HYPEBEAST

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Submitted by: Julie Taiwo Oni

Artist's Project Description: When I saw the call for scripts for this archive, I knew immediately that I wanted to write something for Jordan to perform. I first met Jordan two years ago after a years-long search for an actor with albinism to feature in a reading of my play Chisel, which is about the killings of people with albinism in Tanzania. He’s based in Atlanta and I’m in LA, so I thought that doing a remote piece at this moment would be a great excuse to work together again. I am an English professor, and I was teaching a summer class when George Floyd’s death became national news. I felt inspired by the strong responses of anger that many of my students--particularly those of color-- voiced, and I thought that Jordan would be great at capturing that. Knowing that I was writing a piece for Jordan and that he’d be playing a student, I started thinking about trends that my students--who are about his age--have been into recently. The hypebeast vs. sneakerhead dynamic came to mind, and it felt like a perfect metaphor for the discrepancy between appropriating Blackness and fighting for our lives. And thus, Hypebeast was born.

Artist's Bio: Julie Taiwo Oni is a Los Angeles-based Nigerian-American playwright. Recent works include Sown for MaiM Theatre Company and Son of Semele (2019), The Hotel Play with Playwrights’ Arena (2017), Bunk and Denim for Son of Semele’s Company Creation Festival (2014-2015), nat&EM for Company of Angels (2013), and Tether for Doorway Arts Ensemble in Washington, D.C. (2011). Her current research and writing deals with Black albinism in the U.S. and Africa. www.julietaiwooni.com