My takeaways from attending the Broadway play, American Son and Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama
Initially when I planned on attending these two events I only intended to enjoy them for what they were, a vibrant artistic work that spoke to the challenges of our modern times and a dynamic conversation lead by one of the most prolific and modern public figures of the 21st century.
I actually came away with much more and was even able to identify some symmetry between myself, actress Kerry Washington, the star and producer of American Son, and Former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Being that it’s my birthday month, I always like to do things that not only feed my need to celebrate, but also nourish a deeper place within me. That’s why I chose to go to these two events. With every yearly earthly milestone, it makes you think about what you’ve accomplished, what you’ve learned and what more you can discover about yourself and the world you live in. Art helps us to do that. Listening to leaders we respect does too. I absolutely adore Kerry and Michelle so it was a real treat that their projects fell within this special time for me.
After taking in American Son a few weeks ago, it stayed with me due to the subject matter of the play. I won’t give anything away here, but it’s a riveting all star performance that centers around an interracial couple’s need to find out what happened to their biracial son who is missing. Kerry and cast did a phenomenal job setting the scene, which takes place in a Florida police station in the middle of the night. You have to see this play and discuss it with the young people in your life. Also talk to your elders too. It’s too current and relevant not to. The program also features a discussion guide that will help families and friends process what they’ve seen.
Now that I have also seen Michelle Obama speak at her super successful book tour event, Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama, the revelation that there is a common thread between me, her and Kerry is apparent. But before I get there, let me tell you about Becoming.
Let’s just get it out of the way. Those boots. Those darn boots! A good friend of mine knew I attended and asked me what I thought of the experience and here is what I shared:
As Michelle made us laugh (she is very funny!) with stories about how Stevie Wonder is able to just show up out of nowhere to support the people and causes he loves and her quips about the odd and wonderful adventures she had as America’s first African American FLOTUS, she also made us think in a deeper way about learning to connect with our fellow citizens, our social responsibility to the planet and its inhabitants and how important it is to own our voices and use them to affect change. She challenged us to become our best selves and to routinely ask, Who. Am. I?
Who am I becoming?
When I asked myself that question last night it hit me that Kerry Washington is becoming someone other than the force of nature character Olivia Pope that she was blessed to play for the past seven years. She didn’t waste any time either. Acting is a profession that forces you to play chess and figure out what your next move is. She has been planning her moves for years. With her production company Simpson Street, she had already been plotting out other projects to work on and this time she would not only be the face but also the producer. Kerry is becoming more powerful in the entertainment arena and able to not only play, but build.
I then thought about Michelle Obama. For the past eight years she had been our First Lady. Supporting the president, spearheading her own educational initiatives and going high whenever her opponents went low. As she told us last night, when it was all over she wept from exhaustion. She took some time to relax with her husband and then she started becoming yet again. Becoming a woman with a powerful voice who could share her stories about how she excelled to become a lawyer and then how she shifted to work in public service and then to be married to one of the most powerful men in the world, to then another powerful role, a mom.
And now, she is on tour inspiring millions wherever she goes, selling books like crazy and challenging us to be better than the politics around us dictate. This is her time to shine. Michelle is becoming president of her own destiny and I approve the message.
So now back to me. This year I worked for two different companies and moved out of a shared apartment that I had been living in for five years back to Harlem, a place I lived when I moved to NY almost 20 years ago. I am now in my own apartment again where I hold the lease and I’m rebuilding and transitioning. I have learned new skills and made new friends and I mentoring two young women from my alma mater, Fordham University. I am being considered for a few new roles and will soon be working again. I also will continue writing and publishing my own content. I am still learning who I am becoming, but just like Kerry and Michelle, I am becoming more me than I’ve ever been and like the former FLOTUS said so passionately on stage last night, “I’m free!”
I. Am. Becoming. Free.
Who are you becoming?
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12 Hours of Daylight: A Jason Jules Novella
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