Today is a special day. Not only is this the first day I’ve posted two blogs in the same day but I’m bringing you a very special interview. Yes, I got to put my journalism hat on and speak with Francis, the peacock mascot of the new WANA International. So without further delay, I give you Francis!
Natalie: When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?
Francis: I was born in a chicken coop and raised by a family of Easter Eggers. My mother, being, well, a big chicken, never encouraged me to pursue much beyond the daily pecking out a living. I always knew I was different. I didn’t look like my sisters and brothers and they made fun of my different colors, because I wasn’t like them. But no matter how I tried to fit in, it never worked. That was part of how I started losing my feathers.
Bird-pattern-butt-baldness is never sexy.
I always loved to paint. I think it was because Easter was my favorite time. All the Pez egg dye, the glitter, the pizzazz. I didn’t know why we didn’t decorate the eggs all year long.
I was in the minority.
Natalie: Tell us about losing your job. Did your love for art help you cope?
Francis: No matter what I tried I could NOT learn Excel. I actually had a few feathers when I took to the position. The spreadsheets and Power Point presentations got the last few. Then typing…all hunt-and-peck.
I was terrified when I got fired. What was I going to tell my mom back at the henhouse? How was I going to scratch out a living? I was scared, but in a way, I felt liberated. That place had clipped my wings a long time ago, yet I was too numb to feel it.
Actually, my art didn’t help me cope at all. It was my calling all along, but I was too busy fitting in to see it.
Natalie: Why did you want the position as WANA International mascot?
Francis: Kristen called me. I’m just happy to have a job that allows me to do my art. Kristen heard my story and she said it reminded her of her own story. Years of trying to fit in and be normal, yet only being miserable until she was brave enough to embrace her calling, her art.
She felt a lot of creative people could relate to my story, that it might give them courage. She wanted to produce my story for WANA International and when she told me what WANA was all about? I was so stoked…and also broke and sleeping on a bench at the WANA Park. The theater people knew Kristen had been collecting peacocks for years, so they called her to come get me.
She bought me Subway.
Natalie: What does having a peacock as a mascot represent?
Francis: Well, Kristen was actually the one who revealed to me that I was adopted by chickens. She can see things like that. She is CRAZY intuitive. It’s like she knows your story better than you do.
Anyway, according to Kristen, that’s why I never fit in, because apparently, a lot of chickens take corporate jobs. She fell for the same thing. She told me that corporate jobs are simple. Show up, do your thing, go home.
No wonder I was miserable!
When I found out I was really a peacock, this HUGE weight lifted off my chest. I mean how many YEARS of therapy believing I was a funny-looking chicken! All the stupid self-talk, the self-help books:
I am a good chicken and people love chicken.
I feel like such an idiot.
But, I might write a memoir—From Chicken to Fabulous. We’ll see. After this first film, I am kind of digging being in the movies.
Natalie: As an artist, why do you feel WANA International is important to artists in this new digital age?
Francis: Because at WANA, there are no chickens. It’s okay to be who you are and embrace your art.
Natalie: Explain your artistic process and how do you feel WANA classes will help your continual growth?
Francis: I am still pretty new, so I don’t yet have a process other than showing up and doing the work, being open to listening to artists who know more than me. That is the great part about WANA. All the teachers are doing what they teach. No theory.
Natalie: As a bird, do you struggle fitting into an art community?
Francis: No, actually now that I realize I am not a plain old chicken, it is pretty cool being a peacock, and apparently the art community is FULL of peacocks. I feel right at home.
Natalie: How do you see WANA International helping your fellow artists?
Francis: The coolest thing is they will know they are not alone. I felt very alone for years, for most of my life. I didn’t fit in. I didn’t look, sound or think like my family, my friends or anyone at my job.
When I connected with the WANAs, I met all kinds of artists who were just like me. They had the same struggles and doubts, but they were so willing to help me even though I was new, because they, too, had once been new and lost. I was able to get honest feedback and tough love and a safe place to be…me.
That is a huge part of being successful, I think. I think you need love. Love is at the heart of WANA and that’s why it feels like home. A lot of us don’t have love at home and so WANA can be the home we never had, and that’s really cool. Because when you are loved, you feel like you can fly, like you can do anything. And it is that bravery, that rawness that makes art.
No love, no art. That simple.
Don’t forget to attend the #WANAPARTY on Twitter. Visit here for all the details.
I want to thank Francis for his time. I know that Kristen has him working very hard with the launch and that his time is extremely valuable. And don’t forget to check out Francis’ theatrical debut in his video below. Could Francis have a serious career on the screen? With a community and continued education from the Artistic Instructors at WANA, anything is possible.<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/42861786″>Francis Finds His Art</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user11832487″>WANA International</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>