Alex: Alex is a… I’m endlessly curious. I’m always looking for the next adventure, the next lesson, the next meal! I like to live aggressively, I would say. I am genuinely a happy person... I’m a pretty emotional person. I’m down with like leaning into the not so pretty stuff. I’m into embracing all of that. I’m a person who is always hungry. I’m a person who is down for fellowship; a person who loves to eat and drink and be merry with my friends. I love my family. I love Janet Jackson. And I’m a lover of great writings and beautiful books.
TEOP: What is your favorite pastime?
Alex: My favorite pastime (thinks) is definitely eating. Um, yeah. If I’m not sleeping or writing, or on MyVidster, it’s definitely all-out the meal. Finding rice, or plantain or… especially in a city like this. The possibilities are endless, you can eat a new amazing thing every day. And that is actually a goal of mine. Eating makes me happy. Food is another motherfucker who never left me. It always makes me feel alive and wonderful. Shoutout to food, and makers of good food. And people who understand gravy sauces, food should be juicy and luscious and wonderful. Shoutout to eating.
TEOP: What’s your Favorite song?
Alex: The song that resonates the most with me emotionally, and that I can listen to again and again and never get tired of is… I would say "Trust A Try" by Janet Jackson. That album came out when I was 17 and had just started my dance company. It was probably called Groovement Entertainment, at the time. And I was really new as a choreographer and kinda growing up, you know, watching Janet’s choreography with Tina Landon, Wade Robson, Fatima Robinson, those people… this was the first song, as a choreographer. I used to describe it as, “I came alive inside this song.” Like this song, I don’t know, it was kinda the hardest I’d ever pushed myself artistically at that time, or creatively. So whenever I would hear that song I think about our rehearsals and will always be special to me.
TEOP: Who are some of your role models?
Alex: I would say the first person who ever really inspired me on a deep level was Tina Landon who is a choreographer for, of course, Janet Jackson. When I was growing up and fell in love with dance, seeing what she did for other artists and, of course, the way she was able to bring the music to life and tell a story on stage - that was one of the first things that inspired me. And she was one of the people whose work I kept in mind as I developed as a choreographer, and I worked with my dance company that I had in Virginia…(thinks); I’m pretty late to the James Baldwin party, but the more I read his work the more I see parallels in not only our lives, but sometimes I feel like his - and someone told me that this would happen when I read his work, that his writing would speak to me much differently than other writers work touches me. He is a master at what he does, and just to see the precision and the attention to detail that he has in his work is something that really, in the short amount of time I’ve been getting acquainted with his work and his material, has already moved me and kinda inspired me to be better, to dig deeper. You know, to write longer sentences. To just go there and just be great. And also my parents! They’re my role models. Their strength, they’ve been married since 1980. They have shown me the power of love and the potential for relationships. It gives me something to aspire to.
TEOP: What difference is there between dancing and writing for you?
Alex: Well, when I’m writing and when I’m dancing I’ll say is when I feel at most peace. I guess because writing has a lot of professional implication attached to it now. It’s more tied to livelihood and survival; they add a little more pressure attached to writing that I no longer associate with dance, though, they both still make me happy and make me feel alive. Dance was my first love. I fell in love with dance as a teenager, getting training in my room, learning choreography from music videos. You know, being the typical Black, gay boy dancing to Aaliyah in his room. Writing now, I feel like I’m here to write. Dance is cool. I love dance. I’ve done the professional dance training, auditions and tryna live the dance life. Now dance occupies a space of pastime. There’s no pressure attached to it. I’m not auditioning for a position on a tour, or a music video. I’m not dancing to make someone like me. I don’t have to worry about all those anxieties of being too short or too tall, my hair being too long, not skinny or dealing with that BS. Writing now… I know I can touch people with my writing in ways I couldn’t do with dance.
TEOP: What would you say to your younger self?
Alex: If I could speak to my younger self I would say don’t be so hard on yourself. I would say it’s okay to be uncertain and it’s okay to be stressed. Nothing is perfect and trying to be perfect will lead you into all kinds of heartbreak and frustration. I would say that you’re a smart motherfucker, you’ve done great things. Be kind to yourself. I would say take the time to relax. Focus on you, and remember what it is that makes you happy and makes your heart sing. And fuck everything else.
TEOP: What are some of your fears?
Alex: Fears… I’m afraid of not being able to provide for my family if some major shit went down. I’m afraid that with aging parents, not that I’m focusing on negative, but I am afraid that I won’t be ready to step up when it’s my turn. When it’s, you know... I get that call or when something beyond my control happens and I’m unable to step in to save the day. I’m afraid that I will leave the earth before I fulfill what I think is my purpose. Not only to inspire people, but I have some things I want to see come to fruition, things I would love to do for people, that I would love to see happen before I leave this earth. And just not being able to do those things is one of the things that keeps me moving, keeps me working. I fear that my family will go without so that is one thing that keeps me motivated. Working to be able to make life easier for my family, and keeping that fear at bay.
TEOP: What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
Alex: I was living in Panama for a few years, from about 2011-2014 and I was teaching English. I was running an English as a Second Language company called Pan-American Languages, and we taught English as a second language to Spanish speaking professionals, bankers, lawyers, teachers, whomever was down to pay that rate! I got to a point where I was able to hire teachers, some American and Canadian teachers, to strengthen the empire for me. So I hired me some nice white folk and they brought me that bread! So there was a point when I able to move to a nicer place... I was on the phone with my grandmother one day and we were talking about the different options that I had as far as the places to stay. I found a place that was out of my desired price range and she was telling me, “as hard as you work, you have to love where you live. If you’re going to cut corners anywhere else, at the very least you need to love your bed and have a great night of sleep and be able to start each day feeling refreshed. And to be kind to yourself!”... She told me to be nicer to myself. I’m very hard on myself, but it’s one of the things I keep in the back of my mind all the time to give myself credit for things. To focus on the good instead of always seeking out the bad. But she definitely wanted me to take care of myself, being kind to myself and taking the time to appreciate the things that I’m doing and the things I had accomplished.
TEOP: What are some of your passions?
Alex: I’m passionate about food, first and foremost. Most people eat to live, I think I live to eat (laughs)! I’m passionate about good music. I’m passionate about writing and creative expression. I’m passionate about…. well, in the wake of some of my personal experiences, I’m increasingly passionate about mental health and mental wellness and encouraging others to seek joy and, you know, to seek out happiness. And one necessary step I think to achieving joy I think is by keeping your mental health and mental wellness as a priority. So that’s one of the things I’m passionate about… through writing, through speaking, through fellowship, through advocacy, through my writing workshops, through tweets, through Facebook posts, just encouraging people to get their shit together. In any kind of way, whatever it is that brings you joy. I’m passionate about helping people find those things and seek clarity and be free.