Call for Storytellers!

TMI Project is proud to announce its 2nd international call for Black Trans Stories Matter. If you are Black, trans, non binary, or anyone who identifies as being part of the gender expansive community, we invite you to apply to participate in our true storytelling workshop and performance.

THE WORKSHOP

The workshop series, a Black trans-led space, will be a place for Black trans and gender expansive people to gather, write, share stories, and receive support without justifying, explaining, or defending their truth. Over the course of ten sessions, TMI Project Workshop Leaders Kiebpoli Calnek (they/them) and Erik Harris (he/him) will help guide you through the TMI Project true storytelling process, to help you choose a story you most want to tell; provide exercises to inspire new perspectives; and edit your piece into a well-crafted TMI Project-style monologue for the stage.

THE PERFORMANCE

The culminating content will be presented in performance, a night of true storytelling, on June 24, 2023, both online (via livestream) and  in person (in New York State, location TBD). TMI Project will cover the travel and lodging costs of all out-of-town participants. 

The program was created by Cece Suazo (she/her), a trans activist, ballroom icon, and TMI Project storyteller. Black Trans Stories Matter supports and is aligned with the mission of Black Lives Matter.

All chosen applicants will receive a $500 stipend upon completion of the program. No prior experience with writing or storytelling is required to apply. 

If you are interested in applying, please make sure you are available for full participation on the following dates
(
subject to change):

Workshops:
Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:30 PM, EST
March 22 & 29; April 5, 12, 19, 26; May 17 and 24

Rehearsal:
Friday, June 23, time TBD

Performance:
Saturday, June 24, time / location TBD

Follow-Up
TBD (June 25 if in-person, June 28 if virtual)

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Cece Suazo
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

“Before I was introduced to TMI Project I was torn, broken, and felt like damaged goods. To be completely honest, I just wanted to end it all. Today, I live with a greater sense of freedom because I learned how to tell my narrative and live in my truth. I was accepted and gained a new family through TMI Project. I feel whole again, stronger, and more confident in my ability to continue life’s journey. I also felt inspired to reach out to others in the TGNC (transgender non-conforming) community to let them know there’s so much out there for us.”

Cece is a life-long trans activist and artist. She was honored with the 2018 Advocate Magazine Award for her contributions to the ballroom community and performing arts. She has appeared in numerous off-Broadway productions at Rattlestick, Signature, LaMama, Arcon, and appearing in the New York Times Critics’ Pick production of Street Children and Incongruence at NYTW. Cece also starred in the Bay/San Francisco area premiere of Chisa Hutchinson’s Dead & Breathing at Theater Rhinoceros, as well as in TMI Project’s off-Broadway production LifelinesQueer Stories of Survival for the Trevor Project. In 2019 she had the honor to play trans pioneer Lucy Hicks Anderson in High Herstory. As the 1st trans woman of color at WOW Cafe Theater, she’s produced many works in her 12 years as a collective member. Cece is also one of the founders of TRANSLAB where she recently did a residency in partnership with The Public Theater & WP Theater. Her first play, Shattered Reflections (The Deep Play), had its premiere in December 2018 at the WP Theater. She recently presented her latest play, You Will Neva Enter Our High Holy Land Of Blackness-HIYA, at Long Wharf Theater. Ms. Suazo’s ballroom career began in 1988 as the youngest member in the Iconic House Of LaBeija. She earned Legendary status in 2010, and in 2013, she departed the house after 27 years.

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Kiebpoli Calnek
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

“Working with TMI Project feels like divine guidance. It is humbling to have the opportunity to engage with brave participants, helping them express their true stories, which capture the Black Trans narrative in all its raw authenticity and wisdom. This crucial work enriches the spirit of the performer with a platform for their truth and provides a unique window of reflection for the viewer.”

Kiebpoli Calnek is a non-binary, trans-masculine, queer Black creative, born and raised in Lenapehoking/ New York City. They’ve generated nuanced performances and artistic direction seeped in poetic elements for over two decades. They focus on narratives that reflect the cultural fluidity of Blackness, queerness, and the mental health industrial complex, through relationships interwoven with spirituality, current events, and sociopolitical issues. Their social enterprise, Black*Acrobat, produces interdisciplinary programming sharing stories of, for, and with fringe communities, celebrating authentic visions and a spectrum of viewpoints through research, access, and collaboration. kiebpoli.com

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Erik Harris
Pronouns: He/Him/His

“As a Black trans man, I know I have been lucky to come of age in environments that valued my input and allowed me to thrive, but that is not the reality for so many other people like me. When I heard about Black Trans Stories Matter, I knew I had to get involved because my community has so many powerful folks and stories that have yet to be heard.”

Erik Harris is a proud Black, queer, trans man from North Carolina currently located in Richmond, Virginia. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Race & Ethnicity Studies from Salem College as well as a Master of Arts degree in History from UNC-Greensboro. Erik is professionally trained as a secondary English teacher. As a high school teacher in Nashville, he was one of the founding advisors of the SafeZone, a club for LGBTQ teens and allies to explore their identities and advocate for their needs in the school. This work, in addition to his own lived experience, has shaped his long-standing passion for social justice and equity work. Erik is currently dedicating his time to building community, developing his writing, and reconnecting to the Earth. When he isn’t working, Erik enjoys hiking, cooking, and playing guitar for his cat, Tux.

CAST FROM 2021

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Theadora Green
Pronoun: She/Her/Hers
Geneva, IL

“I’m honored to share my story and hopefully inspire young women not to give up — that through adversity and perseverance you can reach your goals, whatever they may be.”

Julian Harris

Julian Harris
Pronoun: He/Him
Washington, DC

“Our stories matter. My story helps me remember my resilience in times I feel weak, alone, and hopeless. I hope it can help others, too.”

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Sanaia Hood
Pronoun: She/Her/Miss/Ma’am/Queen/Mermaid/Goddess
Charlotte, NC

“We need as much positive trans visibility as possible, from many different perspectives — politicians, creatives, entrepreneurs, medical workers, etc. I want the audience to know we can do and be anything!”

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K.C. Nyabinyere Jallah
Pronoun: They/Them/Theirs
Los Angeles, CA

“Too often the narratives of Black Trans people are unheard, disregarded, or only focused on death. I am hoping these narratives extend our collective humanity and empower other Black Trans folx to continue advocating for our existence.”

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KT Kennedy
Pronoun: They/Them
Brooklyn, NY

“I want to showcase, share, celebrate, uplift, and highlight the profound and infinite ways BTGNC’s voices and stories matter.”

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Eddie Maisonet
Pronoun: He/Him/His
Boston, MA

“Trauma porn is very effective to get white-centered institutional resources but using the way hegemonic society pathologizes Black Trans people does not affirm my full humanity or integrity as an artist. I am more than a token that audiences can use to get in touch with their own humanity.”

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Aren Somers
Pronoun: He/Him
Lynchburg, VA

“There is tremendous diversity in the lived experience of Black trans men. We can be neurodivierse, ASpec, gay, nerdy — a million different things. I hope the audience will ponder what makes up a black trans life, and how we find the courage and solidarity to keep on living those lives.”

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Jahir Thomas
Pronoun: Him/He
Fort Worth, TX

“I want to tell my story of being a black trans man to inspire young and old FTMs to be confident in who they are and to not let fear of judgment slow their lives down. I want the audience to know that being trans is not a negative — it’s a normal and positive aspect of life.”

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Syd Williams
Pronoun: He/Him
Durham, NC

“I think it is important for the audience to know the stories of black trans folks are not all the same. We all go through different things to get to where we are.”

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Mario (Mars) Wolfe
Pronoun: They/Them
Petersburg, FL

“Stories centering Transgender folx usually dramatize violence, surgery, and sex work. I find those stories difficult to watch because some of those narratives hit too close to home, but also because they contribute to a monolithic depiction. I want to help expand our growing landscape; filling in the non-binary colors of the rainbow.”

PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS

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