Introducing Actress + Lyricist, Miriam A. Hyman aka Robyn Hood, to the FRĒDA WOMEN series
How did you get started with both acting and music?
Well, I was inspired as a child to pursue acting after seeing a film. It was “A Low Down Dirty Shame” starring Jada Pinkett. It was a rated-R film, and I was underage, so I begged my mom to take me after seeing a preview. I was so intrigued by Jada's character Peaches. She was young, Black, gifted, driven, and a female. I loved her portrayal, and I immediately wanted to act. I pointed to the screen while the credits rolled and passionately said aloud, “I want to do that for the rest of my life." I wasn’t quite sure how to get started in the business, so I began auditioning for projects in school, and eventually, that led to me getting opportunities in school plays and such. After high school, I decided to take the next step and attend an art conservatory, University of the Arts, to get a degree in acting. Post undergrad, I started to do more professional theatre, and that led to my interest in wanting to do television and film. I decided to apply to graduate school, and Yale School of Drama was my only choice. After multiple auditions, I got in, and after three years of intense training, I graduated with a master's degree from one of the most prestigious theater schools in the world. After graduating, I had a less strenuous schedule and decided to try my hand at writing music. I always loved Hip-Hop music but was never crazy about some of the themes it promoted, so I decided to write what I wasn't hearing. I started to download popular industry beats and began to write what came to me. I never set out to become a rapper, but something better happened, a lyricist was born.
Do you find you have a relationship between your music and acting? Do they influence each other?
I most definitely feel there is a relationship between my disciplines, and yes, they constructively influence each other. They work in tandem. For instance, when acting and working with scripted text, I’m able to easily recognize and utilize the inherent rhythms in the text, to convey the meaning in a more natural, believable way. It’s called speaking the truth of the words. On the other hand, when writing and or performing my music, I apply my acting skills to color my delivery, so like with my acting, it comes off natural and honest. Also, additional tools in my toolbox consist of knowing how and when to enunciate and emphasize specific words, lines, and thoughts. With both my acting and music, I’ve come up with an acronym I adhere to when approaching my work. It’s to keep it H.O.T. (honest, open, and truthful).
What role do you think music plays for you at this moment in time and society?
Music allows me to express myself, which is very therapeutic in our current climate. I’m able to raise awareness and activate listeners via my art. I use my music to uplift, inspire, and motivate myself, and more importantly, others. I address themes that are often ignored in Hip-Hop music. The themes are consistent with highlighting education, positive images of women, and being both provident and responsible in our communities. There is a time and a place for everything, so I try to make sure my music is relevant and prevalent. I like to make a little something for everyone so all can relate to a certain degree.
Can you talk about your decision to take on the moniker “Robyn Hood” and the meaning?
For me, I wanted a catchy moniker that celebrated giving back. Robyn Hood, with a Y, was perfect because I’m an individual who grew up in an impoverished community, i.e., the hood. I was able to go beyond the intended limits of someone in my position to gain a level of influence. I refer to it as going from poverty to prestige. As an ivy league graduate from Yale, I’m able to offer what I’ve learned throughout my growth and education to those in my community and beyond who may not typically have access.
When writing music what goes into the process and what are the messages you want listeners to take away?
When writing music, my process is simple. I don’t have writing sessions. I listen to my heart and write the bars that come into my mind. I’m in a constant state of listening to my thoughts and finding cool ways to communicate them over beats usually provided to me by my producers. The key is to always jot down the ideas that pop into my mind whenever they do.
What or who inspires you, musically and life in general?
My partner inspires me like no other. She’s very optimistic and encourages me to be as well. Every day she challenges me to be a better person and to be a positive contributor to society. I’m also inspired by artists who give it all they have and remain consistent on their journeys. The road of an artist is long and consists of many ups and downs. I am motivated by those who push past the “no’s” and the “we decided to go in another direction,” responses that many times can deter artists from pursuing their passions.
What does community mean to you?
To me, community means public awareness and engagement. To be involved in the conversation of making changes in society as it pertains to equality issues, LGBTQUIA concerns, and social justice.
How do you use music or acting to build or shape your community?
My intention for my music and acting has always been to uplift, inspire, and motivate. To be associated with projects that show diversity and balance. Representation matters and I believe in exhibiting that principle through my art. With that, I’m able to be an example for multiple communities locally and globally and to give back where it matters. Access was provided to me, and my goal is to continue to pay it forward.
What does women supporting women mean to you?
Women supporting women, to me, means love, determination, growth, collectiveness, and sisterhood.
What have you learned from women in your life or women you’re inspired by?
Well, more recently, I’m learning from my partner, a woman, to apply patience to my daily practices. To be easy with myself, non-judgemental, and to be a better listener privately and professionally.
Photographed by: Kris Ryan (@krisryanphoto)
Styled in: Sebastien Ami (@sebastienami)
Styled by: Fabi Ami (@iamfabiami)
Makeup by: Julie Dinhh (@julieeedinhh)
I enjoyed reading the interview about ms. Hyman. I consider myself an ardent admirer and fan of hers. To me, she continues to get better each time I learn about another project she is involved. with. II wish her the best always.