We had the good fortune of connecting with Erin Malone Turner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erin Malone, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The most important factor behind my success is staying true to my most authentic self, constantly finding and expressing my voice as a writer, and telling the stories that matter to me. Not trying to please others or make others comfortable with my art, but creating what I want to see; what I hope the world will benefit from, be moved by, or see themselves in. If someone is touched by some facet of my work, I feel successful. If the people closest to me, whose opinions I trust deeply, enjoy it, I feel successful. If I’m moved to tears at some point of the creative process (which I usually am), I feel successful. Most of all, when someone tells me that my work and I inspired them to write – that’s the cherry on top.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, but I didn’t start performing until I was an adult. Now, I consider myself to be a growing playwright, actor, poet, and filmmaker, and I’m learning about photography, drawing, video editing, and more. I’m also writing my first novel. I want to learn about and try out so many things in the creative realm! I’m a 25-year-old Black person who majored in English and minored in Creative Writing. I would love to get a Master’s Degree in Dramatic Writing in the future, but for now I’m learning what I can and using the skills I have to hone my crafts, along with plenty of opportunities to learn from others. So much inspires me to write – but there are aspects of life and the world that I seem to keep returning to across my work: loneliness, the idea of home, coming-of-age, otherness, Afrofuturism, generational trauma, agency, taking up space, belonging, identity, uses of enchantment, sisterhood, mental health, memory, letting go, and the gravity of time, among other things. I tend to explore those ideas within the genres of drama, science fiction, and magical realism, and BOOM, I’m having a blast and feeling those gears shifting in my head and that churning feeling in my heart that comes when I know I’m doing something I believe in, see myself in, and have so much hope that someone else will one day feel the same way about it. Also, more than ever before, Black people, Black dreams, Black triumphs, Blackness in general inspires me. We are so rich, so resilient. I don’t only tell Black stories, but I have felt my priorities shifting towards doing so more intentionally for years now. Not only do I want to showcase Black history in my work, but I also want to show Black life as it is, as normal, mundane, commonplace, exceptionally human as any other story might be. I don’t feel particularly led to write about Black pain, although I do write about Black characters experiencing pain or challenges that aren’t directly related to being Black, but from pain anyone else may have in life. I want to write Black characters within fantasy, in rom-coms, in coming-of-age work, as geniuses and adventurers, as bakers and park rangers, as royalty and sculptors and countless other things because we ARE countless things as we deserve to take up space and screen time in media that doesn’t solely revolve around how hard being Black is. Trust us, we know. I’m committed to this in particular, and the writing has already begun. I also want to intentionally make space for people in the differently-abled community, especially people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. I want to have those people and Sign Language actually intertwined with stories, not just interpreting on the side of a stage, or a closed-captioning device handed to the Deaf/HOH patron. Including them will be 100% on purpose, not an afterthought. I want the world to know that I’m not giving up on myself and telling stories that matter. And that Black Lives Matter.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Definitely Vegan Food House, JINYA, The Perot Museum, and The Dallas Museum of Art, off the top of my head.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I could go on and on with the names of the people who have helped shape the artist I’m becoming! Here goes, in no particular order: my mom, Audra McDonald, Lucille Clifton, Octavia Butler, Audre Lorde, Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Clint Smith III, Darcy Parker Bruce, Seraphina Nova Glass, Natalie Gaupp, Detra Payne, Soul Repertory Theatre, Blythe Baird, “Crooklyn”, “Moonlight”, “The Artist’s Way”, and Color Guard Improv Troupe. Those are the names of family, friends, fellow writers, professors, mentors, two movies, a book, and the group I’m in that have helped me immeasurably on my journey to finding and expressing myself openly. I owe them so much.
Cat Benitez, Corta Ishman, Soul Repertory Theatre