Conversation with Tiffany Manning
Photograph by Tiffany Manning
Ebony Payne-English is a passionate poet and performance artist who has crafted a business doing what she loves. Her current touring schedule has her on the road approximately two hundred days a year. The remaining days are dedicated to reconnecting with her loved ones, trying to regain a sense of normalcy and routine, and giving back. Locally, she volunteers with the Performers Academy. Nationally, she plans her touring schedule around the chosen location of the Brave New Voices Festival to ensure that she has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of youth with limited access to the arts. Last year, she debuted her one woman show, On Purpose, here in Jacksonville, and in 2018 she will be embarking on her first world tour, titled Where in the World is Ebony-Payne English?
How did you get into poetry and performing?
Poetry got into me, actually. When I was four years old, I taught myself how to read and write. All of my books were by Dr. Suess, and I just thought that when you wrote things down that was how it was supposed to come out, so I started writing in rhyme then and nobody discouraged me (or corrected me for that matter). It just became part of who I was and how I communicated. I did my first beauty pageant when I was five and I did a poem as my talent. I was performing very early.
What was the first significant moment in your life as a performer?
In 9th grade, I was cast in a murder mystery at Wolfson High School. At the time, I was well on my way to becoming a professor or a politician. I was always involved in student government, beginning in elementary school. I was the class president at Wolfson when I realized, no, this isn’t my path. I’m going to be an entertainer!