Meet LeChell Honorat of ByLeChell; An Artistic Riot
I’ve loved the arts for as long as I can remember. I was in the choir, took dance classes, drama classes as a kid, I’ve always loved the freedom of it. I didn’t focus in on writing specifically until about I was about 13 or 14. I had just moved from my hometown & was struggling to settle in a new place. It really became a means of coping and making sense of the world around me, that much has persisted even today at 29. Now I not only use it to grapple with the world but to tell my story openly. What’s changed over the course of these last 15 years is, given the climate & understanding how difficult it is for people like myself, a black queer woman to speak & be heard, I’ve felt compelled to tell more than just my story. I’ve really taken the Nina Simone thinking of using my artistry to reflect the time, so I feel obligated to tell the stories of those around me. To do that I started to look at how I could holistically curate and develop compelling narratives. I got the idea to start capturing them on camera through both still photography & videography about 3years. Today, I am what is most commonly called a multidisciplinary artist. I create visual & written poetry, but also use film & photography to produce primarily documentaries, docu-series and conduct interviews so I can hear and share the stories that matter to me, for the people who want to be heard and the content that I wished I could see more of.
The hardest part with writing has really been getting comfortable with myself enough to be vulnerable with the art. Writing has been something that organically developed but sharing it with the world, taking it from page to stage and print for others to see has been terrifying. You wonder what people will think, will they think less of you, run away from all the baggage. You also question yourself, are you good enough, are you healed enough to even put yourself out there in that way, can really allow people into your space a little and not allow them to take over it with their thoughts, feelings and criticism because I can assure you the audience always has them.
When it comes to photography & film the I’ve found myself terrified of asking people to let their guards down & welcome me into a world they’ve likely hidden for most of their life. It is especially difficult because people can definitely feel when the motive is impure, or the creator isn’t genuine. It often requires me to take a lot of steps before they even take the first. I have to gather the courage to ask but then also open myself up so they can feel that the relationship isn’t one-sided and trust me with their stories. Trust that I will share it honestly and as they want it without trying to manipulate it to fit my own narrative or for personal gain.
Today I am a writer & performance poet. I also participate in poetry slams which is still weird for me to say sometimes. I’m not particularly known but for those who do know me that is usually what that most connect with, my work as a poet.
As for the business, I am a photographer & filmmaker. For still photography, I primarily shoot street & event photography since I am drawn to candid photos but I also do portraits. As for film, I focus on shooting documentaries and docu-series, that is pretty much the speciality since its a one women show. Right now, I am shooting & releasing a series inspired by my upcoming book “Cause Therapy Ain’t For Black Folks.” It’s an exploration of mental health in the black community with everyday people and therapist. I am really excited for it. I am most proud of that series as it continues to develop because of the walls it breaks down & the timeliness of it. I think the black community is moving into a space where we want to talk more about mental health. Several people reached out to contribute and even speak on camera to tell share their experiences with mental health issues and seeking help.
I think the most unique thing about my work is the rawness. Everything is relatively unrefined to maintain its authenticity, the honesty of the content and the people. I think that’s what draws people in and holds them. Audiences, readers, listeners want to connect with artist and I think the surest way to do that and have impact is to create from a place of truth and realness.
Success for me lately really has been defined by internal factors. I feel successful every time I brave my fear of performing or speaking to strangers. When I take a step outside of my comfort zone to do the things that scare me. When I look for success & try to qualify it I ask myself, am I happy, do I feel joy even in the stress when I am putting in the work? If no one ever saw it would it still matter to me? When I can answer all those questions with a yes it’s worth celebrating and celebrating myself is a major success in its own right.