Saturday, 31 October 2020

MAN IN THE MIRROR: Self-discovery and artistic zeal bring it home for Ashé’s Marlon Tomlinson

QUICK STUDY: “My ultimate goal, really, is to serve as a creative director for young artists,” Tomlinson says.

MARLON Tomlinson was searching. That’s how he explains the post-adolescent period of his life marked by a stark rebellious streak – wild red hair, manic life-of-the-party energy – that people came to associate with him. “I think I was using that period of craziness to define my role as an artist. But as you start to understand yourself you stop searching and you start honing,” he tells TALLAWAH

As he got deeper into his 20s, more knowledgeable about the world around him and more sure of what he wants out of life, he called off the search. He’s found his purpose, and what a personal transformation it has brought. “I’d say I grew up,” he admits in a masterpiece of understatement. “I’m now a proud loner.” Indeed, the laid-back, reflective and calm Marlon Tomlinson of today is a far cry from the wild child of a decade ago. 

You’ll get similar narratives from young artists across the Caribbean: they had some maturing to do in pursuit of their passion and purpose. On a deeper level though, what precipitated Tomlinson’s evolution was a deep desire to commence a fresh chapter in his life. He got it. 

At the Ashé Company, where he’s been working since 2010, Tomlinson wears many hats. “I’m an artistic executive. But I’m also a dancer, a choreographer, a singer and an actor. I want to master my craft to provide a range of services. My ultimate goal, really, is to serve as a creative director for young artists,” shares the Edna Manley College grad, who holds a BFA in Performance and Choreography. 

To wit, his Edna Manley College years were pivotal to his evolution. “It helped me get more grounded. I had to become a blank canvas all over again,” he remembers. “It was a big challenge for me. But by my third year I was getting A’s. It felt like for the first time I was finally able to express and be my true creative self.” 
Longtime colleague Ifidel Williams has witnessed Tomlinson’s growth up close. “When he just came to Ashé we used to laugh at him because he was really awkward,” Williams recalls. “He’s become the consummate professional; someone who is serious about an international career.” 

Tomlinson’s work at Ashé is two-fold: artistic pursuits and health-care/outreach. As a case manager in their outreach department, he helps young HIV+ persons get the help they need. “It is fulfilling. It’s like you’re a humanitarian,” he says. “My responsibility is to provide them with information and to assist them emotionally. It helps them get back to appreciating their self-worth again.” 

At the same time, he’s been building Brand Marlon Anthony. “Everything I do is deliberate and intentional. I’ve found my purpose, and I’m moving more and more in that direction. No distractions,” says the young artist, who took home a Prime Minister’s Youth Award in 2019 and has offered his dance/choreography skills to a range of local projects, including the Wolmer’s Dance Troupe annual season and music videos for such stars as Jada Kingdom and the African act Falana. His dream job? To join Rihanna’s creative team. “I want the opportunities to come,” he says. “It’s part of building my legacy.”

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