Lizzie Wann, Puna Press Live
LifeBeat Follow-Up: Miki Vale
It’s time to catch up with Miki Vale – musician, playwright, artivist, and educator. I first talked to Miki back in October 2020 (watch the episode), and plenty has happened to this multifaceted artist since then. In our follow-up Q & A, we revisited the questions I originally asked to see what has changed or stayed the same. We discussed accolades she’s received, and how, even with recognition, there are some things that still just aren’t quite right. She talked about her upcoming projects through SoulKiss Theater that will be featured this coming spring and summer at the La Jolla Playhouse and The Old Globe, respectively. Ultimately, Miki effuses joy and positivity while not dismissing the reasons that led her to those feelings. She is also eager to keep creating. This Q&A was conducted by email, and Miki provided her answers on January 17, 2022.
Lizzie: The show started with “lightning round” questions and the first one was about the favorite thing about where you live. You told us you love your multicultural neighborhood. How would you answer that question now?
Miki: My neighborhood is one of the few remaining not-yet-gentrified neighborhoods in San Diego and I adore it. I love the culture; I love the mom-and-pop shops. I love the resourcefulness of the people who use whatever space they have to start businesses and I love the pop-up businesses on the sidewalks. I love that there are so many different cultures inhabiting the same space. After living in and being displaced from North Park and Golden Hill, respectively, over the last 20 years, I now know the signs of impending gentrification and I see it happening in my neighborhood, which breaks my heart. Because I know that with gentrification comes the loss of culture, mom and pop shops and affordable housing. But I will love it here as long as I can, and I am grateful for the community built here.
Next, we tackled superpowers! You said you would want to be able to make children feel loved no matter their situation. How do you see children flourish when they’re surrounded by love? Is that still your superpower wish?
Children feel empowered when surrounded by love and that feeling of empowerment is important in building confident, thriving adults. Yes, that’s still my superpower wish.
The last “lightning round” question was about your favorite smell(s). You answered jasmine. Any favorite scents for winter?
I’d say ginger tea is one of my favorite winter scents because ginger tea has been the go-to for the past couple of months and I enjoy when the aroma fills my home.
To get into our one-on-one conversation, I started by asking you about “Bad Wolves,” which had just been released. Turns out you had a winner there as it won Song of the Year at the 2021 San Diego Music Awards! I know it was a collaborative effort and you all shared in the win. How did it feel to get that recognition from the music community?
It felt good to be recognized, especially after having been nominated many times and never taking home a trophy (I still didn’t take home a physical trophy, and my name wasn’t included on the ballot this time so, there’s that). But finally receiving a win was nice since the SDMAs is the biggest ceremony for San Diego music. I feel like there’s a huge part of the San Diego music community that is not recognized by the SDMAs (R&B category was just added this year in the ceremony’s 30th year of existence). It definitely feels like a good ol’ boys club. But it’s always nice to be recognized.
Next, we talked about the many different paths that all led you to the Old Globe Theatre. Are you still working with them? What are some of the projects you’ve been working on? What about any projects with the La Jolla Playhouse? How has the pandemic affected these roles?
I just finished writing a one-act play for a collaboration between the Old Globe and SoulKiss Theater. It’s in the workshopping phase right now and will be produced this summer by the Old Globe, along with a one-act by Queen Kandi Cole. QKC was part of the first cohort of SoulKiss Theater playwriting workshop.
SoulKiss Theater will also be part of La Jolla Playhouse’s WOW Festival this April. I will be the writer and artistic director for that project. That show is a collaboration of artists who have participated in SoulKiss Theater workshops along with local Hip Hop and R&B artists to provide the soundtrack. I feel like the pandemic has made me sit down and focus a lot more than I was able to pre-pandemic.
We also discussed the history of SoulKiss and its evolution to SoulKiss Theater. I know you did a workshop over the summer (2021) and then did live stage readings. Can you talk more about that and any new workshops you have on the horizon?
The first SoulKiss Theater in-person stage reading was beautiful. It took place on the outdoor plaza of the Old Globe, in beautiful Balboa Park. It was lovely to finally be able to be in person after a year of Zoom and virtual readings. I’m hoping to begin new workshops in spring of this year.
Finally, we talked about joy and you gave one of my favorite answers. You said you were a “walking ball of joy.” How do you sustain your sincere positivity? Taking from something I have heard Sonya Renee Taylor say, what fills your cup so that you’re able to give of your overflow?
My light comes from the darkness I’ve overcome. I was in a very dark space 4-5 years ago. I’d gone through a break-up of a long-term relationship that I took very hard. I had never experienced heartbreak like that before, so those feelings were new for me. After finally digging my way out of that deep dark hole, I felt like every moment not being miserable is an absolute gift. So, I’m just incredibly grateful to not be sad, and I’m grateful for every single thing that is on this side of that misery. I literally walk down the street feeling so grateful just to not be miserable. And since an attitude of gratitude brings more opportunities for joy, there’s just always more things for me to be happy about.
Is there anything you want to promote or anything else you want to say about where you are right now with everything?
I’m just happy to be here. There’s been a lot of loss over the last couple years which makes me more aware of my own mortality. So, it’s important to me to make the best of every moment and create as much as I can. I don’t want my best ideas to die in my notes app.
Thanks for your thoughtful answers, Miki. We are eager to support any and all of your endeavors!
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