By Br. Dash
I started to become serious about Arts and Culture just after I turned 16. I got bit by the acting bug in high school and changed my career goal from being a lawyer. Not a huge stretch. I quickly became known in high school as “the actor”. I decided to go to New York University to major in theatre. I auditioned and got accepted to their highly competitive Tisch School of the Arts. But I couldn’t afford 20G’s a year. As an aside I wonder how different my life would be today if I actually pursued scholarship money for NYU. Anyway I also auditioned for and was accepted to Rutgers University’s school of the Arts program, Mason Gross. Based on my academic record I qualified for a “minority” scholarship from Rutgers which served me quite well as eventually I left off acting (my degree is in English and Sociology). There are only a few accomplishments I have done in life that I actually take pride in (Pride can be a negative trait as well) but my scholarship to Rutgers is one of them. But this isn’t an autobiography of Brother Dash. My point is that I’ve been involved in The Arts over ½ my life which is longer than I’ve even been Muslim. I’ve been an extra in two movies (Lean on Me and Juice-Tupac’s 1st film), done TV interviews, radio, had the first independent spoken word record label with national distribution, performed for over 60,000 people in one year, and have been seen by millions on television throughout much of the world. So I have extensive experience in the entertainment world. I am an “insider” so to speak. I know what goes on backstage because I am there both as an artist and have been there as an organizer. But as a practicing Muslim (hopefully The Creator sees it that way) am I an entertainer? Do I want to simply entertain? Is that the point of a Muslim in the Arts? I would argue that it isn’t. And that is part of the problem with Muslim Entertainment today. It’s full of…well…entertainers! Do we need a bunch of Muslim entertainers? Or do we need Islamically oriented ARTISTS?