She’s a poet, radio host, recording artist, activist and now Jemeni has wrapped up another season as a celebrity judge at Apollo-style talent competition Lyme and Tings.
How was your experience this season?
It was amazing. We were really able to see the progression as far as talent was concerned. It was harder and harder to whittle it down because everyone walked in so talented already.
Favourite part about being a judge?
There are so many things! Probably that first day when you see people performing and you wonder what genre they’re even going to do, whether they’re good or not. Although my very, very, very favourite part is after the competition when you make connections with the artists.
Are you more of a Simon or a Paula?
(Laughs) No one really wants to be the Paula, but I’m a Paula. I know how hard it is to be on stage and be judged. I really try to speak to people in a way that I would want to be spoken to, so, for me it’s not about clowning someone or embarrassing someone or showing how much I know. I’m really trying to help them.
You’re something of a Renaissance woman yourself. Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you’d like to master?
Yes! Taking over the world. (Laughs) The one thing I haven’t finished or mastered is a full novel. I’m kind of a perfectionist, so that holds me back a bit. And as soon as I achieve that, I’ve got to find the other thing. I would never want to be asked that question and be like, “No, I’m good.” I always want to have that next thing that I can master.
Looking at the writing you have published, it’s a very interesting mix between a real literary sensibility and a pulse on what’s happening outside. How did you cultivate that voice?
For me it’s not so much in finding my voice, it’s in being respectful enough to actually allow myself that voice, and to be quiet enough and silent enough and reverent enough to listen to it when it speaks to me. I have to listen to it and interpret it properly. It’s just about stopping and saying that thought has merit. And being brave enough to use it.