Femdacity Celebrates Black History Month- Entertainment
Given Cicely Tyson's passing and the very recent passing of Mary Wilson, it seemed appropriate to focus our Black History Celebration on Women in Entertainment.
Throughout the years, the characters these women played, the characters they created, or the songs they sang made us snap our fingers, laugh, cry, and fist pump. Each of these women displays their special kind of Feminine Audacity on and off the stage.
The Class Act- Cicely Tyson
As a child, I can remember watching the movies Sounder and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. I was struck by both the complexity of the characters and the deep relevance of the stories. During Tyson's career, she is reported to have been selective about the roles she took because she wasn't in it for a paycheck. Throughout her career, she won numerous awards and in 2010, the NAACP presented Tyson with its 95th Spingarn Medal.
Offstage, Tyson co-founded the Dance Theater of Harlem. When a school board in my hometown of East Orange, New Jersey, wanted to name a performing arts school after her, she only agreed to accept the honor if she could participate in school activities.
The Supreme- Mary Wilson
Mary Wilson is best known as one of the founding members of the Supremes sing group. Their pop No. 1’s of 1964-67 included “Baby Love,” “Come See About Me,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Back in My Arms Again,” “I Hear a Symphony,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “You Keep Me Hanging On” and “Reflections.”
Wilson worked behind the scenes on many legislative initiatives aimed at modernizing copyright laws to protect the artists whose rights were not being adequately protected. 2018 marked an important step forward for Mary’s fight to have the Music Modernization Act (MMA) pass. Her vision came to fruition when the United States legislation signed the act into law on October 11, 2018.
The Ballerina- Misty Copeland
Misty Copeland epitomizes the phrase 'defying the odds'. She started her ballet career at the late age of 13 which is unheard of. Equally unheard of is her promotion to principal dancer, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history. In the fall of 2014, she made history again as the first black woman to perform the lead role of “Odette/Odile” in American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake during the company’s inaugural tour to Australia. (fist pump).
Off the stage, she works with many charitable organizations and is dedicated to giving her time to work with and mentor young girls and boys. In 2014, President Obama appointed Misty to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.
The Filmmaker- Ava Duvernay
Every interview I see Ava DuVernay in, she comes across as a student of her craft, a prolific creator, and a girlfriend you can hang out with at brunch. This sister is 'WOKE' and we love her for it!
Ava DuVernay is a writer, director, producer and, film distributor. Her directorial work includes the historical drama SELMA, the criminal justice documentary 13TH, and Disney’s A WRINKLE IN TIME.
DuVernay sits on the advisory board of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and chairs the Prada Diversity Council.
In the words of Tyra Banks, 'Never Dull Your Shine for Somebody Else'.