Skip to main content

tv   Here and Now  ABC  January 24, 2016 12:00pm-1:00pm EST

12:00 pm
[ latin music plays ] >> "here and now," the program featuring the news and interests of the african-american community. here's your host, sandra bookman. >> coming up, #oscarsowhite -- the controversy surrounding the lack of academy award nominees of color and the push to boycott the awards ceremony. what can be done to diversify the oscars? later, a free cuny program for young fathers that focuses on parenting, education, and long-term financial stability. plus, helping young men in bed-stuy beat the odds by saying yes to entrepreneurship. and changing the lives of children coping with serious illness and hair loss.
12:01 pm
"here and now." you like being picture perfect. you should want your banking to be too. stop into td bank and we'll help set you up with picture perfect banking. new customers, open a checking and savings account and you can get a polaroid cube+
12:02 pm
>> for the second year in a row, the oscar nominations included no black or brown actors, and once again that has triggered backlash. this time it includes some directors, actors, and activists calling for a boycott of this year's academy awards ceremony. "eyewitness news" entertainment reporter sandy kenyon has more. >> a past host of the big oscar show thinks a boycott is a bad idea. >> chris rock is the host of the academy awards. and so, to boycott him seems just as bad as what everybody's saying. >> i will not be at the academy awards, and i won't be watching. >> jada pinkett smith took a stand, and so did spike lee, just as he did when the academy gave him an honorary oscar this past november. >> we need to have some serious discussion about diversity and get some flavor up in this.
12:03 pm
this year, all of the performers nominated are white. >> how do you two years in a row just have no one of color? >> the reverend al sharpton is urging viewers to boycott this year's oscar show. just tune it out. >> they have excluded us. so, on that night, should we not exclude them from what we watch? >> jada pinkett smith's husband, will, wasn't nominated for "concussion." nor was idris elba for "beasts of no nation," and he had been a favorite before the nominations were announced, just as david oyelowo was last year, when he was snubbed for playing the reverend martin luther king jr. in "selma." >> for that to happen again this year is unforgivable. >> sylvester stallone got a nod for "creed," but there was no mention of michael b. jordan, who played the title role. >> deep breath, deep breath. >> academy president cheryl boone isaacs says she's working hard to bring about greater diversity. >> what we all need to do now is
12:04 pm
>> action throughout the industry, says an expert. >> the lack of diversity is an industry-wide problem. no one disputes it. the academy is just a mirror to that. >> the trending hashtag #oscarsowhite is once again calling attention to the lack of diversity in movies, not only in front of the camera but also behind it and in the executive offices. joining us today to give us his take on the issue is jeff friday. he's the founder and president of the american black film festival. thank you so much for being with us this afternoon, mr. friday. >> it's a pleasure to be here. >> and as you pointed out, this is an issue that you recognized two decades ago. hence, the abff. >> yeah, i went to the sundance film festival back in 1997, and i saw a wonderful event. but there might have been five people of color there. and i left there, and i decided that we needed a platform like that. many of the best stories that get fueled through the hollywood come from independent
12:05 pm
>> so, for the past 20 years, our organization, the american black film fest, has been encouraging and providing platforms for support economically and creating relationships for many of the filmmakers that have been working for the past 20 years. in fact, two of our most distinguished alumni are in the oscar conversation now. the gentleman who produced "straight outta compton," will packer, started with us 18 years ago. and, also, ryan coogler, who is -- "creed" is a hot topic right now because of what happened with stallone and him not acknowledging the director and the producer of the movie. so, we have certainly been i guess a platform for the diverse voices that are currently working in the business. >> and so, as you've watched this unfold the last week or so, what were your thoughts, when you heard the nominations come out again, and once again, some of the actors that were -- really, their performances really touted beforehand, once
12:06 pm
nominations came out. >> yeah, i'm frustrated by it because this is the conversation that we have every four or five years. the bottom line is, the system is broken. hollywood is an $11 billion private party. it's managed like it's a party at someone's mansion in the hamptons, where you have to be invited, and there's a big gate and a red carpet down the street and a big doorman at the door. but it really is an industry. >> it's a business. >> and it's america's most prestigious industry, and we treat it like it's a party. and that's really what's wrong with it. the membership of the academy is 94% white. what else do you have to say? you're doing films about current culture. we live in this amazingly diverse country, and the people who determine which films get awards -- and here's the thing. winning an oscar is not about just art. it's about how much money you get on your next movie. it's about who makes the next movie.
12:07 pm
economy of the business. so, as long as the membership of the academy awards stays 94% white and 77% male, we're gonna be talking about this forever. this is an old conversation that frustrates me. >> obviously, a lot of questions for you. i want to ask you. you say the system's broken. how do you fix that? how do you go about making the academy more accurately represent moviegoers, i guess? and as we said, it's not just -- even to get so that those academy members look differently at actors of color. somehow it's almost as if they're looking at them and seeing right through them. >> no, i don't think so. i think they're looking at -- they're asked to pick your favorite five actors of the year, right? and we pick friends and neighbors based on taste.
12:08 pm
the golf course. >> it's about the golf course. we pick based on taste. if you ask me pick your five colors, you're gonna pick -- so, i think that you can't expect a very homogeneous group of people to -- maybe "straight outta compton" didn't resonate with the 94% white. maybe it was number six or seven, but we only highlight the top five. so, this is really the issue of the composition of the academy award membership is out of step with society. so, what can you do? you could do something very radical, because the other thing that most people don't know is you're a member for life. >> yes. >> this is an 88- or 89-year-old organization. so, you're a member for life, and there's 6,000 members or so total. so, you have to basically make that membership diverse in order for the tastes of that membership -- this is a taste. it's really odd what it boils down to. it boils down to what resonates most with -- i know a bunch of white guys. you know who they think is the most gorgeous woman?
12:09 pm
white guy i know, my friends, they love jennifer lawrence. so, she's got an edge. >> mm-hmm. >> just philosophically -- every time she's in a movie, she's got an edge 'cause my white friends, they think she's the best. taraji -- she might not be on that top-five list for them. so, this really is a very simple solution. we've got to diversify the body. i also think that the black community has a responsibility, too. i think we put too much of a premium on validation from mainstream organizations for our worth. and if i'm going to be critical a bit, i think we've got to do three things as black artists. number one, we've got to support each other more. an established black artist has got to grab the hand of a young artist and say, "hey, i'm gonna bring you to the private parties, since i'm in it now." 'cause a couple of us are in it, so we got to open the back door and let other folks in it. so, we diversify it that way. i also think we've got to give more respect to organizations like the abff and like the image awards, who do do shows to support the black communities.
12:10 pm
talent into the bigger system. >> we've got to show up. so, when big, a-list stars say, "i'm gonna go to the oscars, but i'm not gonna go to the" -- we have a show coming up on february 21st called "abff honors," which is a celebration of excellence in television and film. it's our very first show, right in beverly hills, at the same venue that they had the golden globes. we'll see how many black artists show up for that. you cannot complain about -- i call this thing "the illusion of inclusion." big black stars are often blinded by the illusion of inclusion. they think "because i'm in the party now, that's all that matters." so, if we support ourselves, we get our butts in the seats of organizations like abff that supports them, i think we'll be in a more empowered state at the end. >> well, let me ask you about some of the claims -- the call for folks to boycott. you've got people stepping forward. jada pinkett smith, she has id that she's not going to the oscars.
12:11 pm
i think a lot of people felt like it was personal from her standpoint. you have spike lee, who has said he's not going. he hasn't called for a boycott but said he and his wife won't be going. >> mm-hmm. >> and then you have the rev. al sharpton asking viewers of color not to watch the broadcast. how effective do you think a boycott is, and is that the right way to go? whoopi goldberg for one -- we heard it in the piece earlier -- she doesn't necessarily think the boycott is the way to go. >> yeah, i don't know how effective a boycott would be. i think the boycott will hurt the network that's broadcasting the oscars the most. >> mm-hmm. >> i think if you want to boycott it and want to have a long-term effect on this, you have to boycott the films that you don't like. we've got to force -- there are six or seven major hollywood studios that put out about 400 releases a year. we've got to boycott the films. we've got to send a message to the studios that say, "if you don't start to make films that reflect this country that we live in, this wonderfully
12:12 pm
that we live in, we're gonna stop going to the movies." that's the only way to really affect this. we've got to affect this at the studio level versus focusing all the attention at the academy awards. >> are we not seeing the films because there are no actors of color in them? what's the... >> there's this feeling or acceptance in hollywood that black films don't play internationally. black stars don't travel. "so, when i make a black movie, i'm only gonna spend $13 million on it, versus $130 million." so, black films are always kind of put into a box, a small box, and "only black people are gonna see it." also, there are very few black -- there is no black person at any major studio that has what we call "green-light decisions." >> spike lee has talked about that for years. >> who makes the final decision? there's one asian gentleman at warner, i think, that is the
12:13 pm
have people in positions of power. and that's the real problem. it trickles down to the oscars, yes, but we don't have people in power. and, again, the point i think that's most relevant is this is an $11 billion industry. and that's just the theatrical business. that's not the streaming and the downloads and the dvd sales. that's just the movie business. this is not a party. and for a hundred years, it's been treated like a private party for very special rich people who like to dress up and put on tuxes. and it's just not fair, and it doesn't make good business sense. >> and i think it is important that we make the point that we're not just talking about black actors. we're talking about latino actors. really, we're talking about asian actors. i think they're all underrepresented in the products that hollywood generally puts out. and in many cases in the product the representations are very stereotypical. the range tends to be very
12:14 pm
>> yeah. they all are. in fact, no asian, native american, or latino has won a best actor award in the last ten years -- even worse for the other cultures. we talked about african-american a lot, but the other cultures have it even worse, and the movies are full of stereotypes. >> yeah. >> movies and television are full of stereotypes. that's not good for our country. >> thank you so much for being with us this afternoon. >> it's been my pleasure. hopefully we won't have to talk about this next year. >> well, i hope you're right. >> yeah, yeah, it's good to be here. >> still ahead on "here and now," beating the odds in bed-stuy -- a program that's
12:15 pm
>> according to the department of juvenile justice, youth in bed-stuy are among the highest at risk to commit crimes or become victims of crime compared to young people in other new york city neighborhoods. and one of the organizations that is determined to help young men beat those odds, the
12:16 pm
"yes" program, is working to turn teens into businessmen. joining us today is the founder of yes, jason williams, and one of the program participants, malcolm reece. thank you, both, for being with us this afternoon. >> thank you for having us. >> and, jason, i understand that you founded this program based on some of your own experiences as a young man growing up. >> absolutely, absolutely. i'm originally from los angeles, california -- single-parent home. and i was definitely exposed to a lot of the things that go on that are currently still going on in the communities. and so, i saw this as an opportunity to reach out, give back to these young men, and try to provide some type of influence and guidance that i knew i was missing. >> and you felt that bed-stuy was the perfect location for this, where you could meet a need. >> absolutely. i currently reside in bed-stuy, but, again, just looking at the statistics and things that go on in bed-stuy and being a resident
12:17 pm
in new york i'd rather be and operate the program. >> and why do you feel like entrepreneurship is sort of a good focus for these youngsters? >> well, the undertone is empowerment, is empowerment, definitely empowerment. and in that, being an entrepreneur and being able to set your own rules in a lot of own ways and do things to give back, as well, i feel like it's one of the most powerful things that you can do, not only for yourself but also for your community. >> mm-hmm. >> and so, just looking at the social and economical issues facing our communities nowadays, entrepreneurship is definitely the way that i want to try to give back and help my community out. simple. my understanding is that obviously when you're talking to youngsters about entrepreneurship, there's some teaching in between. you got to go from there to here. so, how do you do that? i know that you offer workshops. how does that happen?
12:18 pm
workshops, i have a great group of keynote speakers and other entrepreneurs and gentlemen in the community that come out and support and speak to the young men, as well. so, that's one thing. you know, like they say, it takes a village. so, there's literally a village of people within the bed-stuy community that have been supportive of our movement and our mission. and in that we've been able to offer all types of tailored curriculums to the participants in the program to help them advance through the program. >> now, malcolm, you are one of those participants. you're currently a freshman, university of albany? >> yeah. >> is that where you study? what about this program attracted you? >> the fact that it was mainly the only business-related program that was at the job fair that we had for our summer youth employment. also, jason kind of sold us on the idea. he explained his vision with a lot of energy, and that really drew me into it. i wanted to be a part of something different than just
12:19 pm
regular office job. so, i figured that this would be a great opportunity for me. >> and you're an economics major, right? >> yes. >> and listening to jason and some of the other speakers, did it make it more clear to you what the possibilities are for your life? >> yes, it did. before you have ideas, but you never really act on them or think that they can come true. but jason, giving us his backstory about how he just pulled together the program in a few months, really gave us hope for ideas that we could have, that we could actually achieve different things, rather than being contained to what we think. >> mm-hmm. yeah, you're not limited. >> yeah. >> and you said in listening to him, you realized he was listening to you. >> yeah, and i'm listening to him now. i'm like, "well, okay, so, he was listening." >> yeah. that has to make you feel good, though, because that was your intent, that you want these young people to know that they
12:20 pm
in the streets. >> absolutely. i tell them all the time, and i told them throughout the entire summer program that you take your circumstances and don't look at them as a negative but look at them as an opportunity to create. so, in the program, we're looking around our community for businesses that we'd like to see in our communities. and i'm encouraging these young men to start the process of introducing these different types of businesses to the community. and these are businesses and ideas that they've come up with themselves -- so, certainly taking what we have and improving our home base right here in our community. >> now, you are in fact working with some city programs as a measure of your success up to this point. i understand that you're gonna get some office space to work out of. >> absolutely. i'm very excited. actually today i'm picking up the key. we have an office space right there on nostrand that they've allowed me to come into. us through bridge street corporation and my base.
12:21 pm
they wanted me to do is facilitate 14 workshops for the community. >> mm-hmm. >> so, i really appreciate the opportunity, and, like i said, we're moving in today. >> i'm gonna ask you, what age range, these young men, what age range are you dealing with? >> for the young entrepreneur salute program, the age range is 16 to 24. >> mm-hmm. >> but through, again, the expansion of the programs and things around the city, we're now focusing on just the overall community. we will be introducing young entrepreneur sorority this fall. >> what was that again? >> young entrepreneur sorority. so, that's more for the females, the ladies out there that want to be a part of the program. everywhere we are now, we have a group of young ladies saying, "we want to be a part of this." so, we're very excited about doing that, as well. so, it's certainly evolving. >> and you also did the peers workshops that you sort of offer community-wide. just taking a look at some of the community needs going into
12:22 pm
>> that was an amazing experience. the peers workshop -- again, we opened it up to all the young adults in the community, and it was just an opportunity to reach out to them and sort of try to help them refocus their minds coming into 2016. we executed this workshop right after christmas and right before new year's. so, that week time frame that we had there, we were coming together every single day for a few hours. i invited a lot of local businesses and support foundations out there for the young adults. and it was just a really powerful experience. they're very excited about continuing this. so, i think that's pretty much how i ended up in this space now, with the 14 extra workshops for the year. >> okay. and, malcolm, just before we let you go, you do have plans for your future, and this program is helping you see your way to that. talk about some of the things you want to do once you get that economics degree from
12:23 pm
>> as for what i'm doing after i graduate, i really don't know yet, but i know that i can pursue a job as an economist, or i can go to wall street. i know that's feasible now with jason's help. but in the end, i really want to own a professional sports team, mainly baseball or soccer. and i know i can achieve that goal now. i know it's possible. i just have to work hard and keep progressing and don't get stagnant and just do what i want. >> and it's never too early to focus on your dream. >> it's never. >> anything is possible. before we go, you guys have a big fund-raiser coming up. >> yes, we do. >> on january 27th. >> correct, correct. >> and we can send folks to >> y-e-salute. >> okay, y-e-salute -- >> correct. >> and we can find out information about the work that you're doing. >> everything that's going on. there's a lot of new programs. this summer we're introducing 20 new programs to the community
12:24 pm
learn different skills and things like that. so, there's a lot of exciting news coming. so, please do visit the website and come check it out. we got a lot going on. >> all right, best of luck to both jason and malcolm. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. still ahead on "here and now," a free cuny program designed to help young fathers be responsible parents and
12:25 pm
stay with us. meet the moore's! we're the moore family, and as you can see, we need an internet that can do more. we do more games, and more streaming. so we need more speed. that's why we switched to time warner cable. you can too. call now. now we can connect more devices, at the same time. the wifi in this house is amazing. so is my guacamole. hi grandma and grandpa! ha, look at that! [laughs] time warner cable even has an internet plan for us. get the internet speed that's right for you. from 3 megs to ultra fast 300 megs they even made it easy to switch with a one-hour arrival window.
12:26 pm
get 50 meg internet for $39.99 per month. call now. you could get free installation, no data cap, and access to over 400,000 twc wifi hotspots with select plans. call now. >> responsible parenting, educational goals, and gainful employment are the focus of the cuny fatherhood academy, which began at laguardia community college but
12:27 pm
kingsborough community college. it's a free program that focuses on parenting and long-term financial stability. joining us this afternoon is dina zagari-limandri. she is the director of the cuny fatherhood academy. frank espinal, he is a program counselor. and allijah mcclean, a program participant. this afternoon. >> thanks for having us. >> this program sounds just wonderful, and it sounds like a no-brainer. >> mm-hmm. >> because it sounds like you are focusing on a group of young men who really need the assistance the most. so, how does it work? how do people get connected with you and become a part of it? >> so, kingsborough -- we're housed on kingsborough communitywe're sort of a small nonprofit that operates on the campus with the campus. about this program through other
12:28 pm
because we post that way. buve soc outlets, like instagram, cebook, cunyfatherhoodacademy@kbcc. we advertise in various places, like craigslist or ebay classifieds, the metro, the caribbean times. so, it's varied places they'll s ind us and find out about the program and apply. of r? how exactly what is the academy? >> sure. a 16-week program, and it's 3 days a week. so, for our campus, the days of but tr sobre e ddle of e week -- tuesday, d respectful of the fact that the young men are ankely they have jobs and other responsibilities. so, whereas normally youth programs are a little bit
12:29 pm
days -- this is concentrated, 16 weeks. first three weeks is boot camp. so, they have to sort of make it through boot camp to get invited to the academy. >> mm-hmm. >> and boot camp is a mirror image of what will happen in the academy. and that is ucacti if they need to pass the tasc or high school equivalency exam, group to support life-skill development, parenting development, as well as tutoring and then supportive counseling, which frank will be providing, and another counselor. so, there's somebody acampamento de bota para ser ere's moifva there's issues to resolve, if referrals need to be made, if resources are needed. you're sort of insulated for these 16 weeks in education, learning, support, growth, and development.
12:30 pm
do you find that young men who find themselves perhaps at an age a lot younger than they anticipated. they've got to get their own lives started. what kind of services are you able to give them, and what have you needing the most? >> i think that what they need the most is understanding. i think that there are a lot of programs out there, and rightfully so, for young mothers, who they're learning how to parent, they're learning how to balance their lives. and the voice of the father kind of gets drowned out a little bit. and there's a small child, and the child is bonding with the mom. and our program gives them a voice. and they're allowed to come in and express frustration. they're allowed to come in and express energy, excitement. i think it's been a long time since someone has been supportive of them. so, what we do -- the first thing i do is i want to be very sincere with them and tell them that i'm a father, as well. it's my honor to raise my two little girls.
12:31 pm
kind of already been through what they're going through now, right? the fear, the anxiety, how am i gonna do this, et cetera. and some of the workshops are very real, and we get a chance to address that. and we also get a chance to address, where are you going, career-wise, employment-wise? and i like to tell them colleges expect it. it's not by accident that this program is here on this college campus. we didn't want to have it downtown brooklyn. we didn't want to have it in the city. we wanted you to have the experience of coming onto the campus every day. once you finish boot camp, you'll be awarded an actual kingsborou you will be a reguusr . just like everyone else. so, all of that will kind of mold them into the idea that i have my h.s.e., and now i want lyet back on track. and there's also a retentionecay n touci.dw nestudiante referred from an r mi carrera. told me.
12:32 pm
the community center leader told me." so, the word is kind of getting out, and word of mouth is so strong right now. so, i'm very excited about what we're able to do. >> okay, and that's got to be strong because people are seeing the results you're getting. >> absolutely. >> now, elijah, how long have you been part of the program? >> well, i've been a part of the program probably about a couple of weeks now. >> mm-hmm. >> and it's a great program. i really recommend it to a lot of people. i'm kind of nervous. >> no, that's okay. it's not like you do this every day. so, we totally understand. what about the program do you like? >> well, i like that i can connect to other young men my age. i like that we go through the same thing. we know what's needed, right? so, with that being said, we know that we need to get on our job. we need to get this task under. we need to go to college. we need to further our careers because the back and forth with the jobs isn't working out for us. the stay-at-home isn't working
12:33 pm
we need to get on our jobs, and this program actually helps us a lot with that. >> yeah, sometimes you do know what you need to do, but how to do it is really the trick. and is that what you find? it sounds like you guys have fought through the how to do this. >> the center for economic and workforce development at kingsborough, we've been doing youth programming since 2008, and we've done it on our campus. we know what works and what doesn't work. and we're excited about this program because we've been doing youth program for many years. and the people who have struggled the most to be successful in those programs have been young parents. and a lot of the times there will be young women in our programs, but very rarely young men that are fathers. and that's often because kind of like what frank said. it's sort of they're left out of the game. and so, we're excited about this.
12:34 pm
what i mentioned before. we're there. we're sort of on them. one of things i tell them in the interview is get prepared for us to be in your lives because we're going to be calling you and texting you and facebooking you. we're going to not allow you to give up and remind you of why you started. and the honeymoon period is over because everyone does that. it's like starting a diet in the new year. you lose fuel. we're the ones who will help keep pushing that fuel throughout. >> so, what is the objective, frank, after? you go through the 16 weeks. what's the objective on the other side? >> once they are in the program, we outline short-term goals and long-term goals. so, the short-term goals could be "complete my h.s.e. degree. i want to enroll in college. i want to get a job." so, let's talk about your long-term goals. and i remember talking to allijah, and i said, "i want you to be fearless when you choose your goals." i'm not going to judge you on what it is, but once you set
12:35 pm
it if i have to. and i find that that type of blunt talk connects with them. it resonates with our participants, the idea that i can say anything i want. i can say i want to own an nfl team. i can say i want to open up a business. i can say whatever. that's your goal? no problem. now let's work backwards to make sure that this goal becomes a reality, regardless of how much time it takes. >> allijah, you have two young children? >> yes, i have two children. >> how old are they? >> one is five years, and one is actually gonna turn six months soon. >> okay. and this program -- do you feel better about your future with them and your family and being able to provide for them? >> i definitely do. i definitely do. what frank said with the support and everything and them being on us, that's not a lie. they really call. they text. they e-mail. they want to know what's going on. they want to see us actually successful.
12:36 pm
programs that really didn't do what they do. and for the little bit of time that i have been here, it has made a big difference in my life. >> in terms of your parenting skills? >> yes. frank actually helps me a lot with that, too. so, i'm thankful. >> it sounds like an amazing program and amazing work. we're gonna send folks to your website... >> correct. >> we can find out information about the program. >> and you can apply right there, right on the website. >> and how is it funded? >> so, this is a collaboration between the young men's initiative. so, the young men's initiative approached cuny to do this on cuny college campuses because that's the natural place for this to happen. and with supervision of the center for economic opportunity, it started at laguardia, in
12:37 pm
successful, as you might imagine, they went to expand it. so, there was a grant to expand the program to two more community college, and kingsborough and hostos were two of those schools that won that rfp, so to speak. and i believe that the idea is that as this continues and as the programs are successful, the hope is to keep expanding it. the natural place for youth programming is on a college campus because i've heard from young people many times say, "i feel better just coming here, tst orque h able to say tooumom, yourou girl, your bor, w "i'm going to school." "where you going?" "i'm going to kingsborough." "i'm going to laguardia." "i'm going to hostos." than saying, "i'm going to that building on da-da-da-da street."
12:38 pm
>> good. thank you all for being with us this afternoon. >> thanks for having us. >> best of luck to you, allijah. >> thank you. >> up next, making life a little easier for children coping with serious illness and hair loss. the common core rollout was a disaster. parents knew it. teachers knew it. and now, governor cuomo's task force is doing what's right. state tests don't unfairly count against students. and test scores won't be used in teacher evaluations. less testing. greater focus on learning. that's a start, but there's more to do. let's work together to support sensible and fair learning standards
12:39 pm
>> sometimes, it's the simple things that can make the biggest difference, especially in the life of a child coping with a serious illness. butterflies bbi is a nonprofit that provides free hair replacement for children who are experiencing hair loss due to cancer treatments, alopecia, or other medical conditions. the founder, erna jones blackman, is here today in the studio. thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you for having me.
12:40 pm
this nonprofit? >> well, i had a 20-year experience with new york state where i worked in law enforcement. and i saw the devastation in the communities of our children, and i think it has a lot to do with self-esteem and lack of education. i've always had a passion for cosmetology. and at one time i did volunteer at the american cancer society as a wig stylist. and when doing that, i got such satisfaction, i said, "let me bring this to the children. let me bring this to the inner-city kids who need these services, who sometimes their parents are working hard, maybe two jobs, and have maybe three kids, and they just can't get out and get the services for the children needed." and i said, "this is something i can do." >> and they think, "if i have to do without something, that's something we can do without." >> yeah. >> but, really, there are other things that stay. so, how does it work? how do you find the children? do they find you?
12:41 pm
them, specifically? >> well, the children find me. it's kind of been a word-of-mouth type of thing right now. what you do is, you can call us, or you can go on our website, and you can click on the contact page and just send a little blurb about what you need, what i want to know, and i'll get back to you, and i'll send either the application by e-mail or a hard copy if you prefer, and that starts the ball rolling. >> mm-hmm. and when we talk about hair replacement, are we speaking of wigs, or what are you finding that these young children need? > well, right now we've been doing wigs and hats. most of the girls want wigs, but it's very important to me, since i'm working with inner-city children, to provide a look that is close to the look they had before they lost their hair. so, i provide wigs with maybe a curlier texture for children of color because not everyone can have straight hair, if i give them a replacement. we also provide solutions for
12:42 pm
discriminate. so, i am a knick fan, a new york knick fan, so right now we have in stock new york knick hats for boys who have alopecia or whatever type of medical condition that caused them to lose their hair. >> what's the response? >> everyone loves it, from the children to the parents to the caregivers. i've seen children who have turned around. their parents have informed me that they have come out of their shell. they're like they used to be because they don't have to worry about looking different or being that child that has that wiggy-looking wig on. >> mm-hmm. and, you know, of course there are, as we talked about, other services. "locks of love" is probably one of the most well-known. >> great program. >> but yours, you said you really did want to focus on those inner-city kids that may not get that attention. >> yes, yes. and that's my goal, because our children -- let's say you have an 11-year-old who has lost their hair due to medical
12:43 pm
maybe it's alopecia. maybe it's a recent case of alopecia, where they had braids before, and they want to look like they used to look? that's my goal. i also ask, with the application, i ask them to send a picture of how you looked before so i can kind of get you back to that look. >> mm-hmm. >> and that's what's important in our community because in the inner-city children, not everyone can run around with the straight here because it just doesn't match. we need curl patterns, and we need thicker hair, and we also need braids. sometimes kids have braids. i can get you a headband or a wig that looks like braids so that you can feel more comfortable. >> and how is it paid for? it's a nonprofit, and it's free to the families. how can you afford to do this? >> this is something that was a passion to me, and initially i funded everything. but once the word got out, we've had so many people who have wanted to give donations. we work with excellent stylists,
12:44 pm
to our kids. and that's how it's been working right now. >> what does iu to be able to do this? >> this is a labor of love. i've always had a passion for cosmetology. when i was in college, when i came home i would do everyone's hair for free. this is something that i just felt like i was put in this position to do. and this is my way of giving back. and i love it. i get up at 5:00 every morning, and i can stay in my office all day just helping these children. >> now you've talked a lot about self-esteem when you talk about this. tell me a little bit more about your pink butterflies program. >> the pink butterflies program is if you elect to be a part of the pink butterflies program, i have an author that i work with. her name is keisha laurie. and she does self-esteem workshops. and we will send you to her workshops, and you let us know how it worked out for you. if you want to continue to go, you go to another one. >> and what is the pink butterfly? what are the workshops?
12:45 pm
just for the self-esteem. if you choose it, we will send you to a self-esteem workshop. that's the pink butterfly. that's a category we put the chilhewaennt. >> okay. just focusing on those things that will help them to feel better... >> feel better about themselves, feel comfortable in their own skin. just to let them know that they're beautiful. you're beautiful with or without hair. you're beautiful. >> okay. so, if we want to find out more about butterflies bbi, and that's butterflies... >> >> that's the website. >> mm-hmm. >> and we can find out about the program and also donate there? >> yes, you can go on the website, and you can donate on the home page, or you can donate on the fund-raiser page. >> all right. as i said, very simple idea, but it really can change someone's life and outlook. >> yes, it can. and that's my job. i want to help. let us help you. if you're experiencing something that is similar to the services
12:46 pm
give us a chance. >> okay. thank you so much, erna, for being with us this afternoon. >> thank you for having me.
12:47 pm
>> "family first nights" is a program that helps financially at-risk families attend broadway theater together. now, it promotes theatergoing as a lifelong activity both cultural and educational. here this afternoon is sue frost. she is the co-chair of the audience engagement committee of the broadway league. thank you so much for being with us. that's a mouthful. >> that's a mouthful. thank you. thank you for having me. >> and so, that long title means you've got a lot of work to do. >> a lot of work to do.
12:48 pm
the committee is really responsible for engagement programs that the league implements, and "family first" night is really kind of a cornerstone program. >> and it really is interesting because i know there are other programs in the city that make sure that children that might not otherwise be able to go to the theater have a chance to experience it. but this one is interesting and unique because it really focuses on the family unit attending. why is it that you guys believe that's really important? >> well, we think it's important that every new yorker have the opportunity to experience live theater. and the experience of going with your family, a child going with their parents, with their grandparents, opens a dialogue, opens the opportunity for discussion, and engages in a way that i think is really important for the health and well-being of the entire audience.
12:49 pm
the thing about family first is that you don't want there to just be a first time that the family comes to the theater together. you want this to be continuous. >> we want it to be an ongoing -- we want it to become the fabric of their lives, really. the way the program works is we partner with certain social-service agencies throughout the five boroughs, and a family needs to commit to attending three shows over the course of a season. and we provide study guides so they're prepared for the show, and then they have the opportunity to meet with actors after the show and really sort of have a real holistic experience. and then they can build on that. and we have done some tracking. we have engaged families beyond that, who continue to come back. i think going to theater can be daunting if you've never been inside. you don't know how to act. you don't know how to dress. and so, this sort of prepares you and gives you the opportunity as a family to experience something.
12:50 pm
components to the program, as well, are there not? i understand that in addition to getting people to come to the theater together, to know they can sort of be part of this world, but it also gets them interested in the idea that they might make this their life's work, as well. >> in terms of a career. i think that's a very key focus at the league is we want broad, diverse audiences, and we want broad, diverse workforce. and we have other programs. we've got broadway speakers bureau, which can be distance learning, when you hear from professionals, nonperforming professionals, 'cause you know every kid wants to be an actor or a performer or a singer. and then the reality that there are just on broadway more than 80,000 jobs available and to experience the opportunities there are important.
12:51 pm
that actually target that. >> and you've had a chance to socialize and react with some of the families that have gone through the program. what is their reaction? >> it's a priceless experience, you know? my day job is i'm a broadway producer. and the first time that a group of families came to see my show "memphis," some of them had never been to a show before. and their opportunity to meet with the actors afterwards and ask questions, and it wasn't just the actors. we had people from backstage to really talk about the breadth of this world and just to sort of, you know, it's great. the first time somebody experiences live theater, there's nothing like it. >> there is nothing like it. >> there is nothing like it. >> and the experiences -- every theater, every show there's a different experience. >> and, you know, what people connect with and what they're interested in and how did that scenery move, and were you really singing?
12:52 pm
just stuff like that -- it's just great to see that sense of wonder on everyone's face. >> now, the families do pay something. >> they do. they pay $10 a ticket, which is roughly the cost of a movie. and then the producers of the shows make discounted seats available, and the difference between the $10 and what the producers make available is picked up by -- we have sponsors. we've had individuals supplement. we've had concerts where we've raised money. so, the money comes from a lot of different places. >> and recently you've had some fund-raisers. >> we've had a couple great fund-raisers recently. we did a concert production of "in the heights" in washington heights. and all the money we realized from that went to bring families from washington heights to broadway. and gloria estefan just did a concert for us. and one of the first "family first" nights after that concert, the families went to
12:53 pm
got to meet her and got to meet the actors, and one of the producers had a dinner before available. it was a really great experience. >> yeah. and it lets these families that might otherwise not be able to get down to the "great white way." >> feels as far away as the moon. and it provides a point of access. >> and a program like this, i would think, is also a way of keeping theater, broadway, off-broadway, off-off-broadway, alive in the city. >> it's critical. it's critical. and the leadership of the league is really supportive of attempts that we make to broaden and diversify our audience on an ongoing basis. it's important. >> so, if anybody would like to donate to this program and find out about some of the other programs that you have, >> yep. >> and you should do it. >> there's a lot of different programs, and especially for young people we have a
12:54 pm
we have a fellowship program providing stipends for early career managers and press agents. and there's a lot of great stuff that should be looked at. >> okay. and we need new blood, right? >> yes, we do! yes, we do. >> thank you so much for being with us this afternoon.
12:55 pm
>> thanks for joining us on "here and now." if you missed any portion of today's show, you can watch at abc7ny. and if you'd like to comment or share your story, e-mail us at abc7ny or follow us on facebook and twitter.
12:56 pm
12:57 pm
12:58 pm
12:59 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on