Oyoyo Joi Bonner is a successful performer and director, whose expertise is attributed to her performances in “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway and national tours of “The Book of Mormon” and “Memphis."
Whether stepping into the lead role in “Memphis,” starring in “Once on This Island", or dancing in the ensemble of “The Book of Mormon,” Oyoyo Joi is gracious, accepting and supportive. We recently interviewed her about her incredible experiences and the skills she’s developed as an artist and leader in her musical community.
Which artistic-specific skills have you found to be most valuable professionally?
I don't know if this is an artistic skill, but I find that in the arts when I follow my instincts and let what is natural and unique (to me) flow is when I am MOST successful or the best received.
How do you feel your education prepared you for a career in the arts?
Actually, after school I felt very unprepared in a lot of ways. I had so many questions about my type, about how the audition process worked in NYC, how important was showing up vs. being burnt out, and the business side vs. the artistic side of performing.
What I did know, was that I was prepped in terms of my skill level. In school I ate, slept and breathed my major of Music Dance Theater. The program was designed to make you great in every category, Music, Dance and Theatre. By the end of the 4 year major you would be great in all categories if you did the work the courses required, which I felt I did. So once I was cast in a show, rehearsal processes were a breeze and I was often praised for my work ethic. That's definitely something that was taught to me during my education at Brigham Young University.
What experiences have helped you gain leadership skills? And which do you feel are most valuable for young artists to learn?
I've never had a negative experience when asking a question. Questions lead to answers, which leads to you having the answers to other people's questions when you are in a position of leadership. Young artists, ASK MORE QUESTIONS!
In what ways has mentoring others or being mentored yourself helped you as an artist?
When I am mentoring someone I consider myself the mentee. There is always something new to learn as an artist and you can learn it from a person of any age, from 1-100. I find speaking to younger artists gets me more inspired!
What has been one of your most rewarding artistic experiences?
Directing a musical, but not in the way you think. I found it to be the most challenging thing I've ever done. The experience was quite rough and I didn't quite enjoy it. But now I know that! I tried it, it wasn't for me, and I know that. I think one of the most rewarding things is to have experiences, try your very best, be challenged and know where to put that experience.
What female artist or leader has had the greatest influence on you?
Miriam Makeba - what an inspiration! And Audra McDonald - her talent is ferocity personified!
Not only do artists need the skills to excel in their craft, but leadership skills are crucial for artists to make an impact in their field. At our 2021 Summer Leadership Intensive, we empower artists with business acumen and skills. Through workshops and seminars, the experience at 2021 SLI is invaluable! Register today! We can’t wait to see you there!