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How Are We Coping With Self Isolation: Insight From Around the Country And The World With Soara-Joye Ross

How Are We Coping With Self Isolation: Insight From Around the Country And The World With Soara-Joye Ross

New York last saw Soara-Joye Ross in City Center’s Off-Center production of Promenade and John Doyle’s reimagined, Carmen Jones that garnered her a Lucille Lortel Award, Drama Desk & Audelco Nomination! Broadway: Les Misérables, Dance of the Vampires. National Tour: The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess. Favorites: The First Noel (The Apollo), Disenchanted (The Westside), Dessa Rose (Lincoln Center), Single Black Female (Playwrights Horizons, Colman Domingo), Jerry Springer the Opera (Carnegie Hall), Anything Goes as Reno Sweeney (Arena Stage). 

Soara-Joye Ross Promenade

Film: Garden State. TV: “The Flight Attendant” (HBO), “Crashing” (HBO). Training: AMDA. “Everything is done in Loving Memory of my mom, Rita.”

Soara-Joye Ross in Ragtime

T2C: How are you dealing with home containment in Queens, New York? 

Soara-Joye Ross: Honestly, dealing with home containment here in Queens has been a one day at a time thang. I breathe deeply, pray and meditate daily and continue to count my blessings. I also choose to laugh a whole bunch so my silliness helps a lot. 

T2C: What would you say is the difference of being in self lockdown between Queens and New York City?

Soara-Joye Ross: I haven’t been in the city since March 12th, so I’m not really sure what it’s like out there right now. 

I had a callback in the city that day and had run into a dear friend that told me to get groceries for at least 6 weeks assoon as possible because things were about to get really crazy in NY. I’d decided to go to Whole Foods in Chelsea to pick up some things and when I arrived it was an absolute madhouse! I couldn’t believe the shelves were as empty as they were! The lines were insane and I got the last bottle of water on the shelf! The last can of tomato sauce. The last jar of cous cous. Absolutely Insane! 

The city has an incredible bustling energy! I LOVE New York City! I’m in Rosedale, Queens, in a house, in the suburbs, with a front yard, a back yard and a driveway. It’s a 15 minute walk to the closest store if you’re not driving out here. I can walk around outside in my neighborhood and it’s extremely peaceful and quiet. I rarely pass someone on the street. NYC is just not like that. I can leave my home and not have to touch an elevator button to go down to the first floor to then open a door that 20 plus people have touched just to go to the store to get some kale and ice cream. It’s extremely different. I am grateful to be out here in my home. I miss the city very much, however, and pray for everyone’s health safety in the city often. 

T2C: What have you been able to accomplish in this time? 

Soara-Joye Ross: Wow! I have been extremely busy during this time! Lots of cleaning, video chatting with friends, working out with Core Rhythm Fitness & doing Insanity several times a week, taking virtual dance classes with Debbie Allen and other amazing dancers, saying daily words of affirmations, growing out my hair, lots of healing and self love stuff, listening to a lot of music, reading amazing books written by black women, letting go of people and things (in love) that don’t serve me anymore, lots of cooking and baking, walking, organizing, video auditions, watching interviews about people that inspire me, going on virtual dates, watching movies and musicals, writing and coaching Voice twice a week. Phew! “

Soara-Joye Ross

T2C: What has this time stopped you from accomplishing? 

Soara-Joye Ross: Well, one of the disappointing things this time has stopped me from accomplishing is traveling. I planned on taking a healing trip to several cites for about 2 weeks and, of course, I won’t really be able to do that for a while. I was also supposed to be starring in a fabulous show that began rehearsals May 18th, actually! They postponed it to sometime in January. I hope live theater is back to thriving again by that time!! 

Soara-Joye Ross

T2C: What kind of emotions does this time bring out of you?

Soara-Joye Ross: I have a great amount of hope and joy normally. I am grateful for these feelings because they are always present within me, even though there is a lot of sadness because of this health crisis and disappointment with how the leader of our free world has handled this situation. Ultimately, I have love and gratitude for all of the essential workers that are out there making this challenging time easier to cope with. What would we have done without them all?! Ringing a bell for you all in gratitude! Thank you! 

T2C: If you were to equate this time to a song or song cycle what would it be? 

Soara-Joye Ross: Over My Head is one of my favorite Negro Spirituals. On Easter Sunday, I was inspired and lead to give a concert in my front yard for my neighbors just before sundown. I put my gloves and mask on, knocked on every single neighbors door and invited them to join me, socially distanced of course, in front of my home for an easter offering. Several of them came out and my final song was “Over My Head”. Here are 3 of my favorite verses.

Over my head I see trouble in the air.

Over my head I see trouble in the air.

Over my head I see trouble in the air;

There must be a God somewhere!

Over my head I hear music in the air.

Over my head I hear music in the air.

Over my head I hear music in the air;

There must be a God somewhere!

Over my head I see glory in the air.

Over my head I see glory in the air.

Over my head I see glory in the air;

There must be a God somewhere!

T2C: What message would you like to give the world right now? 

Soara-Joye Ross: Please choose love and kindness over all. 

T2C: What is the first thing you will do when we are no longer self quarantined? 

The first few things I will do when we are no longer quarantined will be to go into the city, walk around, have lunch with a friend at one of my favorite restaurants, get a foot massage, take a dance class at Ailey and then go on a real date with the cutie I’ve been virtually dating and do some kissin’!!! LOL! 💋Even though I am born and bread in Queens, I have been a city girl since high school! I absolutely thrive out there and I really miss my life out there!

T2C: What are the things that are getting you through this time? 

Soara-Joye Ross: The support and encouragement from my friends, community and family daily, weekly therapy from my awesome therapist, good music, good food, burning candles & incense and my unwaivering faith in God have been what has gotten me through this time. 

T2C: What haven’t we asked you that you would like to say?

Soara-Joye Ross: I’d love to share a story with everyone!

During this time, It took 12 weeks for me to receive Unemployment Benefits. Twelve! Weeks! lt seemed as though my account was on hold for some reason, even though my claim was processed completely, I’d spoken with someone, was approved and even received the monetary determination letter. I’d called the office an innumerable amount of times, emailed and called government officials several times, tagged officials on social media and even NY1 hoping to receive help from someone. I’d done everything I could think of! 

I’d also posted a little of my struggle on social media hoping someone could put me in touch with a direct contact at the Unemployment office or perhaps a family member or close friend that worked in government. There had to be someone that could help, right? One or 2 social media friends recommended a couple of things I hadn’t tried that definitely proved to be helpful, but getting through to the office still took quite some time. The amazing part of this is that, because I shared my story, many friends and acquaintances reached out to me in one way or another and were extremely encouraging. Others sent me unexpected and unsolicited financial blessings! There were several days I’d wake up to an email or two from someone that had deposited $50… $100… $200… $350… along with a note saying, something like, “Hope this helps” or just a “❤️”! I’d get texts during the day from people that would say, “What’s your venmo profile name?”, and then another email telling me, “You have money!” It was amazing! (Shoutout to #Facebook and #Instagram! LOL!)

I have a very strong sense of faith in God, was steadfast and I knew that I would be taken care in some way while I waited on Unemployment and even the stimulus check (that I’m still waiting on…👀), however, being taken care of in this incredible way was such a sweet and reassuring surprise! I referred to those generous friends as, “ my angels” because after all, they really were! There was not even one moment that I couldn’t get what I needed during those 12 weeks because my angels were such blessings to me! It takes a village, doesn’t it?! Well… after 12 weeks, I received all of the unemployment benefits owed to me in one day! Hallelu! 🙋🏽‍♀️

In response to my posts about needing assistance, several people on social media would comment saying they too were having a similar problem with receiving money owed to them from the government. I wasn’t exactly sure why, but I made a list with their names on it. A day or two after receiving the owed benefits, I decided to start a project called #OperationAngel where friends on social media that want to be a blessing to others, send me a financial donation to help them in a similar situation I was in prior. I add their donation to what I have already allotted from my own offering to the project and then I send an unexpected surprise to them via venmo or paypal with a note telling them about #OperationAngel, their angel’s name and that their angel was #BlessedToBeABlessing to them! I have received emotional correspondence from the recipients filled with gratitude and even tears. It has been really beautiful and I’m grateful that I am part of such a generous community! 

Things are so challenging during this unprecedented time and people need help. We are all blessed in someway! I encourage everyone to choose to be a blessing to others in some way every day. That small act of kindness could change someone’s life. 

God bless and be safe, dolls! 💋

Insta: @LyricalSoulJo Www.Soara-Joye.com 

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Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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