Today I bring to you an interview with Abdual Bell. We have met him in poetry-form, we have read his biography in his own words, now we get an up-close and personal view of the young man who overcame incredible odds to get to where he is trying to go. Without further ado, here is the interview:
Li’el: You do so much, Abdual, how do you find time to balance it all?
Abdual: It’s hard. Before I do anything I pray. I’m driven off of my ambition and inspiration. There is time there [if you find time to do things]. I’m focused on my schooling and trying to start my own business.
Li’el: What inspires you in your different roles as poet and motivational speaker?
Abdual: As a motivational speaker – We all go through things, all of us have a motivational speaker inside of us. [When I was younger] people used to bully me and pick on me, [and I would overeat and emotionally eat]. I always wanted to help people though, and when I got older I wanted to help kids in my community so I began talking to them. Parents need to understand that they don’t always know what’s going on with their kids, and that kids go through a lot more nowadays then they used to. As a poet, when I was put on punishment, I would go up to my room and write. Writing has always been with me. My mother writes, I think I get it from her.
Li’el: Why should we be inspired by you? Tell us.
Abdual: I think you should be inspired not by me but by my story. Ever since the day I was born I was born into a world of trouble, everyone is but not everyone goes through what I went through. Or does what I did with it. Growing up my aunt did everything to get what we needed. We walked everywhere, she didn’t have a car. It taught me to be independent. I can do everything…wash clothes, cook, change diapers…Eventually she had kids [after taking me in] and when I was watching her kids I would put on plays and write and direct them and when she came home we would perform them. I turn 18 in January, and I am [prayerfully] moving to Atlanta, getting an apartment, and I will be taking in my 7-year-old brother. I want to be a father figure to him. No, he won’t call me daddy, he will know I am his brother. But I just want to be that for him. I’m doing this on faith. [So] when you sow into me you are sowing into my little brother, who may become something big may be famous one day…you are sowing into me, you are sowing into the community.
Li’el: Tell me, what is your motto about work/your life?
Abdual: It’s not the situation it’s the destination. A lot of people blame their problems on the situation… There’s a choice to become stronger, a choice to become weaker. Our struggle gives us a choice. It’s not the struggle…that determines our fate it’s our choices. God chooses our situation, [it’s what we do in that situation that matters].
Li’el: How would you define family for you in light of all that you have been through, and how would you define love?
Abdual: Love is God, and God is love. We base love off of things that happen or how things look. Love is not physical, not the feeling that you get in your heart or mind or in the pit of your stomach. When people start to love physical things like money, or a car, [they get into trouble]. Family is not just blood, but people you know that will be there when they can when you need them. When I was younger, I wanted an older brother. I would always run out on the porch and cry and ask for an older brother. Now years later I am 18…and this year God answered my prayer. [I realized in the midst of all I was dealing with] I wasn’t ready. Now this year I have so many people who have called me their brother recently.
Li’el: What are your career aspirations?
Abdual: I aspire to change the whole course of gospel plays and poetry. I want to be a pioneer…I [also] want to show life from different perspectives in my plays. You know, gospel plays are usually about [bad relationships], relationships between a grown man and a grown woman. I want to show them from a little kid’s perspective. Because little kids [are going through a lot of hard real things nowadays as well].
Li’el: What would be your message to young people trying to pursue being a playwright?
Abdual: My advice is…You need help if you are going to be a playwright. It depends on what God wants you to do and when…You want to have faith.
Li’el: Tell us about your current project, When Tears Betray the Rainbow?
Abdual: When Tears Betray the Rainbow is a poetic drama kinda like For Colored Girls (by Ntozake Shange). The poetry is like spoken word poetry – inside the play you have men that think they are men but they are really not men because they are not…do not know how…They have good men telling them things and bad men telling them things, and the good side is telling them how to be a man…[It is a] big journey t o discover how to become a man, and some men make it and [discover this], while others do not.
Li’el: Any final parting words?
Abdual: Don’t let your problems define you, you define them!
Thank-you so much for reading, feel free to leave comments to let Abdual know how you are feeling, check out his website at http://www.betraytherainbow.org/ to find out more about his play! Also check out the Listening Room for a clip about the play!