SOTA’s Aleigha Spinks; An Artist Solidifying Her Legacy In The World Of Entertainment

You first met Che in Rochester works for actor Che Holloway, an impromptu interview and amble through the Neighborhood of the Arts.

An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!

Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 60 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.

For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews

Che is a proud graduate of the School of the Art and has featured many SOTA alums, including Britton Bradford, Kayoz Fortune, Ajani Jeffries, Marguerite Frarey, Willie “El Mongoose” Monroe Jr., Willis Ajamu Brooks , James Kegler, Taye Diggs, Evalyn Gleason, Adrian DiMatteo, Biz LaChance and Saadiq MuhammadManny Greene and Kaisean Roseboro.

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From “Saluting Black Scholars,” Democrat and Chronicle, 6/15/10

Che also highlighted four members of the SOTA theater department: Lorrie Dewey, Michelle Accorso Sapere, Ed Myers and Luke Fellows, as well as Arts Center Director Adele Fico.

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Photos courtesy of Aleigha Spinks.

In this highlight, Che turns our attention to SOTA alum, Aleigha Spinks.

Aleigha Spinks; An Artist Solidifying Her Legacy In The World Of Entertainment

Tell  us  a  little  about  yourself,  where  you are  from,  grew  up,  what  H.S./College  you  attended etc. 

I  hail  from  Rochester and  currently  live  in  New  York  City.  I  have  some  serious  hometown pride,  though,  and  always  make  my  love  known  for  upstate.  ROC  City  or  bust! As  for  higher  education,  I’ve  had  the  privilege  of  jumping  around.  Most  people  find  themselves in  college,  but  I  think  I  found  myself  in  high  school.  I  went  to  School  of  the  Arts  and  was  a dance  major.  Without  SOTA I  don’t  think  I  would  have  made  it  out  of  high  school  alive. That’s  an honest  fact.

I  was  a  little  too  strange  for  regular  high  school  and  had  a  hunger  to  really  express myself,  so  I’m  thankful  everyday  for  the  family  I  found  in  high  school.  I  keep  in  touch  with  so many  lovely  souls  from  every  department,  but  especially  the  dance  department.  I  had  an interesting  home  life,  so  being  able  to  go  to  school  everyday  and  express  myself  was  critical  for my  sanity  and  growth.  School  was  the  one  true  place  where  I  could  play  and  experiment  without having  to  deal  with  the  adult  outside  world.  My  dance  moms  helped  me  more  than  imaginable.  I was  BEYOND  a  teachers  pet  and  still  am!  Haha!

What  inspired  you  to  be  an  artist/entertainer?  Early  experiences  worth  sharing?

I’m  pretty  darn  sure  that  from  the  moment  I  took  my  first  breath  I  was  doing  something  creative. I  think  I  always  found  myself  experiencing  the  purest  form  of  happiness  by  entertaining  anyone who  would  sit  and  watch.  I  started  dancing  when  I  was  tiny  (maybe  3  years  old?)  and  I remember  being  so  completely  enthralled  and  mesmerized  by  moving.

I  was  actually  thinking about  the  video  tape  of  my  first  recital  the  other  day,  and  couldn’t  help  but  chuckle  because  I was  so  bossy.  On  stage  in  the  middle  of  the  recital,  I  would  tell  my  peers  if  they  were  on  the wrong  count  and  sort  of  lead  the  group.  It’s  brilliant  to  watch!  I  was  the  smallest  one  in  my  class and  felt  so  passionate!  Who  did  I  think  I  was?!

I  also  traveled  to  concerts  and  fairs  a  lot  with  my  grandparents.  Singers  and  band  members would  allow  me  to  come  up  onstage  with  them.  I  used  to  watch  and  really  take  note  of  what  it takes  to  hold  an  audience  in  your  hand.  I  think  I  learned  the  meaning  of  presence  really  early. And  once  the  bug  caught  on,  there  was  no  turning  back.6

Talk  about  a  time  where  you  have  faced  adversity/conflict  and  have  triumphed.

I’m    struggling  a  little  with  this  question  because  part  of  me  feels  like  my  entire  existence  has been  full  of  overcoming  conflicts.  But  then  another  part  of  me  feels  that  none  of  it  matters.  Yes, I’ve  struggled.  I’ve  faced  external  battles  and  I’ve  survived  internal  battles.  It’s  all  well  and inspiring,  but  the  point  is  that  there  will  be  battles.  No  matter  what.  I  learned  from  a  young  age that  nothing  comes  easy  and  that  you  have  to  work  your  hardest  every  waking  moment.

My mom  was  very  young  when  she  had  me  and  I  learned  how  to  fight  from  her.  I  saw  first  hand  the time  and  dedication  it  takes  to  merely  survive.  As  long  as  you  know  that  the  battles  will  be  there no  matter  what,  you’ll  be  fully  prepared  to  fight  them.  The  specifics  don’t  matter  because  the f ight  is  always  the  same.

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What  do  you  believe  sets  you  apart  from  other  artists/entertainers?

I’m  a  vibrant  human  being.  That  fact  makes  me  entirely  different  and  unbelievably  the  same  as everyone  else.  I  think  accepting  it  has  helped  me  cope  with  feeling  “less  than”  in  an  industry  that was  built  on  making  people  feel  “less  than.”  Perhaps  coming  to  terms  with  being  human  sets  me apart.  Who  knows?

Do  you  have  other  interests  or  hobbies?

I  am  one  big  mosh  pit  of  hobbies  and  interests,  which  somehow  (magnificently)  tend  to interweave.  I  am  a  voracious  reader.  I  often  can  be  found  with  3+  reading  options  with  me  at  all times.  Music  often  plays  a  huge  role  in  my  life,  and  anyone  who  knows  me  knows  I’m CONSTANTLY giving  out  unwarranted  music  suggestions.  Fun  fact:  I  was  a  wedding  DJ  for  a couple  of  years  when  I  lived  in  upstate  NY  and  it  was  probably  the  greatest  survival  job  I’ve  ever had.4

I’m  also  incredibly  interested  in  writing.  People  always  think  that  I’m  a  playwright  or  a screenwriter,  but  I’m  actually  interested  in  literary  and  personal  essays.  They  allow  me  to  work another  creative  muscle  that  I  otherwise  don’t  work  with  performing.  My  brain  is  highly analytical,  so  writing  essays  caters  to  that  part  of  me  in  the  perfect  way.

 Any  projects  you  have  out  or  currently  working  on?

I’m  currently  working  on  my  first  book!  My  deadline  is  toward  the  end  of  2017,  so  that’s  pretty exciting!  I  also  have  a  full  curation  of  thoughts  based  on  the  idea  of  power  coming  out  in  the  first issue  of  Susie  Magazine.  (Go  purchase  it!  Shameless  plug:  squareup.com/store/susiemagazine)  The  rest  of  my  year  has  been  full  to  the  brim  with  readings  and  producing.  There  are so  many  exciting  things  to  come,  but  I’m  keeping  most  of  it  a  secret  for  a  little  while  longer.  Stay tuned!

Where  would  you  like  to  see  yourself  in  5  years?2

I’d  love  to  remain  fully  and  entirely  immersed  in  my  craft  and  still  learning.  As  long  as  my  fire  is still  burning,  I’m  up  for  anything  the  universe  decides  to  send  my  way.  (I’d  also  really  love  a teacup  piglet  named  Crumpet,  but  I’m  not  sure  if  my  cat  would  be  down  with  that  prospect.)

5What  advice  can  you  give  to  aspiring  artists/entertainers? 

Unapologetically  remain  your  messy,  interesting  self.  As  much  as  you  may  think  you  have  to  be cookie-cutter,  it’s  all  one  big  facade.  You  are  enough;  believe  it.  And  stay  in  class  if  at  all possible!  You  can  never  learn  and  work  your  creative  muscles  too  much!

How  can  we  follow  along  in  your  journey?  Social  media? 

You  can  find  me  on  instagram  @aleighaspinks or  check  my  website  for  updates!  (aleighakspinks.com)

SEE ALSO

Revisiting Rochester theater