Exclusive Interview: Monique Cash Chats On How the Arts Afforded Her Opportunities Abroad
Monique Cash is an actress, dancer, social activist and philanthropist. She was born in what some deemed as the murder capital of the United States in her era, Washington D.C.
“Although I wasn’t born into poverty, I wouldn’t wish some of my other life experiences from the streets on any child in their upbringing,” she explains. “I consider myself extremely lucky to have been raised in a city where I was exposed to the harsh realities of life because it gave me the tools needed to become the woman I am today.”
Cash’s involvement in the arts has allowed opportunities for her to live and work both nationally and internationally with major artists and brands. To date, she is a proud artist and mother of two amazing children, one of whom is a stage four cancer survivor at the age of 16. Her goal is to reach back, uplift and lend her gifts and talents to the next generation of artists.
She is currently working in Los Angeles with a team to bring fourth one of the first teen arts festivals, the
Bungalow Music & Arts Festival. I caught up with Monique where she chatted more not eh festival as well as her passion to give back to the community. Check out the interview below.
What influenced you to become a dancer?
At three-years-old, my mother enrolled me in dance classes to help instill good posture and grace at an early age. Training in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, modern and African techniques began at The Jones and Haywood School of Ballet and I was awarded a full scholarship noted as the first African-American student recipient to The Kirov Academy of Ballet, both schools being located in Washington, DC.
Attending summer dance programs at The Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City positioned me for opportunities to work as a model and actress while in the city. Through a personal introduction by artistic director, Arthur Mitchell, Debbie Allen became a mentor and huge catalyst in my career. During my third year of nursing school at The Catholic University, I received a personal invite by Allen to relocate with my then one-year-old daughter to become the artist in residence at The Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles.
What dancers inspired you as a youth and teen?
Sylvie Guillaume, Debbie Allen, Twyla Tharpe, Martha Graham. Michail Baryshnikov, Lorraine Graves, Charmaine Hunter and Thai Jiminez.
What shows and past projects have you performed in?
CSI Miami (CBS), The Game (UPN), Inland Empire (Dir, David Lynch), Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) and a host of print and commercial work as well as performing as a dancer in music videos (Beyonce, Ne-yo, Nelly Furtado) and Cirque de Soleil.
Are you expecting to be in any other upcoming projects?
As an artist and performer, I am constantly working on my craft as I continue to audition for television and film projects while living in Los Angeles. Currently, I’m focused on producing The Bungalow Music and Arts Festival and The Write Offs, a TV project that identifies and highlights artists within the prison system, how these inmates utilize their art as a means of survival during their incarceration while pairing them with industry professionals for mentorship prior to their release.
You’re also an entrepreneur and philanthropist co-founding the Bungalow Music Festival. Can you tell us about it?
As Founder and Executive Director of The Bungalow Music and Arts Festival (BMAF), I am proud to bring and offer this amazing experience in providing a platform for high school students to unlock their potential and share culture through music, art and mentorship by their city’s best. Think of this movement as offering the vibe of “Coachella” but specifically targeting the teen demographic.
We believe our youth possess endless possibilities for a better world when offered a safe platform for their voice with their drive and passion. At BMAF we are an active listener creating an open dialogue of trust and empowerment between teens and their community.
Our festival will create an accessible Launchpad for teens to build personal relationships with their mentors, facilitating resources that can assist them in taking the next steps in pursuit of their dreams.
BMAF will launch in Los Angeles in May 2018 at the iconic music venues Echo and Echoplex (Spaceland Presents) with long term goals to expand the brand and create annual city-specific Bungalow events (BMAF DC, Philly, NY, SF etc.)
Any words of wisdom you can share with this generation of millennial?
Never be afraid to express and have faith in yourself without the worry about what others may think of you. See your vision, plan and execute until it becomes your reality. Don’t get caught up in the hype of the microwave society that success happens overnight and that it (success) will fall right into your lap.
Network and utilize your resources (friends, social media, mentors) to your best advantage because those coming up with you in the game now become the successful ones who can help later position you. The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency to have.
Fail your way to success. Failure is the stepping stone to success because it helps you become the stronger version of yourself.