July Spotlight: Tiajna Amayo
Updated: Apr 13
This July we are spotlighting a short scene 'Darling Girl' by Tiajna Amayo. We first came across Tiajna's writing when she wrote a series for the National Youth Theatre called 'Conspiracy' (you can read more about this series below). We were both hooked by the writing and couldn't wait to tune in as the new episodes came out; her work certainly helped us get through the early stages of lockdown and inspired us to get out of a creative slump. This is why we are super excited to share a new short piece from her called 'Darling Girl'. We hope her writing inspires you too - scroll down to have a listen.
My name is Tiajna Amayo, and I am 25 years old. As a young black writer living in between south London and Essex, I am currently just finishing a 9 month acting training with the National Youth Theatre REP company. However, I have always been very passionate about writing for stage and screen. Before I started to train with the Rep company, I wrote my first web series, commissioned by the National Youth theatre called ‘Conspiracy’. The first episode of the web series was part of the National youth theatre’s festival celebrating black creatives called ‘Rush' and was very well received. This web series was shot through zoom during the height of the pandemic and racked up over 10,000 views on Instagram. It attracted the attention of Urban myth films, and I am currently in development talks with them about the show.
As well as this, I am currently under the mentorship of Emily Lim, who has assistant directed shows at the National Theatre on the Olivier stage. She is now helping me work on some of the other theatre projects at the moment.
I wrote Darling girl in response to a prompt to write a short dialogue based on a song. I chose the song 'Darling Girl' by Yolanda Adams, which was a favourite song of my mothers. She would put the song on when I was younger after she had just woken me up. She would then proceed to do my hair whilst singing this song at the top of her lungs! Have a listen to the song here:
'Darling Girl' by Yolanda Adams The beauty of the song always stuck with me, and I knew I wanted to write a piece about how a mother's love can be demonstrated in the smallest of things. As black women, hair care is very important in our community. Lessons are learned from a young age of what hair products and practices benefit your hair from female and male relatives. I know for me growing up, my hair was a source of pride and joy to my mum, and she would take hours adding different products, drying and braiding and oiling my hair whilst urging me to watch what she was doing as this was how my hair was going to grow. To me, darling girl demonstrates how generational black hair care can be, and much it's linked with the love a mother has for her daughter.
Nkhanise Phiri (Lia)
Nkhanise Phiri is also just finishing her 9 month training period with the National youth theatre REP company where she played Clara the chicken in Animal Farm, chorus in Othello and the Daughter in Ordinary Miracle.
Will Atiomo (Harry)
Will Atiomo is just finishing his 9 month training period with the National Youth theatre REP company where he played Boxer in Animal Farm, Gratiano in Othello, and the King in Ordinary Miracle.
by Tiajna Amayo
(Lia is sitting next to Harry, he is holding her hand and looking at her- she is looking down. She is heavily pregnant but young. Potentially playing age 18-25.)
LIA: When I was little- my mother would wake me from deep childish dreams, slept by her side and get me ready for school. There were many steps- but my favourite was when, in my school uniform embroidered with the blood, sweat and tears of her hard work: she would sit me down in front of her mirror. I looked a mess, but mum would say ‘you are my little darling girl’. There was something holy about my mother doing my hair- like she was a priest- with the comb she would part my hair. The searing pain lasted, even when I closed my eyes I could still see the throbbing. In the sacrifice, in this room, the lotions and oils would run freely, baptising my hair in perfect shine. She would say ‘ open your eye Lia, its done now’. With a kiss she would end the ceremony, and the shining emblem of the hair styling would be complete. I saw angel me turned devil, with two cornrows on top my head. It was in that moment I heard her say, ‘you look just like....’ (She stops- looks at her hands. She sighs and goes on) When she got sick, she still insisted on doing my hair. The day she died, I could think of nothing else to do but to go to the afro hair shop and pick up all the oils she used on my hair. But when I sat down to do it, I couldn’t do them the way she did. The reason why I’m telling you this Harry, is because when Cleo gets here. When we have a daughter together, it will be my role to be what my mother was to me. I will wake her up and do her hair and send her to school- my little art piece, my darling little girl. I haven’t been back to the afro hair shop since mum died. I went there last week.
LIA: Because, I’d forgotten.
LIA: (Tears in her eyes) How to do my hair!
HARRY: What? But your hair always looks so good.
LIA: Cause someone else has done it for me. Don’t you see, I look exactly like her, and I’m nothing like her. What happens when Cleo wants anything other then a ponytail?
HARRY: I think your overthinking this.
LIA: No I’m not. Im gonna be a shit mum. (Sinks onto the couch- Head in hands).
HARRY: Thats quite a leap there. Can’t braid hair to being a shit mum.
LIA: I’m serious. As a black women hair is important. Cornrows, twist outs, braids. All of those hairstyles are steeped in the history of black womanhood. I’m supposed to be showing Cleo how to rock and love her hair and... and I cant even do it myself.
HARRY: It will be fine. Your are the strongest, bravest person I know.
LIA: I’m not strong. When it comes to being a mum... I’m scared that Cleo wont see me like I saw my mum. I’m scared that I’m gonna fail.
HARRY: You wont.
LIA: How do you know.
HARRY: Because... She’ll have me as a dad. And I’m gonna remind her every single day how lucky she is to have a beautiful, intelligent, kind hearted mum like you.
LIA: (Sarcastically- not unkindly) I’m sure she’ll love that
HARRY: Plus, I’m pretty sure babies are bald for the first year of their life. And we’ve still got 3 months till she’s actually born. We can figure it out. Look if its that deep, we can take classes together you and me- we’ll learn how to cornrow and braids like pros.
LIA: Mum didn’t have to take classes. She just knew.
HARRY: You mum wasn’t a saint Lia. She worked hard and she got things wrong like we will do.But most importantly she loved you. She still does. You aren’t alone in this.
(Beat- Lia smiles.)
LIA: Yeah, your right. Sorry, hair isn’t something to be crying about. Harry: I’m here for you. Whenever you need to cry, I’m here. I love you. Lia: I love you too.
Make sure you keep up with Tiajna and her work by following her on instagram - @tiajnaamayo