Life does not always get handed to you on a silver platter.
You cannot rely on chance, fate and fortune. Sometimes, you have to take charge of your situation. Nia Primus, a local singer, writer and screenplay director who yearns to make it big, knows this.
Primus is a 20-year-old first-generation American who was born in Queens, New York, as one of five children in a single-parent household. Her parents were born in Trinidad, where two of her sisters live.
Primus is studying English with a writing concentration and is working on a minor in women’s studies. Her passions are the arts. She writes, sings and produces her own songs. On top of writing and singing her own songs, Primus writes a lot of poetry, which is often incorporated into her work as a musician.
Primus describes the childhood version of herself as a tomboy. “When I started writing songs, I had a hard time finding my voice as a female within my songwriting,” Primus said. Instead, Primus wrote for her brother Alphonso. As she grew up, Primus began to find herself and her identity as a bisexual woman.
Music is not only an entertaining pastime for Primus, but also a meaningful way for her to explore herself and cope with her ADHD, depression and anxiety.
“That’s my defense mechanism with my mental illnesses. I put it into my art,” Primus confessed.
This gives Primus a rare drive for success in her career as an artist.
“Failure is not an option anymore. I have too much drive. I’m too hungry for it,” Primus said.
“Also, growing up poor makes you pretty hungry too.
“My songs are my diary. Whatever I feel, I write.” Primus said. Her style is heavily influenced by Neo-soul music from the ’90s. “I hate new stuff compared to the old stuff. The new mainstream stuff I do not like,” she said.
“I was always the weird kid because everyone always likes music, but I was obsessed,” she said. Primus named a few artists from the ’30s that she liked, including Benny Goodman and Jessie Smith.
“It tells a story. It tells history. It tells of a person’s inner thoughts,” she said.
Primus’ music can be found on her SoundCloud page, “niamusikindie,” where she showcases several of her songs. Her titles include “DreamKEEPER,” “F.R.I.E.N.D.S.,” “Shouldnta Fall in Love,” “SELF-CARE,” “Trees With Friends” and more.
Most of the songs revolve around Primus’ emotions. They are also speckled with references to popular songs and artists.
Primus is interested in writing plays and musicals, and hopes to be the winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar or Tony.
Primus depicts many mental illnesses in the movie she is writing. “I’m making it a point to not label any of them and to leave it ambiguous, because I feel that is necessary sometimes,” Primus said. “Also to keep from offending anybody if I misrepresent something.”
Primus wants to reach people with her messages. “I want to bring awareness to experiences that people might not have known about,” Primus said. “I’ve lived in the ghetto, I’ve lived in white areas, I’ve lived with my Trinidadian family and I’ve also lived with my upper-class white family. Every experience I have, I take note of it and I suck it in.”
On top of her work as an artist and her desire to be a screenplay writer, Primus writes poetry. She will be reading one of her poems, “Melanin” at the English Association of Pennsylvania State Universities conference on Oct. 6. Primus will also read “Dark Girl,” a short story she wrote which is a meditation on her skin color.
Primus said she used to be picked on because her skin was so dark, even by other black girls. She went on to describe how people condemn black women for being defensive. “We have to be because all we do is get told we’re not this or we’re not that,” Primus said.
Though Primus is highly ambitious, to her, it is not all about fame and fortune. She frequently collects clothes to give to those without any and tries to make sure that what she is giving goes straight to the person benefitting.
“Some people need that humanity shown to them to know that the world is not all that bad,” Primus said. “I believe that doing good for others will help them do good for the world.”
Primus explained that not all things are as they seem.
“When you want to be somewhere in this world, when you want to impact it, change it [and] influence, you can’t think of borders. You cannot think basic,” Primus said.
Primus is invested in exploring the world and learning about other people’s experiences. “It’s all about analyzation,” Primus said. She quoted Erykah Badu, one of her personal heroes, saying: “The man that knows something knows that he knows nothing at all.”
“My main focus right now is to seek as much knowledge into myself and into others as I can,” Primus said. “I’ve got one life. And I’ll be damned if I don’t do what I want with this life.”