“The Maya in Me” is the highly anticipated one-woman show written and performed by family therapy counselor, actress and writer Dr. Tameka Bob. As the show’s title indicates, “The Maya in Me” is an intimate visual piece that uses poetry written by the late literary icon Dr. Maya Angelou to parallel real life moments from Dr. Bob’s life and struggles with love.
Directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, produced by July November Events and featuring live music by the Illatmospherics along with choreography by celebrity dancer Reyna Joy Banks, this intimate set brings viewers face to face with critical life moments we can all relate to.
From being molested as a child to experiencing the horrors of a painstaking 8-year relationship with a man addicted to drugs, the Sentinel was graced with the opportunity to see the live show detailing Dr. Bob’s story of love, heartbreak and eventual freedom. Continue reading as we interview Dr. Bob about her one-woman show.
LA Sentinel: What inspired you to write and create “The Maya in Me”?
Dr. Tameka Bob: For some time, God had been telling me to share my story. I knew years ago, when I was actually living through with that, that I would tell the story some day. I was at a point in my life where things were not moving along, things were at a standstill and I would just here the voice of God every now and then saying share your story, write your story. I made every excuse possible until I just said I’m going to be obedient and I am going to start writing and that’s basically how it happened.
LAS: Was it a healing process for you to speak about your past relationship and revisit those tough moments?
TB: Absolutely it was a healing process. I remember the first day I started to write, when I started typing the first page, tears were flowing. It was very surprising because sometimes you think you’re done with things, you think you’ve moved past because it’s happened so long ago, but then when I began to write about it, I realized okay, there is still some feeling about this. Maybe I have not dealt with it the way I thought I did. I think write is healing in general. It’s not good to keep things bottled up, so writing is generally healing.
LAS: What was your family’s response to “The Maya in Me”?
TB: As far as my family, my mom, my niece and my uncle were the first to see it because I’ve only done it here in LA, so my entire family hasn’t seen it. I was a bit nervous about my mom seeing it of course, because some of the things I talked about she knew and some things she did not, so for me it was definitely anxiety provoking to have her see it, but I kind of brought the topic up to her before. The day of, when she arrived in town, I mentioned to her that there will be some topics in the show that you may be surprised about and it may be a little uncomfortable to you. I just want to let you know that this is my story the way I recall it and it’s not meant to slight you or anyone else.
LAS: Tell us about the use of Dr. Maya Angelou’s poetry in your one-woman show? How were you able to make the selections fit to your own story?
TB: The poetry, it was all Maya Angelou. All of the visuals in the show came from her autobiography and her literary works. How I chose those were based on the similarities in my life. As I was writing my story I had her books sitting there, so when I talked about a particular story in my life, I found something similar that happened in her life, so that’s how I pulled those stories. Surprisingly, it just flowed so well.
LAS: You played multiple characters, including you as a young girl, as a young adult, as your ex and as members of your family. Can you expound on the behind the scenes production of your show?
TB: Jessica Lane Johnson was my Director. She has years of experience directing solo shows. She does a solo class here in LA and I heard about it. I went to her solo class and I thought she was phenomenal and she signed on to direct my show. She helped me with a lot of the staging and the blocking and just the movement and the characters.
Reyna Joy Banks is a celebrity choreographer and also a Believer I had known previously. I reached out to her because I know she’s great at what she does. I kind of gave her an idea of what I was thinking, the premise of the show and she gathered dancers together and she did what she does and came up with the fabulous piece of choreography from Dr. Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” poetry so it was really great.
Carlos Fisher was the Musical Director and he picked the band, “The Illatmospherics” and they were just awesome. Before Carlos, I sat with another musician named Brandon Chatman and Brandon referred me to the Illatmospherics. It all just came together so effectively that I was very happy to have them be apart of the time.
LAS: What’s the main takeaway for “The Maya in Me”?
TB: What I would like people to take away is there is power in sharing your story and you should not be embarrassed or ashamed by anything that has happened to you or has happened in your life. I always say secrets kill and so sharing your testimony is powerful and I wanted people to know that they’re not alone. You’re not the only one that has made bad decisions or has experienced unfortunate events. There are so many other people; they just don’t talk about it.
Also to be inspired by Dr. Maya Angelou. To know that she became this great, great educated, inspiring woman but in her early life, she went through so many trials, so many tribulations. Those things that she went through made her into the woman that she became. So hopefully, people who did not know much about her, left the show and said hey, I’m going to buy her books, or check her books out from the library and just learn more about her.
LAS: How does The Maya in Me coincide with Dr. Bob and what you do in your daily profession?
TB: I’m a family therapist and I’m also an actor, so I always try to combine the two to bring a great message. So I believe sharing my story will allow people to understand that there’s significance in that and that if they are dealing with issues they will seek help.