From Journalism to Multi-Faceted Theatre Maker, Sabrina Richmond
Show transcript: The Second Chapter, Episode 10
thesecondchapter: Hi, Sabrina! It's great for you to join me today. Nice to see you.
sabrina: NIce to see you. How are you?
thesecondchapter: Yeah, I'm doing pretty well this week. How are you?
sabrina: Good. Yeah. Good spirits today. Yeah. I slept well I found, I don't know about you, but like during lockdown, the like weird sleep patterns. In a sense I'm a little bit of an insomniac and I think creative brains have their own sleep patterns, but yeah. So it's always nice when I have this gorgeous couple of hours of sleep and you wake up where you feel like your cells have.
Yeah. Just regenerated.
thesecondchapter: I definitely feel that, especially like you say, during lockdown, my sleep patterns, I've been staying up way too late. And sometimes that means sleeping in. Sometimes it means a very early and difficult morning.
sabrina: Yes. The longest meeting in the morning, it's just like kick in! Kick in, caffeine!
thesecondchapter: I have been drinking a lot of coffee. It's putting, say what about creative minds too though? Cause I never really thought about it that way. I just thought it was my own overly active mind, but there is something that I don't know. I feel like a lot of times my insomnia is ideas at work or ideas that haven't quite surfaced yet.
sabrina: Yeah, I think so. And I think what I've one of the strange things someone else made earlier during lockdown, Like all writers are so alone. And I was just like, I don't feel alone. I'm with my characters I'm in their world, so I think there's a part of your writer brain in a sense that's actively, always processing and doing stuff.
And it takes a lot of practice to learn, to live with that and kind of be, "I'm doing this". So like for myself, I find. They asked certain things I have to. Yeah. I'm trying to think of making sense now. Cause I'm like, Oh, why are you why mean started on this track?
thesecondchapter: I need this. I feel like the first time, the first part of every time I get on an interview like this, it's let's just have a conversation. And then it turns to how did we get here?
sabrina: Exactly. Exactly. So I'll shush. I'll shush.
thesecondchapter: It's perfect. I love it. As somebody who's been such an avid reader and actor and other things throughout my life, I always feel like that feeling you say about being with your characters.
I'm one of those people that when a really good book ends, like my whole world comes crashing down because I've lost people.
sabrina: No, exactly. I totally relate and if the same, even with a good show that you've loved, you just feel like what's going to happen now, I've always loved that feeling. I haven't had a lot of time to read a lot of fiction, so that's my plan for this Christmas break, but there's that feeling where you've spent so much time with these people?
As a reader and now you have to say goodbye to them and there's this ache you feel sometimes. And I think as a writer you have to prepare to let them go. Cause that's what you're making them for. They're meant to live their own lives outside of whatever world, but love the sort of creative romance of that time that you spend with them.
And I especially love before you start sharing it with people because it's just you and those characters and what they doing. And that's of such a beautiful time. Because I think of all the stuff I create as an artist, as an embryo. So it's a creative embryo and it's forming and it's growing and it's growing and that time is so precious.
And yeah, I think it's lovely that you get to spend more time with it before everyone weighs in, or you say, what is this thing? Cause the moment you start asking, what is this thing before it's ready? Sometimes that can be. The de-stabilizing process for the work. I think
thesecondchapter: I love that. Having that time alone with, in your world with your characters. That makes me really inspired to actually do more writing something. I always say I'm going to do.
sabrina: we do. It's just, yeah. It's just you and whatever those things are. And there's so little judgment if you're able to, I think everyone has their own way of getting to it too, but if you really allow it to be just you and those people or that person, it's quite sweet. I think
thesecondchapter: So it's not a secret anyway, but obviously we've now revealed that you are a writer.
Obviously you're here to talk about a bit about the changes you've had in your life and your career and things that have happened after 35 or 35 and beyond. One of the things that really interested me that I think started much earlier was your how much you've traveled and how much, the fact that you've lived in seven.
Is it seven
thesecondchapter: How does that happen?
sabrina: I know it's insane, but also I feel like. My family sent me out to live like that. I was born to a family living in exile from the apartheid regime. And from the beginning, you already have two homes in a sense, this is the home.
Your family has left and therefore create in the sort of spiritual, but also through food, through music. And then there's the home, your born in. So I already grew up with these two sets of worlds that I was interested in. So from the time I was a kid, I was already aware of that your identity and what home wasn't necessarily the location that you were in.
What happens when a family goes into, at least for my family, living in exile, there's a whole host of things that come with being in that situation. And I think what it meant for them is they would just have to find lots of different ways of being, finding opportunities.
So unlike and very much like today here in Britain, for example, it's not easy to be a recent immigrant, so you have to be very. I think people do their best to survive, but what it instills in you is this capacity to evolve. And so for lots of my aunts, some of them went on and lived in Sweden.
I had an aunt who went to study medicine in Russia. So from the time I was a kid there just loads of family members living in other parts of the world. And when I returned with my mom, then I was a teenager to South Africa. I also had my own version.
I think 12 years ago, I started needing to reconcile who I thought I was my identity, where I belonged home. And to come back to your actual question, this is how Sabrina talks in circles. You don't want to be in my brain.
Yeah, so off to South Africa, I did my uni and all of that. And then I fell in love and moved to Norway, which was really just one of the toughest immigrant experiences I've had. I think it totally altered and shattered. My sense of self, because it was bloody hard to live there.
thesecondchapter: Is it a very homogenous culture? Is it. Very just not immigrant friendly or…
sabrina: Yeah, and I think, it's hard to say this is because it's a beautiful country and I'm not just saying that to be like, in the godfather he starts with, “I love America, but this is my problem”. It's genuinely a gorgeous country. I struggled when people said, Oh, it's homogenous.
That's why we don't use to immigrants. I just. For me, I just feel like how come it works the other way, how come immigrants are used to the people whose country they come to? It doesn't make sense as a kind of argument in my brain, but I think it was that feeling that there was a hierarchy in terms of what kind of immigrant you were, where, what location you came from.
So if you will, from. The Asias, there was the thought that you were extremely industrious and very clever, and, you had access to different things. And of course, not unlike other parts of the world when you're from the African context. You're thought of as meeting your lacking, you don't come with any skills.
We need to teach you everything, by the way, we've been doing live aid for your continent since time. So that attitude persists even in circles of really intelligent people. So it's just this thing that you're lacking you're there and you should be lucky to be there. So I found that. I couldn't cope with that.
And the kind of family I come from, education's a massive thing. So I just thought, and I was 25 when I fell in love. So at that point, you don't think you're a baby, actually if I look back, I was like, as a baby, what was I thinking? Someone should have told me, ready for such a massive change.
But because education was such a big thing. I just thought, look, you're university educated. You have a sense of travel. And I really just thought I wore that as a badge. I was just like, Oh, cope. Done so much. Traveling has got so much internationalism in my family. And I think when I look back, I was like, how could you not have thought that it will be really hard to be the only black person in that neighborhood and for miles, and to go to dinner parties where you weren't even, I was moving to a place, I didn't speak the language.
And I just thought I'll do really well because I actually liked languages. And I learned. At the time I learned them fast, they didn't really do particularly well. But I think that had to do with the shock to my brain and system. And the job I'd gotten was English language. So I thought that also give me time and I thought, when love, what else could go wrong?
And that's the beauty of being 25 is you're supposed to think nothing can go wrong. Otherwise you'll never do anything. So it was just hard. The racism of low expectations was the hardest thing. I think that breaks you down in ways that you can't imagine because it's and there were some really crazy experiences.
Like once my husband and I, were going, we went out to the movies and we were going home at the end of the evening. And so we just waiting at the bus stop and some drunk guy comes up to me and he's like, Shouting stuff at me. Am I Norwegian? Wasn't good at the time, but I could tell it wasn't good.
He was just like, he's not saying how lovely to me and basically
but he was asking me. If my husband was going to fuck me, that's literally what he said, because at the time in Norway, all people of African descent were seen as sex workers. And so there was a crazy thing where she were walking the streets and my husband is white Norwegian.
People would just like. Who are you? It was the, I never, I was just like, Hey, I grew up in probably one of the most racialized countries in the world, but no one's ever come up to me and said that, so that to me was just, I was shocked in a way that I, yeah, I'd never experienced that. And you sometimes as a South African, you feel like.
I know racism, but this was different. This was so different. And it was so Bulger and it was also so silent. So I remember retelling the story it's like a dinner or something and there was no one says anything. And those were little things I didn't realize I needed to get used to because the family I grew up in and the context I grew up in, it's the kind of thing where something is said it's acknowledged and people try to say, I hear you. Whereas, and that's quite common in British culture as well, where people are like nothing, nothing gets said, cause people, Oh, I'm too embarrassed. And then you, as the person telling that story, it has to comfort everyone because they feel so bad.
thesecondchapter: I feel like that's where we are with racism in the UK and in the U S as well, is that there's this constant. Feeling that, black people have to fix the racism and black people. Aren't the problem. The problem is the racism. And therefore, if people who aren't black don't get involved or, whatever culture or sexuality or whatever is being targeted.
If everyone doesn't get involved in say something. Then it's never going to change. I do feel like I have this con kind of my fear is I have lots of fears. One of them is we a white feminist as in, I own I'm feminist, but I'm only going to stand up for people who look like me and sound like me and I don't ever want to be that person, but you also don't want to be the person who's I'm going to be the white saviour.
thesecondchapter: Personally, I have to say something. I can't let something like that slide. If I heard that story, when I just heard that story, it's shocking. It's horrible. But I do think there are people that are Oh, I don't know how to handle it. So I
sabrina: Yeah. And there's something very, because for me, that moment felt a lot, like a second assault of my physical space and my ability to just be a human being and be in love with my partner. I don't have to answer every question about interracial relationships by my existence. And I think what's really tough at the moment in England is no one wants to have the fight.
This part is hard. There's a lot of in our culture here in Britain. There's this. I don't want anyone to be uncomfortable. You know what? This shit incompatible, nobody's supposed to feel comfortable solving generations, old problem, like racism. And I I think most people can tell. I think we can all tell what is racist behaviour from our end. And I feel when people have conversations where they're just like, I really don't know how to address you. If you said that to me, how would you like to be addressed? That's different to giving me the label to do you know what I mean?
I understand there's a lot of fear around, I don't want to be labeled as such because. There are lots of people who've done great work, but this isn't about that. This is about a system. This is about saying even in our sector, do we feel that it's normal, that there are no black people who run the majority of is that normal?
Like in London where they are a lot of global majority people, that's not normal. And also just saying mean, if you look even at the government, is it possible statistically, that. Only two schools can produce prime ministers in the country. That just says stuff. It just says the game is rigged. So we've got to, this part is hard.
And if we accept that it's hard, you can start getting into much more open conversation because I think what I've found really strange here, especially having the history of growing up in South Africa is there's this. Desire to be post-race without actually acknowledging we've seen it across the world in Australia and apology was made to what they've done to the first nation people it's like we've stolen your son's first born children for generations.
A statement gets made, whether it has weight or not, but you can't pretend nothing happens. And then just go, we're all equal because we're not do you know mean it doesn't work that way. So it's okay. This is hard and it's okay that people feel a bit scared, but that's not enough to stop a conversation from happening.
thesecondchapter: And I do feel like the conversation. That's the only way anything ever changes is conversation and asking the questions and the questions are hard. Like I said, I do have this fear that I will come off, come across the wrong way. Say the wrong thing. But if you don't ask, nobody's gonna, nobody's going to tell you or somebody is going to get angry because you are going to keep saying the wrong thing or just bulldozing your way without asking the question and that's not acceptable
thesecondchapter: pretending things haven't happened. No, because they have.
sabrina: we can't keep on. It just doesn't work that way in every, whether you're looking at the me too movement or race, you just can't be like, Oh, it's. That was in the past. It's not in the past. If it's continued the way in which people are treated and what jobs they have access to you. And how we quality looks if things still look the same as they did couple of years ago, then no, it's not the past.
thesecondchapter: It's not and even the part that is in the past is. Recent in so many situations that things still need to change quite a bit.
thesecondchapter: So once I went again, we've gotten off track, but I
sabrina: I know.
thesecondchapter: I'm really glad we're having this conversation regardless. what happened next to how long were you in Norway? How long could you put up with that life?
sabrina: I always feel so guilty because I think my husband is pretty stellar kind of person. And I think it was also really sad and painful to watch him experience what I was experiencing. It wasn't just me, but I was there probably I was on and off because there were visa things, which is like another
thesecondchapter: Tell me about visas.
sabrina: Oh, no.
Yeah. We should know. You should know something about the visa life. You just get a letter. So there was this feeling that your life is controlled by some automated machine that sends this white envelope every now and then. And I remember I wasn't even cold on my name in these envelope. In these letters.
It was like, dear reference person.
thesecondchapter: I've had a name at least, but.
sabrina: You know what I mean? It was just, and then the points I had to go and come back and it was my whole life. I will, life was surrounded by that. And that went on probably two years in a bit. And then we were like, you know what? We are, we need to do something different. And. So we moved to the middle East, my husband's in development aid, and it was really just a breath of fresh air, and we moved to Palestine, which as a South African, we have this connection to, and hoping beyond hopes for its emancipation. And it was just, it was seeing them color again, and after that, it just became a sequence of places we shifted to for a while. But all the time I was for a while, I freelanced it off to 2008, the, there was the financial crisis, which is hilarious. Cause now here we are in one again. So lots shifted. And this is more helping with writing articles, editing, writing reports, thing, but that work just started getting less and
thesecondchapter: from places you were always freelancing as a journalist, or how did that work?
sabrina: More editing and writing. But that was still not, at the time I didn't really realize it because I think I was still very, it takes a while because you're glued to your, what you think you are.
You train in something, you stopped doing a couple of things and you're like, this is my skillset. And I could see that it was going away in terms of how much more work was coming in and how much was actually being paid for. So that question was already there pretty early on what are you really doing?
But you don't realize that you have to answer it in a sense. I think you just keep going. You just keep going. And I think after I left Norway, I was just in bad shape. Mentally, you lose a lot of confidence when I think my self-esteem was tied too much into my job.
thesecondchapter: I do feel like it's very difficult not to just take it personally when it's not going well.
sabrina: yeah, if we is hot and I. I think because of how I was wired and raised. If you want something, you go after it and you find a way you try to get skills to do it. So it was used to my identity as being self-sufficient and that everything you tried to get to, you could get it.
That was, and I laugh now because I think it's the joy of that time. And I think the whole job market's so different now, there's so much about how you brand yourself and how employers look at you and all of that. It was different at the time. So I think I love it. The work I was doing, but it was already nothing like what I was doing before.
thesecondchapter: I always just thought if I was good at something, or if I worked hard enough at it, very much, the American dream
sabrina: I love it.
thesecondchapter: you will. But yeah, I always thought, obviously it's going to work out
thesecondchapter: I still have that mindset.
I'm still way too optimistic about a lot of things probably, but there is something very different in the younger generations now that I think the world's kind of beat them down already a
sabrina: Yeah. I do love that American dream thing. It has its problems, but what I like about it is that it's also focusing the energy on you. What you. Can try to evolve to, and don't get me wrong. There's systems and structures. There's privilege. There's all of that. But just on a kind of, where does my self-esteem lie as a person it's also coming back to looking at you.
And I think that's why I loved by the time I had the whole journey of migration, I'd moved to New York to do my active program. I just felt like it felt like the absolute right place to be. Cause I had initially thought, Oh, I'll train here, had an awful audition. And I cried all the way home on the train.
I literally didn't. It was uncontrollable. First. I sat in the park, I cried and then I was like, Oh, I need to get my train. And then I'd go on the train. And I cried. But when I got to New York, there was some thing I felt that I hadn't felt in a really long time. It was possibility.
thesecondchapter: New York feels it does feel like possibility.
sabrina: It just does.
thesecondchapter: fast. It's so intimidating sometimes. Is so horrible, but it also feels you're so alive and anything is possible. When the old song is true, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, but it feels like that it's like you cross into Manhattan or I'd love to.
I lived in Brooklyn and worked in Manhattan and there was just, there was a buzz. It was just,
sabrina: and I think it's, it always feels like it's on the verge of bursting into something and you don't know whether it's going to be good or bad, but I love that.
thesecondchapter: or is it going to be.
sabrina: Exactly. And I love on the tube, on the subway. You can, it's, you can hear people sing and. People recite poetry. And there's just like an energy that you can't and, every city has its energy, but I felt like at the time that I was going, that was the perfect intersection.
I was getting ready to shake off everything that hadn't, ultimately I think just shattered my, who I was at that point in time. And so meeting New York, you were like, this is where I'm supposed to be.
thesecondchapter: A period of not getting jobs, unemployment things that made you just feel like you said, your whole identity was tied up into it. And what actually inspired this acting audition to begin with first, the bad one. And then the good one.
sabrina: It dates back because I was always interested in the performing arts. And I grew up in this family where we did all the cousins did the Christmas play for the family. So we would enact an activity. And we used to, I don't know if you remember, there was a show on American TV, but we got it in Zambia as well at Showtime at the Apollo.
thesecondchapter: Oh, yes, of course
sabrina: So all the cousins would do like Showtime at the Apollo and you had to come up with an act. It is Showtime at the Apollo.
sabrina: It was so brilliant. So there was always a loss of, I grew up with artists. So dressmakers and carpenters and dances. And my mom's a poet. But it, wasn't the kind of thing you did for a living, that just, wasn't a thing you did, but I'd grown up with so much music and all of that.
So when I left at the end of high school, I really wanted to get into a drama school, but that just wasn't possible at that time. So it's it. I think it was an older desire that I went through a process of doing lots of craziest.
It wasn't like, yes, that's what I'm doing. What I started trying to do was look at what did I like doing writing was a part of that, which I was like, that's something you can do and practice by without needing to go study. And all of those things performing.
I was like, how am I even going to get started with that? Because I didn't understand. How it's going to shift from here to here. So it was clear to me that some kind of study needed to happen at not being able to write for about five years and lots of different things were happening in that periods.
But I remember one night I just couldn't sleep and I had the song in my brain. And so I woke up and I wrote it down. And later on, I talked to a friend who teaches singing. I was like, I just want to do a couple of classes and can we make a song? I have a melody to this. Cause I had the lyrics.
Sometimes you have the melody. Sometimes you have the lyrics in my brain. But slowly after that I was physically feeling the change like. From those years of just being silent because the culture in Norway asked me to be silent because you had to learn how people it's even more than code switching.
And I guess I didn't get to the part where I learned how to do that really well, but it just felt like you had to be silent. People were just like, don't do this, don't do that. This is not okay. And your body tries to protect itself. And so I was starting to feel that my body was asking for something else.
I just wanted to speak and it was like, something had just opened up in me and I was so pleased that it was writing because I always did, his wrote poetry as a kid in little short stories. Not that they were good, but the fact that it was something I enjoyed is what masters. And I think I was taught, I try to pinpoint when exactly I typed in drama schools. I have no idea how that happened, but I just, that was the thing. And so I looked up as, 35. So I felt like I can't do a three-year program, not just financially, but also in terms of time, what's a realistic amount of time to spend. So I was looking at one year programs. And I found the school in London and I was like, Oh, that's good.
It's a year that feels like you could really commit. And if it's not working out, it's also fine. You've spent a year running something. And so I have this audition set and it was for January. And so that whole of that whole Christmas before was so crazy because it was, I hadn't. And I'd done the, in uni had done like the play and all of that.
So I had experience of learning lines and all of that, but it was just different because it felt like the stakes were, but I was also really excited because I just, I'm just doing this. What I didn't realise is that majority of the other people at that thing had actor coaches and I had the perfect monologue selected for them.
So I spent the whole of December reading a bunch of plays and trying to find the right. Monologue for myself. And, I went in the moment you hear what people are talking about? You're like, Oh, so everyone's been coached, just like shit what's happening.
And yeah, it didn't go well. And it was just so brutal. It was really a brutal process. I started looking up schools in New York. And then I was like, Oh, there's a couple of one-year programs. And I got into two of them.
And that was really nice. I've done my own addition by self-tape and all that. And I chose the one that was going to help me with the visa stuff, because I was like, no, I can't. She was dealing with it on my own.
thesecondchapter: Did you go on your own?
sabrina: I did. And that wasn't even scary because I feel like I've grown up in this family where I've seen my mom just do this giant journey. Like it was often. When I was a kid and South Africa, Nelson Mandela was released. My mom was just like, I'm returning to my Homeland. So it was this just giant journey.
What was scary was. How would I change? Would I be the kind of person? I don't know what I was thinking, but I was also afraid that people wouldn't recognise me afterwards.
And what was great after that year was the people we love you. They just, I actually welcome back. Cause for that whole period, I was unemployed. I just became less and less of myself. And you become quiet and quieter because I've always been very like, Yeah. Talkative. Can you tell?
thesecondchapter: I don't think talkative is a bad thing personally, but
sabrina: no, my mom's always like you talk a lot when I was a kid. But I think the reason I talk a lot also is the reason journalism was interesting because all you did was talk to people. You talk to people, they tell you a bit of the story. So even as a writer or as a maker, all of the stuff you think about comes from conversation, stuff, you watch stuff you engage with.
But it was strange to be in a little dorm room. For the first time, in a very long time, that was different. And I went really brave. My husband had said to me, are you quite sure you want to be sharing? And I was like, yes, I want to do the whole experience. When I have a roommates, I want to just to have things like, Oh, did you use my toothpaste again?
Whatever. But it turned out that, that wasn't as my roommate, probably the first day she walked in. She froze at the door, which was really weird. I was like, okay, that's a weird vibe. And I was already like making my little corner of the room nice as having like my family photos up there and my nieces and nephews.
And she was Oh, so which one of these, is your kids? It's just I don't have babies. And she was like, Oh, okay. Which was like that going to be your first question, not hi, where you coming from? That's fine. That's fine. But really quickly, probably by the Monday, I got an email saying there was going to be some kind of roommate swap . And eventually caught up with her and she just said, I've been living with old people all my life. I don't really want to have an old roommates. And I love it now because I was so I just thought everyone who goes to it's like my mind is the teacher says there's no parent who forces you to go to an acting program.
So everyone was here is here because they want to be. So I was just, again, really, even if I was 35, I was just like everyone who wants to be. Doing this is here. So what we have in common is that we love the performing arts, but it wasn't that way it was, and that was my first sort of major. Oh yeah. You’re 35.
That’s a problem.
If you think, just because I'm 35, I'm going to be checking on what you're doing. I'm like, I'm here to sort out my fucking life. I don't, I'm not here to see what you're doing when you're having sex with, I'm not here for that. So actually it's an indication that you yourself need to grow up. Cause we would often, some of the scenes, we went over, had sex and there was always, and these are like 18, 19, 20 year olds.
And it was just like, what’s Sabrina going to think about this? And you're just like, okay. I've been fucking, since before you had your period. So don't worry. I can read a scene with sex and it's okay.
thesecondchapter: One of the things you're working on now has to do with sexual pleasure. And I think it's really interesting that you brought that up about young people versus, once we get to be 35 or older or something, but the idea that we learn more about pleasure and we learn more about sex, we're more comfortable.
And that, obviously these kids are thinking you're going to be uncomfortable about it, but. But I'm intrigued. I don't want to skip too far ahead in your career, but I'd also love to talk about, what draws you to that subject matter and,
sabrina: I think a big part of it, all the work I make comes from just the questions. And I think once I entered the sort of acting world and even right from that acting program, I started to see that. You cease to being a woman because you weren't over 30 worse, you were 35. Do you know what I mean? Like shock horror but you didn't have the right to enjoy.
Sex or talk up pleasure or be, even show that you're attracted to someone. And I found that I just found it abnormal. I found it strange to sit with a group of women who would feel like they needed to alter the conversation because I had come there. And I was just like, you're going to get to 35.
It's not that far away. And.
thesecondchapter: want to tell them a secret, but once they reach, past 20 or 35, whatever age that is, you start to feel more comfortable in your body. And. Personally, I don't know. I can't speak for everyone, but I do feel like maybe we're more comfortable talking about sexual pleasure or we're more comfortable saying to a partner I'd rather have this, or, it's not this I'm trying to impress a boy anymore.
It's I'm here for the party too.
sabrina: Yes, no, exactly. And I think, you know exactly what your body enjoys. And I think the big difference I have found between the generation after us and when I was their age was genuinely. Yeah. And I was thinking back, I had a little project where I was talking about. Sexual pleasure. That was like my uni project for one of my classes.
I was like Sabrina you're obsessed. As an actor was getting into spaces where I'd done this one show and there was absolutely, there wasn't even physical contact I'd have in a hug. It was, the story was back in the day, this character was playing, had a romantic relationship with another character and they were trying to reconcile what had happened in the present day.
So all there is these two characters sitting together. But my co-actors acted like I had the plague and he was so anxious, but he was also making these comments about, Oh, you can't wear short skirts anymore. You're past that age. And it was just so crazy, but I remember saying, you don't actually have to want me were acting secondly, Beyonce isn't here.
She's not the one doing the lines, so sorry. But most importantly. Actually the best part for me of acting is being in that space with another human being and being like, we're trying to make something that's so special. And when those two people are reading that scene together, it's so special. And so I felt very, I was offended that he was wasting acting time with his own.
Stuff was just like, who are you? This is work. I'm not approaching you in a bar. This is work. So it felt, I was just offended really that the work cause I came out of New York just with this drive and hunger that I always had, but it was just expanded. And so for me, I was looking for people to. Take this shit seriously in the best way possible.
Do you know what I mean? Cause you're like, Hey look, I know what it feels like to be asleep. So I'm not coming to do this thing to be asleep. If you don't want to be here, don't be in this job because I think people deserve better. I'm not paying five, 10 pounds or an hour of my life to watch someone who doesn't want to be in that thing.
So I noticed stuff like that. There was always, and of course agents were like, don't worry. You'll never be cost in this role because you're not this and you're not sexy and you're not fat. And you're just like, Oh, so even what you're capable of doing, doesn't matter. You still, people still need to want to fuck you.
Which is basically how the me too movement started. They were just like that's what they were facing. They're going to casting rooms. And they were being like, no, you have to be more this and you have more of that. And that just made me think a lot about who has the right to be sexy, who has the right to be sexual, who has the right to explore and express and actually all the stuff of this generation.
If we just look at music, you knows listening to Cardi B's lyrics. I want you to park. Your big Mac truck in my little garage. Those are the lines. I know. It's so poetic how I say it, but I was just like firstly, my vagina is not a garage and also,
Do you know what I mean? That's all it is. It's a little storage space. And then also it was like,
thesecondchapter: (laughing) Big Mac truck.
sabrina: And I was like, what are these lyrics? And I know it sounds all you're so old, but all it says to me is that she has taken the exact same paradigm of thinking that feminists are now saying this is not right for rap lyrics.
Which are always just being like, you're this I'm going to give you this. You don't have to give me anything. How about we both enjoy this experience? Anybody think about that. So I just started to feel suffocated actually yeah. Conversations with women, because I just thought the paradigm of thinking is still very much in the framework of what a lot of women are claiming is problematic.
With how men think and men talk. So just if you're talking about a big Mac truck, what's different to TEI saying if you wanted up, got it. And I'll give it to you. It's the exact fucking same. So I was just like to find a way to get back to what is desire and more specifically, I'd seen. This is the show I'm working on at the moment.
Cause I'm working on two that I've got to do with rights to pleasure. And I'd seen this tweet where someone was like the clitoris is the devil's doorbell.
Okay. Why should you be so offended by my pleasure, and you've got comedians, there's just so much fascinating material about how offended people are that your clitoris has all these beautiful nerve endings, and you can experience the best orgasm of your life with proper stimulation.
thesecondchapter: Is the one human body part, male or female. That actually is only there for pleasure.
sabrina: . Isn't that fantastic. Isn't it just and why should we be so afraid of it? And why should we be ashamed that yes. That's what gets you going? Do you know what I mean? Cause I think. And for me, it all comes down to expectations and they both harmful to both men and women, because I think men have been told There's lots of women who don't have vaginal orgasms and they've been told, Oh, you don't know what you're doing.
And just that's just how her apparatus works. Okay. So it doesn't matter if it's not your penis doing it. In fact, it can, sorry, this is now turning into a sex show. You know what I mean? So I'm just, I'm asking loads of questions about that.
I think it's even more dangerous that all of our sexual encounters, especially through pop culture, music, film, it's all about power and control and you're like, that's fine if that's like your thing, but
there's something for me that isn't right, because it feels nobody cares about anyone's desire. You're just supposed to be the big Mac truck, I’m the garage, so who's happy in that?? Nobody you’re just fulfilling a sense of expectations.
thesecondchapter: A big Mac truck… Doesn’t sound ecologically-friendly, right?
We've talked about you are now a writer, playwright, actor. You are a director as well. You talked about a couple of projects you're working on, but how did everything all come together? Cause it seems like you're really busy.
You have all these interesting different collaborations with theatres and people are supporting you and wanting you to tell your stories, how did that happen?
sabrina: gosh, I'm just grateful. No. It's I just, I feel just so grateful because I think. I had no idea when I left New York, what I was going to do, how it was going to materialise, because I felt like, okay, you have gained these skills and how do you actually do it? Because it was like, no, you need an agent.
And I was like, no, you need work to get an agent. And you're like, okay, they already, you're in a kind of tailspin. And I think the truth is as cliche, as it's going to sound is I. Just when I started out, I remember one of my teachers said to me, you are the CEO of your own company and figure out what your mission statement is, what kind of work you want to do and what you stand for, which was, and I did.
thesecondchapter: I'm gonna write that down for myself.
sabrina: because it was just a real, very clear cause I remember I moved to England in August. And then the paperwork took a while. Cause it takes a while. And so I was only able to apply for certain things like January. So I spent a lot of that time looking at what am I interested in? What do I like?
And it was as simple as what's the kind of stuff I like to watch. What do I like about those things? And then looking at is this work I can make because there's genres where you're like, Oh, the casting world, how it works. I probably won't be in that but I could actually make that as a writer or a director.
So I think a lot of it, I came with this gusto but in that first year, so wiped out with exhaustion because I used so much creative energy, just, it's it's a feeling like no other when you've been asleep and then you're awake and then you're like
thesecondchapter: I've got to get it all out right NOW
sabrina: I really needed to do it cause I just had all the energy in the world, but I also started to realise that some experiences were just not worth my while.
And so I was like, I need to come up with a system of how I choose. And initially it was people, places, things things, that's the show project. So it was like, do I like the project? Do I like the people? Do I, am I interested in working at this venue? But what I realised is it has to be all three can be one out of three or two out of three.
The lovely Rhea Perry, she had said, one of my mentors said to her, just know what you're doing, stuff for. Kudos/cashflow/kicks. So if it's for the cash, you know exactly what you're going to do, a professional job, professional. They do it for the kudos. So maybe you're not getting paid. But this is a great experience, blah, blah, blah. It's going to look good. It's going to get you to places because I think, it sounds bad when I say it, but I think that's also okay.
But by the first year I decided there were certain acting experiences. I was like, this is not doesn't feed me in any way. And that's immediately led me into submitting and that's, what's beautiful about London actually pre locked down. I don't know what that looks like now was that there were so many scratch nights.
You could write a 10 minute thing and. You could get your thing in and it could be performed and you could see it and you could learn from it. And it takes time. And I think the more I performed, the clearer, my writing became and then directing, I started doing, because when you create a piece of writing, unless you're in a network of people that, and of course being an immigrant, I didn't have any of that. My. All the people from my acting program were in New York. So I didn't have that network here. Normally you would train here and then you'd be like, Oh, Hey, I know you like movement stuff.
Do you want to help me devise this thing? So it didn't have that. And I started going, I've written a thing it's gotten onto this platform. Sometimes if you're lucky the platform assigns a director and that's lovely, but it started becoming that well, if I didn't direct thing myself, It would just die there and that's how I started doing it.
I think all of them inform each other, I think, as a director, because I perform and I write, I have a sensitivity to working with writers and to performing. So I feel like that makes me a good director. Hopefully and yeah, it's just become. Certain projects you create. And you're just like, yeah, I'm happy to hand this one over.
Or I want to perform in this one or I want to direct this one. And what's nice about being a fit to make a is you can, there's nobody frowning on written and performed by. Cause you're making the thing. You spend a year in a building and you make stuff and you're playing the space. So all of those skills are required.
And I think what's different in England. To the States where it's really encouraged to have all of those things. There's loads of people like I'm a producer right time and not to director here. There's a lot of apologising for it. And I don't, because I think I know what my life was like before a couple of years ago.
So I will never apologise for my creative energy enthusiasm because I was lost. I was just gone. So for me, anyone who's just I see you everywhere. You're doing, you're just like, but it's stuff I want to do and I'm not harming. And if I'm not harming anyone, I think that's all right.
thesecondchapter: You say about not apologising for it because as someone who produces and acts and does several things myself, I do feel sometimes the need to apologise, or if I'm producing something and putting myself in it, I'm just like, but where is the validation for me that somebody wanted to cast me? to cast myself, that kind of thing.
sabrina: I know.
thesecondchapter: like you say, if it's something that, that feeds me, if I feel really passionate about it and I'm working to honour the writer or, working with a great director, The experience is always amazing and I'm always so glad I did it, but there is this sort of, and it's not the same because I'm not necessarily writing it and performing in it, but there is this sort of Oh, I'm sorry.
I hope I'm good enough for it. It's
sabrina: I know. It's crazy. I think the culture in Britain is too much apologising for everything. And there's a strange thing where women especially are being told, Oh, just speak directly. But I've found as an immigrant, when I do people like you're rude. So I need to start sentences sorry. This may sound daft, but I just wanted to know if also, sorry, does that make sense?
I'm like, I don't talk like this, but since I've moved here, I do. This is not how I talk. I find that so stressful. And I think what it does is just, I think there's nothing wrong. And I love that about Americans is that there's nothing wrong with being proud of what you've created and we're proud of it because.
Of what I'm just proud of it because I know what it feels like not to write for five years and to be unemployed and to be scared and to be lost. So for me, every time I created, I'm just like, wow, this is really awesome that you are full, your creative life is full. Your life is full. I think it's a bit of the journalism as well.
So you see a thing and you're like, Oh, but how did that work? Or these are my central questions. So like for the thing I'm working on, I was just like, how does a woman at 40 date again, and just be straightforward about her sexual wants and needs? How does the body. That's been controlled by societal pressures and other things cope.
So those are my questions. And I think it's been a wonderful challenge in a way, but also tricky because I think the culture dictates that you apologise a lot just for talking. So that's sometimes gets in my way, actually just being who I am and navigating the space, but also trying to remind myself not to, cause I'm not sorry for everything I am,
thesecondchapter: you. It seems like it's working for you because you are in all these places and people are calling you arising in a one to watch. And that's really exciting, I think too, because you mentioned it to me earlier, but. The idea that emerging, I've talked about this on this podcast, people are going to be like, why is she obsessed with emerging?
But it's it doesn't equate with age. And it's really nice to see that you're putting yourself out there and getting a response to these questions you're asking. And these things that you're writing.
sabrina: Yeah, no, I feel very fortunate and I agree. Because you often see a call out and it's young and you're just like, are you meaning young age or young in the business? Because in that case that can be easily clarified. And I think as artists. There's something strange about being obsessed just with age, because no matter how old you are, God help you.
If you're jaded by what you're making. I hope everybody case you make is an opportunity to evolve, because what is the point of what you're doing? I think the spaces where it's been so flexible has been the spaces where they've understood that you are over 35, you have had life experience before you've had other jobs. You've had other things happen. But they want you to make the work you want to make based on absolutely everything you've experienced.
thesecondchapter: On the the subject of culturally bigging yourself up… I'm always so impressed with your sister. So your sister is also a writer. Yes.
sabrina: I think she'll have lots of, I think she'd say poet-writer. I think she would, but that's one of the things he is.
thesecondchapter: I put a call out. Who else should I be speaking with? And she's always “you have to talk to Sabrina”. It's amazing having that family support, especially when we've moved around so much both individually and with your husband and with your family. And I do think it's nice to have that anchor. Whether it's culturally acceptable or not, I think it's really amazing that you guys have this support system.
sabrina: She's a really fantastic person. And how we grew up has really shaped how we communicate to each other and. Because of that whole migration and moving places, the constant remains the relationships that you have.
And I've always thought of her as having, we have a hope safety deposit box for each other. So where you're down, the other person will just remind you what you are, what you can do and everything that you are is accepted as you are there few people that you can just. Say the absolute unfiltered truth too.
And yeah, she's that for me? So it's been very exciting and also new terrain actually to move that sister relationship into writing together. And we're hopefully going to be start working on something else together based on a genetic beauty. So that's been really wonderful, but I think she knows exactly.
How much, all of this means to me, and I know what her journey means to her.
thesecondchapter: So I did ask you, you sent me a lovely quote, but I want to make sure that I ask you about- a quote that kind of inspires you when going gets tough or something that you live your life by?
sabrina: Of course I sent three. I'll give you the one that made the most impact to me. “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding” and it's Kahlil Gibran. And I I heard it in New York had gone to, there was really someone very generous in New York that I met randomly and became friends with over that period.
And I was invited to a house warming. It was a proper, like in the movies I proper New York. House-warming with you. There was art there, people doing arts and playing instruments, and the candles were lit. And I was going through a difficult period with a particular piece that I just struggled to really lock into.
And one of the poets starts playing this old instrument that I'd never seen before, but it just had this beautiful sound. And he recites lots of poetry and he gets to this line. And I was just like, it just meant so much. It also, it opened up this door where you're like every thing you've experienced, actually, once you come through to the other side, your understanding improves because that was it for me, everything I'd gone through in Norway, all the years of unemployment, all of that, there were many times I was like, I really would not, I didn't want it to seem that, Oh, you have to have a rubbish time to be a good artist.
But I think it's just about the journey of life and I was shattered, but I became somebody that I am actually enjoying a lot now. The way that I express what I think about the things, the questions, artistic questions I grappled with. Yeah. Some kind of shift was meant to happen. You are supposed to evolve, I've been thinking like your twenties and early thirties.
I like, the pilot episode of a series. You've got to just hang on. Lots of things happen. And then. As you get to episode two or three, you're like, Oh, okay. I see what's happening. And that's what it feels like now. I don't know. I think the business is tough so many times I just go, I don't know.
But what I like is that my appetite for the work that doesn't shift. What's difficult is the business for me.
But what I think I came out to all of those years of just .... I realise that I've actually gained more wisdom. I gained more sight, I can actually see so much more. And I think I also am more patient with myself and much more forgiving of myself. Making art gives me freedom in a way I've not experienced. I feel the most free. So I just feel like I'm flying when I'm making the work. So it doesn't matter what anyone thinks because I absolutely, that means something to me. It means I have purpose.
And what I've experienced means I can see in a way I couldn't have seen 10 years ago, 12 years ago.
thesecondchapter: I know that you are actually looking for people that can answer some of the questions that you have about pleasure.
sabrina: I am. I, am one of the things I'm really curious about is where these expectations of what is pleasure come from some really looking to chat with people. Yeah. And all of it is ethically done because of my journalism background, obviously covering those bases, but also because I'm an artist, I feel.
What I also have to offer is because they use movement in music. We can play with a lot of those things and you find your own story. And second half of the workshop is really answering some of the questions I have around expectations because what I really, and I'd love to talk to both men and women, because I think there's something disjointed happening in this conversation.
thesecondchapter: It's the same as what we were saying about race that you can't talk in a box, you can't talk in a bubble of, only white people talking about race or only men or only women talking about, about their own pleasure. It has to be talking kind of across
sabrina: Yeah. It just doesn't work. So we'd love if anyone's open to just chatting or even just going, explain to me what you're actually doing. Cause there's loads of stuff that I'm learning and discovering, but my central question remains. What's happened to desire.
thesecondchapter: We’re talking a lot about male-female relationships. But as far as your questions and journeys, are you speaking to homosexual couples and as well? Or people that are non binary or transgender as far as the sexual experience with them?
sabrina: Oh, yeah. Open, very open. Because I think that you learn more by listening more. So for me, I'm open to hearing that because ultimately you don't know what you don't know. . And even if I think that probably the piece is much more because I identify in a specific way. It might lean more towards that, but I'm more interested in talking to whoever feels like they have an opinion on the subject.
Because I think it needs to be open and it needs to be redefined.
thesecondchapter: So if anybody wants to talk with you they can email you right.
sabrina: Yes please.
thesecondchapter: I will definitely put some information on how you can do that in the show notes. So if you hear this and you're interested to speak to Sabrina more about sexual pleasure and answer some of the questions, then get in touch.
thesecondchapter: Thank you, Sabrina. It's been so nice having this chat with you.
sabrina: Thank you so much, Kristin it’s so lovely to spend this time with you and to get to talk. And yes, let's have a cup, a zoom cup of tea.
thesecondchapter: Good luck with everything. Good luck with the project.
sabrina: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. It means something to me to just talk about this journey, because I think so many people go through these shifts. And honestly, if I could have had someone tell me, this is why I went to, and this is what I did, it would have helped.
So hopefully that's something that's sensible for people out there.