Bone chilling weather did not deter the masses from invading the Pershing Square Signature Center to see the ladies of “We Have Stories To Tell.”
Moderated by Professor Angela Bronner-Helm, the evening was filled with comedy and an amazing message. Award winning thespians Lisa Gay Hamilton, Tonya Pinkins and Lillias White spoke about the representation of Black women on the stage and in the media as well as portraying stereotypes on stage and the state of pop culture.
Lillias White took the time to speak about difficulties of choosing a complex role that happened to be riddle with stereotypes.
“I played a woman who was compassionate, and strong who happened to be a prostitute. I think the only thing that was stereotypical of [Sonya] was that she was a Hooker. I felt a certain way when I first read the role.” She said her mother later supported her decision to take on the role by saying, “You’re not a prostitute. We all know that, but you’re being called to do this work and maybe this will help somebody somewhere.”
Tackling pop culture was next on the list. With the rise of social media and Instagram fame, it was interesting to hear the opinion of women who gained success before individual popularity was determined based on Facebook “ Likes.” Lisa Hamilton simply stated that she hates popular culture. “It is really made to make us stupid.“
Tonya Pinkins ended the discussion on a more optimistically by noting that, “things are getting better, even if you can’t see them…” She stated that the FOX series Empire’s incredibly high ratings are an example of the move in the right direction.
The energy that evening was amazing. Each of the ladies spoke their piece with candor and humility. At the conclusion of the discussion, audience members were extremely vocal about the importance of discussing these issues. The looks on the audience face was priceless, as the conversations carried out into the hallway.