A breath of fresh air. A cozy hug. An honesty, a sweetness, a beautiful soul. Phylicia is all this and more to everyone she meets. I remember when I first met her we found ourselves sitting next to each other at a midnight show and I was not drinking at the time(and not really talking about it) and I was TERRIFIED I wouldn't be able to hang/have a good time/be a human. Watching the show with her, joking back and forth, she gave me a seamless night of joy and laughing til I cried. She plays with Matt Damon Improv and Nectar in Chicago and the whole community is so lucky to have her.
AS: How would you like to be described?
Phylicia McLeod: A follower whose legs got tired! Does that sound insightful? I am a performer/writer who wishes to spread laughter to heal pain.
AS: I love this. One of my favorite quotes is Charlie Chaplin said ‘to truly laugh you must be able to take your pain and play with it.” Where are you from? Where do you live? What do you consider home?
PM: I am from Muskego, WI. Just south of Milwaukee, WI. I currently live in Chicago around Edgewater. For some reason “what do you consider home” is a tough question for me. With my parents (they currently live in Kissimmee, FL) I feel at home just being in their presence, but since moving on my own I have not found anywhere I consider home. Plus I move almost every year so I don't feel settled. So to answer the question… In the arms of my parents & friends I feel comfort like I am at home.
AS: Life story in half a page, GO!
PM: I was born in Milwaukee, WI and then when I turned 5 we moved to Muskego, WI. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and went to church in a predominantly black neighborhood. I have always felt like I was too much and not enough at the same time. I wanted to be invisible throughout middle and high school. Not because I thought it would be a cool superpower but because I felt like it would be easier. I grew up with 2 older brothers and I desperately tried to be one of the guys. My mom desperately tried to throw me in a dress with lacy socks. Lacys socks were unearthed from hell. The depths of hell. I used to wear my brothers FUBU hoodie to school because 1. It made me look dope (especially cause my brothers are 6 feet tall and I barley was 5 feet). 2. I could fit all the way inside it if I needed to hide away. (Transition) I really liked math in school. So after talking to counselors (who probably didn’t care about me), we decided I should go to school for accounting. So I went to a 2 year and got my associates in accounting. I really wanted to try to pursue acting/theater/comedy so Chicago was my dream. I moved to Chicago and have met some of the most supportive and amazing people. To sum up my life story I would say, I started out wanting to be invisible and ended up demanding to be seen.
AS: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Why?
PM: When I was 5 I sat in my closet for what felt like hours and learned how to tie my shoe bunny shoe style. I still don’t know how to tie the other way because I am not ready to accomplish great things. I feel like it was my greatest because It was the first time I believed I could do something and I did it.
AS: What is your biggest failure? And what(if anything) did you learn from it?
PM: When I was in high school I got my first car. I would never go for an oil change. The car engine died because of it. I haven't had a car since so I learned that I don’t deserve nice things.
AS: Describe your perfect day.
PM: Wake up around 9am and make a full english breakfast with orange juice (obviously the OJ is over crushed ice). Sit on a huge comfy couch under a fuzzy blanket. The window is open to feel the summer breeze. Watch either Martin, Girlfriends, or Star Trek Next Generation. Take a nap. Wake up to the smell of a BBQ and go outside to see friends and loved ones grilling. Fix a plate, eat, and take another nap. Get back under the fuzzy blanket and watch a Hallmark or Lifetime movie. Find out I get to do a show with my Nectar honeys and Matt Damon Improv ladies. Drink some tea with a little whiskey in it. Eat more BBQ (even though it’s too late). Then go to sleep and relive the same thing the next day.
AS: How did you get where you are?
PM: I took the long route by avoiding what scared me and not following my heart. I got here by believing in myself and surrounding myself with encouraging and supportive people.
AS: What are you most proud of?
PM: I am proud of my determination. I almost gave up a million times.
AS: What is one of your fears?
PM: Centipedes. Also leaving the basement to go up the stairs in the dark. I swear I feel like someone or something is chasing me. So I HAVE TO RUN.
AS: What keeps you going every day?
PM: I am blessed to wake up in the morning. Life is a struggle, but I am fortunate enough to have life when others have had their lives taken from them.
AS: Favorite podcast?
PM: Therapy For Black Girls. The Dr. is from Atlanta and her voice is so soothing. It is comforting to know you are not alone.
AS: Last piece of art that spoke to you?
PM: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise.
AS: Tell us an embarrassing story:
PM: When I first moved to Chicago I was going out with a friend. So I was strutting in some heels going down to the train. I fell down every step of the Jackson Red Line. I am not sure who saw me as I was so embarrassed I lost my sight.
AS: Pump up song?
PM: Any Lizzo song. Specifically Lizzo - Scuse Me
AS: What advice would you give to someone who is lost?
PM: Take a deep breath and be patient with yourself.
AS: Do you have a mantra or words to live by?
PM: Treat others the way you want to be treated.
AS: What gives you meaning?
PM: Bringing people joy and tranquility. (Hopefully)
AS: What do you struggle with?
PM: I am always seeking out someone to give me the okay to do something instead of relying on myself to give my own permission.
AS: What is success to you?
PM: Being able to financially support myself writing and performing.
AS: What are you working on that you’re geeked out about?
PM: Trying to develop characters and writing. Also Matt Damon Improv is trying to put together a sketch show.
AS: Anything else?
Now I can’t stop thinking about my perfect day.
AS: What question would you add to this?
PM: What are some self care activities that you do?