‘One’ Episode 5: Amanda Thomas talks self-discovery and belonging in ‘roleplay’
In Episode #5 of the Schwarzman Center web series, One, creative writing major Amanda Thomas YC ’21 shares an excerpt of “roleplay,” an original coming-of-age story inspired by her childhood memories of Jamaica. Laurie Gomez YC ’22 interviews Thomas about the effects of physical location on inspiration and the power of creating writing to cultivate wellness and a sense of belonging in times of extraordinary change.
Thomas’s passion for creative writing was not apparent to her until she began her Yale journey as a potential Global Affairs major. However, the same intellectual pursuits that drove her interest in international relations permeated her creative writing works. She explained, “everything can be beautiful and change a person.” For Thomas, creative writing became just as important and revolutionary as work in other fields.
In a time of physical distancing, Thomas’s writing places interpersonal connections at the forefront. Her stories are often about relationships between individuals and explore the ways in which conflict confers the opportunity to establish identity. Much of Thomas’s creative writing takes place in the memories of her childhood. They draw inspiration from the people and environments she is most familiar with and offer points of reflection.
Thomas wrote “roleplay” for an Intro to Fiction course with Professor Susan Choi during her sophomore year. In it the author navigates “girlhood, crushes, and fantasy” through roleplay games that allow children to explore other selves in the world.
You have your emotions and your feelings…and if you can get that onto a page you can control the writing and make sense of the writing.
Despite not having access to a library while away from the Yale campus, Thomas has found that changes in physical location inspire authentic interpretations of herself and her writing. She has remarked that lacking control over one’s environment does not mean that one lacks control. To other artists feeling uninspired and powerless over their circumstances, she says “[Y]ou have your emotions and your feelings… and if you can get that onto a page you can control the writing and make sense of the writing.” Thomas’s writing provides a medium for her to center herself and to practice wellness as a core value.
Gomez, the host of episode 5, is a second-year student in Ezra Stiles College and a student staff member for the Schwarzman Center specializing in communications outreach. She is involved with the Yale College Council and the Independent Party of the Yale Political Union.
One, a web series produced by the Schwarzman Center, highlights interdisciplinary approaches to the arts in relation to the Center’s values of collaboration, wellness and belonging. The inaugural season illuminates the creative and academic merits of student works impacted by social distance and explores perspectives on community-building among dispersed groups. The series title, One, is a nod to the Schwarzman Center’s aspiration to advance a sense of “One Yale” and create an interconnected community that builds new traditions of student engagement around the campus and into the world.