Who Am I?
The most difficult question I'm often asked is: Where are you from? I was born in Nigeria. I've lived in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Greenbelt, Lanham, Catonsville, and Baltimore, Maryland. I didn't choose any of those places. I chose Brooklyn and found myself there. One may argue I lost myself there if one really liked arguing.
But I've been other places and done other things.
I've done a lot of things. I've been a lot of places.
I've been on stages. I've been in magazines. I've been on TV. I've been on my couch watching really bad reality shows. Oh yeah, I also started a non-profit organization that helps raise mental health awareness and remove stigma in communities of Color*. I live with bipolar 2 disorder and anxiety. I will probably write about that a lot.
I like shoes. I hate working out. In my spare time, I like to choreograph elaborate drag routines. My entire life is basically "spare time". I like the idea of food more so than I actually like eating. I'm the opposite of a foodie. I like reading menus and recipes though. I don't know why. English is my second language. I pull that out whenever I need a quick excuse for poor punctuation or grammar. It's true but also I've been speaking it since I was 5.
That's pretty much all you need to know "about me". There's an official bio that will tell you where I've been published and what TV shows and magazines I've been on below. It will also mention Def Poetry Jam. It won't, however, mention I know how to wiggle my right ear or I'm allergic to fresh pineapple. Or I've been in love twice in my life and I've vowed never to go in there again. The bio will also not tell you what it feels like to live with an illness most people pretend not to understand.
This website is about all of this and none of this. It’s just where the stuff goes. All the rambling and mumbling and the focusing on the wrong things and the wonderings and wanderings and the not quite and the trying to get there and the doing the best I can.
One more thing, my name is Bassey (pronounced ahhh like a sigh).
PS. Remind me to tell you about the time I accidentally auditioned for a Broadway Show.
Official Formal Bio
Bassey Ikpi is a Nigerian born and U.S. bred writer and activist. Amongst many accomplishments, Bassey was a featured cast member of the National Touring Company of the Tony Award winning Broadway show, Russell Simmon's Def Poetry Jam hosted by actor/rapper Mos Def. Not a stranger to the stage, her poetry has also opened shows by Grammy Award winning artists such as India Arie, Luther Vandross, Alicia Keys, has earned her standing ovations at the NAACP Image Awards where her poetry was part of a tribute to Venus and Serena Williams. Bassey has headlined Festivals all over the world from Pittsburgh to Johannesburg to Lagos and at The United Nations Africa Day conference where she received a standing ovation from the dignitaries in attendance.
Bassey Ikpi was the opener for Conde Nast Traveler’s 25th Anniversary Visionaries Award, and performed her poetry before the Visionaries Award audience which included honored public figures who were doing work to better the planet, such as the United States of America’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, Supermodel Christy Turlington, Actresses Olivia Wilde and Susan Sarandon amongst others. These illustrious men and women were honored for their commitment to social justice and change. Bassey was asked to pen a poem featuring each of the honorees and the organizations with which they were associated, as well as welcoming the audience to the event.
Bassey is also on the forefront of media both in front of and behind the camera, she has graced the pages of such notable publications as Nylon, Marie Claire, Glamour and Bust as well as the covers of Nigeria’s Taruwa and Style Mania Magazines. She has appeared on numerous chat shows across the globe both as a guest and a presenter. As a content provider, her production company, Bassey World media, is responsible for creating diverse content from a uniquely pan-African perspective.
Bassey’s popular stage show “Basseyworld Live”, infused poetry and interactive panel discussions on everything from politics to pop culture - with a huge emphasis on mental health issues. Not only did she headline each show, but she also moderated the panel discussions, which included special invited guests from various industries such as art, film and journalism. Basseyworld Live has since been reimagined as a pan-African television talk show produced by Nairobi’s Nusu Nusu Productions.
With social commentary being a focus of her work, Bassey has recorded original poems for the Kaiser Foundation’s, HIV/AIDS campaign, Knowing Is Beautiful and There is No Comfort In Silence for Global Grind in partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb and World AIDS Day. In Lagos, she organized Do The Write Thing an event to show support through the spoken word for the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. She also recorded a song with popular Nigerian artist 2Face Idibia in support of the movement called Break The Silence. Her passion for poetry, arts and social issues has also led her to work as a freelance writer for several media outlets on the topic of mental health and pop culture commentary. Bassey also recently wrote and completed voice over work for animated short produced by global non-profit, Girl Effect. An organization associated with Oprah Winfrey aimed to decrease poverty by empowering girls.
Following the suicide of a young friend, Bassey founded The Siwe Project to help spread mental health awareness in the global African community.Their initiative, No Shame Day, is the first Monday of July each year. Bassey was recognized by MSNBC’s The Melissa Harris-Perry Show as a Foot Soldier of the Week for her mental health advocacy. Bassey lives with the mood disorder bipolar II disorder and has dedicated her life and work to reducing mental health stigma. She has also been presented with several humanitarian awards and recognized on prominent lists and profiles all over the world as an influential and inspirational advocate of mental health awareness.
She is currently working on her first memoir as well as other creative projects merging art and advocacy.
Bassey is repped by Eric Smith of P.S. Literary Agency