69 seconds with … queer author, playwright and performer Valerie Mason-John

Spend 69 seconds with queer author, playwright and performer Valerie Mason-John whose BYOV show Brown Girl in the Ring plays as part of the 2010 Vancouver International Fringe Festival.

01Your first job.
A paper round.

02The job you wanted as a child.
Air hostess.

03Your hero.
Sophie Charlotte, the African Queen married to King George III

04Your biggest pet peeve.
X-ray machines at all border controls.

05What’s getting the most play on your iPod right now.
Theme music tunes from Brown Girl in the Ring.

06The three things you would want with you on a deserted island.
Meditation, my heart, insight.

07The one word your best friend would use to describe you.
Vibrant.

08One thing no one knows about you (and you are willing to share).
The Queen came to my home, and had tea with me and my orphanage family.

09 The one person you would most want to have dinner with.
The Buddha.

10 The one thing you are most looking forward to doing in Vancouver.
Enjoying being in a big city.

MEET Valerie Mason-John

Valerie Mason-JohnValerie Mason-John was born in 1962 in Cambridge, and uses the stage name ‘Queenie’. She studied at Leeds University and later for an MA in Creative Writing at Sussex University, and is a playwright, author and performance poet. She worked as an international correspondent covering Australian aboriginal land rites. Her writing has included articles for various national publications, including The Guardian, The Voice and The Pink Paper, and she has done freelance research work for the BBC, Channel 4 and the Arts Council. She is also a former editor of Feminist Arts News, directed Pride Arts Festival for four years, and was the former artistic director of London Mardi Gras. She is also part of a team of trainers designing anger management programmes for schools.

She was an actress with the Talawa Theatre Company and in 2001 was Artist in Residence for PUSH 2001 at the Young Vic, the National Theatre and the Jerwood space in London. She has undertaken other residencies at Holloway Prison and Elizabeth Garret Anderson School. In 1998, she wrote and produced her first play, Sin Dykes. Since then her theatre writing credits have included Brown Girl in the Ring, a one-woman show which toured nationally, The Adventures of Snow Black and Rose Red, a family pantomime, and most recently, You Get Me.

Her first novel, Borrowed Body (2005), is told in the voice of Pauline, a young black girl of Nigerian descent, growing up in white foster homes and orphanages, then reclaimed by her mother. It won the 2006 MIND Book of the Year Award.

Her book Detox Your Heart (2006) is a non-fiction book dealing with anger, hatred and fear. In 1997, Valerie Mason-John was named Britain’s Black Gay Icon and in 2000 won a Windrush Achievement Award for her contribution to the Black British community. She lives currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in 2009 by the University of East London.

Her latest book is Broken Voices: ‘Untouchable’ Women Speak Out (2008).

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