Lenny Wright

Lenny Wright (Brownsville Recreation Center)

Lenny WrightI was born in St. Catherine, Jamaica. I like writing poetry and when I was in primary school I wrote poems, and they always said that my poems sounded very good. We all have a story, everybody. It’s just that some people are afraid to tell their story. I tell my story in poems. Everything that I feel about certain things, I write in a poem.

I came to the States in 1970 when I was nineteen. How did I get here? By the airplane of course! Hahaha. Actually my mother sponsored me and I came here to go to college, though I didn’t finish because when I got married my wife got sick and I had to drop out of college to take care of her. We had a daughter so I needed to be mommy and daddy for my daughter. She would come home from school and say, “Daddy! The kids don’t believe when I tell them that you comb my hair!”

I used to work for the Daily News in the circulation department. I also used to do real estate. I live and have always lived in Canarsie, Brooklyn; from 1970 to now that’s just about forty-two years. I feel like New York is home. I go to Jamaica almost every year on vacation, but I feel like this is home. As a matter of fact there are more Jamaicans in America than in Jamaica! Hahaha. As you can see, I like to joke a lot. I think I got it from my father; he was quite a humorous guy. He had a way to put anything so that you laughed. I remember one of his jokes when one of my neighbors was stealing food out of our pot. My niece called and said, “Dada, Monty’s in the pot!” And so my father called out and said, “Cover him up!” Hahaha! That was my father. Humor changes the atmosphere. If somebody says something negative to you, I just turn to humor. I remember an incident once when I started working at the Daily News. I got the job because at the time the government required that they employ more minorities. One day these white guys who worked there, who knew I’m from Jamaica, wanted to make a point that I’m from Jamaica. So they came up to me and said, “Hey Wright, do they have television in Jamaica?” And before I could answer he assumed that we don’t and said, “So what do you watch for fun then?” I said, “Oh, we watch fireflies!” After that they didn’t bother me anymore. If I had gotten defensive and said, “Of course we’ve got TV,” then they would have continued. So it’s always good when somebody tries to belittle you, that you help them to move along with humor. Then they don’t bother you anymore.

I was in a play once in Jamaica when I was in high school. It was called The Rose and the Ring. The Governor General came to watch the play and my picture was in The Daily Gleaner on the front page advertising the play. The part that I played was of the soldier—it was quite funny and good! And I used to do little plays at church where the Sunday school kids would participate and act in certain parts. I always liked to do plays because it’s like you’re being somebody else, and that’s me; I like to be somebody else. When you can play another person and play another role, it’s sometimes easier to be the role that you are. If you can be in somebody else’s place, then you can better handle your problems. So role-playing is very good.

I was impressed to find out that our dance group would be doing the Tempest. I was really enthused. When I got the phone call that I accepted to be in the play, I was really pleased. I’m going to bring to the play as many people as I’m allowed to carry!


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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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