Ryesha Higgs, the internationally celebrated Turks and Caicos Islands performer, who has recently landed a role in the Lion King Ensemble in the United Kingdom, is of the strong view that there can be a balance between academics and the performing arts.
Higgs, who recently completed her master’s degree in the Sciences, before pursuing her Bachelors Degree in Biology, told the FLOW in the Morning Tuesday show ‘She Will Lead’ with Sheba Wilson on RTC, that the balance can be struck through time management and organization.
“It is certainly not an easy balance. But it is one that I thankfully attribute to a lot of prayer and an incredibly amount of grace and blessing. But also of course time management and organization,” she said.
The former British West Indies Collegiate, Albany American Dance Theater, Long Island University Brooklyn and Kings College, UK graduate elucidated that the arts can be an exceptionally profitable career.
“I think that one thing that many parents who have children, who are interested in the arts don’t really weigh up is that it can be a lucrative career, and it can be something that follows you through,” she maintained, noting that it is just a matter of how you balance them both.
“I know in high school, explaining to people that I am interested in them both, it was always highlighted that it had to be a choice made…there had to be one or the other. And I think what I tried to do, and what sort of drives me in many ways is to show that it can actually look in any sort of way…the two can be balanced. Anything can be balanced.
“And so, for me, thankfully, with my bachelor’s, most of my job bookings and everything began to blow up at the end of my degree. Of course, that came with finishing a dissertation and finishing exams. And so, it was a relatively stressful period but thankfully I made it through,” she said.
Higgs further noted that it was during the height of her master’s degree study that she was cast into the Lion King Ensemble, and so, she had to balance study with the lengthy practice sessions, noting that it was both physically and emotionally exhausting.
“But thankfully, as I said, there was a lot of prayers, time management and a lot of organization, I was thankfully able to complete that master’s with a distinction,” she said.
The young talent, who performed in Spain at the MTV European Awards, and toured Japan, in addition to being featured in music videos and live performances, noted that growing up, being from a small island, and being a woman of color, coupled with not having much access to the outside world through social media, did not see herself then as an international performer.
However, she said the Turks and Caicos Friends of the Arts Foundation (TCFAF), and a few other persons in her life, including her parents, got the chance to travel to see the world of art, and then it hit her that the arts is big business.
“Seeing children my age, who, some of them didn’t even go to school. They would be home schooled and danced all day with the hopes of becoming professional dancers. That was the end goal. And I think for me at the moment, that’s when realized that this is a profession, this is something that can be lucrative.
“And even still now, I think before I was able to land the Lion King, being an adult and maneuvering and discussing things with my friends and being exposed to some of the major successful dancers in the UK, really seeing that it is a more than lucrative career path, especially when blended in with other skill sets and other assets,” she said.
She described her experiences so far as being quite a ride.
“I have been to quite a few places and have done quite a few things. But it has certainly been a journey that is inspiring me and inspiring so many others, and sort of showing me back home the importance of fostering creativity and the arts and supporting that,” she said.
Higgs told Wilson that it is important to have authenticity as a character. She said being authentic is holding to one’s truth and listening to oneself more than anyone else.
“At the basic core of it is standing in your truth and knowing who you are and listening to who you are more than anything. I think it’s a lot about knowing who you are to show others, and really listening to who you are more than anything. I think its about knowing who you are to show others, and really living your truth, and listening to the small, loud, whatever voices that is inside of you that tells you this is my direction and honoring that,” she instructed.
Higgs pointed out that unfortunately, many people go through life not being able to realize their passion, noting that such occurrence could stem from a lack of access, lack of opportunity, lack of options. Nonetheless, she encouraged perseverance.
“And I think, especially in a smaller community like this, it is really important that each individual person, whether or not you sacrificed a piece of your authenticity to pursue a career path, always try to hone in on the little interest that you had from childhood, that you probably never pursued.
“It does not have to end up as something that has become a lucrative business career, but it can be something that nourishes your soul, really,” she urged.