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Walk in My Shoes

Walk in My Shoes

On Why I Love Drugs
An audio magazine exploring creative culture and rooting into purpose even when we’re out on a limb.

In Conversation with Rahima Rice

Today’s episode, we discuss empathy and diversity of perspectives with Rahima Rice. Rahima’s an award-winning playwright from DC, and she founded The 4208 Group to cultivate the development of writers.

So together, we’re going to start to unpack these themes and see where and how we can foster deeper empathy and diversity in culture to start to shift cultural norms.

“I spend a lot of time thinking about who a person is. Who they are at their core, at work, with their girlfriends, walking down the street, when they’re crying in bed by themselves, or who they are in the shower. I take a lot of time to think about that when I develop characters.”

— Rahima Rice

Credits

Music: Ben Tyree

Producer: Leslie Askew

Resources

Anacostia Playhouse

D.C. Black Theater Festival

The Kennedy Center Reach

Lesley University

Signature Theatre

What Should I Do with My Life?

Transcript, edited for length and clarity

Ioana: Rahima, I’m so happy that you’re here. It’s so good to see you.

Rahima: You too. 

Ioana: For the people who are meeting you for the first time, let’s introduce them to your experience as a creative, and then we’ll go from there. 

Rahima: Cool. I call myself a writer first because I’ve been doing that the longest.

I figured out who I was through writing. I used to journal a lot when I was a kid, and I stumbled upon the fact that people wrote films. Maybe at around 12, 13, it dawned on me that people wrote all these movies I was watching. So I started doing a little digging and figuring out who does this, how is it a thing? Can I do it?

My dad and I used to go to the bookstore every weekend, and they had an entertainment section with screenplays. And so I asked him to buy me some scripts. The first one I got was Shortcuts, by Robert Altman, because I, of course, was watching movies that I should not have been at thirteen. And I was like, “Oh, I know this one.”

And so he bought me Shortcuts, My Own Private Idaho, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and Pulp Fiction. Those were the first scripts that I read. 

Ioana: Can we just talk about how cool that collection is? 

Rahima: Yeah!

I wanted to see how they were written. I started to understand the format. I would watch the movies and read along and see where they put the action and how they separate the scenes. And then I started trying to do it myself. And I still have pages of the horrible little scripts I used to write. It was me trying.

Ioana: When did it crystallize that writing was going to be a tool? 

Rahima: There were a couple of moments.

I went to school for film and TV production, and we had a writer in residence, Marita Golden. I was in her advanced fiction class, and I wrote this short story about, you know, some girl in New York who grew up in the hood and had gotten pregnant by her drug-dealing boyfriend and this whole thing.

And she ripped this story, marked it all up, and she was like, “Look, you are a privileged girl from Brookland with parents who have advanced degrees. You know nothing about this life that you’re writing about. What is keeping you from writing about you?” 

I then took a playwriting class, and I wrote a one-act play about a young lady who never knew her dad and finds out that he has been in prison her whole life, and she goes to have a conversation with him. I wrote it as if it was me talking to this person. The teacher said, “Stick with this. It has substance.”

That was the moment I thought, “I can do this.” 

Ioana: What did it feel like to put yourself in the piece? 

Rahima: It felt scary. I had to think long and hard about that.

As black women writers, sometimes we’re confronted with having to change the world. A lot of what I was seeing from my peers was stuff about social justice and hard-hitting issues that were community-focused.

And I couldn’t relate. I didn’t grow up in any kind of struggle and strife. I did grow up privileged, going to New York every year to see Broadway shows, and going to the symphony, and all this stuff. And yeah, my dad went to Yale and Harvard. And so I struggled with whether or not my voice was even important. And I write so much about relationship dynamics. 

But I knew that I had something to say. By this point, I was 24 or 25. For over a decade, I had been attempting to share my voice. I knew it was essential to do that, and I needed to take the leap and start putting myself out there. 

And there was some feedback from people who didn’t fully relate to the character because of their circumstances. The whole, “Is someone black enough? Are they jumping off the page as a strong black lead?”

I don’t think it’s necessary to write strong black women all the time. I think that’s a hindrance to the quality of the work. If you’re going to write a fully developed character, we’re not always strong. We’re not always together. We’re not always telling it like it is. You know? We’re not always that person. 

And it’s taken a long time, in media in general, in TV, plays, and writing, to start to embrace black women characters that are multilayered. With that initial one-act, I knew I needed to develop someone who doesn’t always have it together and doesn’t always have the right things to say.

I have had back and forth with people about the likability of characters. There are a lot of people in your real life you don’t like. Simply not liking what she has to say or feeling like she’s a bitch is making you feel something, and making you think something, and making you react. As opposed to her just being bland and likable.

Ioana: What do you think that says about culture?

Rahima: I respect every audience. There’s something for everyone. But I think in movies, black audiences have been at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to character development.

A lot of people have been fed a cookie-cutter story. This is the way it is. This is how it is. That’s a wrap. And so there’s a huge audience of people who expect that basic story. Anything that delves outside of that is confusing, or not received well.

My sister likes things wrapped up with a bow. She doesn’t like weird, open-ended stories. And there’s an audience of people like that who, you know, want to see them ride off into the sunset.

Ioana: They want a solution.

Rahima: They want a solution. But in real life, there isn’t always a solution. Film, theater, books, they’re an escape, but they’re still a reality. And so people have to open their minds more that it’s going to show you another truth — another option. 

Ioana: When you started writing, did you see room for more unpredictable, more nuanced characters to take hold and culture? 

Rahima: I did. I was kind of an odd kid, and I loved independent film in its raw form. Like the stuff we saw in the 90s. 

Ioana: Let’s tell listeners what we want out to see. Like The Pillow Book. 

Rahima: Yeah. Or like Living in Oblivion, or the films Gus Van Sant was doing in the beginning. It was not glossy stuff. Even Clerks, you know. There weren’t millions of dollars flushed into it and then calling it independent because it went to Sundance, you know? It was people bootstrapping a film and then finding an audience to watch it.

That’s the kind of stuff I loved and gravitated to. I felt like we knew how awesome this work was, and maybe the rest of the world was going to get hip to it at some point. But there was a whole separate audience going to the big theaters to see stuff blow up and the romantic comedy. 

And there’s a place in me that loves those movies too. I love those Meg Ryan movies. I love Nora Ephron. There’s a place for it, but I don’t put it into an artistic box.

Yeah, I used to watch some exciting films at theaters that no longer exist in DC. That speaks to that audience of people that wants a particular thing. They also changed the makeup of the city.

Ioana: I don’t know how many listeners we have from DC, but let’s walk them through a couple of theaters because there were some cool ones. 

Rahima: So, both of the ones in Dupont Circle are gone. All of the ones in Georgetown are gone.

Ioana: Yes, there was one theater in Georgetown by the water.

Rahima: The Foundry. You could pay a dollar or two and see a film. That’s gone. There was one on Wisconsin next to a poster shop. 

Ioana: When posters went out of style, the movie house went caput. 

Rahima: Yeah. I think the only one that’s still open, because the neighborhood did a lot of advocating for it, is the West End in Foggy Bottom. And the company Landmark opened up E Street Cinema, and they show all indie and foreign films. 

Ioana: It was such a cultural canon of the time. So we’re totally giving away our age here. But it’s good to paint the picture and ground listeners into your roots of this rich culture of independent film. You were eating this up

Rahima: Yep. That was my thing. Go to Dupont, have a smoke, read the City Paper. Go to the movies. 

Ioana: The City Paper. That’s like the Village Voice for DC. 

Rahima: Yeah. Our little free paper that tells the real news. 

Ioana: And then what happened? So you took this imprint in fringe culture and poured it into writing. How did that evolve?

Rahima: So for years, I was having a hard time trying to figure out what I was going to do to make money and be this artist. So I would work office jobs, or I was working at restaurants for a long time, waiting tables and hostessing, and then I got this job as a scheduler for one of the mayors.

When it ended, they didn’t have another position for me, and I got unemployment for a year. And I started to write what became this play, you’ll find this funny, about these friends who get stuck in an airport overnight during a snow storm. 

Ioana: This is a page out of Rahima and Ioana’s childhood. 

Rahima: Yes. 

Ioana: Let’s tell a little bit of that story. 

Rahima: Yeah, went to see Leslie Askew for one of her birthdays, and she went to school in no man’s land.

Ioana: Appleton, Wisconsin. 

Rahima: Yeah, you, Rashad Dobbins and I. And going back to Chicago, there was a snowstorm, and we couldn’t get home. And we got stuck in the airport. 

Ioana: And mind you, this was before all the security craziness.

Rahima: Yeah. Because we were going outside and taking smoke breaks. 

Ioana: Not only that but Rashad jumped over on the teller’s side and was like, “I have to see what you see. Don’t tell me there are no flights available. Show me!” 

Rahima: Yes, totally. 

Ioana: I had never listened to more Nirvana in my life.

Rahima: Yeah. Sleeping in the airport, waiting to get home. 

Ioana: I think I had “Beat Me Out of Me” on repeat that night. Okay, so this was your first one-act play?

Rahima: Yeah, called “The Airport Piece.” In the play, it was four women. Three of them had gone to college together. And one of them was a childhood friend of another. Two of the women were in a dying relationship and now stuck in this waiting room, and they can’t stand each other at this point. One of the friends had been crushing on the other friend since college. They have a moment.

It premiered during Black Pride in 2010. I found this little 50-seat black box theater and Adams Morgan, and it was the cheapest place in town. So run down and dirty, but it was cheap, and you could book it, and you had to sweep the floors and all that. And I found four actors.

It was well-received. It went to the D.C. Black Theater Festival, and it won an award, the best one-act drama. I ended up building an excellent relationship with the director of that festival who loved the play and was just like, “Anytime you want to be in this festival, you have an in.” So my last play I put on was a full-length feature in the D.C. Black Theater Festival. 

It’s a lot cheaper to put on a play than it is to make a movie. And a lot less complicated. I knew that I needed to get my voice out there in some way. The theater is a great training ground.

I would sit backstage or in the audience and listen to people. Try to pick up on, did they laugh at the places where I intended them to? Listen to them gasping. And I would always have a talkback after the shows to hear what people had to say. Sometimes the talkbacks would be crazy because people relate to those characters, and they want more, they want to see what happens next with them. Or they’re pissed off that they did this, this, and this.

That was my first time focusing on the fact that I’m a writer who has something to say. 

Ioana: That’s related to your life. 

Rahima: That’s related to my life. Yeah. That was a big thing. It was me pulling on an experience that I had, even though I was embellishing it in places that made it even stronger. And from then on, my best work pulled from some experience in my life. Even something that may have happened to someone else, but I knew it so well. I’m like the Taylor Swift of screenwriting and playwriting. 

Ioana: Would you say that’s the sweet spot for you? 

Rahima: In my not wanting to wrap stuff up with a bow, I don’t like to tell a whole story. I had a grad school professor who talked about when she leans in, when something makes her go, “Oh!”

It’s never at the beginning when people meet, and it’s all LA, LA, LA. It’s when one person storms into the room and says, “I can’t believe you fucking said that!” That’s when you start the play.

And I learned and understood that audiences are receptive to that point in romantic relationships because people are always looking for some sort of free therapy. And if they can go to the theater or see a movie or something and they relate, “Wow, we just had that argument. I feel that way too.”

Relationship dynamics, romantic relationships — that’s my sweet spot and what I’ve become known for. 

Ioana: I imagine there’s no hiding here.

Rahima: No hiding. Depending upon the kind of writer you want to be, you have to be an open book. You can’t hide from these truths that have happened to you. If you have the power of words, if you have the power of using your voice, you have to let people know that they’re not the only one. You have to tell your stories and not hide behind writing about Paris and roaming around it being lovely, you know? 

Ioana: Is there an aspect of that where you’re making peace with whatever the outcome is?

Rahima: Yes. I’ve written because I felt like I needed to get through something, or I needed to make peace with it. I wrote a personal essay about how I got pregnant and how it was really about my marriage ending. And the necessity of my marriage ending for me to be able to get pregnant in the way that I wanted to. And the pain, the hurt, the struggle of all that to get to where I needed to be.

I had grappled for so long with some guilt around my decisions and some fear of whether or not certain friends would still accept me, but I knew that I needed to write it to get to a place of peace where I fully forgave myself.

Ioana: What was the tension that you’re working through in terms of acceptance from your community?

Rahima: The essay is called “She Can’t Get me Pregnant.”

And I had been watching this docu-series on Showtime called Couples Therapy. One of the couples was a lesbian couple. One woman used to be with men, and she desperately wants to have a baby. And at some point, she’s in therapy crying, “Sometimes I go to this place where I just don’t understand why I can’t roll over, and he’s there, and we magically get pregnant.” She felt like it wasn’t fair.

And I was like, “I know what that’s like.” For me, having been with men before I was in my marriage and having been pregnant, knowing that I could do this thing, but I was in a relationship where I couldn’t just easily and seamlessly do this thing, it started to become difficult. 

But I was in a community of women who were figuring out how to have babies — through insemination and whatnot. Though I was happy for them and I completely respected how they went about doing it, it didn’t feel like that was my way. I wanted to be a mom so bad.

And the universe works for you. As I’m going through all of this emotionally, my marriage is falling apart. Maybe a year and some months after my marriage ended, I was dating a man, and I got pregnant.

Wonderfully, after I wrote the piece, a lot of really supportive comments came through. And it’s so interesting that so many women from that community married men, or are in relationships with men, or have had children with men.

I don’t think the love for women and the community of women ever goes away. It’s inherently within you. But I think sometimes you make a decision based on what you feel like your future needs to look like. 

Ioana: You made some tough choices to get you to where you are today, in this beautiful home with a beautiful little girl who loves gymnastics. She’s upstairs. We can hear her bouncing around. Would it be fair to say you have a bias for action? 

Rahima: I’m a very action-oriented person. I’m very decisive. Like when I was going to grad school, Ella Vonne was two years old. I found a low residency grad program that required me to go to Massachusetts for two weeks, twice a year. What single mom with a two-year-old just says, “Yep. This is what I’m going to do, and all y’all need to fall in line and help out.”?

Everybody was on board, the whole village. My parents, my sister, Ella Vonne’s godfather. “Okay, this is the thing that you’re going to do. We’re going to sync our schedules and figure it out.”

Ioana: Beautiful.

Rahima: Yeah. It was me being decisive. I needed to elevate this writing career. I needed people, help, a community of writers that was going to take me to that next level.

Ioana: Which program was this?

Rahima: Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s a small liberal arts college near Harvard’s campus. I was in the stage and screen genre. And after having my daughter, it’s probably the next best experience of my life. 

Ioana: How did the program advance your technique? 

Rahima: It taught me not to be so cocky about my writing. I went there like, “I’ve been doing this. I’ve presented work at festivals. I got this.” And I was in classes with people who had read fifty-some plays, all the classics, and new stuff. And I was like, “Wow, I’m not there.”

So that humbled me. All these people with extreme expertise from all over the country, and we came together to be better.

And then all of the professors are talented working professionals in their field, in their craft. They teach you how to let go of lines and characters and scenes that you’re so wedded to. Because writers are sensitive and attached, like, “I wrote this thing, and it’s great.” The professors say, “Chuck it. Dig your hand in. Rip that thing apart and figure out how to make it better.”

It completely changed the way I structure and develop characters. 

Ioana: How do you develop characters now? 

Rahima: I spend a lot of time thinking about who a person is. Who they are at their core, at work, with their girlfriends, walking down the street. Who they are when they’re crying in bed by themselves, who they are in the shower. I take a lot of time to think about that.

Ioana: How do you visualize it? 

Rahima: I try to see these people in an environment that makes them uncomfortable. Because if my characters are entirely comfortable, then my audience will be too. And I want the audience on their toes. So I have to keep my characters on their toes also.

Always think about the problem. What is the problem? How is it being solved? Who is causing this person a problem? What is against this person achieving what they want? So many stories are the same because of this path.

The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars, for example. How you have people trying to get somewhere, and forces are in the way as they’re trying to go on this journey.

Doing a lot of studying and understanding of stories and characters in that way helps me to develop characters now. 

Ioana: How do you get to a place where you say, “Yes, she would react that way. She would say that because of X, Y, Z.” 

Rahima: Those are usually times when I pull on personal experience or on something I’ve seen someone else experience. Because it is someone’s reality.

My latest play is getting a reading next year at The Signature Theater, and I developed the main woman based on a story I heard during the Freddie Gray riots. There was a black mother on camera going down to the riots to get her son, and she’s smacking him on the head, and pushing him, and hitting him.

And there was all this controversy, “Oh, should she have been hitting her son? It’s not okay to hit your child.” And other people were like, “It is okay. She’s trying to save that boy from being in a riot and maybe getting arrested and maybe ruining his life.” You know?

And so I was focused on who is this woman? What compels you to leave your house to go into a riot where people are throwing things, there’s the police, it’s a violent situation — to get your son. I started to reflect on myself as a single mother, not having a relationship with my daughter’s father. And that became the conflict in the play.

There are decades-long conversations that have not happened between these people who feel like they want to help their son, but they have yet to figure out their stuff. Because of whatever crazy decisions they made as young people, like getting pregnant and never talking about it, they’ve gone on living life and had friction.

This situation, this riot, this focus on this boy, forces them to have conversations they haven’t wanted to have. So that was me pulling on my stuff. What would we do? What would come out? Every single thing I’ve wanted to say, I poured all of that into this play. 

Ioana: So powerful!

Rahima: Yeah. 

Ioana: Whatever they say and how they interact with the other characters is a result of this backstory you have in your head when you put pen to paper.

Rahima: Yeah. When I’m writing something new, I have to know the characters like they’re a friend of mine. Do they wear perfume? What’s their relationship like with their parents? Do they have two parents? Is one dead? Do they have siblings? What are their siblings’ names? What kind of clothes do they like to wear? What’s the color of their hair? Is their hair dyed?

As you said, it’s not all going to end up on the page, but it might come out in little ways that shift the story. Like another moment in this play. The main character wears a bonnet, and the father is very well to do and doesn’t wanna step outside with her wearing this bonnet on her head.

And you feel the energy between them when he asks her if she’s going to wear that out the house. And her reaction, “Fifteen years later, you still checking me.” But she doesn’t have to say that.

And so I put things in like that based on backstory, how both of them feel. His relationship with his mother, and who she was as a woman, and how he saw women. And her thing — where she works, how she grew up, what she always saw. 

Ioana: And what motivates them.

Rahima: What would this character be saying to themselves right now?

I used to piss my teachers off a little bit because I wouldn’t always meet my deadlines and my excuse would be that I hadn’t heard the characters say anything to me yet. And I’ve maybe done a whole outline, and I know what’s going to happen, but then I need to hear what they’re going to say.

Novel writing is entirely different from playwriting and screenwriting. In a novel, I could input a lot of that backstory. I could have a whole first chapter saying such and such was born and blah, blah, blah. And reading a book, you’re used to that. You almost need all of that. With a play, you’re sitting in the audience, and you want to lean in off of what people say. It’s all very tricky. I don’t know why I’m a writer. 

Ioana: The words need to carry the weight of their history. Which in everyday life, like sitting at this kitchen table with you chatting, it doesn’t feel like these words carry the weight of my past. But you as a writer have to infuse that very wisely. 

Rahima: You do, and you have to let the audience know the history, the tension without having the characters say, “Well, remember that time?” Being able to do that comes with experience. I didn’t wake up knowing how to do it. I think I have a natural way with dialogue, and I’ve received that feedback a lot.

Ioana: I like what you said about appreciating the audience’s intelligence and leaving some things to their interpretation. So the experience is more like co-creation as opposed to one-way communication. 

Rahima: Yeah. I can’t manage what people are going to take away from something. And so I leave things to the imagination. Sometimes that irritates people.

I had a one-act at a festival last November, about opening night at an art gallery. In the play, a woman is a curator, and her boyfriend is helping with her first show. They’re a mixed-race couple. She’s white, and he’s black.

They’ve moved to Anacostia, which is a low-income area in DC that’s gentrifying. So, in the play, this white woman curates this show meant to speak to the people in the neighborhood. The first show she puts up is of her mentor’s work. He’s an older black man, and she’s been having an affair with him. 

Ioana: It’s a very layered story. How was it received? 

Rahima: The play was at a festival at the Anacostia Playhouse. The theme was “new vision,” and the story had to take place in Anacostia.

I know who I am as a writer. I write about relationships in some crumbling form, and I’m not preachy about things like gentrification. And so not wanting to preach and have that word show up in any way, I talked about it through this couple.

Here’s this early thirties, mixed-race couple from Shaw moving to Anacostia for her to make it great, to put her stamp on this community is if there isn’t already a stamp. And so without saying all of that, I put it in the dynamics of the story.

And there were plenty of people who got it and loved it. But there are plenty of people who are very rooted in that community and rooted in art being the fist in the air for the community. Art as the therapy for the community.

I don’t connect to my art in that way. I want to entertain people, and I want to create discussions. I want people to walk away with something to think about. I don’t necessarily write for healing. Not saying that someone might not have that takeaway, but I don’t write for that reason. 

Ioana: You’re staying true to your point of view. 

Rahima: Yeah. 

Ioana: And I do not hear that it’s not okay to use art as an overt political tool. So many people, like For Freedoms, are doing that very, very well. And it has its place. It’s terrific you know you’re coming from a different direction. 

Rahima: Yeah. In being a student of film and different filmmakers, I soaked in all the Spike Lee stuff, and I also soaked in a lot of the Woody Allen stuff. I felt both of them were doing the same thing, telling New York stories in different ways. Woody Allen has his Upper East Side issues, and Spike Lee has his Brooklyn issues.

I needed to merge that by not wearing the problems on my sleeve and, instead, speaking to issues through dialogue, character, and tension.

Ioana: What are some of the issues that are important to you? 

Rahima: I write from a black feminist perspective. And I definitely write a lot of stories about DC. More than half of the city is filled with transplants who don’t know so much — like what Columbia Heights used to look like. You know, some of the soul of the city has been taken away and turned into tanning salons, and Starbucks, and condos that are exorbitantly expensive. 

Ioana: How do you see the DC art scene? 

Rahima: Some people leave for grass is greener, like it’s greener in New York or it’s greener in LA. But there are a lot of people who come back because they’re like, “Oh yeah, it’s not really [greener].”

For those of us who stay, do we exhaust 10-15 years banging on someone’s door for them to hear it, or do we do it? Find a cheap theater and put on a play. Get some camera equipment, get some friends, go out on the street and shoot a web series. You know what I’m saying? So the art scene here is full of a lot of people who grind it out. They have a hand in doing what they want to do.

It’s a very tight-knit community trying to preserve something. Because even the arts in the city have become untouchable to the small people and the indie people. I’m going to talk on Monday with The Kennedy Center Reach.

They want playwrights in the community to come and discuss how they can improve our ability to present. Because none of us has thousands of dollars to reserve these huge theaters, and everything is becoming so inaccessible. 

So I think that the community is just trying to stay tight. We all know each other or know of each other and can get connected to get things done. And I love that about the arts community here. 

Ioana: It’s a bias for action. 

Rahima: Definitely. 

Ioana: Yeah, and I love that you’re not waiting for permission to certify your talent and produce.

Rahima: A lot of the people I respect took their time, and eventually, their work caught on. You don’t give up on it just because people haven’t caught on yet.

It’s not easy to decide to do all of this.

Ioana: There’s no immediate payoff. 

Rahima: No. What person, in their right mind, sits down and thinks, “I’m going to create a career where I am at the mercy of other people’s likes and dislikes.”?

Whether or not someone thinks I’m good, will determine the potential of my livelihood. I do all sorts of things to make money, all legal! 

Ioana: Let’s talk about that. 

Rahima: I substitute teach. That was a big passion of mine, and a big reason I went to grad school. I want to show this younger generation how to write plays and scripts.

You know, I kept hearing people talking about bridging the wage gap between men and women, between minorities and white people. And there’s a whole untapped world that people are not talking about. 

A TV writer on one episode can make what some people make as their entire salary in a year. So you take 10-15 in those episodes of one season of a show — that person is making more money than their parents or grandparents probably made in their entire lives.

And no one is teaching these kids or telling these kids that they can write television shows, or that they can write these movies they see every weekend. And they can then use that money and move back into their communities and bridge the gap.

We went through that whole Oscars are so white. Well, if black and brown kids were being taught to write movies, then black and brown stories would be on the screen. So if you want to fix that issue, get these kids writing, get them to understand what they can do, and get them into these studios. Get them to Harvard writing for The Lampoon so that they can then go on Saturday Night Live and be writers on SNL.

So, so important. I want to teach these kids to write. I want to get kids passionate about something. Even if I was teaching a workshop and they weren’t necessarily interested in writing but left the workshop curious about teaching.

Getting kids passionate about something on the front end will keep them from waiting to retire. I don’t want that for my kid, and I don’t want that for anybody else’s kid. 

Ioana: Is there anything we didn’t touch on? 

Rahima: A lot of what keeps people from doing the thing they think is crazy is the fear of whether or not it will pan out and the vulnerability of “How will I be looked at for doing that thing? How will my spouse feel if I walk into the house tomorrow and say, I’m leaving this six-figure job to open a record store?”. Not feeling like you have the support, or the know-how to make it happen.

What helped me when I wrote my first play, is this book called “What Should I Do With My Life?” It’s a bunch of stories about different people who had done the impossible. Lawyers who had decided to start a cake business, for example. Stories about people who had gotten to a point in their lives and started to ask themselves, “Is this it?”

I know so many people are stuck on that fear of how to get something done. I’ve been going to a lot of free seminars, workshops, and summits where people who have gotten where you’re attempting to go, sit there, and tell you their whole story. They share how they did it, and they give you all the gems. 

There are so many ways for you to step out of that fear. I have a ton of things I want to do that I’ve pushed to the back burner because doubt still exists in me. And every so often, I attempt something. Like this ten-minute play festival I produced last year, I was very scared to do it. It’s a smaller version of a bigger dream I needed to do to see if the bigger dream could happen. It’s going to keep going until the bigger dream can come to fruition. 

Ioana: Building blocks. 

Rahima: Yeah. And now I know I can pull it off! 

Ioana: And it’s intimidating in increments. 

Rahima: You gotta think about the long game. What are all the lucrative things you can do, so that we’re not starving artists. 

Ioana: How can people find you? 

Rahima: My art company, The 4208 Group, has a lot of information about current productions. I’m on all of the social media platforms so people can follow me. And I have a Medium page with all of my essays. 

Ioana: Thank you so much for coming on. It was a pleasure to talk to you. 

Rahima: This was great.


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