Determined to become the woman she knew she was destined to be, performer Tempest Walker looked to superstar Tina Turner for inspiration. As talented as she is tenacious, Turner epitomizes the beauty, showmanship and strength of a black woman’s spirit. Using Turner’s attributes to galvanize her personal and professional pursuits, upcoming showcase Be Tina is a amalgam of Walker’s acquired confidence and creative vision.
From University student to administrative asset to the US National Guard, Be Tina is Walker’s first time in front of the camera. However, as a creator and producer of the upcoming production, Walker proves as multifaceted as her muse. Walker states that the premise of her project is not for young women to actually attempt to “be” Tina. Rather she wishes to encourage women to use Turner’s legacy as a gateway to their own.
“Be Tina” is a concept derived from the inspirational, incomparable icon herself. It simply means BE Tina. Not physically, of course! We don’t all have a Grammy award winning voice or legs of steel! But what we do have is the mentality to overcome, the tolerance to outlast and the fearlessness to achieve greatness.
The Whispers of Womanism recently made Ms. Walker’s acquaintance and discussed Be Tina, her influences and the cultural impact of her upcoming showcase. Enjoy!
Describe the showcase in 3 words.
* Three words I would use to describe Be Tina would be Celebratory/Inspiring/Funky!
Tell us a little more about the production and your role.
* Be Tina is a live tribute performance dedicated to Tina Turner and the incomparable gift of a legacy she has graced us with! With a 5 piece band, 3 dancers and myself as Tina, we are hoping to capture the true essence of a Tina Turner performance. My role extends from creator/producer to lead of show. I would mostly say I am the creative director though:)
What attracted you to the role?
* A series of purposeful events inspired me take on this role. All of these roles. I was gifted with a vision and I just followed it.
Tina Turner is commonly praised for her strength and tenacity. Ranked in order, who are the top three women you admire? In what ways did they influence you?
* I admire my grandmothers most. Betty, Carrie and Katherine. They each possess gifts that together instilled in me the inspiration to believe that I can achieve greatness. Betty is strong. She recently suffered the loss of her husband of 35 years. Her strength through this trying time is all inspiring. Carrie is wise. She is rooted and shows me through her everyday life that hard work is the road most traveled. She inspires me to never give up. Katherine is the beauty. It’s through her I maintain my confidence even if everything is not perfect. My grandmothers are truly gifts.
The Whispers of Womanism focuses a lot on troublesome representations of black women in the media. How do you think your performance works to elevate us above these negative images?
* Well I’ve never thought about my show in that light. My performance is a strong symbol that we, as black woman, can be strong and impactful without reducing our selfs to those negative images. Much like the natural hair waves that are proving more and more popular, maybe my performance can proof that if we just be our selfs we’ll be making more of a statement than we could have ever imagined.
What is something you have in common with Tina Turner?
* I like to think we have a lot in common! We both have really big, beautiful smiles. And I’ve been getting compliments on my legs since I was a kid 🙂
With regard to this performance, of what are you most proud?
* I am most proud of how far I’ve come. If you can believe this, I’ve never sang or danced before lol I have no real experience. I started out with only a dream and now my dream has grown wings! I’m proud of that.
The feature takes place in Harlem, New York- a place rich with black history. What cultural impact do you think a tribute to a prominent black performer in a place rich with black legacy will have?
* I think our performance will have a great cultural impact because Tina impacted our culture so much. She made it ok to have struggled, ok to chase your dreams. I think the black community admires Tina for the path she created for black woman, and woman everywhere. They will be happy to see her sort of revived.
The Whispers of Womanism focuses on capturing the black female experience. What does Tina’s legacy adds to the narrative to the black female experience?
* Tina’s legacy adds a lot to the black female experience. Black women have been long ridiculed for their circumstances, for their rich features, and even their beautiful bodies. Tina’s legacy is a living testament that all of those things can make you GREAT!
Amidst the abundance of negative images cast on the canvass of black femininity, Be Tina’s message is a step in the right direction with Walker as its chief ambassador. Stay tuned for my upcoming review of Be Tine following its premiere performance.
Be Tina premieres, August 15th at 3pm at the Adam Clayton Powell Building in Harlem, NY.