We had the good fortune of connecting with Miki Vale and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Miki, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
As a Hip Hop artist and writer, I have my hands in a lot of projects. When the pandemic shut everything down in March, it seems it flipped a creativity switch for me. I’ve been very, very busy during the pandemic. One of the projects I’m most proud of is launching SoulKiss Theater, an arts and healing space for queer Black womxn. SoulKiss Theater is new but SoulKiss as a brand has a long, rich history. Back In 2007 I began curating spaces for queer Black womxn in San Diego, with collaboration from producing partner DJ Niomiesoulfly. These events were known across Southern California as SOULKISS, a magical event series unlike anything else for Black womxn in the region. Over the course of over 8 years, we produced over 400 events, from weekly club nights to game nights to open mics and Pride parties, etc. We were BUSY. At the end of 2015, Niomie and I decided to retire SoulKiss events in order to pursue our individual goals. In the years following SoulKiss, by chance and happenstance, after taking part in The Old Globe’s Community Voices playwriting workshop, I became involved with theatre. As I got more involved I noticed the need for more Black womxn’s stories in the art from. I also saw that theatre is an effective way to connect and build community, something very much needed during this era of quarantine and social distancing. To create more pathways to platforms for Black womxn’s voices and stories, and to cultivate more spaces for community, celebration, and healing, I launched SoulKiss Theater in July 2020. SoulKiss Theater embodies more than just theatre though. It is a space to learn and cultivate skills in the arts sector. So right now, we’re starting with playwriting workshops but as time goes on we will be delving into screenwriting, podcasting, radio plays, audiobooks and more. It’s a space for people who think “I wish I could do that but I don’t know how or where to start” to get the tools and the opportunity to actually DO that thing that they don’t know how to do or where to start. It’s a space for endless artistic possibility. The pandemic has put a little damper on some of the plans but when we are able to gather in person again we’ll be hosting film screenings, live readings and in-person workshops as well. We are currently a little more than halfway through our very first 10 week playwriting workshop (held virtually over Zoom) and I couldn’t be more excited or proud of the womxn in the group. They have created a wide array of amazing stories and we’ll be having a virtual reading of their plays November 21.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Being an artist is easy. Being a full-time artist surviving from your art… not so easy! I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve continued to follow the path my heart beats no matter what. I’m also proud of the fact that I haven’t confined myself to any boxes. Whether it’s creating music, DJing, writing a play, producing events or teaching others to do all of the above, I always do whatever feels right in the moment. And I don’t compromise the integrity of my art for anyone or thing. That’s something that has taken a lot of trial and error to learn… if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not. I continue to create art and experiences that feel right to me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If a friend was visiting the area I’d pick up take out from Plumeria or Bahn Thai or Gihon Ethiopian. Then we’d go eat at a secret spot I spend a lot of time at that overlooks downtown and Coronado Bridge. It’s super lowkey though and I like it that way so I can’t tell where.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’ve had so many amazing, supportive people in my corner over the course of my career. One I have to shout out is Old Globe Associate Director of Arts Engagement Katherine Harroff. She’s the creator of the Globe’s Community Voices playwriting program and she has encouraged me (and given me a gentle push) every step of the way. Over the course of the pandemic she has kept me on my toes with deadlines for different writing projects and that has forced me to keep being creative. And when I told her about my idea of SoulKiss Theater she helped make it come to life and I am endlessly grateful for her belief in me and my abilities.
Xavier Bailey, Sharisse Coulter, Nick Isabella