8 Questions, Artistic Inspiration, and Tips from the 2014 Last Poet Standing Winner


In preparation for the August 7, 2015 Last Poet Stand Competition II, OFP Productions had a chance to catch up with Shanessa Sweeney, the 2014 Winner of Last Poet Standing!

Q: What kind of work do you currently enjoy?

A: I have most recently found myself getting back to my love of live theatre and performing in it. I teach it, and teaching it has sparked the fire again as I have been on a professional hiatus from the theatre world. Being around children that are passionate about learning it as well as performing it, has energized me and so currently, I am pursuing my acting full out again.

    Q:  Briefly, tell me what led you to this point?
    A: I believe theatre is therapeutic for many people and I am no exception. For me, the whole world of it, the creative side, the production side, the rehearsals, the technical aspects… all of it is so…. relative to my spirit…being around young people is relative to my spirit… In the attempts to reinvent myself and heal from personal or professional setbacks and/or pains, I’ve found myself yearning for the energy of what theatre brings. It is what I am…and I’m getting back to me.

    Q: What are you currently working on?
    A: I just finished performing at the Kenyon Playwrights Conference in Gambier, OH at Kenyon College. I did the first stage reading of La Jolla Playhouse’s commissioned playwright, Obie Award winner, Kirstin Greenidge’s play To The Quick. directed by Christian Parker who is the Director of Columbia University’s Playwriting Program, so that’s my theatre muscle getting exercised. As far as my writing muscle is concerned I am working on a couple of things, one of them being my first CD and audio book of my lyrical spoken word and another project being my one-woman show that I have been developing over a decade now.

Q: What is a typical day like for you?
    A: I wish I could say it was something spectacular, like; I wake up and have 2 hours of meditation and  yoga, drink rosemary tea then float out into the world in perfect peace and balance everyday… but the truth is, the only thing spectacular is that I wake and see my kids and I love to see them in the morning…they wake with smiles and hugs…. then they drive me crazy until they return to sleep at night’s end… I love to see them sleep. {giggle}…. Typical day, I awaken, say “Thank you” to the Creator, Ancestors, Deities and Angels and crawl out of bed… prepare to work…work….feed the kids… I try my best to have laughter in me throughout the day… at least once…nice genuine laughter… I think a lot… and I pray constantly….even when I don’t think I’m praying, I’m praying…

    Q:  Who are your mentors in your life?
    A: I don’t know if I have any mentors in my life right now. I mean, I’ve certainly had some great ones, but as it stands, right now, in this space of my life, I don’t have anyone that I would consider a mentor… I need one. I’ve most certainly had some though, my mother at one point, when I was a child, my college director at one point,  a couple of bosses I’ve had…they’ve all played major roles in my development… there are some celebrities who I’ve chosen to be my mentors even though they don’t know it {smile}.

    Q: Name 2 people that you would love to collaborate with?
    A: Wow… tough question. I would have to say the queen Erykah Badu. I truly feel like we’re kindred spirits and I can learn so much from her but also I feel that I would be pushed to my heights in creativity. The same with CeeLo Green…there are so many artists I would love to collab with (Janelle Monae & David Banner being my others), but DEFINITELY Erykah and CeeLo are dreams of mine. In a perfect world, I would be touring with them with my babies by my side.

    Q: What do you do to recharge?
    A: I rest. I eat live foods, drink plenty of water, curse, kiss and hug those I love (especially babies), laugh, give thanks and rest.

   Q: What did it take to become the Last Poet Standing?
    A: Precision. Skill-set. I set rehearsal times for myself. I took the opportunities to look and walk in the space. I centered myself and focused. I made myself at home on the stage. It was important to represent my gift well. When I write or perform my poetry, I must represent it to the best of my ability, because though it comes out of me, often times it is not for me… it is for the people. I am the representative of my ancestors so I must represent the gift well and The Last Poet Standing was the platform for that. I knew that going in and I knew coming out whether the title of the “Last Poet Standing” was mine or not, I was victorious. So I went in a champion from the start.

Youtube Link of Shanessa’s winning performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4C-2XDSgXg


August 7, 2015,

Tix on Sale Today 

8:00 p.m. 

The Loft Theatre 


937-241-4957 or ofpproductionsusa@gmail.com 

Enter to become the Last Poet Standing or Purchase tix today! 



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