tv Our World With Black Enterprise CW September 18, 2011 6:30am-7:00am EDT
welcome to "our world" with black enter prize i'm your host. today, i silt down with sanaa lathe ton discuss her latest project on the stage. we are exploring love on the black community and we profile one paralympic skier with an inspiring outlook on life. that's what's going on in our world, starting now.
actress sanaa lateson taking a break from big screen to return to the stage. we sat down with her to discuss her new play, movie roles and blacks in hollywood. thanks tore taking time to be with us today. it is my pleasure. >> tell butts play you are doing. it is a play by a woman who won the pulitzer prize last year for "ruined" african-american play wright who is just so brilliant. when i read the script, i was blown away by this writer's imagination. it follies 1930s actress who makes a career out of playing
maids and i just want every ton see it, because it follows her whole career, she becomes a big star and just so much fun. >> now, you have done tv, you have done hollywood stuff. >> yeah. >> what is the big difference for you? >> oh, gosh, you know, i love it all. really, it is all about the character and the story that i'm telling and i just love -- i feel like i'm a story term and i love to tell stories, so the great thing about doing stage is that it's different every night. you get to live the journey of the character from beginning to end every night. you have the audience, every audience is different sour getting a different kind of vibe with every show. you know, with film and tv, you kind of have are to wait until it is complete finished and may see it six months to a year later and you don't know -- it is oh, wow, you are kind of outside the process once you shoot the film. also with a film, could you do the last day of the character
first or the first day, you know, in the middle of the journey so it is nice to be able to live out at journey of the character every day. >> one of the things talked about was this engage was with the audience. >> yes. >> it seems to me that one of the things you have done throughout your plays, anyway is bring a new audience to the theater. >> well, that's hopefully the goal. i'm -- you know, it's -- unfortunately, there aren't a lot of african-american stories being told on broadway today, so it's such a delight for me to be able to be telling, you know, a story about you know, people in this world, you know? that's what i want to do i want to reflect what, you know, what is real life and real life is all different colors and all different experiences. and so, it is really nice to have people come and say, you know, this is the first play i've ever seen and thank you so much. that really is delightful to me. >> why aren't the people who make plays or who produce plays, why aren't they making more stuff for us if we come?
>> i don't know. you got to talk to them. i -- i know that they are -- last year, they did "fences" and i knee sam jackson is doing a play coming up and i did "cat on a hot tin roof" in london. so let's just -- let's just look at it that hopeful think is getting better. i'm just going to say that. put out there it is getting better. >> fingers crossed? >> yeah, more stories for people of color, whether that's on tv, film, broadway. >> tell me what it's like to be hollywood actress, i hear that's hard, i hear the jobs are few and far between, quality roles, what has your experience been like? >> yes, it is harder to be a black actor and a black actress because there respect as many roles out there for us and there is so much talent among us. but i feel like i've been really, really lucky or blessed, whatever you want to call it i feel like i've got ton play some really amazing roles. >> one of the things i've always
appreciated about you, every role do you is different, not like a typecast sort of role, they all have dignity, all interesting, creative. >> i want to play some characters without dignity, too. >> do you? >> why not? >> what kind of stuff? >> you know, i think the -- i don't know if you saw "the family that prays." >> my man. >> one of the reasons why i was drawn to her is because she -- she wasn't -- she was kind of a little morally corrupt and i think that that's part of the fun of being an actor is that you get to kind of do all those kinds of roles, so i look forward to playing -- i will play some characters without some dignity z i'm sure you reject a lot of stuff that doesn't fit? >> absolutely. a lot of it not so much about character it is about writing or about script. you know, it's -- good, good writing and good scripts i and good stories are come few and far between in this business. and i mean, i think you can see from what's being made and what's being put out there. >> yeah, for sure.
>> that -- so for me, i just -- i -- my criteria really is does this move me? it's -- i can tell right away when i read a script if i want to be a part of it, so, i'm choosy in -- because of that, because i want to be a part of projects that i would like walt to go see z you had a sort of different pathway than some people. everyone tells a story of being, like in a coffee shop and just getting discovered or something like that but you were trained? >> yes, i was. >> how important was that for what you did? >> well, you know, my dad and my mom both are from the industry. my mother was -- she went to jewel yard and she was one of the original alvin ailey companies was on broadway. and my dad is a director and a producer and i knew how hard pursuing this profession was. i knew firsthand, seeing it from my parents and so i knew that i wanted to just have as much, you know, behind me before stepped out into the business and i
thought that going school and really learning about acting, really, you know, getting some experience under my belt was going to help and the business really doesn't care about whether you're trained or not, but for me, knowing that i have that technique and that i can -- you know, if there's a role, i can -- i know that i have -- i have played so many different kinds of roles on stage and on film that i know i can approach it i know i have a way of approaching it. >> it's important. some people would assume because your parents are in the business you just had some golden parachute, landed in business and started getting major roles. you went to berkeley, yale. >> no you know, i definitely have been working, doing my work. my father has not -- never give many job, contrary to what a lot of people say. no we haven't worked together yet. hopefully we will. but, yeah. >> up next, love is in the air. it's our on the record discussion. >> i think it's outrageous. i have to just say this every time we talk about black lovers
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mona scott young, executive pro-tires of vh-1's love and hip-hop, jimmy briggs, co-founder around executive director of the man up campaign and esther ermarks international journalist and radio host. thank you all for joining us, such an interesting topic, love or even black love, does it exist? >> i'd like to think so. >> i think it's outrageous. i have to just say this every time we talk about black love, it is from the from a point of crisis, it's died, it's dead, it's been buried, senate a wake there's an obituary it is always done and over. i'm like, have you met the president of the united states and his wife, mich ole 'bama? clearly, black love doesn't just exist it thrives it moves it evolves. >> so why are we getting divorced all the time? >> let's just be clear it is not just black poke. the divorce rate across america is one thing and when you don't separate and think about the totals in terms of black community, there's always this picture of doom and gloom and that inaccuracy, it feeds that crisis and notion tapped is always this point of
[ gasping ] black love is dead. >> seems like -- what do you say the divorce rates are high, people writing books about it stories about t is black love alive and if not -- >> think is alive, but they should say that a sniffle in the large community is a cold in the black community. and i think, you know, the divorce rate it is a national trend across all groups, in the black community, i see this as a crisis, because you are seeing less and less molds for positive relationships, long-term black relation shorps marriage in our community. >> are those the same things though, positive relationship and marriage? >> i think i agree in the fact that there aren't many images for them to look at and to follow. you know, you're right, the obamas certainly are one now and i think our only other example were the does business. >> and they ain't even real. >> there weren't that many in between. so when you look at the young folks today and we certainly know that you know, in their own lingo, in their music, down the
really hear stories of love, you hear lots of talk about sex and about hooking up and hitting that, but there isn't real buck talk about relationships what happened comes with that. >> what is real love? esther, you are an expert. why you are here. >> give us the secrets. >> what is real love? >> i think that is part of the challenge is that marriage has been defined as the only way in which forming healthy love happens and the absence of marriage equals the death of love, especially when it comes to black communities and because it is defined in those terms, then we are -- it is always going to be a crisis, whereas actually black people have always formed families in order to get through those difficult times that are about supporting one another that are about community. we create community everywhere we go part of what i argue is it is actually the same when we had a civil rights mom. a social justice movement, a women's rights movement, we need an emotional justice movement. >> emotional justice? >> exactly.
what i mean by that -- >> what it sound like? what it look like? >> i mean emotionality is a priority, that it is important for us to learn about the construct of a healthy emotional self, in the same way that i give priority to your education and your job. would you never expect to move in the world without doing some work and yet when it comes to love and the family and the relationships, our argument is always, well you have to just take me as i am, just take me as i am, no work work as broken down as i may be and that is the most you are going to get and then celebrate. exactly and then celebrate it in pop culture reality tv again and again. the broken as soon as celebrated and the craziness celebrated. >> let talk about that popular tv, chur thing. one of the thing do you is produce a show that offers a different representation of black love and black relationships, right? >> well, you know, it was important for me in doing the show to show there are so many different sides to these relationships, i think especially as it relates to the relationship notice entertainment community, you know? people know what they read in the tabloids, it is usually just
the sensational headlines and you don't really stop to think about the fact that these are people that behind their closed doors go through the same things that we go through. suffer the same insecureity, have to go through the same process of working on their relationships. so it was an opportunity to show that you know, these guys who you see on the same doing all of these different -- you know, they go home to real women who make demands on their time who make demands on their -- them in terms of the relationship and they have this-to-work al it like every other man. >> work that you and esther talk about is a key thing here that behind the scenes, people are working at love and working at relationships. absolutely. >> somehow you that's not cool. jimmy, why is it so difficult for it to be cool or acceptable for men to work at relationships, to work at love, work at romance? >> for men, especially of color we tend to runaway or be wary of those discussions, those discussions expressing our emotions, our sensitivity what hurts us, the changes we have to
make inside. >> why is that? >> i think it goes to -- i think a lot of -- i think it is a mix of race, gender and class issues. i think society has told us and we have adopted this viewpoint that if we go to that place within ourselves if we talk about our hurt, our wounds, our weaknesses and the change, we are told we are soft, we are weak, we are not than a marks less than man, not holding it down, not being strong. so whether -- even if we need to go to those places to heal ourselves, we don't. >> seem likes all of to are you speaking to this notion of healing and sort of crafting these spaces were we can heal and grow and really become better people, partners for somebody else. final thought, where do those space ease merge? how do we create those kind of spaces? >> for me, it begins with acceptance, you know? acceptance and confidence in both yourself and your partner. i think only then can you both come to a place where you can work on each other, work on yourselves, work on your relationship. >> h i think the space is created where we make them. i think it has to be a holistic
response, situations like this we also talk in schools, talk in churches, amongst our friend necessary the barber shop, wherever we are with, we have comfort, talk about issues such as love. >> i think when we are willing to create the space where we can talk about those uncomfortable difficult truth that is how we know we are moving forward. i know through the convenient that i do that's what that's about that we want safe place spayses to talk about the emotional things that are hard and hurt but help us grow and move us forward. we want them, we hunger for them, we come when they are create sod we can have more of them and move forward and be winners in love. >> wing at love is a major priority for our community and you-all have given us a lot to think about mona, jimmy, esther, thank you so much for being here. if you have a topic would you like us to cover, e-mail us at our world black enterprise.com. up next, a paralympic medalist who is defying the odds. >> you can make it right, you can have the strength and court ran to come back and make choice and do the work to make your
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welcome back. she is the first african-american to win ski racial medals in the paraolympics. called one of the most inspirg women in america, bonnie st. john is our slice of life.ing women in america, bonnie st. john is our slice of life. ♪ >> i grew up in san diego, california, which is unusual for an african-american with one leg with no snow to end up becoming a ski racer. >> voted one of the most inspirational women in america, 46-year-old bonnie st. john was born with a birth defect that stunted the growth in one of her legs and at 5 years old, doctors told her they would have to an tape. but had she was determined to have an ordinary life. it was a high school friend who introduced her to skiing. >> it is amazing because she's white, i'm black and she didn't see differences. she reached out and said, hey, you know, let's go skiing together. so it's -- it's amazing how
somebody can change your life. i started skiing and found out there were a lot of other amputees who skied and raced, so this was my chance to really find out what i was made of and see if i could make the u.s. team. and so i really went for it. >> did she ever. bonnie made the paralympic team in 1984. >> i got to where i could see the finish line, i think i've made it i'm gonna win, and boom, that's when i fell on this bad spot on the ice. and, oh i was so disappointed. i was number one in the world and all of a sudden, i'm sitting in the snow. >> she got back up, finishing the run and walking away with two bronze medals and a silver. bonnie st. john became the second fastest female skier in the world on one leg. >> i realized the woman who to won first place, she had also fallen and gotten up and that's when i realize she had didn't beat me by skiing faster she beat me by getting up faster. so people fall down. winners get up.
sometimes the gold medal winner is just the person who gets up the fastest. >> bonnie had hasn't missed a beat since. she went on to graduate from harvard and oxford universities she signed on at ibm, then did a stint on the white house economic council during the clinton administration. but losing her leg hasn't been bonnie's only challenge. there was a tragic childhood experience that she tried to forget. >> actually, i was sexually abused from the age of 2 to the able of 7 by my stepfather and in my own home. and it was very difficult to deal with emotionally you that's probably one of the hardest things i ever had to deal w i just blocked out the memories for years. >> this single mom's life experiences have inspired several of her books, including "how strong women pray." >> i want to share a story with you about what one of the hardest things i ever did and you can see i have done a lot of hard things.
>> bonnie travels the world as a motivational speaker and makes a special effort to inspire kids like these from reach prep, a program that identifies and grooms black and latino scholars. >> bonnie st. john, i believe, represents for us determination, a woman who has obviously overcome enormous odds to be where she is, to accomplish what she has, and so we like to have people like bonnie come and just kind of validate these students, but also show them what commitment long-term will help them accomplish. >> what are some of the things want to do when you grow you? i want to be food critic, a chef and a restaurant opener. >> she really fault me you shouldn't care what other people think about you and, like, you shouldn't have to try to be normal, just be yourself. >> there are a lot of tough things in life, some visible, like my leg, some invisible, like the abuse i went through, but my life is proof that no matter what happens to you, you can make it right. you can have the strength and the courage to come back and
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