by Travis Ballenger, Crowns Assistant Director and Allen Lee Hughes Casting/Producing Fellow
As I write this blog post, the cast celebrates Mary Milben's birthday. After a resounding round of the jazz version of "Happy Birthday to You", the cast eats chocolate cake and talks of being a family.
I didn't like Crowns when I first read it. I grew up in South Carolina. I was born and raised in the church. I left it all when I was thirteen years old. So, when I was given the opportunity to Assistant Direct Crowns, I thought, "Really?!".
When you watch television, what are the images of black people that you see? If it's not Michelle Obama (who is a Diva and a beautiful image of one), you see booty girls in g-strings and black men running from the cops. When you watch MTV or BET, you see gold tooth "thugs" and drugged out baby's mamas. Is this the image we want to teach our children? Currently, people believe these views are cool. How scary.
With the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, it shows that there is hope, but we have many miles to go. It's easy, now, to forget that.
Why do I love Crowns now? I'm beginning to remember a part of my spirit that was lost when I left the church. I'm beginning to reconnect to a part of me born of the time when ships dropped anchor on this land and put chains on my people. Really, it's nice to see black people not portrayed as whores and drug dealers.
Come see Crowns, listen to the music, and allow it to lift you up. In these times, we all need it.
Travis with some of the Crowns' divas--E. Faye Butler, Zurin Villanueva, and Marva Hicks--as he fills in as a diva himself for a photo shoot for the show."