We chatted with Pendarvis about all that goes into being an event host, social media personality, community advocate and lifelong Washingtonian.
Rayceen Pendarvis, known as the high priestess of love, the queen of the shameless plug, the empress of pride and the goddess of D.C., has been at the forefront of almost every modern social and civil rights movement in our nation’s Capital. After presenting at the Woolly Mammoth gala earlier this year, we caught up with Pendarvis to talk connection to the theatre arts and strong bonds to D.C.
District Fray: We saw you present at the Woolly Mammoth gala earlier this year. What are your ties to local theatre?
Pendarvis: My love of the theatre started at a young age when I would attend both big and small productions in D.C. with my family. I’ve been a dramaturg and I once had a small role in a play, so I understand and appreciate the hard work of those involved. I’ve particularly enjoyed having had the opportunity to host many talk backs at several D.C. theaters; I’ve enjoyed chatting with actors, directors and playwrights. D.C. has some of the most talented people in theatre.
Music is particularly important to me because it is such a dynamic art form. It can make you dance, laugh, cry or all three at the same time. I was a member of a vocal trio in the early 1990s, so I know the challenges of being creative and how treacherous the industry can be. I have great respect for those who persevere. Not only have I had some memorable backstage conversations at various venues, but I have had the honor of introducing several singers as a special emcee. I was particularly touched when singers Melba Moore and Chandra Currelley asked me to welcome them to the stage at Blues Alley when they each had shows there.
What do you do outside of work to keep ideas fresh and stay connected to the city?
Outside of work, I enjoy reading, watching film classics, listening to music, and attending concerts, plays and community events. My love of books is something passed on to me by my late mother. I’ve had the opportunity to interview some fantastic authors and poets over the years, including Jericho Brown, not long before he won the Pulitzer Prize. Sometimes I knew them before they were published and I’m so happy for them when they receive their accolades, including George M. Johnson, who I knew as a community advocate in D.C. before the success of “All Boys Aren’t Blue.” I’ve also cherished the times I’ve hosted events at DC Public Library. D.C. has an outstanding library system.
Why is D.C. the place for you?
D.C. is my hometown. I’ve lived here all my life, and I plan on staying here. If the theatre, music and literature aren’t reasons enough to love the District, I love D.C. as my roots, my foundation and my community.
This year, Pendarvis was honored at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s gala before their upcoming season, which is a celebration of LGBTQIA+ voices and stories that confront today’s world in surprising ways. Learn more about Pendarvis by following along on Instagram @rayceenpendarvis.
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