Ntozake Shange....the name alone is iconic! If you are a actress from the African Diaspora there is no way you haven’t heard or said her name at least once. “ for colored girls..” no need to say anymore because for women of the African Diaspora there is no playwright more important. She defined the Black aesthetic in theatre. She gave a space where our stories shined, our heartache & joy were celebrated. Her words help to give Voice to the toxic misogyny which existed in our community but for fear of “airing our dirty laundry “ were too fearful to share. Ntozake life while amazing was not easy, she was the first and as a result endured the brunt of what it means to break that ceiling. This was before “#blackgirlmagic” and many of the women of that production suffered great disillusionment after the glory ended. Ntozake continued to create, to define a new language that inspired new forms of creativity while simultaneously moving through the uncertainty that sudden fame brings. Her prose allowed me and many others a structural liberty in our expression. Ntozake gave birth to the first black woman to win a Tony for best featured actress in a play, for a black man to win Drama Critics and another black woman to win a Theatre World Award. Her work has been translated in over 20 languages and is international in its influence.Not every artist can say, my presence made a seismic shift...but for Ms. Shange there is not a question...Ase my Sista!
Aretha, Aretha ...I have written abt the Queen several times...because she is a musical BEAST! Aretha literally changed the style of mainstream singing. One of Aretha's inspirations and heroes was Mahalia Jackson and she clearly influenced her but vocally, Aretha is the MOST influential singer in the pop era period! It’s is pre and post Aretha! There is no male or female artist is before her.She is known for her vocal gymnastics hitting all then notes and she is the reason that every person tries to wail at the end of song! Some have claimed, she did not read music which is false and just crazy. Her father was a musician, she lived in an middle class life in Detroit at the height of it's musical influence, and one of her closet friends was Smokey Robinson. She attended Julliard,is a classically trained pianist and was familiar with gospel and opera. Her voice was versatile and she could sing anything, there was no limit to her musicianship. At 1998 Grammy telecast, she stepped in for Pavarotti who had fallen ill. The show director ran to Aretha's dressing room to ask if she could fill in, she listened to a recording of his rehearsal & sang the aria Nessun Dorma in HIS key w/ NO REHEARSAL!!! The audience was astounded and she received a standing ovation and incredible reviews the next day. She was the Queen of remake, as an artist she didn’t imitate she reinvented..when she remade “Until you come back to me” Stevie Wonder basically said” ..well, that’s done “. When asked about the song Natural Woman Carole King said “it belongs to the Queen". She charted for 6 decades, from the 1960' through the mid 2000's and she is the highest selling female artist. She was an apologetically black woman, she supported the civil rights & black power movement. When Angela Davis was arrested, she offered money for her release saying ' my money is made from black people...it's only right it is used to support them". She paid a high price for her community, as an outspoken , ambitious female artist. I hope that artists and especially female artist understand this trailblazer. All Hail the Queen!#arethafranklin #artist #legend #trailblazer #womensvoices
Oh ...Ms. Diahann ...Ms. Diahann...what a life..one groundbreaking moment after another, refusing stereotypical roles, she was the first black person to win a Tony in a leading role for Richard Rogers only solo effort No Strings Attached. Julia was a defining moment for television featuring a black female lead not in a role of servitude. Julia was a widowed registered nurse, with a young son but her television created world featured few other black characters except for the occasional guest star. In an interview, in reference to images at that time in the 60’s she was quoted as saying “ at this moment, we’re presenting the white Negro.. and he has very little Negro-ness.” Her role on Dynasty made her the first black “b*tch on network TV with the legendary line " this champagne is burnt".
Born in the boogie down BX in a supportive home, her career began in the 50’s with Carmen Jones and thrived through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s with Sisters, Different World, Five Heartbeats, Eve’s Bayou, Grey’s Anatomy, & White Collar among many others .
As the first, she carried quite the burden of always being perfect. She was an searing example of grace and elegance; she symbolized our transition from mammy to Madame. In the midst of her beauty she was a committed and dedicated actress as seen in her phenomenal performance in Claudine. As so many other ambitious black women, she wasn't always supported by the men in her life, (which included 4 marriages & a volatile affair with Sidney Poitier). Fortunately, unlike many other talented powerhouses ( Holiday, Washington, Houston, Dandridge, etc) she did not fall victim to that betrayal and continued to beam her light with conviction.
Growing up she was one of my "sheroes “, the epitome of femininity , she let me know as a black girl I can be any kinda woman I wanted to be. No matter the struggles, inequalities or sexism, Ms. Carroll shone. She was and is our Black Diamond❤️ Thank You Ms. Carroll #diva #dynasty #whitecollar #legacy #legend #blackgirlmagic
An Actor/Director sharing her thoughts on creativity in this crazy metropolis, New Yawk Citay.