PAMM Teen Arts Council (PTAC) member Triniti Wade was awarded the prestigious National YoungArts Foundation’s Young Arts Merit Award in Writing. Emerging artists ages 15-18 or in grades 10-12, are chosen from a large application pool of teens nationally and receive up to $10,000 in cash awards, mentoring and professional support, and more. Last week, Wade participated in the YoungArts Regional program in Miami, a week-long program providing immersive learning experiences for YoungArts winners.
We sat down with Wade and chatted about her inspirations, experiences, and advice for young aspiring writers.
What went through your mind when you found out that you won this prestigious award?
When the results were first posted, I was at school. It was the end of the school day, and I was like, “Oh shoot, YoungArts results come out today!” So I went on my phone and went through my email, which was the first place I checked. But, I didn’t get the email yet. YoungArts already had the promotional email sent out to everyone saying, “You’re the winner.” So I was scrolling thought the list and I saw my name, and I was like, “Oh my God.” I was like freaking out…I was really happy.
What was your experience like at the YoungArts Regional program?
I went to regionals in Miami last week. I met some people that went to nationals while I was there and I found out that the regional experience is a lot more collaborative than the national one. I guess because it’s less of a competition and more of everyone trying to collaborate with each other. That was one of my favorite things about being there.
I got to collaborate with some of the jazz musicians because I was a writer and our performances are together. The writers collaborated with the jazz musicians and we had a lot of interdisciplinary classes with people from photography, theater, voice, and songwriting. We worked with people from different disciplines, so that opened my eyes as an artist. It made me realize that you don’t have to limit yourself to just one thing, you’re free to go out of bounds and step out of your comfort zone and you still have a good time while doing that.
I enjoyed working with the master teachers — like journalist Joan Morgan and spoken word artist/poet Roger Bonair Agard—they were just amazing! I love them. They were kind of like our second parents in a way. They were caring and wanted to make sure we were comfortable, and they just gave us amazing advice. They were really inspirational. They made me realize this is why I’m a writer and this is why I want to continue writing. Even though we only knew them for five days, I was able to share with them my whole life story, and then they shared with us so many different things from their life stories. It was really inspirational and overwhelming in the best way possible.
Who are some writers that inspire you?
One of my favorite authors is Toni Morrison. She wrote one of my favorite books, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I just started reading work by James Baldwin, so I’m really feeling his stuff too. I like reading Audre Lorde’s essays. I’ve read David Levithan, I like a lot of his young adult novels. I love reading interviews by people that I look up to. So like, different directors and musicians. Barry Jenkins is one of my favorite directors. I really like Frank Ocean, and I’ve read a lot of his interviews also.
What advice do you have for young aspiring writers?
Don’t stick to just one genre. I think a lot of the time you may think “Oh, I like writing poetry, so I’m only going to stick to writing poetry.” No, don’t do that. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. For instance, one of my favorite things to write are screenplays, that’s like my thing. But I won YoungArts because of a short story I wrote. Don’t be afraid to step out of what you’re used to doing. Do what makes you feel comfortable but also, don’t stop there. Don’t just stop at, “This is what I’m used to writing,” because you never know what you could be good at. Don’t be afraid to twist genres.
Join Wade and the rest of PTAC at Space Prom on April 14 from 1-4pm. Gravitate towards the museum for an extraterrestrial experience filled with art-making, dance, costumes, and UFO sightings. Mark your celestial calendars for a day—and night—just for teens that is sure to be out of this world!