Born in Dandenong Victoria and raised in Campbelltown NSW to South African parents, Candy Bowers is an award winning writer, hip hop artist, educator, director, arts worker, theatre maker and social activist. Named on the top 100 list of Creative Catalysts for the Creative Sydney Festival and winner of the 2008 British Council for the Arts Realise Your Dream award, Candy has been working as a professional artist and arts worker for over eight years. Candy is the Youth Engagement Officer at Powerhouse Youth Theatre (PYT) and Director of the Power Up Ensemble’s devised show: Forever-ever? What if the clock stopped ticking… playing at venues in Fairfield, Bankstown and Liverpool NSW in early August. Candy is also touring her one woman show Who’s that chik? The tale of a brown girl with big dreams. The next stop is the Victorian Arts Centre in the Fairfax Studio during the Melbourne Fringe Festival (September 30th- October 4th.) In 2009 Candy will also be working on a hip hop adaption of As You Like It with the title of Arden for Bell Shakespeare Company’s Minds Eye creative development program. In in her spare time she has been consulting and factitating on Outreach Workshops for Playwriting Australia, mentoring young rappers and running hip hop classes at schools around Western Sydney.
Candy’s dream is for the Australian stage, page and screen to be a place where everyone feels comfortable, can see themselves reflected and is welcome. Whether developing young artists or working on her own writing and music her objective is to bring voice and attention to the stories of Australians from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Candy graduated from the three year Acting course at NIDA in 2001 and created the cult hip hop comedy act SISTA SHE in 2002. With SISTA SHE Candy performed at The Sydney Opera House Studio, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Adelaide Cabaret Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Scotland.) She also wrote and starred in SHE TV for Channel V and appeared on light entertainment programs across the ABC, SBS and the Ten Network.
On the Couch with Candy Bowers
February 26, 2019 – On the Couch
Who is Candy Bowers?
Candy Bowers is an ever-evolving radical queer story maker, lyricist, teacher, truth teller and conscious outlier. I have spent the last 20 years writing and performing on stages across “Australia” (this stolen land on which sovereignty has not been ceded) and the around the globe, from Edinburgh to South Africa.
What would you do differently to what you do now?
If I had a crystal ball, I would have tried to circumvent a bunch of relationships with abusive collaborators and partners that blocked my buoyancy as an artist… but then again perhaps the art to come wouldn’t be as potent. Perhaps I’d just have given less fucks during my career more of the time… Imma make up for that in the next leg.
Who inspires you and why?
Audre Lorde inspires me because she wrote when no one was listening and put words to my existence long before I arrived. Lorde is my litany for survival and the embodiment of ubuntu. Lauryn Hill inspires me because she broke every record and filled my generation of Afro-femmes with ourselves back unto ourselves. She unleashed an undeniable voice and visibility for black women in hip hop. Lebo Mashille inspires me because in her I see the South Africa that is and could be. Wangechi Mutu and Nick Cave (the black queer American Installation Artist) bring visions of possibility, consciousness and human connectivity. Janelle Monae, Tessa Thompson, Childish Gambino, Laura Mvula, Ava Duvernay, Viola Davis, Lena Waithe, Steven Oliver, Indya Moor, Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyongo inspire me with their power, fierceness, choices and craft. Larrikiah poet Laniyuk moves and relocates, grounds and opens ground in ways that only a first woman poet can command. Leah Purcell revisions histories and remodels pathways with a realness that I have been inspired by since I first saw her onstage at Belvoir St Theatre as a teenager. But my current heart-throb is Lizzo, she is everything: talented af, unapologetic, live, juicy and hella funny.
What would you do to make a difference in the world?
To make a difference in this world and this country I would abolish prisons and invest in conscious decolonized education. I would shift policies that keep black women (especially trans women) the most raped, abused, violated and missing across the world. I would prescribe scholarship and invest in young people. I would shake foundations and smash the patriarchy. I’d nourish poetry and books, film and music from first peoples and conscious outliers. I’d fund music schools for femmes of colour, fuelling the next generation of drummers, horn players and beat producers. I’d make sure there were as many diverse bodies on television and in films as possible, I’m super bored of watching skinny able-bodied white folks in central roles, I mean some of my closest friends are skinny and white and they’re even sick of the body fascism on our screens. I’d dismantle white supremacy and ableism and replace it with a human approach. Easy.
Favourite holiday destination and why?
At the moment my favourite holiday destinations are Indonesia, New York and Cape Town for the serenity, music and culture respectively. I love Scotland too, and Montreal. In general, I’m looking for good food, beautiful scenery and mediation or music, theatre, fashion and galleries.
When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
When in Melbourne I take out-of-towners to restaurants and clubs. I love all the City spots – Supernormal, Chin Chin and Cookie (because you can dance one floor up as well). I follow DJ’s Mz Rizk and Colette across town because they always play my jams. I just discovered Williamstown Beach too – so fish and chips at dusk and a dip during the January heat is my new staple.
What are you currently reading?
She Begat This, 20 years of the Miseduction of Lauryn Hill by Joan Morgan, The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne and Fucking A by Suzan Lori Parks.
What are you currently listening to?
Lizzo. L-Boogie. Laura Mvula. Mumu Fresh. Anderson Paak. Sampa the Great. Kaiit. Kira Puru. Mojo Juju. Missy Elliot. Cardi B. Beyonce. Solange. Lianne La Havanas. Alice Russell. Aretha. Otis. Marvin . Big Freedia.
Nieces. Poetry. Excellent sex. Giggles with old friends. Roasted eggplant in tomato ragu.
What does the future hold for you?
Emmys and Oscars of course… lol. I’m at critical crossroads in my career moving from the stage into filmmaking. I am transitioning from the ephemeral to the immortal, on the cusp of a discipline switch so my life as a storyteller is about to change in a big way. My future fruit will involve films and series that speak to and come from my heart. I’m currently the recipient of the Australians In Film LA mentorship program (12 months) and I’m attached to Peter Saji the Executive Producer of Black-ish (ABC). I’m also a part of the Arena Media family and I have my first Indie Feature on the slate. I’m being mentored by Louise Gough and Rob Connolly here and surrounded by black excellence in the US. Pretty dope. I plan to do what I’ve done in theatre and comedy for the last 20 years – make space and hijack centre stage with stories, characters and bodies that the world has rarely heard from. In the short term I’m touring my show Australian Booty with Regional Arts Victoria in March and out to Merrigong Theatre in August; I’m directing the first grad show for 2019 at the VCA (Acting) in April and creating a web-series based on my visual art work “King Shit and Lady Muck. Decolonise the fuck out!”