When I initially heard of The Thyck Troupe, I assumed they were another plus size modeling group in a different State. After speaking to founder Tressa Thomas I now have a better understanding of the groups purpose and the amount of passion that Tressa has for this talented group of women is very apparent.
The Thyck Troupe consists of vocalists, actresses, spoken word poets, published authors, producers, directors, fashion designers, make-up artists, screenwriters, playwrights and choreographers!
Keep reading to find out this groups inspiring beginnings.
Can you tell me about The Thyck Troupe™?
It was recognized that many plus size individuals were feeling a deficit in their abilities to confidently share their artistic talents with the public, due to fears of rejection, lack of proper training and a lack of experience.
As a plus-size woman in the entertainment industry since childhood, I wanted to use my talents, abilities and experience to promote and encourage diversity in the arts as it applies to reversing societal stigmas and combating biased physical judgments of the “plus-sized”.
The Thyck Troupe™ was formed as an artistic consortium of sorts… to encourage the cultivation of an expanded arts community for plus size artists by providing access to a variety of lectures, workshops, mentorships, industry showcases, body image seminars and discussion forums. These tools assist members in perfecting their individual crafts, draw aspiring artists from surrounding communities together, promote collaborations with like-minded organizations, and encourage healthier living.
How did The Thyck Troupe™ get started?
The ThYck Troupe of Chicago began as a modeling interest club. There was a Meetup Group formed to find like-minded plus size models that wanted to make their own modeling opportunities in the City of Chicago and the surrounding areas. The Meetup Group was free to join, and no fees were charged to attend any of the Meetup’s activities. The online group lasted for approximately 1 year, recruited 56 members and held 4 successful Meetup events!
From there, The ThYck Troupe™ was pitched to members that wanted to branch out and form a “modeling troupe” that would secure performance, video and photo opportunities for local and national events. The first ‘Model Call’ was held in April of 2010, resulting in 14 models being recruited for the very first “ThYck Troupe of Chicago” modeling troupe.
To date, TTOC has morphed into a non-profit, performing arts organization (501(c)3 pending), performing multiple artistic genres, with 26 total performers!
What is the purpose of The Thyck Troupe™ and how do you adhere to that purpose?
We have a very solid mission:
1) to train, mentor, inspire and empower full-figured women pursuing careers in the performing arts;
2) to promote size acceptance while educating and encouraging members toward healthier life choices and habits;
3) to provide performance showcase opportunities in a wide spectrum of artistic genres;
4) to foster relationships with like-minded performing arts, wellness and women’s empowerment organizations across the country.
We adhere to that purpose by encouraging the participation of those who meet our organization’s demographic, and wish to pursue professional careers in the performing arts. We are a very serious organization with a laser-sharp focus, and there is a high level of accountability. If you come to us, you have to be serious and dedicated. We are no longer just a “modeling club”…. we are seeking to alter the perceptions and hearts of people in our industry that can inject CHANGE and promote acceptance. Those individuals are our targets, and through faith, hard work and determination… we WILL reach them.
Do you have any special colors, hand shakes or bi-laws?
Because we have defined ourselves as a performing arts organization, we operate much less like a sorority or social club, and much more with the structure of a “Dance Company” or even a “Musical Band”. Each member has a dynamic talent to share and we bring in master instructors from a variety of artistic areas to help build our performance repertoire. Picture us as a perpetual “All Female Revue” of full-figured performers.
Outside of the colors used in our logo, with which we’ve established our brand, we don’t have any special colors or hand-shakes. However, we do have an organizational endeavor we are currently developing that may be similar to those kinds of statements. We will keep you posted on exactly what that is in the coming months.
How has the goal of Thyck Troupe changed since the group began?
It has definitely changed since it’s inception. As I stated, we started as a modeling interest club. We all started out doing this “for fun”. And at the time, we all thought that to be sufficient. Yet, seeing the increasing interest over the past two years in what we are doing…. how our community outreach that has grown and our accomplishments in such a short period of time, I began to see a greater purpose and mission for us…. if we wanted it. And we did.
So I took some time to speak with our members, entertainment industry professionals, non-profit CEOs and many of my mentors before transitioning the organization to a non-profit; to insure our operating structure was strong, sustainable and influential. We then followed up with a 501(c)3 designation, which is currently pending.
What type of reaction have you had to the group?
POSITIVE! POSITIVE! POSITIVE! And that has been such an amazing blessing. With everything from developing our own content (www.thyck.tv), to our members dropping pounds and becoming more fit, I truly believe individuals and businesses take us very seriously. Anyone can “talk”, but there is nothing like showing someone that you “Do” what you talk about. I think that has brought us respect in our local communities, and Nationwide. We’re focused. We rehearse regularly. And we continually work to perfect our individual talents.
The City of Chicago, specifically, has been very supportive. Our recent organizational endorsements include Secretary of State Jesse White and Illinois State Representative Rita Mayfield. We’re currently featured as the ‘Non-Profit of the Month’ for January 2012 on Chicago’s most popular urban radio station – WGCI, 107.5FM. We’ve worked with Chicago designer Tennille White, whose plus size designs are featured annually on BET’s RIP The Runway and we’ve also had the pleasure of being featured on NBC 5 fashion segments for full-figured clothing.
Many admire our “grind” – so to speak – and continue to provide us opportunities to share our vision with the public. The love and support we are receiving is fueling our drive, and we only anticipate it growing stronger in the future!
Why is it important to represent plus size women in your group?
As a plus-size woman, I feel we greatly lack representation in many areas. And as a plus-size entertainer, I knew I could do something to help facilitate awareness and change within the entertainment industry, based on my experiences and connections. I am sure many plus-size women, regardless of their field, can identify with the biases in the media… in clothing stores… on the job… and even in their social lives.
My little area of the world is the Performing Arts. I don’t profess to have the wisdom or influence to change every injustice placed upon us as plus-size people. But the Arts? THAT I can help with. And I felt I’d be doing a disservice to my demographic to sit back and just complain, instead of finding ways to make a difference….to impact public opinion in a positive direction. Once I established a mission, I set out to see who I could help. And I still wake up everyday with that goal in mind.
One of my favorite quotes is from ‘Andrew Carnegie':
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
As an international “team”, plus-size individuals are making a difference. The ThYck Troupe™ Organization is a brushstroke, adding to an ever-growing canvas of Revolution.
What is the future of Thyck Troupe, upcoming events, etc. ?
We are gearing up for our 2nd annual charity fundraiser – THE ABSTRACT OF THYCK – taking place Saturday, April 28, 2012. It is being hosted by one of Chicago’s largest dealerships, the Grossinger City Autoplex, as well as Flirty Girl Fitness and other participating sponsors.
This event benefits both the ThYck Troupe™ and I AM YOU, Inc. – two local charities that strive to further educate the public on the importance of Performance Art, Empowerment and Self-Image within our local communities. The money raised for this event will go toward furthering internal programs such as our Documentary fund, mentorship opportunities with City of Chicago schools, and I AM YOU, Inc’s “Red Dot Resale Shop”, which supports it’s organization through a self-managed boutique, selling hand-made clothing and accessories designed by program participants.
This exhibition will feature an evening of live stage performances, spoken word jams, fashion showcases and an exhibition highlighting up-n-coming youth designers from the I AM YOU, Inc. program.
More details are available on our event website (www.abstractofthyck.com), including how to contact us to participate as an Official Sponsor, On-Site Exhibitor and/or VIP Gift Bag Contributor!
“THE ABSTRACT OF THYCK” has all of our attention at the moment, but the near future holds many multimedia-based initiatives, community outreach events, charity clothing swaps, Fitness/Health initiatives and Thyck Troupe™ ensemble performances for 2012.