A Black Girl and Purple Pens Leaving Her Mark on the Culture

In a world where the arts are often regarded as a side hustle, Jaylene Clark Owens debunks myths and gives life to authentic representation, one performance at a time. This Harlem native, now a Philadelphia resident, is a force to reckon with—a Barrymore and AUDELCO award-winning actress, an impactful spoken word poet, and a playwriting prodigy. In an exclusive chat, Owens shares her journey, her passion for storytelling, and how she uses her artistic talents to celebrate diversity and foster inclusion.

My story is one of a Black woman who has consistently dedicated her life to pursuing the arts… to inspire someone to pursue the thing they love to do.

A Black Girl and Her Braids

One of Owens’ recent triumphs is her viral spoken word piece, “A Black Girl and Her Braids.” The creation of this compelling narrative was serendipitous, conceived while Owens was admiring her knotless braids in the mirror during a vacation to Los Angeles. Within moments, the first five lines were born, captured as a Voice Note on her phone.

“I really wanted to create a piece that highlighted the joy so many Black women feel when having braids, as well as highlight the beauty of a braided Black woman.”

The poem is an effervescent blend of personal celebration and political advocacy, weaving in information about The Crown Act, which aims to end hair discrimination. Owens is committed to using her poetry as a conduit for education, ensuring Black women have the freedom to adorn their hair in braids, both casually and professionally.

The Universal Language of Storytelling

What’s the undercurrent that animates Owens’ varied pursuits? It’s a genuine passion for storytelling. Whether through her mesmerizing performances or the character she plays, Owens has an uncanny ability to activate empathy, offering glimpses into other perspectives.

Through storytelling, she hopes to sow seeds of harmony instead of discord, making the world a slightly better place one tale at a time.

Storytelling gives us a way to identify with each other, and for us to have a better understanding of one another.

The Artist at Her Most Authentic

When it comes to her multiple artistic mediums, Owens feels most at home when she is the architect of her words. While she can embody other roles authentically, her spoken word performances are where you’ll find her at her rawest and most honest. The path to stardom has not been an easy journey. In a profession where rejection is par for the course, Owens relies heavily on her faith, trusting that each missed opportunity is a stepping stone to something greater.

“Being an artist is a CHALLENGING career choice… What’s for me, is for me.”

This resilient mindset has allowed her to navigate the highs and lows of her career, unswayed and undeterred.

The Caribbean Cadence

Owens proudly acknowledges her roots in the U.S. Virgin Islands, integrating her Caribbean heritage into the characters she portrays and the poems she writes. “If there are any roles related to being Caribbean/West Indian, best believe I am auditioning!” she declares.

By just being herself, Owens contributes to the broader conversations about diversity and representation in the entertainment industry.

I am a Black person, I am a woman, I am a dark-skinned Black woman, I have West Indian heritage. These are not things I can turn on and off, so I bring them, proudly, into every space.

The Magic of the Purple Pen

When asked about her creative process, Owens shares a quirky detail: she writes her poetry exclusively with purple pens. This unique ritual is part of her larger method, which involves multiple notebooks, a rhyming dictionary, and her computer.

To those trying to find their voice and pursue their passions, Owens has straightforward advice: Keep trying. Stay ready. Create your own opportunities.

“Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready! Opportunities can come out of the blue… Continue to build up your arsenal of talent.”

What’s Next?

Owens is excited about her upcoming JCO Merch collection, which aligns with her spoken word poetry EP, “A Black Girl and Her Hair.” She is also scheduled to perform in various poetry events this September, promising her fans a lot to look forward to.

When pondering the legacy she wants to leave behind, Owens hopes her art will continue to “captivate, motivate, and educate” for generations to come.

“It is my prayer that my work continues to live on through my books, my videos, my plays, my on-screen roles, and anything else I am proud to put out into the world.”

Oh, and for a dash of fun: Owens is one of the few artists to win First Place in the Apollo Theater Amateur Night competition using spoken word poetry. But then again, if you’ve ever heard her perform, that’s hardly a surprise.

Jaylene Clark Owens is a symphony of what’s possible when you are unapologetically you in a world that often feels segmented and discordant. With each word, performance, and venture, she’s crafting a narrative far larger than herself that invites us all to be a part of her illuminating world.

Jaylene Clark Owens is an award-winning actress and acclaimed spoken word poet from Harlem, NY.
Facebook/IG/YouTube/TikTok @jayleneclarkowens

Twitter @jaylene_c_owens

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