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T'Keyah Crystal Keymah

Actress T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 13, 1962. By the age of three, Keymáh was singing and dancing, and in high school she joined the Mary Wong Comedy Group. After high school, Keymáh attended Florida A & M University’s School of Business and Industry.

While attending Florida A & M, Keymáh began teaching theater, dance, and pantomime. Upon graduation, she returned to her native Chicago, where she worked as a substitute teacher while performing at some of the city’s most renowned theaters, including ETA and the Goodman. Keymáh first broke onto the television scene with a role on Quantum Leap in 1989; the following year, she joined the cast of In Living Color. During Keymáh's five years with In Living Color, she was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a Soul Train Comedy Award. Over the next several years, Keymáh was a cast member in a number of other television shows, including On Our Own, Waynehead, The Show, and, most notably, as Bill Cosby’s daughter on Cosby. Keymáh also had roles on Roc, The Commish, and The John Larroquette Show, as well as doing voice-over work on Batman Beyond and Pinky and the Brain. Keymáh also made several movie appearances, including Jackie Brown and The Gilded Six Bit.

Keymáh went on to do a variety show, T’Keyah Live!…Mostly: A True Variety Show, which received rave reviews; she also appeared on the Disney Channel’s highly rated program, That’s So Raven. Keymáh produced the acclaimed short film Circle of Pain and was the executive producer of One Last Time.

In addition to her acting and producing, Keymáh is the author of Natural Woman / Natural Hair: Hairstyles and Hairstories From the Front; she also co-hosted the national ACT-SO awards, and the Orange and Aloha Bowl parades. Keymáh's alma mater, Florida A & M, has given her their second highest honor, the Meritorious Award; she is also listed among their 100 most influential FAMUans of the Century.

Accession Number

A2004.194

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/6/2004 |and| 11/17/2004 |and| 2/23/2005

10/6/2004

11/17/2004

2/23/2005

Last Name

Keymah

Maker Category
Middle Name

Crystal

Organizations
Schools

Saint Sabina Academy

Academy of Our Lady

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

T'Keyah

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

KEY01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $5,000 - $10,000

Favorite Season

Fall

Speaker Bureau Notes

Additional Documentation in Wid-West and West Coast SB, Front Office.

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Gambia

Favorite Quote

Love And Forgive.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/13/1962

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Broccoli

Short Description

Actress T'Keyah Crystal Keymah (1962 - ) has enjoyed a long career in film and television. Keymah's credits include appearances in In Living Color, The Show, Cosby, The Commish, Pinky and the Brain, That's So Raven, and the films Jackie Brown and The Gilded Six Bit.

Favorite Color

Orange, Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of T'Keyah Crystal Keymah's interview and the origin of her name

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah explains how she chose her name

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Continued slating of T'Keyah Crystal Keymah's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her maternal family history, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her maternal family history, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her maternal family history, pt.3

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her maternal grandparents, Mary Louise Zeno and Carneil Carter

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls her paternal family history

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her father, William Walker, Sr.

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about Auburn Gresham, her childhood neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about segregation in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her grade school years and her love of theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes influential figures during her childhood years

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her teachers and her first play

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her favorite movies and TV shows as a young girl

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about joining the mime troupe at the Academy of Our Lady in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her family's engagement with the Civil Rights movement

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Second slating of T'Keyah Crystal Keymah's interview

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her performance outlets like her family, choir, mime troupe, and cheerleading

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her high school experience at Academy of Our Lady in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her teachers at Academy of Our Lady in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about black theatre companies in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about the staff at Academy of Our Lady and her experiences on public transit as a high school student

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her most memorable moment from St. Sabina Academy

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her acting experiences at Academy of Our Lady High School, pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her acting experiences at Academy of Our Lady High School, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her activities at Academy of Our Lady in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about challenging her Catholic faith and discovering her black heritage

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about embracing her black heritage and running for senior class president

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about Cathy Williams, her talented classmate

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes other fellow high school classmates who were performers

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her focus on theater in high school

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her decision to attend Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her decision to attend Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, pt.2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah remembers her decision to attend Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls her first impressions of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her experience in the business school at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about the theater scene at Florida A& M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her decision to switch her major from business to theater

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her experience in the theater department at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her senior year at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her exposure to black plays and her opinion on "black theater"

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls the impact of reading Ntozake Shange's "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide"

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah speaks of her choosing to graduate versus obtaining her master's degree in theatre

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her favorite professor, Dr. Theodore Hemingway

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her path to winning the 1984 National Miss Black and Gold Pageant

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah remembers trying to find an acting job in Chicago and competing in the Miss Black Illinois Pageant

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah reflects upon lessons learned from competing in pageants, pt.1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah reflects upon lessons learned from competing in pageants, pt.2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about joining the eta's production, "The Regal Theater"

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes the early years of her acting career in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about getting her SAG card while working as a stunt double in "Big Shots"

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah remembers auditioning for "In Living Color"

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her television career and "Some of My Best Friends"

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about "In Black World," her signature piece on "In Living Color"

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls fighting for writing credit and her name change to appear on "In Living Color"

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls challenges during her tenure on "In Living Color"

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about using "Some of My Best Friends" to highlight society's invisible voices

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about the necessity of writing as a performer

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about producing her first film, "One Last Time"

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about the racism she encountered in the production of "Circle of Pain" and in the entertainment industry

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about "Tales from the Hood" and director Rusty Cundieff

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her television work on "Cosby," "In Living Color," and "The Show"

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her experience on "Cosby"

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about personal development as an actress, dancer, and singer

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls her experiences performing in Senegal and Russia

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Final slating of T'Keyah Crystal Keymah's interview

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recounts her grandparents' encounters with historic figures

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her experience on "On Our Own," "The Show," and "Roc"

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes performing in Russia

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah shares her memories from "Cosby"

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about Bill Cosby

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about the "Cosby" show's popularity and her experiences there

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about the end of the "Cosby" show and a Chicago production of "A Raisin in the Sun"

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about "A Raisin in the Sun" and her grandmother's battle with dementia

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about "T'Keyah Live! Mostly a True Variety Show" and being cast as a mother on "That's So Raven"

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about juggling caring for her grandmother with shooting "That's So Raven"

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah reflects upon caring for her grandmother

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes directing an episode of "That's So Raven"

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah explains why she left "That's So Raven"

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about Disney's historical racism and being a TV mom

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah laments the dearth of black writers in the entertainment industry

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about selecting roles to play as an actress

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her aspirations

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her book, "Natural Woman/Natural Hair: A Hair Journey"

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls her decision to write "Natural Woman/Natural Hair: A Hair Journey"

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about publication of her book, "Natural Woman/Natural Hair: A Hair Journey"

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes how her book, "Natural Woman/Natural Hair: A Hair Journey" was received

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes what she would do differently

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her family's support

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her new project "In Black World"

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$3

DATape

2$11

DAStory

9$5

DATitle
T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her grade school years and her love of theatre
T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes directing an episode of "That's So Raven"
Transcript
Okay, well, now, you went to school at St. Sabina [Academy].$$Yeah, I went to St. Sabina--$$And--yeah.$$Elementary School, graduated in 1976, went to Academy of Our Lady High School [Chicago, Illinois], graduated in '80 [1980], and performed, I started performing in school. I was in the church choir and the school choir in grammar school. I, I think that, yeah, I think that was still elementary school. In the transition from elementary to high school they had these summer programs called CEDA [Community and Economic Development Association]. I don't, I don't think they have that anymore, but it was for poor black children (laughter), give them something to do during the summer. And the job that I selected was the, the drama program. And so, during that summer, after my, my eighth grade graduation, I sung in a choir as my summer job. And out of that came--I think one of the other people from that, we formed a little, little duo dance company, and we performed liturgical dances in church. But I had been performing--like I said, I don't remember when I wasn't performing. I used to put on shows in my grandmother's living room. And in fact, the name of my show was "The Cool Crystal and Carneil Comedy Half Hour." (Laughter) And I would rope whatever cousin or sibling, you know, was willing into these shows. And we would do sketches and songs, and, and our, our big closer was the nanny from "Mary Poppins." That was like the big, you know, show closer.$$You, you can do the nanny from "Mary Poppins?"$$Yeah, yeah, it was--there's--[singing] "You must be kind. You must be witty, very smart and fairly pretty." I won't sing the whole thing (laughter).$$Okay, that's--I'm convinced.$$But that, that was the big--and I, and the whole thing, I made tickets, and no, the show started at a certain time, not at dinner time, but just before dinnertime (laughter). And you know, everyone had to be quiet and, and have a ticket. And the tickets I think, I don't know if they actually paid or anything, but I--we printed up tickets. And I, and I printed up pro--wrote up a program, and it was, it was like a real show; it was, it was a real show.$$Okay.$Okay. Well, now, the character you play on this show, "That's So Raven," now you, though you're young, you seem to have the most gravity of anybody on the--I mean you, you--'cause it's a why--it's kind of a wild cast of, of--$$Yeah.$$--of characters.$$Someone was asking me recently, I think since our last interview, must be--directed an episode of "That's So Raven," and I--it was such a wonderful experience, I have been campaigning I think on this show all three years and on "Cosby" I think all four years (unclear)--everybody no, no, no, heck no, you want us to go further (laughter). So they finally said yes, and it was such a great experience, 'cause you know, it, it's, it's a child's set. And, and pretty much I was the voice of reason (laughter) on the show, like unfortunately I am on a lot of shows that--can we just behave for them for five seconds (laughter) so we can get something done? And I thought oh, they're gonna clown me. They are gonna show their behinds, but they, they didn't. They were really, really wonderful. And it was a special episode because it was Kyle [Massey]'s, the, the little boy who plays my son, Corey, it was Corey's first kiss on the show, and Kyle was nervous as all get-out, as was the little adorable girl that played his little girlfriend. And I think it helped him a lot that his TV mom was there to say hey, honey, you--we can get through this. We're just gonna do it like this, and like this, and I got your back. You know I'm not gonna clown you, it's okay. And just the whole cast and crew was great, and now I'm just, I'm itchin' to direct something again. I, it was really, really wonderful experience, finally.

Ruby Dee

Actress Ruby Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace on October 27, 1924 in Cleveland, Ohio. Her family soon moved to New York, and Dee was raised during the golden age of Harlem. After high school, she attended New York’s Hunter College, graduating in 1945. Expressive and literate, Dee was drawn to the theatre while still a college student. Dee acted in small Shakespearian productions and landed a role in the play, South Pacific in 1943. She also began to study with the American Negro Theatre, where she would meet her future husband, Ossie Davis. They would fall in love during a cross-country tour of Anna Lucasta.

Ruby Dee’s career as an actress has been nothing short of phenomenal. A petite, intelligent actress of nuance and sensitivity, she was talented enough and lucky enough to garner some of the best roles for black women in the 1950s and 1960s. On stage, she was the first black woman to play lead roles at the American Shakespeare Festival, and won an Obie Award for her portrayal of "Lena" in Athol Fugard's Boseman and Lena; a Drama Desk Award for her role in Alice Childress’ Wedding Band and an Ace Award for her performance in Eugene O'Neil's Long Days Journey Into Night.

Dee has appeared in over fifty films. In 1950, she played Jackie Robinson’s wife in The Jackie Robinson Story and forty years later, she played his mother in the television production, The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson. Her film credits include: A Raisin In The Sun (1961), Uptight (1968), Buck And The Preacher (1972), Roots (1978), Do The Right Thing (1989) and The Delany Sisters: The First Hundred Years (1999). Dee won an Emmy Award for her performance in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production, Decoration Day. Throughout her film and television career, Dee has been selective and has brought that selectivity and dignity to every role she plays. She is particularly proud of her one-woman show, Zora Is My Name, about pioneering novelist, folklorist, anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston.

Dee and her husband are authors, storytellers and recording artists as well as actors. Her published works include the humorous, My One Good Nerve and various recordings for young people. In 1998, Dee and Davis co-wrote the autobiographical book, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together, in which they take turns telling their stories as actors, activists, a married couple and as parents.

Dee’s life has not all been acting, however. She is a survivor of breast cancer for more than thirty years, and has long been active in a variety of movements. She, along with Davis, traveled to Lagos, Nigeria, as goodwill ambassadors, and eulogized Malcolm X in 1965 and later his widow, Betty Shabazz in 1997.

Jointly presented with The Academy of Television Arts and Science’s Silver Circle Award in 1994, Dee and Davis officially became “national treasures” when they received the National Medal of Arts in 1995. In 2000, they were presented the Screen Actors Guild’s Life Achievement Award. They are inductees in the Theater Hall of Fame as well as the NAACP Hall of Fame. In 2008, Dee was awarded the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film, American Gangster. She also received an Academy Award nomination for this role.

Dee was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 7, 2001.

Accession Number

A2001.024

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/18/2002

Last Name

Day

Maker Category
Middle Name

Davis

Organizations
First Name

Nora

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland

HM ID

DEE02

State

Ohio

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/27/1924

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Death Date

6/11/2014

Short Description

Actress Ruby Dee (1924 - 2014 ) has appeared in over fifty movies, including A Raisin In The Sun (1961), Uptight (1968), Buck And The Preacher (1972), Roots (1978), Do The Right Thing (1989), The Delany Sisters: The First Hundred Years (1999) and American Gangster (2007), which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Employment

Allied Stores Corporation

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Sponsors of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Opening to 'An Evening With Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee'

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Introduction of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee recall the campaign for Angela Davis's freedom

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee talk about their introductions to the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Photos from Ossie Davis's and Ruby Dee's early theater roles and famous African American writers

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee reflect on how they first met acting in a play together

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee talk about the New York theater scene's efforts against racial injustices in the 1940s

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - A series of theater stills, political events of the '50s and '60s, and a film clip of Ruby Dee in 'Raisin in the Sun'

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis talk about the theatrical community's political activism in the 1950s

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee talk about their relationships with Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee recall their children's involvement during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee talk about their Hollywood experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Series of film clips by Spike Lee featuring Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee detail their relationship with the filmmaker Spike Lee

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee talk about their current political activism and the plight of the nations of Africa

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Closing credits from 'An Evening With Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee'

Harry Belafonte

Born to immigrant parents in Harlem on March 1, 1927, Harry Belafonte spent much of his youth in his mother's home country of Jamaica. Though difficult, life in Jamaica was full of rich cultural experiences that influenced Belafonte's art.

At the beginning of World War II, Belafonte returned to Harlem with his mother and brother. He had trouble integrating into the new environment and later dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Navy. After Belafonte was honorably discharged, he went back to New York, where he worked odd jobs until two free tickets to the American Negro Theatre (A.N.T.) changed his life.

Belafonte auditioned for the A.N.T. and earned his first leading role in Juno and the Paycock. In 1953, he made his film debut opposite Dorothy Dandridge in Bright Road. He won a Tony in 1954 for his performance in Almanac. At the same time, Belafonte developed his singing talents, having parlayed a series of nightclub performances into a record contract. His third album, Calypso, topped the charts for thirty-one consecutive weeks and was the first record to sell more than 1 million copies. Belafonte also secured a television outlet with his hour-long special, Tonight with Belafonte, which won him an Emmy. He became the first African American TV producer and his company, HarBel, went on to produce one Emmy nominee after another.

In the early 1950s, Belafonte developed a strong relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Belafonte worked tirelessly to mobilize artists in support of the civil rights movement. In 1985, he again rallied the global artistic community to raise awareness of the famines, wars and droughts plaguing many African nations. USA for Africa raised more than $60 million for this cause with "We Are the World" and Hands Across America. A longtime anti-apartheid activist, Belafonte hosted former South African President Nelson Mandela on his triumphant visit to the United States. Belafonte has maintained his commitment to service as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.

Accession Number

A2000.077

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/2/2000

Last Name

Belafonte

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Search Occupation Category
First Name

Harry

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

BEL01

State

New York

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/1/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Short Description

Singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte (1927 - ) is best known for his extensive acting and music career. His third album, Calypso, became the first in history to sell more than one million copies. He has worked closely with civil rights leaders, and has mobilized the arts community to address issues of civil and human rights, war, and famine throughout Africa.

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Sponsors of Harry Belafonte interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Introduction to 'An Evening With Harry Belafonte'

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Danny Glover introduces Harry Belafonte as he enters the auditorium

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harry Belafonte talks about his early life in the United States and his subsequent move to Jamaica

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harry Belafonte talks about his family's return to the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Harry Belafonte discusses his Navy experiences during World War II

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Harry Belafonte talks about his experiences in the theater after leaving the Navy

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - A series of television and movie clips of Harry Belafonte

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Harry Belafonte recalls his first encounter with Sidney Poitier

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Harry Belafonte details his foray into a professional singing career

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - A series of television clips of Harry Belafonte singing

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Harry Belafonte details his response to Ed Sullivan after being blacklisted

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Harry Belafonte talks about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his involvement with the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - A series of Harry Belafonte's acting roles that show glimpses of his social activism

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Harry Belafonte talks about the fallout from his involvement in the plight of Nelson Mandela in the 1960s

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - A series of Harry Belafonte's movie roles from the 1970s to the present

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Harry Belafonte gives his views about the world's current racial and social problems

Tape: 1 Story: 18 - Film clips showing Harry Belafonte's current humanitarian activities, family and friends

Tape: 1 Story: 19 - Harry Belafonte talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 1 Story: 20 - Closing credits from Harry Belafonte interview

Vy Higginsen

Producer, author, playwright and radio personality, Vy Higginsen has been instrumental in making a place for minorities and women in the media and the arts. Higginsen was born in Harlem on November 16th, to a minister father and devout Christian mother. Even though her father died when she was an infant, the family continued their involvement in the church where a young Higginsen was profoundly influenced by its sights, sounds and vocal traditions.

Higginsen attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, believing that she wanted a career as a buyer. Not long after, she decided that the fashion industry was not for her and was hired by Ebony Magazine, becoming its first female sales representative. During her tenure there, Higginsen became increasingly interested in radio and enrolled at a school for broadcasting. The well-known radio personality Frankie Crocker recruited Higginsen to WBLS. She became the first woman on prime time radio. During this time, Higginsen also launched a lifestyle magazine, Unique NY.

It was while vacationing in the Caribbean that Higginsen and husband Ken Wydro developed the idea of writing a musical partially based on the life of Higginsen's sister, well-known African American singer Doris Troy. Debuting in 1983, Mama I Want To Sing, became the longest running black off-Broadway musical. Higginsen also co-wrote and produced Sing! Mama 2 and Born to Sing! Mama 3. As an author, Higginsen's published works include: Mama I Want to Sing, This is My Song, and The Positive Zone and Harlem Is.

Higginsen is presently studying for the ministry and serves as the CEO of the Mama Foundation for the Arts, an organization dedicated to the preservation of gospel music and black history.

Accession Number

A2001.036

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/16/2001

Last Name

Higginsen

Organizations
Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Vy

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

HIG01

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

All

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - Negotiable

Favorite Season

Spring

Speaker Bureau Notes

Honorarium Specifics: must cover travel and lodging expenses
Preferred Audience: All

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Esteban, Mexico

Favorite Quote

You lose some of the time what you go after. But you lose all the time what you don’t go after.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/17/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chicken (Curried)

Short Description

Stage producer and radio personality Vy Higginsen (1945 - ) became the first woman on prime time radio for WBLS. Higginsen also wrote, "Mama I Want To Sing," which, became the longest running black off-Broadway musical. As an author, Higginsen's published works include: "Mama I Want to Sing," "This is My Song," "The Positive Zone," and, "Harlem Is." Higginsen is also CEO and founder of the Mama Foundation for the Arts, an organization dedicated to the preservation of gospel music and black history.

Employment

Ebony Magazine

WBLS Radio

Unique New York!

Mama Foundation for the Arts

Favorite Color

Summer Colors

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Vy Higginsen interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Vy Higginsen states her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Vy Higginsen talks about her father's family and the origins of her surname

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Vy Higginsen explains the changes she made with her surname

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Vy Higginsen talks about her mother's family origins

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Vy Higginsen talks briefly about her mother's upbringing as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Vy Higginsen names her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Vy Higginsen remembers her childhood in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Vy Higginsen recalls her childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Vy Higginsen lists the schools she attended throughout her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Vy Higginsen details the building development occurring in her neighborhood in Harlem

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Vy Higginsen talks about her experiences in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Vy Higginsen recalls her religious upbringing and her spirituality today

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Vy Higginsen discusses her sister, Doris Troy, and what influenced her during her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Vy Higginsen details how she changed her career aspirations from fashion to radio broadcasting

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Vy Higginsen describes how she ended up in radio broadcasting, Part 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Vy Higginsen describes how she ended up in radio broadcasting, Part 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Vy Higginsen details the effects of black radio in New York in the 1970s, Part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Vy Higginsen details the impact of black radio in New York in the 1970s, Part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Vy Higginsen recalls her first day broadcasting on WBLS-FM radio

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Vy Higginsen describes her first taste of celebrity

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vy Higginsen talks about radio broadcasting and her foray into magazine publishing

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Vy Higginsen details her transition from radio to television broadcasting

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Vy Higginsen recalls her first encounter with her future husband

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Vy Higginsen recalls the creative process of her musical, 'Mama I Want to Sing'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Vy Higginsen talks briefly about the growing interest in Harlem

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Vy Higginsen remembers the difficulty she encountered trying to stage, 'Mama I Want to Sing', Part 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Vy Higginsen remembers obstacles encountered in staging, 'Mama I Want to Sing', Part 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Vy Higginsen details how her family joined her in the theater business

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Vy Higginsen comments on her musical's imitators and her formula for success

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Vy Higginsen talks about public response to 'Mama I Want to Sing', and establishing the Mama Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Vy Higginsen comments on gospel music and the belief in prayer

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Vy Higginsen discusses the next phase of the Mama Foundation for the Arts

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Vy Higginsen posits on her mother's response to 'Mama I Want to Sing'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Vy Higginsen expresses her fears the negative influences on black youth

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Vy Higginsen reflects on her achievements and hopes for black America