We recently connected with Arius West and have shared our conversation below.
Arius, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Did you always know you wanted to pursue a creative or artistic career? When did you first know?
I was at the fair with some high school church friends and we were getting on the Drop-O-Fear. I was preparing to go up to be dropped and I was being “extra” as some would say and freaking out and I had more to say after as well. When we got off, my friend said that I would be good on stage and told me to audition for our community play at The Dolly Hand Cultural Center.
I have always been categorized as dramatic and quirky, but that was the first time I felt seen and in a positive light. I went to the audition and got a pretty good roe and had a blast the entire process. I went back every year I had left in high school and ultimately went to college to pursue performing full-time as a professional and deepen my learning of the craft.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
As I stated in my previous story about when I knew I was going to do this professionally was when my personality was seen in a positive light and could be useful and for something fun and that I enjoyed! When I went to college, my mom begged me to study something that was more secure in the job field. I remembered my high school math teacher saying I was pretty darn good at teaching so I decided to minor in Education, but just as a backup because I really wanted to be “AN ACTOR!” Who knew the skills I would obtain and sharpen in college?
While in college, I made sure to get jobs and be a part of extra curricular activities that gave me leadership, organizational, and speaking skills. I was a college tour guide, housing ambassador, and a housing front desk representative. I was also a part of a college hip hop dance team, then I started working at SeaWorld and got connected with The Orlando REP to be a part of their smaller staged and paid projects like Writes of Spring.
Right after graduating college with my BA in Theater & Education and a concentration in Stage Combat, I got an assistant Teaching Artist position at The Orlando Repertory Theater to start sharpening and growing my teaching skills. While there, I worked as an assistant teacher to lead teacher, from assistant choreographer of a musical to choreographer, from assistant director of a school residency or youth production to director, to leading and creating workshops for movement, confidence, theatre elements, etc. Alongside teaching, I’ve performed at SeaWorld, Disney, on festival stages, in commercials, and even with Orlando Magic’s Hip Hop Dance Team.
I’m a creative and collaborator, so I would say that I offer a creative mind to help any creative dreams come true. If I can’t help you directly or we can’t figure it out together, I can definitely connect you with someone that can!
When it comes to being recommended for a gig, a workshop, a teaching gig, or a motivational speaker, chaperone, collaborator, or creative position – I get the call. I am asked to be a part of projects all the time and if I can’t do it, I have people to recommend. I think what sets me a part from others is my passion and high vibrational spirit. I think that my quality of work and reputation distinguishes me as well.
I am most proud of the connections I’ve made along the way and how I really have become my own boss in a sense. Yes, I still work for others… However, I chose everything in my schedule, I chose my schedule, I chose jobs that make me happy and don’t feel like work, and I feel in control of my time. I am also for following all of my dreams and one of them being to own an entertainment company…
Me and my 2 best friends started a company called MAC Boys Entertainment where our main prerogative is to increase black talent on stages, black people in the audience, and black artists paid in Central Florida and then make room for more BIPOC artists and stories as well. We are learning and doing as we go, but are currently working on our second production, “BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY,” at The Orlando REP, whom we have a partnership with.
Be on the lookout for my name to be next to choreographer and director in the near future for high school and community productions. I’ll be updating my website with all of my fun endeavors and plans for this upcoming year. And I truly am a jack of all trades and can help with almost anything. My name isn’t West_On_Demand for nothing on Instagram!
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
When the pandemic hit, I was flat out of jobs and transitioned to teaching online, but was not making enough at all so I moved back home with my mom. Through the entire pandemic, I sharpened my skills and continued to be a freelance artist by being a part of as many projects as I could. They were different and meaningful too. But I was able to survive and pay bills and eventually get back to where I was through the entire pandemic as an artist. Twas a tough feat, yet here I stand!
In your view, what can society to do to best support artists, creatives and a thriving creative ecosystem?
As a society who pays for movie tickets and streaming services, the best way to support is to come and see the the thing. Or come and participate. There is nothing more rewarding for an artist than an audience or people who simply show up. Also donating!
- Website: ariuswest.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/west_on_demand/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KingWestA23
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/arius-west/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4t2jdU2mYyhTArQMA3m77A/videos
- Other: My entertainment company and website: https://www.MACBoysEntertainment.com/
Jamie DeHay Mariellen Batchelor Ashleigh Ann Gardner LL Productions Michelee Puppets