People ask me all the time what exactly do I do for Secrets? What is my role? I tell them I'm the Executive Producer. This is usually greeted with a blank stare....
It's hard to really define what I do in a nut shell. But I will say my main role has been ensuring that this play happens by any and all means necessary. Yes I'm the Malcolm X of theatre! We were turned down by nearly every arts council in Canada for funding, and maybe the thoughts of seeing six black men being on stage in non-stereotypical roles just weren't appealing to them. So after firing off a passionate (I like passionate instead of angry email) to the arts councils telling them that I didn't need their damn money that I would do the shit myself! I realized, "hey trey you've got to do this shit yourself!" That's when I realized it's sink or swim time!
Financing this project has been a huge commitment, one of my biggest financial commitments next to my mortgage! My mom who is a real estate agent in Florida told me that houses are now selling there for $80,000 to $130,000. I had to admit for a moment my stomach hit the floor when I realized I could have bought a summer house in Florida instead I decided to finance my brother's play! On paper it doesn't sound smart but in my heart, soul and everything within me, it feels like the right thing to do.
Why, because I believe in this. And I believe we have to take risks. Risks that make no sense to anyone.
My other role as Executive Producer is to ensure that I hire the right people to execute Darren, the playwright's vision. Yesterday I was in the studio listening to the music that has been created for Secrets and I nearly wept with joy. We have a team of creative geniuses. Genius is not a word I use lightly. But I will use it in this case even capitalize it. GENIUS. Many of Toronto's best kept secrets, are working on Secrets. *No pun intended*.
Brilliant minds, filled with passion. One of the things that I know about myself is I want people around me who want to think outside the box, want to take a chance, want to create, people who live and breathe innovation. People who are teaching me something new every day. I'm a talent whore! I want people around who blow me away by their talent! People who if I had it, I would pay them even more than their standard contract fees because they are so great at what they do! My job as Executive Producer, is to hire them and get out of their way! This has been challenging for me because I'm a bit of a control freak. I love to give my opinions. I love to have the last word. I love to think that my way is the best way. But I am learning to let people do their jobs! Once again I rely on my faith. Faith to know that the universe has brought us all together to create something wonderful.
My other role which I think has been one of the hardest is to let everyone know that they are appreciated and that this is a team effort. A lot of the time I get all the fame and the glory but I roll deep! Translation for my mom who reads my blog: I got a strong team behind me!
And as a leader I want to ensure that everyone on my team feels that without them none of this would be possible. From the interns who run out to grab me lunch because I've forgotten to eat because I've been in meetings all day with sponsors- I thank you. Brittney who designed this wonderful blog and given me an outlet to vent. The marketing team including the cast, who hit the pavement with their fliers and Secrets t-shirts. My bookkeeper who manages to somehow find the extra $300 dollars so we can buy God knows what now!!! Our "branding" wizard Marc who does it for the love because for sure it can't be the money! Beth, Jackie, and Erika who meet with me weekly and continuously ask, "trey what can we take off your plate.... " I love you for that.
Krystle, Krista, my assistants and silver lining team who always see the sun through the clouds. Kimahli for always pulling another trick out of his sleeve to make words jump off the page and come alive on stage! All the designers and the folks behind the scenes who are are bringing this show to another level I can't express my gratitude and awe at what you do. And Darren... my "little" brother Darren his six-foot-three self leans over to my five-foot-one self and says to me, "I know I'm in good hands" Little brother, your faith in me makes me know I cannot fail.
I "work" sixteen hours days seven days a week. But I love what I do because I love the people I work with. I always say to my staff anytime this starts to feel like "work" do us all a favor and leave! I want you here but I want you to WANT to be here. I want you a part of this team because this is the only place that you want to be. And being a part of Secrets is the only place I want to be.
So I don't have a summer house in Florida but I got a lot more.....