From football player to playwright

He once carried out plays on the gridiron for Florida State University. Now he carries them out with the pen at Florida A&M.

Timothy Orange, a junior theater student at FAMU from Miami, won first place in the playwright category for the Margaret Walker Memorial Prize for creative writing Friday. The College of Language Association chooses a recipient for the Margaret Walker Memorial Prize annually.

“I was excited,” Orange said. “I was humbled, but at the same time I was given a sense of confidence. It was something that I needed to solidify that I am on the right track.”

The Margaret Walker Prize was Orange’s first award for playwriting. Some of his poetry was published in the Black Magnolia Literary Journal out of Mississippi and FAMU’s Cake Magazine, a literary journal of poetry and arts.

Orange earned top honors in the Margaret Walker contest with “Yin.”

His 10-minute comedy filled with “shoptalk” wisdom depicts a 1950’s scene of two black women consoling a distraught white bakery owner after she discovered her husband’s infidelities.

“It was a shot out to that feminine principle of existence and life,” Orange said. “I wanted to shed light on its purpose and how it can benefit us. I feel as though society won’t get right until we begin to appreciate women.”

Orange winning the award didn’t come as a surprise to FAMU theater professor James Webb, who wrote and directed the play “Siblings Rivalry,” which Orange was cast in.

“Tim has the makings of an incredible artist,” Webb said. “He’s marking out his own path, and I can see him doing excellent work in the theater as a writer, actor and director. He’s dedicated to the journey. His strong desire to learn about his craft, coupled with his natural talent, will take him far.”

Orange started writing after a personal revelation and some self-realizing. He decided to channel his energy into writing instead of football.

“I put aside what I wanted and put what God wanted for me in the forefront,” Orange said.

The shooting death of a close friend back home prompted Orange to write even more.

“That really gave me the initiative to use my voice and use my talent,” Orange said.

Orange’s long-time friend from little league football, Ricky Morris, a senior African-American studies student from Miami, describes Orange as self-aware and disciplined. Morris believes that every encounter with Orange’s work is a moment of enlightenment.

“Him winning that award was validation and confirmation of him knowing himself,” Morris said. “He’s disciplined, and when he put his mind to something he sees it through.”

Professors encourage students to have set times to write every day. However, the only thing that sets Orange’s writing is his spirit.

“He writes from the viewpoint of a mind that’s not closed,” Morris said.

That’s because, “Tim has an ear for authentic dialogue,” Webb said. “His writing is raw, funny and sophisticated. He has an old soul, and it comes through in his characters.”

When people read and watch the work of writers, they create their own image and personality of what they think the author is like. Nevertheless, Orange defines himself as limitless.

“I strive to live in every moment,” Orange said. “I strive to free myself from any negativity, any predetermined stereotype and any stigma that society has placed on me as a black man.”