Her name is Skye Townsend, she’s the daughter of comedy legend Robert Townsend — one of the bold pioneers that paved the way for Black Hollywood today.
Following in her father’s footsteps, Skye understood the value of the California hustle. Today she’s a successful actress, singer, songwriter, hilarious comedian, podcast creator, and a photographer. I’m sure she will add more skills to her resume, she’s only 27-years-old and currently bringing the funny to the three-time EMMY Award-nominated variety series “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” which is executive produced by Issa Rae, and airs Fridays on HBO.
And what is the “A Black Lady Sketch Show” ? It’s a show that takes a deep comedy dive into African-American culture and African American women’s experiences in America.
Townsend also hosts the podcast Unpack ‘n Bounce Back with her best-selling poet cousin Reyna Biddy (https://amzn.to/347SSZR). Created during the COVID-19 lockdown, the two team up to share their personal experiences and tough lessons learned while navigating through life, and engaging in brutally honest conversations. Two perspectives—Unfiltered, With love.
Being born and raised in Los Angeles, Skye grew up visiting film sets with her father and fell in love with entertainment. Ambitious, like her father, she started creating her content on YouTube at the age of 14. Her videos caught fire. How could they not? She was impersonating Beyonce (https://bit.ly/3yqwLf8 ) and it became a viral success. And yes — Townsend can sing.
Soon music industry leaders were taking notice and by the age of 17 she was signed to Atlantic Records. She released an EP and her career path began to pivot when she landed the opportunity to co-host the official GRAMMY LIVE red carpet at the age of 20. This is where her real improv skills were mastered as she fell in love with work that kept her on her toes. She began public speaking as a mentor at schools, guiding youth to follow their dreams and be persistent in their goals. She began booking smaller roles, most notably as a guest star in “Lucifer” where she played a musician and got to perform two of her original songs on-screen at The Hollywood Bowl. Her persistence is paying off because when she’s not working or creating new content, Townsend spends time giving back to her community – whether it’s supporting disadvantaged youth or helping the homeless.
Here is what the very funny, quick-witted and I think, uber-sweet Skye Townsend had to share about being a part of HBO’s “Black Lady Sketch Show.”
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: Congratulations on being on HBO’s “The Black Lady Sketch Show” — season two. “Girls getting an HBO paycheck!”
SKYE TOWNSEND: (laughing) Thank you.
LAS: Also, you have a successful podcast — Unpack ‘n Bounce Back
ST: I do. We recorded it [earlier] and dropped it over the pandemic, hoping that somebody who wasn’t able to be with their friends could listen and feel a little less alone.
LAS: Gotcha! It was almost like therapy.
ST: And it was amazing. I mean, out of over a million podcasts, Spotify had selected us for the top 20 podcasts of 2020. And so we started to get a lot of buzz and a lot of people tuning in. A lot of people think, well, I have a funny friend, let’s make a podcast. But I think what makes us unique is, you know, the friend that I do it with my cousin, Reyna Biddy, who is a best-selling author and poet and she’s this very deep, unique person. And I’m just a very bubbly over-the-top person. And when we get in the room together, we pull the best out of each other. It’s like therapy and stand-up comedy in one, you know, you laugh, you cry, you kind of hold his throat, you have to pause for a bit. Sometimes you hear us cry, but it’s this authentic representation of us. And just the stories that we’ve been through and what it looked like to be in our early 20s and where we are now. And so it’s been awesome to see how much people love it.
LAS: What does your dream board look like for 2021, and beyond?
ST: Wow. In 2021, I feel like I kind of opened the door, and I’m stepping in it. And, I feel like as the show [HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show], I feel that people will see more of my characters, and understand my sense of humor.
LAS: Understood but you are a Townsend — is there more?
ST: (laughing) For me, I also want to develop my projects.
LAS: There’s that Robert Townsend spirit. Sorry. Please, continue.
ST: I feel that there are certain stories in my head, that I know that only, I can tell. And, I’ve seen in up-close and personal, my whole life, how you tell your own stories. And so, I look forward to getting into the development side, as well as starring in the project[s]. For me. I am always doing something creative. It’s pacing myself and making sure that it’s the right time for everything.
LAS: That makes sense — daughter of visionary Robert Townsend. I’m just saying — I have mad respect for the comedic, O.G.
ST: All I hope is to be having this much fun as I continue. That’s it. I go to work. I have a blast.
LAS: Well. It is a comedy. I’d be very concerned, if you came home from set, crying. Besides having fun — at work —what else motivates you?
ST: I want to do work that I’m proud of. That will lift Black people. I never want to accept something, that I feel I would be embarrassed about.
LAS: Understood. A challenge. Because — well Hollywood is packed with embarrassing roles, movies, etc.
ST: True, but if I have to take a break, take some time off to find the right project, then I will do that. Even starting with THE BLACK
LADY SKETCH SHOW, the bar is very high.
ST: To start on a network like HBO and performing sketch comedy at one of the highest levels, I want to be strategic about where I go next.
LAS: You should be. That’s called wisdom and I expect nothing less from — a Townsend. What piece of advice did your father, filmmaker Robert Townsend give to you, then, that makes sense — now?
ST: (laughing). Ok. When I was younger, I had this idea that everybody in my circle, had to win with me. I had this idea that I could force them to want success in the same way, that I wanted it. And so, I was always dragging people with me who didn’t want to be there. They wanted the perks of success but they didn’t want to do the work.
LAS: That’s a problem. Not wanting to do the work. I’m sorry. Continue, please.
ST: When I was younger, my dad said to me: ‘you are so busy packing everyone’s luggage so that when your plane comes, you will not be ready.’
LAS: Mike, drop. This deserves a repeat. Robert Townsend. One of the reasons there is an African-American Hollywood to speak of, today said — You are so busy packing everyone’s luggage so that when your plane comes, you won’t be ready.
ST: It’s one of my favorite quotes.
LAS: You think?
ST: Because it was true. I was so busy making sure that everyone else around me had what they needed that my bag was empty.
LAS: In my best Tyler Perry, church lady voice — Hallelujah.
ST: You have to realize that it’s not being selfish, it’s just giving yourself what you need in your career. Pack first for yourself.
LAS. Pack. First. For. Yourself.
ST: Then you can take others with you.
LAS: Break it down the way Robert wants you to?
ST: You have to get there first before you bring all your friends.
LAS: And now?
ST: And now, that I am older I can provide opportunities for my friends who want to be there. But I know that I have to get myself there first.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
“A Black Lady Sketch Show” S2 TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC4QqANWyrI
#HBO #BLACKGIRLMAGIC #COMEDY