Maséqua Myers: My name is pronounced Mah-say-qua (quadraphonic/quadruplets)! 🙂 I will attempt to share the shortest version of the story behind my name. The 60’s was an era for African Americans learning of the richness of African culture and began a movement of renaming ourselves to establish a greater connection to our African origin.
In the late 60’s as a teenager, I wanted to have a name of African origin. Maséqua was originally only known by my now husband, Pemon Rami. He selected Maséqua, (Black Queen/Queen of a darker hue, West Africa) before we met in person, at a naming ceremony led by The Queen Mother of New York. At that time he vowed to himself to give that name to his future bride whomever that might turn out to be. And just to shorten the telling of this intriguing story, that is exactly what happened even though it took 7 years after our meeting in person before we married.
Maséqua Myers: There is fundamentally no way to engage a Black audience differently than any other kind of audience; be it a white audience, a children’s audience, etc. If an audience is engaged, it means the responsibility of having content that is exciting, comprehensible, visually and emotionally stimulating, meaningful and motivational, to say the least, has been achieved. The “difference” in audiences engagement may come in the areas of topic, focus and/or the message that is being relayed to the audience.
AMPA: Share your favorite memory of being an icon in black performance art.
Maséqua Myers: I really don’t like “favorite” questions because I have so many favorite memories I never know which one or several I should share however, I must say while mentoring and/or impacting thousands of youth, directing and producing shows that received great reviews in Chicago, Phoenix and LA, having won numerous acting awards and performed lead at a Chicago’s Goodman Theatre’s production Death and the King’s Horseman that traveled to
Washington D. C. – John F. Kennedy Center; it is my one woman show titled, Quiet Before the Storm originally conceived and directed by the highly respected & acclaimed Pemon Rami, that I am most proud of.
This production gave me the most joy and satisfaction in my performing career for so many reasons. The show received rave reviews in Chicago and throughout the country, as it highlighted the diversity of Black female contemporary issues, and allowed a flexibility to be performed in a diversity of spaces, including prisons across the country. In the 70’s I was one of the first to perform a multi-media one-person show following but expanding on the concept of Val Grey Ward’s performances. Val Grey Ward was a Chicago theatre icon, founder of Kuumba Theatre Work Shop, reigning from the generation before me. I sustained a presence in the local and national theatre world for two decades (1978-1998) with this production that eventually became known as, “Thru The Eyes of Women.”
AAMPA: If you could share one piece of advice for future generations, what would it be?
Maséqua Myers: An advisement I would like to share with future generations is this: understand that “doing the work” translates to, generally speaking, weekly if not daily hours of concentrated effort; to learn, to listen, discern, read, study, practice whatever your craft is. Truly believe in yourself and have the audacity to do your best all the time; for there will be many instances of feeling frustrated, but if it’s really your nia/purpose than don’t allow yourself to be distracted. Do not spend precious time not pursuing your dreams by spending time with people who cannot and would not get you closer to realizing your purpose and dreams!
AAMPA: Share something about yourself that can’t be found in Wikipedia.
Maséqua Myers: Something about me that can’t be found written anywhere would be, I love horseback riding and motorcycles. I have traveled many miles on the back of motorcycle or two. I have actually driven a motorcycle as well. And if I were to purchase one it would be a Harley Davidson or a three-wheeler! ☺ When I managed my eldest son’s successful acting career, when first moving to LA, we went to his auditions on his motorcycle when my car was being repaired. ☺
AAMPA: Who are some of your heroes?
Maséqua Myers: I spend such little time thinking on heroes/other people because I felt and feel I have so much work to do that it could result in me not advancing as swiftly as I could. However, there are a few people that I have been personally exposed and influenced by that I feel have greatly contributed to me and society/’the people”, whether artistically, culturally, politically, etc. and that would me my Mother & Grandmother, (T. M. Myers and Maggie Murray), Willie Myers (my father), Pemon Rami, (business partner & husband), Sidney Poitier, Cicely Tyson, Winnie Mandela, Beah Richards, Val Grey Ward, Arnell “Najawa” Pugh, and Jackie Taylor, to name a few.
More about Maséqua Myers
Maséqua Myers is former Executive Director of Chicago’s historic South Side Community Art Center (2014 – 2019). She is an award winning theatre and film Producer, Director, Actor, Youth Mentor and Arts Administrator.
Ms. Maséqua developed and directed the Marla Gibbs Children’s institute of the Performing Arts in Los Angeles and in Chicago created Ajabu (Ah-jah-boo), meaning fantastic in Swahili, a first ever children’s theatre company in Chicago ranging in ages 5 to 13.
She developed and directed the internship program for the feature film Of Boys And Men, starring Angela Bassett and Robert Townsend.
Since returning to Chicago and as co-founder of Teen Talk Radio Theatre Ms. Myers has mentored over 900 teens in the Chicago arts community focusing on, public speaking, arts, communications and personal development.
Ms. Maséqua directed the groundbreaking documentary, Nineteen and a Day, filmed in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, and produced a short film series highlighting The Life and Times of Jean Baptist Point Dusable, filmed in Louisiana and Haiti, as well as Chicago.
Ms. Myers is the Founder and CEO of Maséqua Myers & Associate; an arts, multimedia, consultation and production company founded in 1992, during her two decades of relocation to Los Angeles, California. Maséqua Myers and Associates, just before the pandemic, produced a :30 commercial spot for The National A. Phillip Randolph Pullman Porters Museum airing on an NBC rotation.
Amongst her many awards, Ms. Maséqua received the “Margaret Burroughs Legacy Award” from The Women’s Board of the DuSable Museum of African American History in 2017. She received the Deloris Jordan “Excellence in Community Leadership” Award at the 2018 Black Harvest Film Festival and in 2019 received the North Park University Axelson Center, Non-profit 20 Leaders Award.