FLYING SOLO: "It's about having an impact and making a positive difference."
You know you've begun to make your mark when your work starts attracting invitations bidding you to faraway locales like Zambia. As it happens, a trip to that southern African country ended up on Randy McLaren's itinerary this past August. The actor-spoken art artist was a guest of the Lusaka-based Barefoot Theatre, a non-profit group that is in the business of transforming the lives of street kids through performing arts initiatives like their theatre festival.
"They saw the work that I was doing online, especially what I have been doing with the Armadale Fire survivors, and they invited me to participate in the festival," explains the committed performer who, after striking out on his own a few years ago, has been making a name for himself in local arts circles with his uniquely entertaining brand of creative activism that blends riveting stage performance with sobering messages of social responsibility.
A Wolmers' and UWI Mona alum with ties to the Jamaica Youth Theatre, not to mention an exciting addition to the new generation of leading men in the creative arts, McLaren's efforts have been duly recognized at home also, with the prestigious Prime Minister's Youth Award, the Commonwealth Youth Award and a stint in Toronto, in addition to his African sojourn.
"It's not just about entertainment for me. It's about having an impact and making a positive difference," McLaren insists. As expected, he has big plans for the year ahead that will, hopefully, top the fantastic 2013 he's been having. The proceeds from his December 1 charity performance and birthday celebration at the Pantry in New Kingston will go towards funding an album, among other things.
"I'm really looking forward to putting together this album for next year and maybe an audiobook. The sky is no limit," the 26-year-old says. "I've been putting in the work, and getting to go to places like Africa says to me that the work is worth it and is paying off."