Sunday 22nd January, 2006


Raquel eyes the Hollywood big times

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Racquel Weekes

By Aretha Welch

She has set her eyes on Hollywood and is not stopping till she gets there. Racquel Weekes is a dramatist/poet/musician and model who was recently called the next Angela Bassett by judges at a local screening for the World Championship of Performing Arts to be held in Hollywood, California later this year.

Thirty-year-old Weekes, who has been involved in the performing arts since she was six years old, was presented with the opportunity to fulfil her life-long desire of showing her skills in the movie capital in November 2005.

Born and bred in Diego Martin, Weekes spent her teen years at Corpus Christi Convent competing in poetry and public speaking contests, never letting those chances to show her talents pass by. It seems her competitive nature has paid off.

After years of hoping and praying for her Hollywood break, Weekes finally got her chance when she stood in front of various judges from the entertainment industry who ventured to T&T to select a team for the championships. The judges included international agents, managers, producers, casting directors and record label reps.

Locally based entertainment and modelling agency, Carivog International, in collaboration with World Championships of Performing Arts, hosted the local leg of the competition.

Weekes and Patti Ann Ali, daughter of former Rikki Tikki host Ian Ali, emerged two of the top winners of the night. They are also being awarded partial scholarships to The School for Film and Television in New York and entry into the World Championship of Performing Arts.

The competition has been held for the last ten years and draws over 700 delegates including singers, dancers, actors, comedians, models, bands, instrumentalists, even jugglers and magicians from approximately 40 countries.

Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded in each category and dozens of up and coming performers are even cast or contracted for various roles and gigs by the influential judges.

T&T has competed on two occasions prior to this and just last year, The Petrotrin Boodoosingh Tassa group brought home gold in the musical instrument category.

“I may compete in more than one category in the competition as the judges realised my strength and passion lie a lot in drama,” said Weekes.

Drama is actually what knocked the door to Hollywood right open to Weekes. After executing a 90-second dramatic monologue from Tyler Perry’s movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman at the local leg of the competition, the young actress said she was commended by the panel of international judges.

But just as some of our sporting heroes face problems on their road to gold, so is the doe-eyed, multi-talented Weekes. “Going to Hollywood to compete is not free, there are matters of airfare, accommodation and ground transport once you are there and I am hoping this story will help the corporate world to see the vision, drive and potential of our performers.

“It would be nice if they got involved and sponsored someone, it is about 100 of us and these championships present real opportunities for us to be recognised internationally and help put T&T on the map just like our cricketers, swimmers and footballers do.”

Weekes believes that like sports, the arts are important to our society and will help make T&T more known on the global scene. It will also add to our social and economical development as it presents yet another reservoir of career paths for the youths to choose from, she also felt.

“It is difficult being a full-time performer in T&T, instead of spending our hours developing our talents and strengthening our selves, which will in turn strengthen society, we are busy doing the nine to five game.” said Weekes, who is also a certified marketing specialist.

For Weekes, her talent is all natural, not learned. A devout Christian, who believes that God has blessed her with talent, Weekes first realised her love for performing when she began acting in church skits.

“It’s all self-taught, I watch television and look at international artistes, their singing styles and acting but it’s nothing I have officially studied. I love Lauryn Hill, Anita Baker and Whitney Houston. I feed off of their styles but I add a bit of me with it and that’s what makes me original and evolving. As I grow as a person, so does my art.”

She also credits her mother and her pastor from La Puerta Pentecostal, Ms Horsford for pushing and supporting her in all her ventures.

“I know some may question how a Christian thinks she can make it in Hollywood with all the sex scenes and the what not, but I will be cautious and I will not take roles that compromise my integrity. People may say I am thinking far ahead but you have to if you don’t want to get swept away by the fast-paced entertainment industry.”

“I look at Denzel Washington as an inspiration. He is driven and takes demanding roles but he is never indecent.

“I intend to win Oscars, I intend to be big but I don’t intend to compromise myself, I don’t believe women should ever do that. We are doing it less and less today and I love that.

“It is really time for us to take the world by storm and I intend to do my part through the arts,” Weekes declared.

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