Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A | Rashida Strober

St. Petersburg actor writes, performs solo plays about urban experience

Rashida Strober, 33, of St. Petersburg talks about her play A Dark Skinned Woman’s Revenge, which she will perform tonight at the James Weldon Johnson Branch Library.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

Rashida Strober, 33, of St. Petersburg talks about her play A Dark Skinned Woman’s Revenge, which she will perform tonight at the James Weldon Johnson Branch Library.

ST. PETERSBURG

As a young girl, Rashida Strober had a mother who she felt wasn't always there. She was often in trouble in middle school. In her teens, she was homeless off and on for three years, and dropped out of high school. She lived briefly with a man who she said exploited her.

Acting saved her.

The details of Strober's life are fodder for her solo plays exploring the life of an urban black woman. Her scripts are at turns provocative and humorous.

After several years developing her craft, Strober, 33, has an increasingly busy public calendar. She is performing tonight and April 7 at two St. Petersburg public libraries. On Friday, Strober will be in Tampa in the Gasparilla International Film Festival's "Got Talent" competition. In June, she is scheduled to perform at the DC Black Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C.

A substitute teacher in Pinellas schools and a St. Petersburg College adjunct professor of social science, Strober is also the mother of a 12-year-old son, Rahim.

We talked to her about her art.

How did you develop as an actor?

It really happened when I moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting in 2005. After graduating from the University of South Florida, I moved to L.A. About six or seven months later, I started writing The Ice Cream Lady's Dream, which is based on a lot of my childhood. I feel like if I had never gone to Los Angeles, it would have never been written.

Your work is sometimes angry. It often contains adult language and themes, including the controversial "n-word." How do people react to that? Why do you include those elements?

When I did a performance at the Royal Theater, there was one person who said something about the language, but when I do the performance at the libraries, I do a separate version. I don't curse or anything at the library.

It serves a purpose because people feel that it's organic. It's real and it's relatable. Because of the experiences that I've had in my life and my not being a writer, I've learned that it has to be real and organic to connect with people … My work is autobiographical. I have to feel it.

Is it hard being an actor and playwright in Tampa Bay?

Yes, it is. The market is not really here. It is very hard to get to the market. As a new artist, you have to go out and find it. I do a lot of self-promotion. You have to put out your work, and work very, very hard.

Some people in St. Petersburg have a lot of talent, but they can't succeed. For some reason, they can't get out. It's either the circumstances or the person. They can't find a way to make that talent happen, so they hover to other things, to the streets, to violence, whatever.

One of the reasons that I got out of St. Petersburg was because I knew I had to. And I knew that because others helped me.

Like who?

Mattie Everette was my seventh-grade teacher at Tyrone Middle School. She passed away. We had just a terrible upbringing. A lot of that is in the plays. This lady saw all this happening to me. I was getting into fights at school. I would get suspended, and my mom didn't really care. But I had a talent to act. Mrs. Everette got me into an oratorical speech contest. For, like, three straight years I was the champion. She would always just encourage me and help me. My mom never showed up, but this woman was always there. When I ended up homeless, she was one of the people who I thought about.

Another person is Linda Clark. I call her Mrs. McCall in The Ice Cream Lady's Dream. She was my chorus teacher at Tyrone Middle School.

What should visitors to your performances expect?

If they don't like honesty, don't come. Because it's very honest and it's very real. It's all about resonating with the audience. One thing I've learned is that if it doesn't resonate with the audience, you're done.

Luis Perez can be reached at (727)892-2271 or [email protected]

. IF YOU GO

'A Dark Skinned Woman's Revenge'

6:30 p.m. today at the James Weldon Johnson Branch Library, 1059 18th Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Free.

'The Ice Cream Lady's Dream'

6:30 p.m. April 7 at the South Branch Library, 2300 Roy Hanna Drive S, St. Petersburg. Free.

St. Petersburg actor writes, performs solo plays about urban experience 03/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 6:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning approaches decision time for Mikhail Sergachev

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mikhail Sergachev had dinner with his host family from juniors Monday.

    The Lightning has to decide, as early as this weekend whether Mikhail Sergachev will stick in the NHL or return to juniors for another season. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  2. Tampa man charged in hit-and-run crash that killed bicyclist on I-4 exit ramp in Tampa

    Accidents

    TAMPA — A 44-year-old Tampa was arrested and charged Wednesday in a hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist earlier in the day.

    Christopher Jerimiah Cole, 44, of Tampa was driving this silver Mercedes on Wednesday when it struck a bicyclist on the exit ramp from eastbound Interstate 4 to southbound U.S. 301, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Cole kept driving, troopers said. The bicyclist, a 45-year-old Brandon man, died at the scene. His name was not immediately released because troopers were working to notify his family. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  3. Quarterbacks, head coach targeting Vernon Hargreaves; 'I'm not producing,' he says

    Bucs

    Eli Manning gathered his receivers together during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and informed them of the weakest link of the secondary he planned to target that afternoon.

    Quarterbacks this season have a 128.7 rating when targeting Vernon Hargreaves. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Rick Baker's radio ad said Rick Kriseman missed NAACP event---but he didn't.

    Blogs

    A radio ad narrated by St. Petersburg civil rights activist Sevell Brown and paid for by a political-action committee supporting Rick Baker asserts that Mayor Rick Kriseman "couldn't be bothered to show up" for a recent NAACP event.

    Rick Kriseman didn't skip recent NAACP event, but Rick Baker radio ad claims he did
  5. Demolition begins on wing of Channelside Bay Plaza, making way for Water Street Tampa (w/video)

    Business

    TAMPA — The original developers of Channelside Bay Plaza at first wanted the name of the complex to include the word "Garrison." That would have fit, because the center turned out to be fort-like, inwardly focused and unwelcoming.

    A pedestrian bridge in the southwest wing of Channelside Bay Plaza was demolished in Tampa on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. [Gabriella Angotti-Jones  | Times]