Guest Artist Story, March 31, 2021
On Wednesday, March 31st, Tom Minter, playwright and educator, was the guest artist for Kultur Stories. “There is no one path ahead as artists, there are always choices. Connect to your passion as a life commitment.” He was inspirational right from the start.
Mr. Minter started his story with his childhood. He said that music was an essential part of his family because his mother would sing while his father would accompany her on the piano. Kultur Stories colleague intern, Liz Morgan, related, “I immediately understood his feeling of having music in his soul, since I too, am a musician and remember hearing music in my family when I was young.” As a teenager, he was introduced to opera by his mother and was drawn to the passionate melodies. Tom’s mother died when he was young and for him, the music stopped. He said, “Losing someone or something that is important to us, often causes us to focus on our sadness.” Instead, Mr. Minter chose to focus on what made him happy.
Drawn to writing as a means of finding his own voice, Mr. Minter got his start with a play that he wrote in college, which won a prize. However, he was discouraged to pursue his passion for writing despite this early success. As a result, he lost confidence and changed directions, choosing to work in the food industry where he enjoyed a successful and long career. But the career did not sustain his soul. Over the years, Mr. Minter said he felt like he was standing still. He needed to shake himself up. For Liz, and probably many college students closing in on graduation, this might feel familiar. Liz asked herself, “What’s next? What is life going to be like in the next few years? Maybe a good shake up is in order.”
“Throw yourself out there. Someone will catch you,” Mr. Minter told himself at the time. He had faith and decided to jump all in. Perhaps the experience that came before this period, provided him the confidence to take this huge leap. He advised,”Be able to hear the truth, so you can truly understand people.” Indeed.
Here’s a great piece of advice from Mr. Minter: “You should know your worth. You need to understand your talent and make your life honest.” Liz said, “I will use his advice in my own life.”
Unfamiliar with the theater world, college intern, Joyce Koo, thought Mr. Minter’s story was very refreshing. “It was interesting to hear about his work experiences and to understand what his life was like as a gay, black playwright living in the 1990s and early 2000s.” She understood that the lack of representation of racial and sexual identity within his work environments would propel Mr. Minter to write pieces that encourage and promote diversity. She commented, “He taught us that the creation and worth of art is not determined by or limited to any outside influence — rather, it is the honest expression of your own identity, as each piece of art that you create is ‘connected back to you.’”
Joyce was inspired by Mr. Minter’s reconnection to the arts later in his life. She was moved when he shared how his initial aspirations of being a playwright were crushed, leading him to have what he called a “first life” within the restaurant industry. It was only until he challenged himself to reconsider his life goals and purpose that he decided to switch, reaching for a second career. That is when he invested his energies into the theater/performing arts, restarting with a move to the UK to establish his new career as a playwright. Joyce explained, “I was inspired and perhaps even reassured about the idea of a ’rebirth‘ happening later in life. The competitive nature of the art world, especially as it highlights the natural talent of young prodigies, can be overwhelming. But Mr. Minter found his second career and overcame many obstacles to achieve success. He taught me to be flexible and to enjoy life in the moment.”
Niles Garrison, a high-school intern on Kultur Stories, was also inspired by Mr. Minter’s decision to leave a successful career to pursue his first passion, writing. Niles said, “He had the opportunity to restart and he went for it. Mr. Minter wants us to know that we too, can do the same thing if we are not happy with our career choice. He showed us that if your reality isn’t everything you want, then reach out for help. Someone will be there to assist you. Being dedicated and steadfast to your dream can work out. I’m glad I was able to listen to Mr. Minter’s story.”