R. Antonio Matta was born on October 1, 1980. His birth was three months premature and he became an orphan by time he was 15 weeks old due to his mother's cancerous death. Antonio attended Highland Springs High School in Richmond, VA and graduated in 1998 with honors. He also studied Radio Broadcasting and Journalism at a local technical school. His scholastic years brought him regional and national recognition, including but not limited to awards received by the Vocational and Industrial Clubs of America (VICA) for broadcast production, the Richmond-Times Dispatch Journalism Student of the Year and the American Legion Award for Citizenship, to name a few.
After graduation and being rejected by a few local newspapers and radio stations, Antonio began a professional theater career with Theatre IV, the nation’s second largest touring theater for children and young adults. For three years he traveled the country performing in shows for audiences of all ages. Antonio says that his love for children made the experience more fulfilling than the joy of entertaining professionally in itself. When he wasn’t on tour, he performed in supporting and ensemble roles at several other professional theatres within the Mid-Atlantic region. By 2001, Antonio had even worked under the late Ernie McKlintock, founder of the Jazz Actor’s Theatre in NYC and ‘Living Legend’ as named by the National Black Theatre Festival in 1999.
Proud of his latino heritage, R. Antonio was no stranger to the stigmas placed on minorities in America. However, for anyone who knew his ambitions and goals in life, it would seem that he was living out his childhood dream of entertaining. However, inside he was suffering. In late 2001, after a suicide attempt was stopped by a fellow actor on his tour, Antonio’s theatre career began to fall apart show by show.
Eventually, his contract ended with the touring company. Very few individuals knew that in his adolescent years, teachers and therapists attempted to find a prognosis for his emotional and psychological changes that were becoming dangerously obvious in Antonio's behavior. The first few years his diagnosis varied. It was only up until the aforementioned events of his early 20's, that doctors were finally able to accurately center their prescriptions, tests and treatment on schizoaffective disorder. The writer says he is not an advocate of modern medicine and since 2003 has moderately been able to manage his disability with nothing but patience, understanding, faith and daily self-analysis; which he says is critical to his survival and helps him to better adjust his often delusional perceptions to actual reality. Needless to say much of his life to the present has been a trying and ambiguous time for him and his loved ones. The events during this time involved a few arrests, homelessness and more fatal attempts on his life.
As there is always a period of peace following any storm, Antonio eventually began to pull his life together slowly. He put his music and theatre career on hold and starting working what many would call “real” steady jobs and settling down in his fatherly role over his two God-children (Mashayla and Derrick Redd). In 2003, however, his life encountered a very traumatic turning point. Antonio was hit by a MACK truck, while in his car headed to work. The car was totaled and miraculously, Antonio suffered only minor injuries from an accident that the paramedics said “Should’ve killed him.” After that, he began to re-focus his life; starting with its appreciation. He fought hard to fight the challenges his premature birth, post-natal effects of his mother’s death, his distant relationship with his father, his mysterious multi-racial ethnicity and his psychosis. However, to some it would appear that the Most High must’ve found his fight weak because in 2005, Antonio was the victim of yet another life-threatening car accident that started yet another monumental change in his life.
The writer says that his memory of the events following his voluntary discharge from the trauma unit, of the hospital that treated him after the accident, has begun to fade over the last few years. However, he is more than grateful to still be alive. In addition to mental rehabilitation and re-educating some of his body’s motor skills, Antonio has had to adjust to major changes in his life; one of those being his move back to New York City. Becoming stronger in all of his past adversity, gives Antonio a feeling of obligation to tell others about the power of love and perseverance. This is how and why the Your Genesis Project was started; to remind others of the power within themselves to change.