STOPTIME: Live in the Moment.

Rodney Hicks: Guided By Gratitude

January 17, 2022 Season 5 Episode 14
STOPTIME: Live in the Moment.
Rodney Hicks: Guided By Gratitude
Show Notes Transcript

Lisa and Broadway veteran Rodney Hicks go deep into the journey toward knowing ourselves and how going off of social media has freed him.

“I had to make a choice as a human being. How do I want to walk in this world as an artist, a human being? And do I want to call out or do I want to call in? And as a black, gay, queer, gender non-conforming man, that was a lot.” Rodney Hicks 

 
Guest Bio:


RODNEY HICKS (pro-nouns: he/they) is a Meditator, Broadway/TV/Film actor, and Playwright. Plays include: THE FLAWED PLAY, FLAME BROILED. or the ugly play, MS. PEARL'S CABARET, and JUST PRESS SAVE. Rodney is currently writing an original book to a new jukebox musical called,  1 9 6 8

BROADWAY actor credits: Original Cast of COME FROM AWAY "Bob & Others” Directed by Tony Award Winner Christopher Ashley, Musical Staging by Olivier Award Winner Kelly Devine; Original Cast of THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS "Clarence Norris" Directed and Choreographed by Tony Award Winner Susan Stroman; 2000 revival Jesus Christ Superstar "Peter" Directed by Gale Edwards, Choreographed by Anthony Van Laast; Original Cast of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award musical RENT Directed by Tony Award Nominee Michael Greif, choreographed by Tony Award Nominee Marlies Yearby. 

REGIONAL: Grateful to have over 25 years of regional theatre credits to their name, from originating roles, to stepping into newly envisioned ones. In 2011, Rodney had the distinct honor of being the first African-American ‘Curly’ in a professional production with the first all Black production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s OKLAHOMA! at Portland Center Stage. Rodney received a 2012 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role in THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS portraying "Haywood Patterson" at The Philadelphia Theatre Company. 

TV: Leverage; GRIMM; Hope & Faith; Student Affairs (Pilot); Law & Order: CI; NYPD Blue; Dance Party USA. 

FILM: Paramount Pictures’ Mighty Oak (Apple TV, Amazon); RENT: Filmed live on Broadway (Apple TV, Amazon); django. 

Original Cast Recordings: COME FROM AWAY, The Scottsboro Boys, 2006 Off-Broadway Cast Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, The New Picasso (concept recording) and RENT.

This conversation was recorded Rodney Hicks Friday December 10th @ 1:00 2021


Support the show
Lisa Hopkins:

This is the stop time podcast. I'm your host, Lisa Hopkins, and I'm here to engage you in thought provoking motivational conversations around practicing the art of living in the moment. I'm a certified life coach, and I'm excited to dig deep and offer insights into embracing who we are and where we are at. So my next guest is a meditator, actor and playwright. Last seen on Broadway as part of the original Broadway cast of "Come From Away", he also appeared on Broadway in the 2000 revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, original cast of the Scottsboro boys and the original Broadway and off Broadway casts of RENT. He appears in the recent Paramount Pictures feature film MIGHTY OAK, and has over 25 years of credits that span regional theater, film and television, you will find links in the show notes to all the wonderful work that he is creating these days as a playwright, and everything that he's involved in. But today, we're going to talk about Rodney. And we're going to talk about believing that art has the capacity to heal and provide hope for a better day and a beautiful tomorrow. Those are his words. That's why he's here today. I cannot wait to get into this conversation and introduce you all to Rodney Hicks.

Rodney Hicks:

Hello, thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Lisa Hopkins:

My gosh, it is my distinct pleasure. Thank you for taking the time.

Rodney Hicks:

Thank you, Lisa.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah. Where Where are you calling in from today? Just to give us a context.

Rodney Hicks:

Yes, I am calling in from Denver, Colorado. And it actually snowed for the first time this year.This morning. Yeah.

Lisa Hopkins:

Oh, beautiful. So what brings you to Denver? Is Denver home for you? Or?

Rodney Hicks:

Yes, I am here. My husband runs a theater here. And so we said, I said, Okay, let's do this. And we you know, we've been here since 2018. And it all kind of happened in I guess, fortuitous way. I was just leaving Come From Away. Due to being diagnosed with having spasmodic dysphonia, we can get into that a little later. And since then, I've been healed from it thing by the grace of God and the universe. And so we've been here. Yeah. And I've just been doing everything remotely.

Lisa Hopkins:

I kinda wanted to ask you want to ask you right off the top, you call yourself a meditator, actor playwright in that order?

Rodney Hicks:

I do. Yeah.

Lisa Hopkins:

So talk to me about how you identify with these roles in your life, and, and maybe what the distinctions are? And also where were they, you know, intersect and integrate?

Rodney Hicks:

Oh, wow. Yes, thank you for that, you know, it's really in no particular order. Except that, for me, meditation has come into my life came into my life seven years ago, my husband has actually been a meditator of my gosh, for over 30 years. And when we first got together, 10 years ago, you know, I was so far in between someone who would meditate.I mean, I there's no way that I would have been able to sit still for even a minute, actually, when you really know how long a minute is, right. And it took me the first, I believe three years of our relationship. It wasn't until the end of 2014, after my grandmother passed, that it was Christmas Eve, and I just made the choice to meditate. And I had been like, dabbling here and there. But I hadn't really took it on as anythingimportant in my life, and I didn't look back. And then I began taking Qigong classes, and January of 2015. And that really just began this new approach to choosing life and to living life. And it was very much, you know, mindfulness, all of these things start to come into play with meditation.

Lisa Hopkins:

Hmm, how has that helped younavigate what we've all gone through in this global sort of trauma. Oh, my gosh, you know, you know, it's a balance, right?

Rodney Hicks:

Even though I'm a meditation practitioner, and do I have a practice for balance and well being, you know, you will still have those days where you're like, Wow, I'm under the bus today. Right? But the difference is that you have the tools now, to not live there. Yeah. And your tools to keep above and authentic and keep true to your intentions. And to really not get I like to say swellI woke up by yesterday's hmm. And so and I say that because with this pandemic and everything in these two years, and the reckoning everything, I had to make a choice as a human being.How do I want to walk in this world?As an artist as a human being? And do I want to call out or do I want to call in?And that, you know, I and also, you know, as a black, gay, queer, gender non conforming, man, that was a lot. You know, it was a lot, and I have friends and chosen family of many different races and makeups. And, and gender, you know, so, for me, I had to really sit and learn how to be still,you know, and I had my false you know what I mean? And going, Oh, why did I say that? Well, and then I just had to go, just breathe. Just breathe and what doesn't serve you? Oh, social media? Yeah. Because it's making you sad. Seeing the sadness of the world? What happens if you let go of that, and it took me a year, actually, a year and a half, I knew I wanted to depart the world of social media postings, and likes and loves because I was that person who had love on everyone's thing and really mean it, you know, or share posts of encouragement, or positivity, but then I thought, I don't want to get into toxic positivity. You know, because no one knows the, the energy in which you're posting. So everyone's going to meet it where they're at. So everyone knows what suffering is now, every single person on this planet, so I thought, okay, it's not about okay, I learned all I learned all of these things. I'm going to help the world actually, it was robbed me, you can help the world by living your life. Hmm. And being kind and learning to have great compassion for us all.

Lisa Hopkins:

What really stands out to me a couple of things really stand out to me if it's okay with you to share.One was you, you talked aboutthis kind of new knowing these tools that you have that of course, of course we have in flow, and that, you know, we're not, we're not always the same. I love that distinction. Because really, what what that speaks to is your awareness. We all have the tools to a certain extent, we have to practice how to use them. But I think what gets lost is is the ability to hold awareness that we have them.

Rodney Hicks:

Yes, i 1000 i overstand. You You know, 100%? Yes. And it's cultivating the awareness. And again, I am someone who has to work on that every day. You know, it's like, Do not hit send on that. You know, or don't write that, you know, because I'm so forthcoming, right? And so I had to work on, oh, how do I give myself a boundary, a personal boundary, so that I can actually breathe, and find those moments. And you asked how meditation can relate to the arts as well. Oh, my gosh, if I knew what I know, now, on how to live lifewhen I was 20s, in my mid 20s, and 30s Oh, my gosh, but I can't spend time on that now. Because guess what, it doesn't exist anymore.

Lisa Hopkins:

Correct.

Rodney Hicks:

You know, I mean, it's like, Oh, right. You, we can't really say I wish I did this. It's like actually, you have right now. Yeah, that's what we have so in for me to apply all of this. The compassion, the empathy, that the art of communicating in kindness. Yeah.As an artist in our world today, I am so excited. I am so excited to be in the room with other artists with other creatives. And we're meeting people randomly on the street just to say hello, hmm. It's because I get to put everything that I've learnedto practice every single day of my life as long as I'm here.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yes. And you know what I love I love and it's so funny because they're not they're not elegant words, but I think they're brilliant words. And very, very important. "I get to"

Rodney Hicks:

yes, yes, yes.

Lisa Hopkins:

You know,We can we can pontificate as much as we are beautiful words about transcendence and platitudes But when you are able to wake up in the morning and simply say, I get to wake up today,

Rodney Hicks:

Lisa, you know, it's interesting, the first two words out of my mouth every single morning. And that's been for the past four years of my life has been Thank you.When I get up before I leave the bed, I take a moment. And I say thank you.Because you don't know what that is guiding you towards for the rest of the day.It's thank you not even just for thanking for waking up. But thank you for whatever is presented to me today. Yeah. And I'm going to look at it with you know, there's a saying, Be grateful for everything, you know, and it is kind of, you know, you can go oh, gosh, really.But, you know, again, at 47 years old, and I'm about to turn 48 in March. I understand that now. Yeah. You know, and I believe in our 20s and 30s. There are some people who, who get that right away. But for me, that wasn't the case. But I'm like, wow, at 47 I get to actually choose how I want to show up in the world. Yeah, and 2022 I get to really choose how I want to show up in rehearsal rooms, how I want to show up on a stage. It's, you know, Come From Away, I meditated every single before every single performance during rehearsals, people you know, we'd be on break, and like, where's Rodney? He's meditating? You know, I mean, and because I had just begun that practice. So it was like every chance I got. But you know, when you first begin this journey, it's very, you know, you don't know how to smile, you don't know how, you know, you just kind of, I'm trying to be perfect is what you think you're doing. But actually, it's the imperfections that make us beautiful.

Lisa Hopkins:

I am so with you. I am like so with you. I'm also hearing that sort of distinction betweenno longer having to be the light, but rather to be the lighthouse.

Rodney Hicks:

Whoo, whoo. That's, yes. You know, I mean, that, yes. You know, it takes the pressure off, actually, it really does. And, for me, personally, it does, andit, it's, you know, I spend, I spend about 80% of my time alone by myself. And I had to learn how to be by myself in order to do that, right. Because as a writer, you know, it's very solitary until you share it, and then you collaborate. And,and I just love being in that world. But I know that I also have also have to have a balance of, oh, okay, make sure you engage here, make sure you engage there, so that you're not just off in your own little corner. Um, you know, and that gives me really great peace and solace. You know, um, but I love creating, I love being amongst artists, and getting off of social media, what that has helped me to see is why I do what I do, why I love to do what I do, as opposed to let me show you why I love what I'm doing. Which is, there's nothing wrong with that, because I believe that our world doesn't need that uncertain, but I'm like, I don't want to be that.In this time in my life,

Lisa Hopkins:

100%

Rodney Hicks:

I just want to do the work.

Lisa Hopkins:

So many of us have. So many have opted to and maybe don't recognize that they are living a default future. A lot of the folks

Rodney Hicks:

WOOF! Lisa Hopkins!

Lisa Hopkins:

Right? But think about it. I mean, it's like, if I do this, then I'll get that if I do this, and when you're successful, it's even easier to live into a default future because it's comfortable. That's where our that's where our strengths are actually where our weaknesses lie.

Rodney Hicks:

Yes, yes. Because it's all instinctual. Yeah, right. As opposed to, oh, if I'm living from this deeply rooted place of groundedness you can sometimes be a little off the ground, but it won't be as long of a duration as it was prior. Yeah. You know, it'sAnd I also limit my phone conversations. You know, I, you know, it's I'm very I don't talk on the phone much. But when I do, I like to do a lot of listening. Because if someone's going through something,it's not about how do I help them fix it? It's Oh, actually, they just want me to be a compassionate ear. And I'm just going to listen. Yep. Because nine times out of 10, I have been there, right? And you are helping in that way. And so, um, and I try, just, I don't cut the word I try. Uh,

Lisa Hopkins:

I love it...

Rodney Hicks:

I get to. Be there for others. Because I know how to be there for myself. I get to love others, because I've learned how to love myself. And that was a long journey and process. And we can't expect anyone else to be exactly where we are. So it's how do we meet? So it's really I learned, I'm going to meet this person exactly where they are. Yeah. And I knew the only way for me to do that is to be off of social media. And to really just be present in the world and show up. Yeah, ever. That means?

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah, hell yeah. So I'm going to ask you to put humility to the side for a moment, and I'm going to ask you to tell me beyond what is eminently clear. I mean, you know, we can all research you and see your gifts, your external gifts, what would you say? Are your unique gifts?

Rodney Hicks:

Oh, wow, what are my unique gifts?I think the capacity to learn,meaning, the capacity to learn from mistakes, the capacity to not be afraid to hit the back wall.In an artistic room.You know, I say that a lot of artists, you know, we're very,oh, I don't want to actually go full out here. Because I haven't really, you know, or I'm afraid of what someone might say, of me. If I just make choices and take risk, and you know, andI like creating and being an art unafraid.I think what I also have to offer is kindness. I believe that kindness is one of the most powerful strengths we can have in our human makeup.

Lisa Hopkins:

Hmm. Yeah. It's interesting about kindness, because kindness is felt not seen.

Rodney Hicks:

Oh, again, why I got off of social media, right? It's like, oh, I don't have to keep posting about this. Yeah. Right. For me.It has to be about work, and about how can my work and my life living? Help someone else? today? I'm very excited, actually, about whatever this future will be. But more than that, I'm more excited about where I'm at right now.

Lisa Hopkins:

How do you want to be remembered?

Rodney Hicks:

Oh,how do I want to be remembered? I would like to be remembered? By my heart.And resilience and perseverance.You know, yes, yes.Yeah, no, it's, you know, I could go deep and like, you know, and philosophize. But I think at the end of the dayI'm always learning.And I want to always strive to be the best version of myself possible. That doesn't mean perfection at all.It means striving to be the best version of yourself that you can be neuroses in all you know, striving to be the best version of myself that I can be.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah.No, absolutely.

Rodney Hicks:

And I never thought that, you know, again, 20s and 30s. I would not have I would have been, I know that my answer would have been, how to be remembered as a great artist. As a you know, it'd be very surface right. As opposed to internalYou know, what you don't see. Yeah, you know, and I think that's what excites me about being an artist in our world today.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah.

Rodney Hicks:

I just think that we are more powerful than we, then we know, we're stronger than we know. And we're actually more compassionate than we can give ourselves credit for.

Lisa Hopkins:

Indeed,

Rodney Hicks:

I actually want to live a long life.And however long I live, right, butit is constricting. And for me, it's unhealthy for me personally. And it's,I don't know, I just when I made that decision to go, this is how I'm going to live my life. And I'm going to be here right now.Man, again, like I said, it took me a year and a half to actually do the action of de- activating my account on Facebook. Yeah. Do the action of Oh, Instagram, you are not on my phone. I don't see you. I don't know you exist any longer to like literally say, I'm taking from now. All the way through 2022. Yep. I don't know if I'll go back on in 2023. But what I can control is, I am making the choice to just be removed myself from their intake base for that year.

Lisa Hopkins:

Can you finish this phrase? Most people think Rodney Hicks is but the truth is

Rodney Hicks:

most people think Rodney Hicks is positive all the time. But the truth is,I have my ebbs and flows.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah, fair enough. Love it. And now let's do this little. I call it rapid fire. It does not need to be rapid. I'm gonna say what makes you and you just say you can answer however you want. Either the first thing that comes into your mind or sometimes that's fun. But let's just play Are you up for it?

Rodney Hicks:

Yes.

Lisa Hopkins:

So what makes you hungry?

Rodney Hicks:

Food

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah. All kinds of food?

Rodney Hicks:

Food.

Lisa Hopkins:

I love it. What makes you sad?

Rodney Hicks:

Hmm. Homelessness.

Lisa Hopkins:

What inspires you?

Rodney Hicks:

Joy?

Lisa Hopkins:

What frustrates you?

Rodney Hicks:

stuckness

Lisa Hopkins:

what makes you laugh?

Rodney Hicks:

What makes me laugh. Inspiration.For sure. Inspiration. Mm. Art inspiration.

Lisa Hopkins:

Oh, that's cool. Why do you suppose that is? Why does that make you laugh?

Rodney Hicks:

Because it's joy. And it's a release of endorphins. And it's creativity. And it I just light upyou know, commonality as well.

Lisa Hopkins:

I love that.What makes you angry?

Rodney Hicks:

What makes me angry? Rudeness.

Lisa Hopkins:

And finally, what makes you grateful?

Rodney Hicks:

Life?All of it - every single moment. Every breath I take, I'm grateful.Because, you know, there are people who don't wake up. You know, and again, I said this to a friend yesterday. I'm 47 and I'm turning 48 in March and all I can be as grateful.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah. Yeah.

Rodney Hicks:

To be here now. With love.

Lisa Hopkins:

Beautiful. What are the what are the top three things that have happened so far? today?

Rodney Hicks:

The top three things that have happened so far today.I think you know, it's only been like I've been up since five. And it's now what 1230 Um, this podcast has been wonderful. Walking My dog's taking them on a hike as, as it was snowing was really beautiful. Um,and receiving another self tape request. Um, you know, I mean, because I'm all the way out here in Denver, right. And I've just been really grateful to continue to receive a consistency of audition requests, you know, and so that makes me smile.It makes me smile. Where I was like, Forget acting, I just want to write you know, or forget the arts. I just want to teach and now it's like, you know,I love acting. You know, I love it all. And I just want to continue to show up in the world as the person I am.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah. Amen. What are you most looking forward to?

Rodney Hicks:

Prosperity prosperity.

Lisa Hopkins:

Indeed, I have been speaking today with Rodney Rodney, it has been such a pleasure speaking Hicks. Thanks for listening. Stay safe and healthy everyone with you today. Thank you so much for taking the time to be and remember to live in the moment with me.