Sophie Wight is a character. She's just the alien sort for morning radio, late night talk, reality TV or snarky magazines (all past and current gigs). She's got an acerbic wit, rapid fire pace, and a halting honesty about the kind of things people remain deluded about all their lives—issues like race, class and self.
"I am like a black actress in the US," she complains. "Trinidad has zero roles for me as a white girl."
Having once played the part of an American whore in The Reef, she craves the challenge of depicting real characters. That's probably because for most of her life she's been taken to be a caricature—the irreverent odd ball.
"Everyone just assumed I could act," she says with trademark wide eyes. "The truth is that theatrical people have to work harder to connect. They're always on… always trying to be funny. It's easier to bawl hysterically than to be real. "
Hysterics and wit (coupled with management skill) have gotten her stints as the brain, face and voice of a happily mixed bag of media projects—from a three-year run as the editor of Scorch Magazine to production of a couple reality series. But the introspective 30-year-old and new mother says she's increasingly turning "it" off.
"I've gotten a lot quieter. I've learned that you don't have to entertain everybody all the time. People get tired of you… you burn people out. You make a bigger impact and people listen to you more when you talk less," she says.
That's just one item on the list of ways in which her world view and priorities have evolved. Here was someone who never imagined settling down or becoming a mother. Now her full time job is taking care of Sloane, her bright-eyed four-month-old. And she says her primary goal is "having a life-long successful relationship".
"Everything changes when you meet the right person," she says from the buzzing Spice mas-camp (about which she produces a weekly reality show that airs on CNMG). "I thought I was the kind of person who would remain jet set my entire life but when I met Nicholas I realised that there is a part of me that wants more."
Her reflection and candour make for interesting analysis of experiences many women share but feel pressured to sugar-coat or, perhaps, are too rushed to examine. She says the height of motherhood is "watching Sloane learn something new". But there are the lows as well: the weight of proving oneself, of getting it right, of negotiating time for self and partner when a new life monopolises your time and energy.
"There is tremendous pressure—especially since we're not married yet—to be really good at this right away. I better not mess up. People think: 'Who does she think she is?' And I wonder: 'Am I good enough?' " she reflects.
She's already begun thinking about the opportunities and experiences she'd like her daughter to have. Her first memories are at the top of a hill in Carenage in the early 1980s. Sophie defies (if not debunks) the stereotype of the disconnected "local white". Coupled with the privilege of vacations down the islands was the early and consistent experience of crime—from multiple break-ins to her grandfather's violent death.
"Over the years I kept having conversations with people who love me and my mother but make assumptions about my grandfather: that he had a plantation and was massa. He was not. I belong to the smallest minority in the world. I can't say I'm upset about it. I get to be part of the rich, vibrant, complicated culture in Trinidad and my place in it is not one where I have to struggle to access any part of it. I am not somebody who stays in one corner of the culture and lives in that culture only. There's this stereotype about the way whites interact with other races in our society: yes you would invite them to dinner but would you marry them? This exists in Trinidad but not in my home," she says.
One acid test for discovery of self came during her college years. She completed media studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro—a good choice for students who are "'quirkier or have a dark side" she quips. She was the lone Trini on campus, an experience that she says forced her to find out who she is by exiling her from her comfort zone.
"One of the things I learned is that books, films and music are more important than anybody knows and if you wait for them to come to you, you will be average for your entire life. I'm driven by love of culture and love of people. You have to do the things you love," she says "To find the people you love."