During this time of social distancing and dark theatres, Vancouver Presents is checking in with members of our arts community to find out how they are staying creative and managing during the pandemic.
Today we check in with Vancouver-based award-winning professional actor, writer, director and producer Omari Newton.
1. How are you staying creative during the pandemic?
I’ve been blessed/cursed with many writing deadlines. I’m writing a few plays, as well as doing voices for animated shows. I also narrated an audiobook for the first time.
2. What’s the one thing getting you through?
My dog, my wife and podcasts have gotten me through.
3. How are you staying in contact with family and friends who are not in your bubble?
I’ve been blessed with a solid social media network, and remain active on several platforms.
4. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far during the pandemic?
That if I consume too much media, I feel a dramatic spike in anxiety.
5. What do you feel the most grateful for right now?
My health, my family and loved ones, and a career that I enjoy.
6. What is something you are doing now that you don’t normally?
Staying inside for countless hours on end.
7. What skill have you developed since the pandemic started?
I’m just now starting to learn digital marketing for a new opportunity with a company whose values are very much inline with my own. It’s fascinating.
8. What have you missed the most?
Concerts, and walking in public without being able to fully relax.
9. Your #1 pandemic survival tip.
Do what brings you joy, comfort and a sense of fulfillment.
10. Your biggest indulgence since the pandemic started.
Sugar-free chocolate. It’s an addiction.
11. What have you stockpiled?
12. What have you been reading?
I started reading Phillip Roth’s American Pastoral. He’s such a brilliant writer it borders on depressing.
13. What have you been watching?
Lots of videos on investing. I think it’s important that artists, and particularly artists of colour understand investing and personal finance. Especially with so much uncertainty in 2020 and beyond.
14. What have you been listening to?
The new Run The Jewels album is FIRE!
15. What are you doing for exercise?
Walking my dog. Also,I bought a nice bike that I barely use… Soon though.
16. The one thing you haven’t been able to live without?
17. Do-it-yourself haircut or the natural look?
Shaved my own head yesterday. I have a very round head that looks decent bald. I’m lucky.
18. Night owl or early riser?
Both, sadly. I generally fall asleep at midnight or 1 am and wake up at 6 am religiously.
19. Will you be the first out as restrictions are gradually lifted or taking a wait-and-see attitude?
Slow and steady. As a Type 1 diabetic and a black man, I am in two higher risk groups.
20. What’s the first thing you will do when this is all over?
Bike the seawall for a few hours. But, probably not : )
Meet Omari Newton
Omari Newton is an award-winning professional actor, writer, director and producer. As a writer, his original Hip Hop theatre piece Sal Capone has received critical acclaim and multiple productions, including a recent presentation at Canada’s National Arts Centre. He has been commissioned by Black Theatre Workshop (BTW) in Montreal to write a companion piece to Sal Capone entitled Black & Blue Matters. The new piece is set to premiere at BTW in 2019.
Omari and his wife, fellow professional playwright Amy Lee Lavoie, recently received a generous grant from the Canada Council to co-write a new play: Redbone Coonhound. Their latest collaboration is a bold and innovative satirical comedy that confronts instances of systemic racism in the past, present and future.
Newton’s work in Speakeasy Theatre’s production of Young Jean Lee’s The Shipment earned him a 2017-2018 Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor, as well as a nomination for Best Direction. Notable film & TV credits include Lucas Ingram on Showcase’s Continuum, Larry Summers on Blue Mountain State and lending his voice to the Black Panther in multiple animated projects (Marvel). Most recently, Omari has a recurring role as Nate on Corner Gas (the animated series) and a recurring role as Corvus of Netflix’s hit new animated series The Dragon Prince.