more of it. And I didn't want to lie or pretend about it anymore. I didn't want to be ashamed of the fact that I knew I wanted to be an actor. I was so scared to kind of say it out loud, or even affirm it within myself. And it was interesting, because when I got here, someone asked us,

“What is one of your biggest fears?”

Photo by Bronwen Sharp

And someone else had stated : “to tell people that I'm an actor.” And I was like, Oh my gosh, honestly, why is it? Why is it such a fearful thing? To say that I'm an actor, to say that I am studying this craft, to say that I'm an artist, why is there such a taboo attached to it in this day and age, like it's this forbidden thing that you shouldn't aspire to be?

So there I was, on the floor, in a ball, crying. And this email came through at the time, and it was from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I began an application after I completed studies at Barbados Community College (BCC), where I did an associate's degree in Applied Arts. So after I left BCC, I did not apply at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts because I felt like I was a bit too young, I don't know, I just felt unprepared. And so the application popped up. And they were like, hey, you left off your application since 2000- Lord knows when. And they were like, you should complete it. This was a big sign if I've ever seen one. I went through the application.I was on the floor and my logical functions began to activate and the sequence of my thought process goes from this would be amazing to I have no idea how I'm gonna fund this. I don't know how I'm going to pay tuition fees. I don't have a ticket. I have no idea where I’ll live. I hadn’t a clue the possibility ratio of this dream becoming my a reality but I think when you make up your mind and decide that this is what you want to do, things have a way of working out, like God opens up so many doors and aligns you with the right people at the right time, who are able to assist you - the Universe literally begins to conspire on your behalf to see you win. And it's not always financially, sometimes it's just emotionally or spiritually or with guidance just to let you know “hey, I believe in you.” And it's a beautiful thing when people believe in you, when you can't even believe in yourself. I mean, I was supposed to be doing law at BCC, but the programme was full and I was like, okay, so just, I'll take a gap year, that's what it was supposed to be a gap year where I'd study theatre, right? So I did that but that year turned into another year and then another.

Suffice to say, a lot of my family home in Guyana, they were not truly impressed and they definitely were not happy about the decision. And believe me when I say, I understand, Caribbean broughtupsy is very traditional and they mean well, however, it doesn’t change the fact that if you’re not studying law, or at least trying to be a doctor, or maybe become an engineer, if you're not pursuing one of those three avenues, which are very noble pursuits, I think, automatically your existence and to some extent your sanity is brought into question and I understand that. Pursuing a career in the arts can bring a lot of unknowns especially in such a highly competitive industry but when nothing is certain, anything is possible. I know that now.

Now that you’re dedicated to acting, what do you you see in the future?

The truth is, I can’t see into the future for I have no idea what tomorrow holds, as much as I would like to know the trajectory of how life will or won’t work out; things that can or can’t happen; I do my best to relinquish myself from that kind of control and pressure and instead, be here now - be in the present, in the moment, in the now. Looking back, I had no idea I’d be here in NYC, one of the greatest theatre hubs of the world, gracing the stage with my work and learning and growing both inwardly and outwardly. I have no sequential idea of what happens next or how the cards will fall and I’m curious and open to the endless possibilities that life holds once I keep going.

Are you happy?

Yes. I am happy. I am happy I get to see the sun rise and set on the days I’m living. I’m happy I get to hear the birds nestle outside my window or watch them sit in the trees. I am happy that I allow myself as much as I can the permission I need to be free and authentically me where I’ve always been okay hiding or being in the background or a lot of times even suppressing the energy of my being. I am happy that I speak up more where I sometimes want to remain silent because I’m scared the words I speak have no value, but I use my voice, even if it shakes. I am happy I’ve found a community, a support system that holds space for me on the days I can’t see the silver lining. I am happy I get to do my part in the world and render acts of loving-kindness to those that I can. I am happy I get to play and have fun with the world around me.

Am I always happy? Absolutely not, especially when I see the way of the world and those that profit off of those being hurt, the injustices and unkind things people have to endure, the innocent lives being lost on a daily from those pleading for a ceasefire, the fact that people are scared to become sick because they have no access to proper healthcare, the fact that conversion therapy is still a thing, the lack of and access to basic human needs like food, clothing, shelter, safety - no, I’m not always happy.

I’ve had to realize that happiness is a muscle that I try to exercise in the grand scheme of things; operative word being try. I try to create my own happiness. There are days when I’m my biggest critic, my own enemy, when I self-sabotage when I feel hopeless and helpless in the world and so I do my best to allow grace for those parts of myself, not to perfect it so it’s acceptable for society’s standards but to accept it for myself so that I may employ the kindness, grace and understanding that it’s so easy to grant others but not myself. It’s all a process. And because I'm able to allow myself the room to be who I am, knowing that I am an ever-growing, ever-evolving multidimensional being, I feel free, but boy does it come with a lot of responsibility and accountability.

However, that freedom has brought a whole load of happiness with it. A lot has changed in my life, but also a lot has changed within me. I am still learning to love myself unconditionally and be myself unapologetically and that journey makes me the happiest because it is the most uncomfortable journey but it’s also one filled with lots of patience and kindness, learning and unlearning. Like that honestly makes me happy because I can use that empathy and compassion to give voice to the art I am grateful to create and for that, I am happy. I am immensely grateful.

Let’s keep in touch!


Instagram: genevieve.ngosa

Photo by Bronwen Sharp

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