Skyh Alvester Black: Living The Dream
When we refuse to give up on our dreams, they will eventually show up in our life experiences. Even the most beautiful flower was once a seed, and that beautiful seed, at some point, had to go through a little bit of discomfort to push through the ground and physically see the sun. And sometimes, that process of blossoming takes a little bit of time. When we look back to where we were and where we are now in this process of creating and flourishing into the beingness we are becoming, we will appreciate and see the value in every step we took along the way.
Skyh Alvester Black, an artist who overcame adversity to reclaim his balance between dreaming about who he wants to be and now becoming his own dream, says, “I am a fighter and an extreme go-getter. I’ve never pretty much waited for anyone to give me a handout. I’ll rather figure out a way to get it. I’ll go after it. And I think the best thing that I’ve realized about myself is that I am a resilient believer. Meaning that no matter what happens or what obstacles are thrown in my way, I still believe that my goal will be attained. And I’m grateful for that aspect of myself.”
Skyh was raised in Miami by his grandparents. He was homeless when his grandfather died, but he didn’t want to worry his grandmother and the family about it. So, he kept that struggle to himself. Skyh’s wish for his grandfather to witness his success while he was still alive gave him an inexplicable strength to honor his grandfather’s memory by knowing he would make it. “I was so stubborn and hell-bent on achieving my goals and dreams now that I was going to make it happen. My middle name is the same as my grandfather’s first name. With all adversity, I guess I’m a man after his own heart,” Skyh says lovingly and proudly.
Everyone has and creates their own path in life. Nobody’s journey is comparable to anyone else’s. We all are born with a unique vantage point from which, like a painter on a white canvas, we draw our lives as we believe they should be based on the story we keep telling ourselves.
“I believe everyone has their own church. So, if someone is doing something else over here, I don’t know what it took for them to get there. I compete with myself, and I say to myself, ‘Okay, what can I do better next time? But what can I do more on this next project? I will literally study everything, including myself, to be and do better. I don’t tear myself down anymore. I used to, but I’m always searching for how I can personally improve. I have this competition with myself and with my own momentum. I got some great advice from Will Packer about living in the moment. Now, I’m learning how to do that instead of taking the next step. And I tell people all the time, in the humblest way, ‘I want it all. And I’m going to work my butt off to get it.’ But that’s not some people’s wish or journey, and you have to respect that. But for me, based on the industry’s ins and outs in relation to the level of success, I won’t stop until I get it all. So, it’s a combination,” Skyh shares passionately.
A brilliant quote by Abraham-Hicks, spoken by Esther Hicks, says, “You can be, do, and have anything you want.” These words are more than just an empowering statement; they are a formula for our creation process. First, we become the embodiment of who we envision to be. The bigness of it will inspire us to do the actions towards that beingness we are into physicality. And then, what we desire manifests itself in our existence. All of that expression of the life force that we are is happening now, and now, and now; in every moment, and every now, we can choose to start being, moving, and including ourselves, and thus our own desire.
Skyh says, “It’s no secret that I’m a black man. I have tattoos, and I used to believe they would hold me back from certain roles. I was in acting class at the time, and I was getting a lot of scenes that were just for a black man. I told my acting teacher at one point, ‘Stop! I do not want to play anything just because it says, black man. Let me play a human.’ Because we all are going through the same human experience, whether you’re black, white, male, female, or whatever your ethnicity or gender you are. So, I said I wanted to go and play, say the character’s name is Tom, for instance. I want to play Tom because Tom’s circumstances are just so compelling—not because Tom is a black man. Don’t just hire me or not hire me because I’m a black man. It doesn’t always have to be about just race. Even though I have tattoos, I can be an astronaut. I can play an astronaut. I can do the research. I can jump into the character. I can find out what’s going on. And I think for me to break those, I started saying ‘no’ to a lot of stereotypical roles for myself. I said, ‘Allow me to play something that is just a person who happens to be black.’ And I think that’s where the conversation starts because we as actors are replicating life, a human experience, a human emotion, a human compassion. And we all read, eat and sleep, fear, love, laugh, can be sad, and be joyful. Let me take out the color for a moment and be inclusive with myself and of everyone else who’s going through a struggle.”
We all are inclusive by nature, eager to include more people, more love, more bliss, more joy, more satisfying movements within our creation process. Thus, the astonishing dance of asking and receiving, as well as consciously deciding which melody tempo we want to express ourselves through, will give us reins to waltz in any direction we desire.
“First and foremost, I started off my career with Miami City Ballet. I was a professional ballet dancer, and I’m still very into classical music. And the beautiful part about classical music, there are no lyrics. Because it’s just music and melody, it becomes a feeling. And so, your body starts to adjust to the feeling that the music is playing. Like Adagio, which is slow, your body will start to move very slowly, and it’ll take you to a world where you may dream like in fairy tales. If the music is Cardo, you start to feel a little bit more angsty. Then the music really starts to define your feelings. And even when I’m on set, I’ll put on my AirPods to listen to music. If I want to portray a certain emotion, I’ll listen to certain songs. It does give me the sensation from the inside out. That’s why I think music is so special. As a dancer, my body will start to react and move in response to the music. I marry these three elements: a feeling that comes inside, the innate physical feeling in my body, and just my thoughts. So, it’s kind of an amazing thing. And I think when you start out as a ballet dancer, you have no choice. But can’t do that because you’re not listening to words or the beat; you’re really just listening to the music, and your body starts to move. But whatever the music is, your body starts to sway in that direction, and you become a visual manifestation of what’s being heard,” Skyh says playfully.
Weola, the transformational teacher Kosta Trifunovic, once said, “It is an eternal movement between the question and the answer, between the focus and unfocus that causes this which you call vibration or oscillation to happen. The movement is what keeps creation or experience of the energy that you can sense through your physicality at all times.”
Skyh’s background as a dancer made him aware of the importance of body movement in his life. He says, “I am extremely aware of my body on set, which is really vital. I’ve just finished filming a project and can’t wait to tell you all about it here in Knoxville. And when you’re on set, of course, the camera has to follow you, and then you on the wide shots have to hit your mark. So, there’s a lot of times when I don’t need a mark because I’m so used to being really aware of exactly where my body is supposed to be at that time or remember if I use my left hand instead of my right hand in the second take because I’m a dancer. I have muscle memory. So, dancing has been extremely paramount in my career. I feel, and it’s physical. And as beings, we are very, very physical. I feel like it’s given me a naturalness to my acting because my body just naturally adapts to whatever’s going on. And that’s how you have to be as a dancer.”
Like every dancer who trains muscle memory, we all train our muscle of attention to look in one or another direction. Therefore, we create a momentum of what we see, which can be laser sharply focused or wide-open focused to infinite possibilities.
Skyh has also trained his flashlight of attention towards what he wants to accomplish. The actor can be seen as a lead on Tyler Perry’s BET+ series, All the Queen’s Men, starring as Amp. About his character, Skyh says, “The thing I loved about playing Amp was that he wasn’t a just kid that was put in jail because he was maybe on the street corner or killed someone, as one would think. Amp had a drinking problem because his parents were so powerful, and he was seeking his dad’s attention. Amp has this goal of being great. So, I resonate with that completely because, in my journey, nothing was going to get in the way of getting my goal. I don’t care if I was homeless. I was evicted from apartments a couple of times. I had repossessions, but nothing was going to get in the way—I’d always find a way. Last year, I valet parked cars and was constantly striving to be better. From episode one, Amp was trying to correct his wrongs. I really love that he was literally trying by any means necessary to not be a victim. So, that is very much myself at the same time.”
Then Skyh continued, “What’s really beautiful about All the Queen’s Men is that what society would deem social misfits come together and become a family. They’re there for each other regardless of their past. I want people to take away the fact that a book can’t be judged by its cover. You don’t know what happened to someone prior to their current circumstances. So, it gives a little deeper look into people’s lives and why they do the things they do. There’s so much division. If we would just give each other a little bit of grace and have a little bit of empathy in their circumstances, I think we can alleviate a lot of anarchy going on in the world.”
Like Skyh’s character Amp, the actor continuously aims to do better and expand. Now, Skyh is going over into the producing arena, inspired by his interest in experiencing the behind-the-camera of putting all the cooperative components of a project together. “In the steps of Will Smith, Michael B Jordan, Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington, and many other people that I admire, I love the process of putting it all together. I realized that from finding the story to the development phase, we are presenting it to the world as a great masterpiece,” Skyh shares excitedly.
We often look for something that is extraordinary so we can sense how powerful we are and celebrate ourselves. But if we take a moment to look within, to sense the beauty that surrounds us, we will realize that we are not only the creators of the masterpiece, but that we are the masterpiece itself.
“I am very fortunate and blessed to do what I love for a living. And, as a man, it’s insane that I always say, ‘God is in control.’ And each time I say it, I feel a wave of relief wash over me. So, I say what I want, and I put it out there in the universe. I work hard for it, and the biggest key is belief. And I believe it. I talk to God about everything. Sometimes, I sit throughout the day, thinking about things. I may not even use words, but I feel like faith and spirituality are just the core of my success, the core of everything. They make things that logically may not make sense to make sense. So, as I previously stated, faith is everything and beyond for me—everything.”
When we are experiencing any discomfort, at that moment, we can’t see the value of that situation. But by recognizing that there is value in every single experience, we know that once the storm has passed, we will be able to identify and appreciate the moments of challenge. And that’s true empowerment.
“I think you don’t turn it into an empowerment until after. Because it’s so hard when you’re going through a difficult moment. And I had my down moments. I had suicidal thoughts, which is why I’m such a big advocate for mental health. I think what kept me going was simply the fact that, deep down inside, I just knew it was going to pass. Sometimes, I wanted to quit. I definitely was exhausted and tired. I felt like I was a slave to my dreams and goals because I’m so ambitious. Sometimes, I would ask ‘God, just take the dream away from me.’ But my ego and pride kept me going. I know that ego has a negative connotation, but in this case, for me, ego is power,” Skyh says passionately.
“I love that I’m self-aware of my bad traits or things that I want to work on. And I have the ability to call myself out if I’m wrong. I like my accountability factor. I make sure I’m accountable for my actions, and I like the fact that I’m always ready to learn. I love my ambition. I admire my girlfriend, K.J. Smith, just because we’re two kids from the South with the same goals, and we were going to make it happen regardless of anything. And we were doing it in a way where we didn’t compromise who we are. And whoever is successful and has made it to the pinnacle of where they are now, I’m damn sure it is because they worked hard. And I love my limitless work ethic.”
Like Skyh, if we more often celebrate ourselves in a rampage of love and appreciation for who we are, we embody that love and, as a result, radiate that loving light to others.
Photography // Leigh Keily