I've greatly enjoyed my time, but I no longer wish to put my body at risk for the sake of entertainment. I think about the rest of my life and I want to live it with much quality. And physically, I am grateful that I can walk away feeling as good as I did when I stepped into it.
The uproar over high-stakes testing associated with Common Core in New York State and complaints that children are being tested on things they were not taught, has obscured the deepening of racial, ethnic and class divisions in education in New York and the United States.
Years from now we will know that we stood on the right side of history.
Google "coming of age movies" and you will find that the stories our culture says define coming of age are those like The Sandlot or Superbad. For boys of color there are far fewer, but some: Cooley High. Boyz in the Hood. School Daze. Try Googling "coming of age movies for girls" and you'll find a lot less.
I've read and heard so many accusations against the LGBT community by the religious right that I've now come to the conclusion that these folks are just sloppy with what they say. Seriously, it's as if they don't care that eventually someone will demonstrate how incoherent their claims are.
So then this new idea came along. Since we can't get rid of it, since we can't let it go -- let's embrace it. Let's reinvent it. Let's endear it. Well folks, we've had our little experiment and let me just tell you, it's failed miserably. Yes miserably.
Facing the horror of slavery is a tough nut to crack not simply because it entails facing an inconvenient truth about past racial dehumanization, but because it entails facing the real truth that slavery still corrodes in big and little ways American life.
Imprinted within our psyches is the notion that success is something that should be visible. Until recently, it has had a rather distinct look to it.
With the "My Brother's Keeper" initiative, President Obama is leveraging the power and influence of his presidency to address barriers to success facing boys and young men of color. It is a vital step in the continuous journey to help America heal from the legacy that limited opportunities for centuries.
Last week, President Obama unveiled his My Brothers Keeper initiative one day after the anniversary of the murder of Trayvon Martin and as the nation still grapples with the hung jury on the murder charge in the Michael Dunn case,.
On its face, sure, the President's initiative seems small. In fact the $150 million that has already been invested in the program could probably go a long way to improving circumstances for male youth of color in Chicago alone. But it is a step in the right direction.
This week thousands of parents and students marched to save their schools and fight for the right of every child to receive a quality education. The march was in response to the mayor's newly announced charter school co-location policy.
Seventeen-year-old Theresa Tran is one of this year's winners of the Children's Defense Fund-Ohio's Beat the Odds® scholarships after overcoming tough odds including physical disability, the death of a beloved sibling, and a father who suddenly abandoned the family.
I started to think of the underrepresentation of other minorities in the fashion industry and the limited diversity in many other art culture subsets. As a result, I decided to look around and to give more recognition to these six creators who are following their passions.
Backing Bette Midler as a vocalist gave Jenifer Lewis the training for her thirty year-plus long entertainment career. The 53 year-old Missouri native has over sixty films on her resume and -- though her part is small -- will make what she considers a "career transformation" in the new Clint Eastwood movie 'Hereafter.'
BlackVoices.com sat down with this legendary actress, singer and thespian for her thoughts on where she's been and where she's going.
BlackVoices: You've been a background vocalist for Bette Midler and Whoopi Goldberg in 'Sister Act.' Who's the biggest diva you've worked with and what did they teach you?
Jenifer Lewis: Well, I guess it was Bette Midler. And, one of the things I learned from Bette is how to sing a ballad. She had great focus and great humor and chutzpa (and you'll have to look that up how to spell that). She was very charismatic on stage and I would always stand in the wings and watch her.
BV: With a television career that spans 'A Different World' and 'Strong Medicine' to 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,' and 'Friends' what do you think was your most enjoyable television role?
JL: I think they all are. When I show up, I show up to have a good time. I am a professional and I really enjoy working with other artists and having done a variety of other roles really fed my artistic creativity.
BV: There have been several notable roles you almost got but didn't including Effie White in the original cast of 'Dreamgirls' and Tina Turner in the critically acclaimed film 'What's Love Got to Do With It,' which one of these roles were you most upset you didn't get and did you watch either film and say hell I could've don't that better.
JL: Here's the time for me to set the record straight. I never audtioned for Tina and did not get the role. I was offered the mother role and was happy to do it. Could I have played Tina? Yes, but I think Angela Bassett did a great job and Effie it was the workshop production of 'Dreamgirls' that I did and when they brought Jennifer Holliday back I was fine because who knew that it was going to be the hit that it became. So there was never any disappointment in those two.
BV: But, was there any role that you were upset that you did not get?
JL: I am a firm believer in 'what's mine is mine.' I work so much, hell I can't get every part. Of course, I'm human and have had great disappointments in my career, but you keep stepping and keep it moving.
BV: You've also played the role of the mother in several films and for big names like Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, and Taraji P Henson, to name a few.
JL: That's right, I'm the black mother of Hollywood and good black don't crack. I have tried to honor the middle-aged African-American woman by playing her honest, and the earth mother which is what they are...sassy, honest, they get to the point, very direct, and very charismatic. So I've tried to honor that.
BV: Is there one mother role that you get recognized for the most?
JL: I think Velma Bullock from 'What's Love Got To Do With It?' People just walk down the street quoting me constantly. "Anna Mae, I'm the only sinner in this house" [and] "What you gonna do with that money, Anna Mae?" And, I think it's just too cute. When people imitate me, I just laugh and laugh. I'm very flattered by it.
BV: Do you ever feel like you're being typecast?
JL: Yeah, but I didn't mind it. I tell people 'Yeah, I play everybody's mother, but for that kind of money, I'll play the daddy." Ok, let's get real.
BV: Who's your favorite person to work with?
JL: I had a great time with Tom Hanks, we laughed the entire time we did 'Castaway,' that was a lot of fun. I loved working with Taraji P. Henson, she's a hoot...fiery girl. I love her. I get along with everybody and if I'm not getting along with you I'm going to say, 'Baby, can we work this out?' and a lot of times we do because life is short. People don't mess with me. They really don't they're like, 'That's Jenifer Lewis, keep it stepping.'
BV: You're certainly one of the funniest actresses of our time, would you ever do another sketch comedy show, having appeared on several episodes of 'In Living Color.'
JL: If that comes along before something else and it's written well I will do that show. I know people are waiting for me to have my own show and my answer to that is 'Everything in Time.'
BV: Was there ever one person you wanted to model your career after when you decided to become an actress?
JL: No, I'm an original. Always have been.
JL: Now, I've looked up to many people who are not all entertainers that have helped me mold the person I have become. Mahalia Jackson, Aretha [Franklin]'s voice was the score to my childhood. I grew to love and admire Dr. [Martin Luther] King and I stand on the shoulders on Nelson Mandela and I know that they are fragile, so I watch my step. I am a reader of the great Toni Morrison. There are so many that I cannot name, but I honor them all. Lena Horne, Nina Simone, Barbara Streisand...I met [Barack] Obama and Michelle [Obama] at Oprah [Winfrey]'s house and I want you to print all of that because I pay tribute to these people.
BV: If you weren't an actress, what do you think you would be doing?
JL: I would be a gymnast. I'm very limber. I do yoga.
BV: Many people love your cult classic mockumentary 'Jackie's Back.' What's the status on the sequel? We're getting anxious waiting on it.
JL: I'm going to try real hard to do that. I think the next 'Jackie's Back,' she's going to be Mayor of Washington, D.C., terrorizing the entire town.
BV: Two years ago, you appeared in 'Hairspray' on Broadway. Do you think you'd go back to Broadway anytime in the near future?
JL: I am sure I will one day because I have got to snatch up that Tony Award.
BV: Will you be doing your one-woman show in the near future?
JL: I will be doing a concert on Nov.22 at the Nate Holden Theatre called 'Tis the Season with Jenifer Lewis' so I want everybody to be there. It is a fundraiser.
BV: Many people don't know you voiced the character of Mama Odie in the Disney animated film 'The Princess and the Frog,' was that easy work?
JL: Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. I took on Moms Mabley, the African-American comedienne and just ran with it. I had a ball doing that character.
BV: Tell us a little about your role in 'Hereafter.' How was having this bit role in this big budget film?
JL: I'll put it like this...everybody should see the movie because Clint Eastwood has the ability to poetically put stories onto the screen. The movie leaves you with your own imagination and he captures the current of human emotion and I have two words for Clint Eastwood: intellect and humanity. Very classy guy he trusts his actors. And, Matt Damon was also a professional so there I sat in front of my own reflection because I am a staunch professional.
Blackvoices: Did you learn anything from Matt Damon or Clint Eastwood? Or better yet, did you teach him anything?
JL: Just stay focused and do the work and do it well, but between me and you, I think they learned more from me. Hatch da da dum.
Blackvoices: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
JL: Happy. Very, very, happy. I have a wonderful daughter. I'm in love. I will probably be married. I have never been married and I have a little puppy and I'm sure that he will be right in my little arms.
Blackvoices: Do you still have a dream role that you haven't played yet or a passion project of sorts?
JL: I'm loving it all. Whatever comes and it's good. I will take it.
'Hereafter' hit theaters nationwide Oct. 22.