Tavika Kersey & Tionna Martinez

(The DreamYard Project)Tavika Kersey & Tionna Martinez

I’m Tavika Kersey and I was born and raised in the Bronx. I attended Public School 70, I went to Junior High School 22, and then I went to Morris High School. I graduated from Morris High School and went to work for Verizon. I left Verizon after ten years and moved to Georgia to try to start a restaurant. Opening a restaurant is hard, especially when all you know how to do is cook. I eventually came back to New York and I’m rebuilding now with my two girls. We’re in the middle of the process I suppose, but some progress is always better then no progress.

I learned to cook from my grandmother. I stayed in the kitchen with her coming up. I love to cook mac and cheese. I love to make barbeque chicken, smothered steak, and roast beef. I like cooking collared greens and sweet potatoes—all that type of stuff. I love to cook! I also like baking. From scratch I can make lemon and red velvet cake. I can do cookies from scratch and cheesecake. I have to say I’m pretty good. I was trying to do a soul food restaurant, but I found that down South, people don’t want buy soul food. They can cook their own soul food. But we’re going to try again! I’m going to try again up here in New York at some point.

My girls—God bless them—they are very instrumental in keeping me leveled out. My nine year old, Tionna, and then I have a sixteen year old, Khaiya. Khaiya has been attending DreamYard consistently since she was about twelve. I think DreamYard is a great, great tool for the children in the community. Without DreamYard my daughter would have been so distracted, and so sucked in by the negativity that was going on in the area that we were living in at that time. Bringing my daughter to DreamYard was the best decision I’ve made in a long time. I don’t trust my own decisions sometimes, but that was a very good decision. Her grades improved in school, and I definitely give credit to the DreamYard staff for bringing her around. She’s at a 90 GPA. She’s getting to go to an intensive art class that she was invited to attend, all expenses paid, because she finally got her grades where they needed to be. She’s going into to the eleventh grade, she’s got her grades up, she’s got her mind focused, and I’m like yes, yes, yes! And my youngest Tionna is good too. DreamYard helped get her into a good school. Tim at Dreamyard found a good school for her and made a referral. She’s at an 86 in math and maintaining a 100 in English. So she’s doing well. I’m so happy. I’m just feeling relaxed and like I can kind of think about me now.

I actually used to love Shakespeare in high school. But I was always very nervous, so that’s probably why I never really got involved. Being in the Tempest now, I feel like I have evolved greatly because I’m not concerned. I’m still scared, but I’m not concerned. I’m more excited about being a part of something so big. Something so anticipated. Because there are a lot of people now, talking about this, and I’m like, “Oh I didn’t even know so many people were aware!”


About thepublictheater

Founded by Joseph Papp as the Shakespeare Workshop and now one of the nation’s preeminent cultural institutions, The Public is an American theater in which all of the country’s voices, rhythms, and cultures converge.
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