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 Muhammad, Manny Greene and Kaisean Roseboro.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.)
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)