Kym Whitley challenges the stigma of adoption with Raising Whitley
Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo
Mother’s Day is meant to only celebrate mothers and motherhood, but actress and comedienne, Kym Whitley knows that it truly takes a village to raise a child. On her new docu-series, Raising Whitley, she shares her humorous and emotional journey through motherhood with the support of family and friends.
“I hope that this show teaches other single parents to build a village to ask for help,” she says. “So many people are busy working now but we need to go back to the old days when grandma and the neighbors helped raise the children, and we were all the better for it.”
Beyond encouraging parents to ask for support, as an adoptive parent, Whitley wants the show to remove any associations of shame surrounding adoption. “In the African-American community we are very hush, hush about things in our life. Once I adopted Joshua so many of my friends that I’ve known for years came out of the woodwork about being adopted too. So I want to raise awareness of adoption and take away the stigma.”
The Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage and Jazzmobile, Inc., in collaboration with ColumbiaUniversity, have a special treat for all mothers and fathers this week with the Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival. Highlights include, S. Epatha Merkerson’s staging of Geri Allen & Friends Celebrate the Great Jazz Women of the Apollo; Marc Cary‘s celebration of Abbey Lincoln with Moseka House: The House That Abbey Built; and Columbia University’s Harlem Jazz Shrine Dialogues: Cotton Club in Black & White and more here. ”The Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival provides an essential forum for us to claim and uphold the great musical traditions that were born and nurtured in Harlem and continue to thrive through the talent of both emerging and established artists,” says Patricia Cruz, executive director of Harlem Stage.
The writing style of celebrated author, Walter Mosley has often been compared to jazz and now he will bring that flavor to the stage at the Crossroads Theatre Company. This weekend is the premiere of two one-act plays: Mosley’s White Lilies and the adult comedy The Talk, by France-Luce Benson. Mosley’s story is set in the 1970s and touches on themes of love, faith and forgiveness. During a phone conversation, he shared why the play almost never made it to the stage. “I had wrote it 20 years ago and presented it at a reading at the Public Theater. The person responsible for the reading at the time was so negative about it that I figured I didn’t know how to write plays and I forgot about it. Then years later I realized it was only an artistic difference between me and this person and I can write plays.”
With his multitude of talents, perhaps Mosley can choreograph too but if not, we can leave that up to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which will bring its 21-city national tour to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center this weekend. The opening night performance on Friday, May 10 will be a 70th birthday celebration for legendary dancer and choreographer, Judith Jamison. Robert Battle, artistic director notes that honoring Jamison is a chance to reflect and look forward. “Dance came from the people and should always be delivered back to the people. Judith Jamison carried that torch, and now I carry it. Join us this Mother’s Day weekend to see how Ailey’s legacy is burning brightly,” he says.
The fire still burns strongly for Byron E. Lewis, Sr., the chairman and founder of UniWorld Group, Inc, the longest-standing full-service multicultural advertising and communications agency in the U.S. Lewis was honored this past week at The Schomburg Cerner for Research in Black Culture for what The Hon. David Dinkins acknowledges to be his ability to shatter barriers. “When he was in the business in the beginning there were maybe 20-25 people of color and thousands upon thousands of white folks. Those who go first open the doors for a lot of others not just in that discipline but in others too,” says Dinkins.
The doors of Saks Fifth Avenue’s Manhattanflagship were open to the fashion forward and socially conscious at OrphanAID Africa’s spring fundraising event. During the event, 10% of sales from CoSTUME National’s Fall 2013 collection benefitted the charity. The stylishly dressed included, singer/actress Sophie Auster, OrphanAID Africa board member, author Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, writer/editor Alexis Garrett Stodghill and ArtCrawl Harlem co-founder, Jacqueline Orange. CoSTUME National head designer Ennio Capasa shared his thoughts on the importance of the fashion industry paying it forward. “OrphanAID Africa really supports the children in Africa and I admire what they are doing. In my industry we cannot forget the people that live in a different condition from us.”
Apparently it takes a village and fashion to raise our children.
The Harlem Arts Alliance is a not for profit arts service organization celebrating 10 years of service to a prestigious list of members such as the Apollo Theater, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Columbia University, Harlem Stage (Aaron Davis Hall) and over 850 more cultural/arts institutions and individuals. The weekly column, Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo, covers the intersection of the arts, culture and entertainment scene in Harlem and beyond and is written by Souleo, founder and president of event/media content production company, Souleo Enterprises, LLC.