So much can change in 10 years. Take a moment and think back to a decade ago. The first iPhone had just been released and many people were just starting to sign up for a Facebook account. Carrie Underwood received the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, and the final book in the Harry Potter series had just been released. George W. Bush was in office as the 43rd President of the United States, and Sarah Palin was still in her first year as Governor of the State of Alaska.
Meanwhile, Scott Turner Schofield premiered his show, “Becoming a Man in 127 EASY Steps” at the Capitol Hill Center in Seattle, and Terra Naomi performed her hit song “Say It's Possible” during Live Earth at the Wembley Stadium, following a personal invitation from Al Gore.
Schofield and Naomi will both perform on Saturday July 1st in Alaska. Those familiar with the theater scene in the Anchorage area will likely be familiar with the work of Scott Turner Schofield. From 2010 to December of the following year, Schofield served as the artistic director of the Out North Contemporary Art House. His conception of the Art House Residency Program was funded by ArtPlace America for $250,000. Prior to taking that position he was awarded the Gant Gaither Award from the 2007 Princess Grace Awards, as well as the first artist addressing the topic of transgender issues to receive a Creation Fund Grant via the National Performance Network. Since departing Alaska, Scott has continued to perform, write and inspire. He spent time in France, touring the 2012-13 season in “La Faculte'” by Christophe Honore', and in 2015 took on the role of Nick on The Bold and the Beautiful, becoming the first openly transgender actor on daytime TV.
Schofield continues his advocacy and education work, and has noticed changes there as well. He tells the story of a recent time, teaching an entire seventh-grade class in order to raise awareness of transgender issues. He began, as he often does by asking how many people knew what the word transgender meant. Every child raised their hand. As he told me, “I have been out for 20 years, that's 10 times longer than Caitlyn Jenner.”
He also still works as an actor, and says, “it's the same work, but the gigs have gotten bigger, and the work is more meaningful.”
He will again perform “Becoming a Man in 127 EASY Steps” on Saturday, but like every time he performs it, the show will be different than ever before. Each night, the audience is given the opportunity to choose which of the steps Schofield will tell them about. It could be about his experience getting a membership at LA Fitness and using the locker room for the first time, and the significance of the towel, or perhaps a different locker room story; like the time he was beaten up by a woman who looked like his mom, before he identified as transgender, simply for looking to masculine, as a woman.
The performance this weekend will also be different, because it is being done in an entirely new way. Returning to his previous experience with Out North, he will be utilizing the technical skills of Ryan Anderson, and says that the show will be presented in true Out North style. It will “be exciting, and well done. You are going to have a good time,” regardless of the fact that it is happening at the Alaska Experience Theater.
In a time when transgender issues are once again a hot button political issue, this show could not be more topical. This is “a show for people that want to understand transgender issues, a show for men who want to think about what it is to be a man, a show for people who want to think about how to tell their stories,” Schofield said.
He is also considering another medium when preparing for the show, deciding how it will be made into a feature film. Working with producer and director Andrea James, best known for Alec Mapa: Baby Daddy and Transcendent, Schofield will be making 127 short films about each step, finding the best 90 minutes, and making a film for the festival circuit.
Perhaps the most special element of all though, will be the accompaniment of his partner, Terra Naomi on the trip. Schofield is excited to show her “the history, the community and the beauty of Alaska.”
Terra is the first music star from YouTube, signed by major labels Universal Music Publishing Group Island Records. She had created a worldwide following with her “virtual summer tour” online, and hundreds of fans were creating covers of her song “Say It's Possible”.
She first went independent, shipping 5000 CD's of her EP, ‘Virtually’ in a month. Terra has said that signing a major record deal nearly destroyed her career. She was signed to the same label as Amy Winehouse, and her first record with them was a flop, and it was an album she didn't like. Her fans were seeing her as a sellout. For her next album, ‘To Know I'm OK’, she was funded by fans via Pledgemusic. Naomi also had one of the largest IndieGoGo campaigns ever, raising over $50,000 through a campaign leveraged on her social connections. While in town Terra will be doing more than just working with Schofield on his show. Her Alaska debut will be at Williwaw on Saturday night, in addition to workshops for independent artists, and her appearance at a celebration at Out North.
In 10 years many things have changed for both of these artists. Schofield has received accolades, awards, and noticed changes both politically and socially, especially in the areas that he is addressing. Naomi has been a successful indie artist, and an unsuccessful artist while signed to a major label, back to an indie success. Some things never change however. 10 years ago Schofield was telling stories, and Naomi was singing songs. Both artists will do just that on Saturday night, but maybe this time, they are doing it their way.