Ready to entertain at the drop of a hat and always willing to inspire and educate… this phenomenal femcee truly is her sisters’ keeper! Using multiple forms of performance art as her medium, from theater to music, today’s Woman to Watch is inspiring audiences with her hip-hop infused motivational messages.
Please introduce yourself…
I’m a hip-hop momma, a connector, an intergenerational communicator, a theatrical educator. I am Princess Best.
Tell us about your work…
Princess: My work is my way of life. My way of life is my passion for entertainment, education, cultural awareness, girl’s & women’s health and connecting through communication. I work as a performing artist, public speaker and leadership facilitator. I create performance art works, educational programs and media talks geared toward girls & women’s history and health.
Why did you decide to start R.O.Y.A.L. & PBS and why do you think they are important?
Princess: I started 2 companies. R.O.Y.A.L. (Readying Our Young Aspiring Leaders) and PBS (Princess Best Speaks). I started ROYAL because I recognized the need for a new approach to health, communication, leadership and literacy amongst girls. It’s important because today a lot of what’s labeled “for girls” doesn’t really have the “girls” in mind; nor does it speak their language, values or identity. Basically, “empowerment” initiatives have replaced what it truly means to engage a girl in today’s world. So instead of projecting what we want to see in girls, ROYAL illuminates who and what they already are. I started Princess Best Speaks to create artistic works and media platforms that address intergenerational dialogue of girls and women. Breaking it down, I started ROYAL and PBS to “change the game” on girls & women’s’ development.
What impact, if any, does R.O.Y.A.L. and PBS have on women?
Princess: I think it has major impact but you’d have to ask the girls and women I work with, their testimonies tell it better than I ever could. You can’t see impact on paper, you have to see it in the reflection of a persons’ full life development.
What has been the most rewarding part of your work and what are you most proud of?
Princess: The connections, the relationships, the spirit of the thing, the sisterhood, seeing girls and women be the best of themselves in truth are definitely the rewards. I don’t know what I am most proud of, but I am grateful for it all. I am most proud that the work is forcing me to work on the biggest female relationship in my life next to my daughter, which is my relationship with my mother. I am proud because the work is making me a “Grown Woman” by challenging me to face that which has been difficult with love and forgiveness. I am also proud of the work I have done with formerly incarcerated girls and being blessed to be a part/take witness in the “emergence of the excellence” they always had, but may not have known how to express it.
What has been most challenging about your work?
Princess: Getting too deep, not knowing how to separate yourself from the lives of others, not knowing when to not be accessible to others and turn inward for yourself without feeling like the world needs you and you need it. When communication and relationships are your career, it’s hard to define where is the line of where you shut it off. It’s also hard to narrow down and be brief when you constantly have a host of great ideas running through your mind, so staying in one lane can be difficult. Lastly, but most importantly, the biggest challenge is trying to understand what you can and can’t control, who you can and can’t help and being okay with that. Oh and one thing that is SUPER challenging when you are doing work for girls and women is the level of sexism that is present and trying to weather through it for a higher purpose. Now being a mama, it’s challenging to rehearse when baby wants to nurse right when you are “in the moment.”
What is your favorite quote and why?
Be kinder than necessary; for everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle. –Plato
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm, the world.” ~Desmond Tutu
Princess: I love these because they are simple truths and make sense to do in order to live.
Who are your greatest influences?
Princess: My mother, my father, my daughter, my husband, my sister, my professors, my counselors, my ancestors, the Great Mother, my friends and colleagues, my “sister” circles, my former mates, my community leaders, Angela Bassett, Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston, my failures, my successes, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells and all the Black Women Suffragists/Abolitionists, Maya Angelou, Bob Marley.
What would you like for your legacy to be?
Princess: “I wanna leave my mark so everyone will know I was here.” ~Beyoncé. That’s a good question. I feel like if I word it, it would be too long, but I definitely want to leave a legacy that shows that the suffering Black women endured during and post slavery was not in vain and that the work I do is instrumental in improving girl’s/women’s development in the world.
What’s next for you?
Princess: Finalizing creation of Hip hop theater 1-woman show tour and facilitating arts education programs on reproductive health & black women’s history.
Is there someplace online where readers can connect with you and follow your work?
Wanna see Princess in action? If you’re in the DC area or wanna come for a visit, check her out on March 28, 2014 in a SWAN (Support Women Arts Now) Day performance.
For tickets and additional information, click HERE.