Your story is not finished until there’s nothing left to write. I always like to remind myself of this when I hit a brick wall or when I meet somebody that keeps readjusting, reinventing and rewriting their path. If you never slow down and you never stop trying, you will succeed – it’s inevitable. If you’re a filmmaker, that success either translates into a TV series, feature film, theatre play, CSA Award, Oscar or your name on a famous sidewalk! Regardless of the direction your career takes you, keep your hands on the wheel and watch for congested intersections. Remember that it’s about the journey and not the destination.
Someone that has experienced many journey’s has many stories to tell and sometimes those stories turn into novels, plays, comedy shows, animations and screenplays. It’s the job of the writer to take some of the stories from those journey’s and share them in the form of visual art… if there is a lesson to be learned or a message to share. Sandy Daley is a single Black mother from Kingston, Jamaica that now makes her home in Toronto. As an actress, she hit the ground running, starring in Christene Browne’s, Another Planet and winning the Spirit Award for Favorite Columnist. Daley’s syndicated column, ‘Real Talk With Sandy’ was published in New York, Toronto and Barbados.
CHRONICLES OF A BLACK WOMAN: A SKETCH COMEDY, written and starring Sandy, can be seen during the Toronto Fringe Festival on July 21-31. Her previous screenwriting projects include Untamed Chicks, Daddy’s Not Around: DNA and her current teen series project, The Wright Girl: all starring black leads. Sandy is a longtime advocate for social justice and women’s rights, is the founder of the Whose Body Is It, Really?, Empowerment Symposium, for the prevention of sexual violence against women and also, Mothers Against Violence Against Black Children. The organization fights systemic racism against black children.
Winner of the Governor Generals’ Award for Excellence, the Rising Star Award from Centennial College and named Toronto Fringe Festival Artist of The Year in 2020.
Sandy Daley’s craft is very much a part of the woman she is and the legacy she is building.
I was honored to speak with Sandy Daley. She is an advocate for equality, fairness and putting an end to systemic racism. I applaud anyone with the courage to stand up for change and a better society/world, so I was anxious to meet her and hear about her advocacy. Roll the tape!
HNMAG “Congratulations on your new animation. Will it be premiering at the Fringe Festival?”
SANDY “Yes and the Fringe Festival is known for some amazing projects. Kim’s Convenience started there, The Kink in My Hair started there, so it’s a great honour to have the opportunity to have it at The Fringe Festival. It’s my hope to be able to pitch the animation to a network after the festival. Whenever I do a project, I like to think outside the box to say, ‘what next?’ There has to be another avenue that we can explore with the project.”
HNMAG “From everything I’ve read about you, it seems like you’re always raising the bar. You don’t do anything half-way.”
SANDY “I get myself in trouble sometimes. You have the creativity to do some things and you’re always vying against yourself. Whenever I do a project, I always think of the next big meaningful thing I can take on. This is one of those projects that the Fringe gave me the opportunity to do. It’s a great stepping stone for me to have a play as an animation. It wasn’t supposed to be an animation but because of the current lockdown in Toronto, we couldn’t find any theatre space. I didn’t know what to do, so I had to think outside the box and turned it into an animation.”
HNMAG “In your animation, you portray three characters, an Afrocentric black woman, a Caribbean woman and a single mother. Why did you choose to represent these three women?”
SANDY “Because they’re all Sandy. I’m the activist, the girl you see at the rally down the street. I’m always pushing for those issues that society needs to take a look at. I’m also a Caribbean woman and will always be. I’m a single mom and have raised my 2 children on my own and I’m raising another one now. Every single aspect of womanhood and every character is me. We’re women and we’re so strong, and I wanted to highlight the strength in all of us, in everybody… because everybody has different aspects to them.”
HNMAG “How important is it to share these personal stories?”
SANDY “As a writer, I always try to change the narrative. Society already has an impression of Black women, so whenever I’m writing a play or a couple of TV series, which I’m currently writing, I will always try to change the narrative of what society thinks we are and who we are. As a writer, I feel I have a responsibility to do so, especially at a time in the world where there is systemic racism. I can tell it from the lens of someone like myself, who has many different layers and sees the world very differently, in the hopes that the world can also see us differently.”
HNMAG “Is it your goal to evoke change in society’s perception, with your animation?”
SANDY “Definitely, I never do anything without knowing what my end goal is. I want people to see the way society sees us – then look within themselves to say… maybe I should adjust the way I look and think about Black women and women in general. I’m fighting an uphill battle but I want people to change their mindsets on how we’re viewed and how they see us.”
HNMAG “This is your first time being involved in animation. Has it sparked an interest in doing more animation?”
SANDY “Yes for sure, it’s fun! You get to see yourself in these characters and realize, this is how I really look? The animators were great. I gave them photos of me and my son, Nathaniel who plays the child in this play as well. I put him in almost everything I’ve created (laughing) and he loves it. Somebody’s got to get my genes and pass it on! He’s so good about it. In terms of the characters, it’s something that I wanted to do because it is so very important to put out there. After I’d seen what the animators were able to create, oh my god – it looks so good. Even though I’m working with some other networks on other projects, I still believe you have to go for it. My motto for life is, never live with regret. If I’ve tried and it doesn’t work, I’m okay with that but if I don’t try, I will get mad at myself. You never know where these things will land, so you’ve got to take a chance.”
HNMAG “You have a reputation for being very honest. Have you always been that way and is it always the best policy?”
SANDY “I have always been that way, much to the chagrin of my mom. She’d be like, okay Sandy – shut up, you’re embarrassing me. (Laughing) She couldn’t take me anywhere. If it’s going to hurt someone, don’t do it but if it’s about coming forward and telling the truth/coming clean, you have to do that and I would certainly do it. Every situation is different but I definitely support honesty and telling it like it is. I had a column in New York where I’d talk about being a single mother, being dateless and not wanting to ever get married again. The women gravitated to the column and the men hated me; they felt like I was promoting their wives to leave them but I wasn’t, I just wanted them to be careful. I love men, I really do but I am a feminist, I believe in women’s rights and I’m an activist in fighting for those rights. If he can’t accept that and doesn’t want to be part of that movement, the communication is going to die. As women, we’ve been shifted to the background quite a bit and we have to play catchup. Also, with Black people and people saying all lives matter. All homes are not being burned down and their home is not on fire, so they don’t really understand.”
HNMAG “Your critically acclaimed first novel, Whose Vagina Is It, Really? made the bestsellers list with a second edition being released in July. Can you tell me more about the premise of the book?”
SANDY “It’s 137 pages and I wanted women to be able to keep it in their handbag as an everyday reminder. I also created a smaller mini version and everybody loved it more than the paperback. I had a relationship with a man and after we broke up, he felt that my body parts still belonged to him. I was adamantly saying no, you’re crazy. I wrote an article about the situation in the newspaper, and at that time I was also writing a book. With the adoration I was receiving from women and the flack I was getting from the men, solidified the title of the book. My mother always says she’s coming after me once I make some money because I put her in everything that I write about (laughing).”
HNMAG “You’ve also initiated the Empowerment Symposium, for the prevention of sexual violence against women, as well as Mothers Against Violence Against Black Children. This organization fights systemic racism against black children. How did you do that?”
SANDY “Apart from writing, I’m also a social worker and I merge the two together when I write. When I attended Centennial College between 2016 – 2018, I recognized the need for a symposium that highlighted the issues affecting black women and women in general. I went to the college to propose the idea of starting the empowerment symposium… and they said okay! I put the entire symposium together, then again in 2017 before taking it to other colleges and campuses. I didn’t want it to die once I left college, so in my last year I empowered and taught the other ladies that were coming up behind me. To this day, it’s still being continued at Centennial College. Of all the things that I’ve done, it’s one of my proudest moments because it involved something that needed to be done. When I started Mothers Against Violence Against Black Children, I started it after the Trayvon Martin situation. As a Black mother, we have to tell our children these stories from a young age. I wear that worry on my face every single day and other mothers don’t have to go through that. Many people can sympathize but Black women carry this burden with them. There are times that you can’t even enjoy your life because you’re so worried about your children, especially your Black male children.”
HNMAG “Have you written a feature screenplay?”
SANDY “I’ve written a short film, I’m working on a feature film screenplay, a pilot and a TV series. My short film premiered at the CineFam Women of Colour Creator challenge a couple of years ago, with my film, Daddy’s Not Around – DNA. Once again, another catchy title Darren, these things just come to me (laughing). It’s set back in 1978 in Toronto and is about a mother dealing with systemic racism. I have very provocative themes but it stems from the things I see in society and I’m regurgitating it as a writer in terms of things I’d like to see changed. I don’t take things lightly and I know there will be struggles at times but I’m willing to travel down that road to see what can become of it and hope that change – will come sooner than later.”
Sandy Daley is an extraordinary woman that happens to be Black. We need women like Sandy to tell their truth, to talk about personal experience so society can stop wrong perceptions of BIPOC and minorities. Hollywood created it… and it’s time to fix it.