Trailer for Sunset Baby
Sunset Baby by Dominique Morisseau debuted five years ago, a year after after the death of Trayvon Martin, but still a year away from #BlackLivesMatter. The movement that formed in the wake of these publicized and unceasing murders has organized a generation of young people of color. And right now, many Americans are reeling from their long overdue embrace of a broad spectrum of talented black and brown artists changing the world. So it seems fitting the Trustus Theatre would bring Sunset Baby, a unapologetically black play about generational change, revolution, love, betrayal, and survival to Columbia and place it in the capable hands of passionate artists and activists here.
To learn more about the production, we asked actress Devin Anderson, who plays Nina, a successful hustler and daughter of an aging black revolutionary, a few questions about Sunset Baby, her role and her inspiration.
Sunset Baby opened last week and runs until March 3.
Why Sunset Baby?
Sunset Baby is a story that so many people in the black community can relate to. Although it is a piece that is made by a black woman for POC audiences, it is also enlightening for others. This play touches on the social and familial issues that people of color deal with on a regular basis. You ask why Sunset Baby, and I ask why not? It shows how Nina, a black woman, fights to leave the only life she knows. Which is a life on the streets, full of disappointments, heartbreak, abuse, and neglect. It shows her fight to find her sunset, her peace, her happiness.
This story is so important right now with Trump being in office because as a black person it is hard to find your place in a society that wasn’t created for you – in fact, it was created to ensure that you aren’t successful. So with artists like Dominique Morisseau, Ava Duvernay, Ryan Coogler, and so many more they are quite literally knocking down barriers and beating the odds to pave the way for many artist that look like me, my brothers, my sisters. This is important because where I grew up in a household that told me I can be whoever and whatever I want, there are so many people of color who do not get that same message. As well as those of us who have received that message growing up it was hard to find the venues that supported us. We are constantly put into positions that support our “look” which generally plays into whatever stereotype has been set up for us.
What are your hopes for this production?
My hopes for this production are that people come out and support, listen and learn from the message, and allow the message to influence their social interactions in a positive way. As a black woman I don’t look for sympathy for myself or the characters, as much as I hope this play allows people to gain an awareness, an understanding, and knowledge for what people of color face on a daily bases even when they put on good face.
Who needs to see this?
This play is definitely for audiences of color, but everyone can benefit from watching this play because it so authentic, so raw. Even with the way the set is designed and the imagery that is included it gives the audience a “fly on the wall” perspective. You are literally looking into these three characters lives. It is intense, emotional, and at times down right uncomfortable, but the message at the end is so clear.
What is your role in Sunset Baby?
I am playing Nina. Daughter of the late Ashanti X (a revolutionary who is so broken during movement she turns to drugs to cope), and her absentee father Kenyatta Shakur (also a revolutionary who is incarcerated because of the movement). Nina, having been impoverished her whole life, has been let down in so many ways that she becomes this guarded individual unable to love or be loved. She begins to hustle because she doesn’t know another way to get by. That’s why when her father tries to make his way back into her life she views it as another hustle, or shall I say she views him as another customer. With her lifestyle nothing comes free, so what is he willing to do to gain some kind of a relationship with her.
What is your inspiration?
I draw my inspiration from the black community. I know so many people whose story I’m telling every time I walk onto the stage. My inspiration is to make sure that their story is not tainted by stereotypes, or microaggressions, or the westernized view of what their story means. Instead I want to make sure their story is authentic, and when people view it they don’t automatically assume the worst about this character, but instead find that things that hit close to home and make Nina more relatable.