When people ask how I started writing, I tell them it’s the only thing I know I’m good at. Nothing convinced me to become a writer. Writing was a blood instinct. I remember prose from as young as elementary school. Wacky stuff. In middle school, I wrote this series called the Weird Weather Series. It was about this town that always had insane weather issues. And based around this kid who was partially me, partially Jimmy Neutron who had to fix everything. Poetry didn’t come around until middle school. This girl I really liked played me. I don’t know exactly how the style shifted from prose to poetry. Probably because poetry is the romantic style of writing. From then on, I was a poet. I’d write multiple poems a day. Long, short, rhyming; most of them shitty. My work didn’t get good until college. Project: SPIT was the first place where I could workshop what I wrote. Until then, I was just venting with talent. But that was the point. I just wanted to be heard. SPIT helped me merge my emotion with technic. Project: SPIT also taught me about what I wanted from art. When I became President in 2015 and the Slam Coordinator in 2016, I became responsible for creating a space where people could be creative. It pushed me to learn to be more in touch with my creative self. Also how to build creativity in others. SPIT didn’t just teach artists how to create. That’s already inside of you. We do teach delivery and performance. This takes an understanding of rhetoric and effective ways to deliver a message. This also takes an understanding of self and a belief in what you’ve created. I had to learn this before I was able to teach it to people. Still, it’s hard for me to think of myself as one of those slam poets you see going viral. I will say, I feel like I’ve learned how to express myself more efficiently. And how to put on a damn good show.

Acting came to me differently. I remember being young watching Disney Channel shows. One day I looked at Miley Cyrus on Hannah Montana and just knew I wanted to do what she did. There was something so impressive about her being so young and being on TV. I didn’t get a chance to act until high school theatre. I took whatever part I could get and I was good at it. Never the best, but it wasn’t something I found difficult. Adjusting to theatre was a culture shock. I’m sure every performer thinks about how we spend months rehearsing for five or six 2-hour shows. Theatre performers are some of the hardest working performers around and people don’t know it. We’d be in school from 7am until 3pm, just to rehearse from 3 until 11. The whole shebang; singing, dancing, lines, costumes! There’d be rehearsal days where we’d spend the whole time reviewing a single song or scene. That’s 3 to 6 minutes of the show. Shit wasn’t easy! But I never loved doing something so much. When a show went up, it was like crack. The only thing you wanna do after a show is to reset and start all over again. I feel the same way about film. Acting in movies is just as much work. I think the camera is a little more forgiving but you still can be on set for over twelve hours for a single scene. My first paid acting gig was as an extra on Atlanta. And of course, filming was in Atlanta.  I didn’t have a car, so I had to take the Greyhound to Atlanta the day before filming. Put myself up in a hotel room for the night. Filmed the scene from 2PM until 2AM. And jumped on the 5AM Greyhound back home. They paid me $96 dollars. I spent $75 on my hotel room alone. But the money didn’t matter. How much time it took didn’t matter. On set, I wasn’t tired, or hungry, or cold, or bored. The only thing I could focus on was being the best at my role (which was holding a cup with fake Hypnotic in it and walking back and forth). There was nothing else I’d rather be doing with myself that acting.

In my heart, I know I am a poet first. Before any other craft. Writing is always the method of expression that’s flowed easiest for me. No matter what or who causes me to write, first and foremost, my writing is for me. A person or situation may inspire a piece, but writing about it is what gives me closure. Performing poetry is where I feel most powerful. I feel it’s what gives me a place in this world. To this day I can’t explain the inner tie I have towards acting. It’s just a desire I can never suppress. I find something so incredible about it. People think that it’s all about pretending. It’s not. Acting is about giving truth to a situation that may or may not be your own. When I’m acting, I do my best to bring it from the most real place I can connect to.

I think any aspect of art: poetry, acting, singing, drawing, dance; whatever it is, it’s about tapping into what emotion is real to you. That’s really where the excitement of performing comes from. People only see the finished product. They see what’s clean and done up. But to the artist, it feeds our souls knowing that we created something beautiful. What I believe is that everyone has the power to create, but everyone is not always given a space do so. I encourage every person to find a space they feel safe enough to express themselves. It won’t only help you tap into creativity but help you find happiness and a sense of belonging in the world.

Charles Hines was born on April 24th 1995 in Richmond, Virginia. His family relocated to Florida when he was in 6th grade. Although he has always loved putting on a show, at age 12 he discovered performing arts was what he was born to do.

Charles attended Riverview Senior High School where he was heavily involved in musical theater. There, Charles participated in over 20 theatrical productions both on and off stage including: Class Action, Les Miserables, The Wedding Singer and Once on This Island.

Charles graduated from the University of Central Florida, earning his Bachelor’s degree in English: Creative Writing and Africana Studies. At UCF Charles, has dedicated himself to Project: Student Poetry Initiating Thought (SPIT), the spoken word organization at UCF. Charles served as President of the organization 2015-2016 and Slam Coordinator 2016-2017. Charles has also competed on Project: SPIT’s slam poetry competition team three years in a row (2015, 2016, 2017).

Charles Hines has also been involved in many student film productions through and outside of UCF. Most recently he played the role of Jackson in the Writer’s UKnighted film “Fresh Start.”

Currently Charles runs a music focused blog called Minute of Music.

In the future Charles hopes to write, produce, star in, and direct films that include and properly represent minority groups.