It is gorgeous, and it is timely, the latest collaboration of James Forrester and Sofonda, is “great showmanship”.

Last week they teased us on social media that something is coming, and on Monday their video for “This is Me” dropped. So, I reached out to the creative collaborators for a bit of a chat.

Sofonda, I remember seeing on Facebook that you loved “The Greatest Showman”, as have many people (don’t hate me, I haven’t see it yet), so not surprised by the song choice. Who convinced whom to do this song?

Sofonda: It was a random movie night and I had no clue what I was getting into when we randomly chose to see THE GREATEST SHOWMAN. To my surprise the movie engaged me. The song THIS IS ME just gave me all the feels and was pleasantly surprised at how it moved me. So, the song you can say Inspired me. what I love about this song is that it is empowering. Its the voice that says its ok to be different. Celebrate it, Love it and Live it.

Where did you shoot the video? This is such a great looking set.

Sofonda: James was actually on vacation in Thailand for two weeks, but we kept each other updated on how we were gonna tackle the whole project. Fly2.0 was generous enough to lend us a hand and so I took it upon myself to transform Fly into a circus. I decorated the dancefloor and wanted to make sure we had a BIG TOP feel and authenticity to give the talented performers and the song justice. And, I had my girl Donnarama make a life like elephant. I made sure the set was ready, and that each hour was scheduled for a specific scene. Luckily, I had owned circus hoops and Scarlet owned the circus silks since we trained in a circus school once upon a time.

Wow, I didn’t even notice that this was Fly, good job on the décor. Question for James, how much work is producing something like this? I mean the filming alone must take hours.

James: The filming hours for this project actually only took about 4 hours. Sofonda did a great job in preparing the set, the queens and the dancers so everything was pretty much taken care off when I arrived. I set up my equipment and we got straight into it. I was pretty impressed that everyone had the routines down and didn’t need much more rehearsing before we started rolling.

Then probably there is a lot of work to get the performers ready for filming I’m assuming?

Sofonda: I organized rehearsal times and taught everyone the routine and choreographed some extra filler shots that we could possibly need. we did refer to an actual video on YouTube with the choreography from the movie and discovered that MICHAEL GRACEY, the film’s director, was publicly inviting everyone to create their own versions of the song This is me. So, it was comforting to know that we had permission indirectly and that we had freedom to make it our own (check it out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k0wkfigLNg)

I like the diversity of the queens and the dancers Sofonda. How are casting decisions made?

Sofonda: I found queens who fell in love with the movie and love the song and we just gelled. The idea behind the song hits home and it resonates with the LGBT community to the core which makes it really special. I wanted to incorporate queens who had the skill sets for such a skill driven theme. By that I mean gymnasts, fire eaters, acrobats, actors, people with just an approachable charming personality on camera, Bearded queens as well. A lot more performers were asked but scheduling conflicts had prevented them to be a part of this project.

Gorgeous costumes by the way.

Sofonda: I hand picked most of the costumes from my closet and dressed each dancer and a few queens with the exception of one or two who has their outfits specifically made.

There are a lot of people in the video, we don’t want to miss anyone, but who are some of the performers?

Sofonda: The queens that were involved included Mona Moore, Scarlet Bobo, Yaya Torres, Mochila Lit, Dyna Thirst and Madyson Hytes.

This is not your first collaboration is it?

James: Sofonda and I have collaborated many times over the past year and a half. In fact, it was because of Sofonda that I even started doing any kind of productions. We did Thriller (Watch it Here), and that was one of the biggest endeavours as we stepped out of the comfort zone and actually redid the music and recorded the vocals along with creating the music video. That one took over a month to come to completion. Again, we got many other queens involved and kicked off the Halloween season in the best way! Running through a graveyard at 4am however was not my favouring thing to have ever had to shoot.

Both of you are community spirited, and you like bringing creative people together to create bigger projects. Why are these creative collaborations important to our community?

Sofonda: This is a Passion Project, which means everyone did this for the love of the art. So, sharing this passion project to the world means a lot to us because we put our heart and soul in it. The dancers and models used in this video are ones I’ve worked with since the inception of my career so it was most definitely a family reunion and a sisterhood. I have strengthened my relationships with each and every one of them. Isn’t it crazy how powerful one song can do.

James: I love bringing the community together. It is important to show that we are one community and despite any internal dramas that we have within it, we still are there to support each other and push each other to do better things. Every time I do one of these projects, the people involved tell me it was one of the best things they have ever been involved in, and its not due to the fact they are in a video and showing off their talent, its simply because they get to meet other performers and talents, and we all remind each other just how much love we have within our community.

What’s next?

James: I have so much upcoming projects I am working on. Within our community though, I have been in meetings with a couple of queens who I have never worked with before and I am so excited to show their unique styles off. I won’t give any names out just yet though … but it definitely will be something to see! They are still in the planning stages so you may not see something for a month or so.

Any notes to wrap up?

Sofonda: Whenever I work with James even though it’s long hours, we know at the end of the tunnel that it is worth doing. We just feel it. Its always fun and yes there is most definitely a lot of work involved but we do enjoy it and love what we do. Its a LABOUR OF LOVE, its our baby. James, when am I getting child support lol? Just kidding.

LOL funny. Well, thank you both, it is such a joy to see creativity in our community, so my biggest applause to both of you, and all who were involved. Beautiful work.

About the Author

Antoine has on numerous occasions that everything he does is "a love letter to the LGBTQ community". and he truly loves this community. A 29 years' media and marketing leader, Antoine is the publisher of theBUZZ, The Pink Pages Directory, PinkPlayMags, and a magazine for Durham Region families The Local Biz Magazine, and is the host of talk show "On the Couch". On his off time he is usually involved in community organizations and causes.