Five Minutes, Five Question: Na’Tosha De’Von wants one-woman play to start the healing

Five Minutes, Five Question: Na’Tosha De’Von wants one-woman play to start the healing

“… And if my art does nothing else, I pray it makes you feel.” — Na’Tosha De’Von

Artists 360, a program of the Mid-America Arts Alliance, provides grant funding and professional development opportunities to individual artists of all disciplines in Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Sebastian and Washington counties. Among 2022 recipients was Na’Tosha De’Von, a talented actor familiar to theater fans from Northwest Arkansas stages like TheatreSquared (“School Girls,” “The Royale,” “Detroit ‘67”), Trike (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) and the University of Arkansas (“Macbeth,” “Avenue Q”).

A native of Chicago, De’Von was raised in Mississippi and says she began her journey into the arts “by way of God’s design.” She has an undergraduate degree in Speech Communication and Theatre from Jackson (Miss.) State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the UA. Since receiving her MFA, she has become a teaching artist, freelance poet and a professional, working actor.

“I believe the purpose of my art is to expose and heal,” she says on her website. “One cannot heal the parts that are broken if they do not see them. So the exposure, while brutal, is a necessary madness. I would like to think the first words I ever spoke were in the form of a metaphor. With that, I acknowledge the power of words. My love for language has allowed me to develop poetry and take on the nuances of characters as an actor.”

Her Artists 360 project, “Ain’t I a Woman,” a one-person show about a young Black woman named Nia, will take the stage Aug. 10-12 at the Global Campus Theater in Fayetteville. De’Von answered these questions for What’s Up!

Q. How did the Artists 360 grant impact your artistic life to allow this to happen?

A. The Artists 360 grant has allowed me to share my artwork with my local community. It has helped me publish my poetry chapbook. And honestly it took a lot of the financial burden off of creating.

Q. Tell me a little about you and growing up and what inspired your passion for acting — and for teaching?

A. I grew up in a single-parent home in poverty. I am a first-generation college student on both sides of my family. I wanted to go into something more practical. I started doing poetry and acting because God showed me this was what He wanted me to do with my life, and I just listened. I teach because there is such an importance for Black teachers, and I love the concept of giving back.

Q. How did you wind up at the UA? What did you learn there that has shaped the course of your career?

A. I went to the University of Arkansas for grad school to get my MFA in acting. The one thing that I would take from the UA outside of my training is the impact of my voice — how my voice is one that the world needs to hear. I learned that my voice has the ability to impact others and make space for change and growth.

Q. Tell me about the plot of your show, what inspired it and how much of you is in the story?

A. The show is about a young girl name Nia. It takes you on her life’s journey as she tries to create her own version of womanhood. It is a beautiful, poetic story that is full of emotions and comedy. I was inspired to write this story as a form of therapy and healing. I wanted to create a piece that opened the doors to needed conversation.

Q. What do you hope audience members are talking about as they leave the show?

A. I would love for the audience to leave the show feeling seen and that they are able to take the first step in their healing process. I also want the audience to leave with their hearts full. I plan to continue to push the story out there and travel it to different universities and theater companies.


‘Ain’t I A Woman’

WHEN — 7 p.m. Aug. 10-11, 2 p.m. Aug. 12

WHERE — UA Global Campus Theater, 2 E. Center St. in Fayetteville

COST — $15-$25


Categories: Theater