Chi-Town's Playwright Reshanda Henderson

Saturday, 29 August 2009 10:56 Written by  Lisa R. Brown

For all you faithful Tyler Perry fans, you might have to make some more room on your DVD stand soon. Reshanda Henderson, Chicago’s own playwright, is making waves with rave reviews throughout the city. Her first theater company, Xpress Yoself Theater, is the newest attraction for many Chicagoans. So far, she’s been going strong this year with her newest play, The Mr. The Mrs. & The Lover. I recently sat down with her to find out about her journey to becoming the “Queen of Urban Theater.”


GlossMagazineOnline: At what age did you start writing?

Reshanda Henderson: Actually, around the age of 9 or 10.

GMO: How long have you been writing professionally?

RH: Professionally, I would say about five years now.

GMO: What inspired you to start your own theater company?

RH: It’s the love and passion I have for theater. Overall, everything that’s involving theater—[things like] the stage setting and finding cast to re-enact the vision that was given to me.

GMO: Do you find it difficult being a black woman in this industry?

I do. I find it difficult because I feel like it’s predominantly male, and it’s hard for black women to put forth their vision, especially in this industry. You don’t have too many black women that are in this field.

GMO: Where do you draw inspiration for all your plays?

RH: I’m the type of person who loves reality. My writing is based around reality and things that people are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. I like to confront those types of situations and give people solutions to different things that we deal with on a daily basis.

GMO: You said that you write in order to express yourself and to endure various struggles and obstacles. What were some of those tribulations that have added to your writing today?

RH: Well, actually when I was coming up, I had a hard time expressing myself. I had a few bad experiences, one of them being that I was molested when I was younger. I kind of held things in and wouldn’t talk a lot. And it’s actually where my company’s name is generated from, Xpress Yoself, because over the years, I’ve learned to start opening up and expressing myself. I realize I’m not the only one going through some of these things and that other people are going through them as well, and they need to know that there is a way out.

In an industry that is kind of overwhelmed with work from writers like Tyler Perry, how do you differentiate yourself and your work?

I’m actually a huge fan myself of Tyler Perry’s work; I’ve been following him for as long as I can remember. The way I separate myself from him is the fact that my writing is basically about things that people are confronted with on a day-to-day basis. Our company motto is, ‘We’ll make you laugh, cry, and live again.’ Even in my writing, I want people to know that it’s okay to laugh, you know, but at the end of the day people need to have some answers and some solutions to different things that they are confronted with. So I’m the type of writer who likes to keep it real with people, as well as give comedy and entertainment, so I like to give a variety of things when it comes to my writing.

GMO: What has been the response from your most recent play, The Mr. The Mrs. & The Lover?


RH: The responses have been really, really great. The ones that didn’t get the opportunity to see it want to know when my next show is and the people that did come out say they were able to be helped, to laugh, and there were even some emotional moments in the play. Overall, people just really enjoyed themselves and felt there was really a message and that they would come out to see anything our production company puts forth.

GMO: How’d you get to work with Michael James from BET’s “Hell Date” and Tiffany from Oxygen’s “Bad Girl’s Club”?

RH: Actually, I had been watching the “Bad Girl’s Club” on TV myself, and I kind of loved her personality and the energy that she brought to the show. The character that she portrayed actually fit her perfectly. With James, I watched “Hell Date” as well and I just thought he was so comical and amazing that even his character fit him so well. So, I contacted the both of them and they responded and they became a part of the cast.

GMO: How was that experience?

RH: They’re great people to work with. My experience with them was pretty good.

GMO: Is your fan base growing pretty quickly?

RH: Yes it is; I’m very excited about that. It’s out there and a lot of people know of the company, as well as me, and the fan base is growing rapidly and I’m excited about that.

GMO: Have you had any fan encounters yet in public?

RH: (Laughs) I have. I’ve had people actually come up to me asking if they can audition on the spot, and I’ve had people walk up to me and ask, ‘Did you just do a play here? I came and enjoyed myself.’ People come up to me for autographs.

GMO: What advice do you have for aspiring playwrights?

RH: Go for your dreams. Don’t give up, even when it looks like it’s not going anywhere. You gotta keep pressing towards your dream. You can’t give up. Keep pushing forward.

GMO: What are some of your future plans?

RH: We’re actually in the process now of setting up what we call a “mini tour” where we’re pretty much trying to get the play well known here in the city of Chicago. So we’re just moving around touring here in the Chicago area to get it out there. We plan to move from that to a national tour, going from city to city.


*Click Here to view the Trailer for The Mr. The Mrs. & The Lover!

Vist for more on this exciting new playwright!

Lisa R. Brown

Lisa R. Brown

Lisa R. Brown is a 20-years-old student at Columbia College Chicago. She is majoring in Magazine Journalism and chose that field of study because she has always loved reading magazines. Lisa is also a fiction writer, penning short stories, poems, lyrics and more.

She can be contacted at

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