Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Giving is one of the secrets to manifesting more money! The more you give...of your time...and of your money...the more you will see it in return. Giving shows that you are abundant! Giving also continues to give (back to us) AND in a continuous chain of events. If you are so abundant, that your cup runneth over...into your neighbor's cup...and your neighbor fills up her friend's cup...and so on and so on... And as Dr. King says, giving = serving and serving = Being GREAT!
One of my favorite ways to give is to give my time and money to people's creative dreams. I promise that if you support other people's dreams, your own dreams will be supported too! Today, I'd like to "give" my friend (and former client) a space to talk about a dream she has...since it's Martin Luther King Day, and you know...he once, had a dream...
No person has the right to rain on your dreams. - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
By Karole Foreman (Actor, Writer, Director)...
Thank you for inviting me to contribute to your blog today in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It brings me great comfort to see his legacy continue and how his courageous and tireless pursuit of racial equality continues to inspire so many people. I find reflecting on his powerful messages today a much needed respite from the current climate of hate speech, senseless violence, and bigotry.
My parents became Baha'i's shortly before I was born. One of the major tenants of the faith is the equality of the races. Although I am not a practicing Baha'i, its teachings are very much in alignment with Dr. King's mission and they have had a profound impact on my life. Looking back over my life and career as a performing and creating artist, I realize these ideals have had a direct impact on the type of stories I want to tell and be a part of telling. It has also challenged me to speak up in certain situations even when they are not popular or uncomfortable. In one situation just a couple of years ago, I almost lost a job because I spoke up about something that struck me as potentially bigoted and hurtful. Although I did in in a private, careful, and respectful way, I was still met with defensiveness. Being an actor, we don't always have a say in the type of work we are hired to do. That's just the gig. And I learned early on that serving the story and overall vision of the creative team is more important than my ego.
That is why I love to write. It is a great gift to have agency over your own creative voice.
I was lucky when I came into the scene in the early 80's and 90's when "color blind" and "non-traditional" casting was all the rage. Although I am grateful for those acting opportunities, I still desired to do roles and newer shows about experiences that were particular to mine and reflected the diverse world we live in. I figured I would have to start writing those shows and roles rather than wait around for someone else to create them. I was not particularly interested in doing the one-person-show format. I like to be around people and I know so many interesting and diverse artists that I began to imagine ways that I could include them in these stories. So, when I do have the time and the financial resources, I look for ways to put the work up.
The idea for the urban opera I wrote, RULE MY WORLD, came about while working at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1995. I had just found out that my favorite aunt was addicted to crack-cocaine. I couldn't believe it. I only thought that crack addicts were poor blacks or criminals that lived in ghettos, not middle class working people. Well, that's what I believed at the time because that was how the news and the government was portraying it. My aunt also had diabetes, a condition that only declined with her drug use. She had to have both of her legs amputated and a few months later, she was dead.
Fast forward to 2019, now it is meth and the opioid crisis that is devastating communities. Interestingly enough, it is more white, suburban people affected by this epidemic and the news media is much more sympathetic this time around. We could go around in circles arguing about the injustice of this social and racial bias, talk about the greed of big companies, or the corruption in our politics, the policing of black and brown bodies, the failure of the war on drugs, and so on. The fact remains, no matter what you look like or how much money you have, illicit drugs have destroyed too many lives. And yes, we need to adress this crisis in all of its complexity. And yes, it has become necessary to learn to engage in ways that are uncomfortable and challenge our beliefs. But how can we find ways of solving these very real very big problems in our culture? It seems insurmountable.
If I am struggling with a problem I just do something. No matter how small. What could I do? I am just an actor. But I needed a way to deal with my aunt's tragic death and address in a public way the injustice of a culture that profits off of other people's misery.
I had to follow my heart and act. I wrote an opera. Based on Shakespeare. About the alleged crack-cocaine epidemic's connection to the Iran-Contra affair, based on journalist Gary Webb's reporting in the San Jose Mercury News. It was a fascinating and compelling "what if" scenario. Who knows if this small act would make any kind of difference. But nothing changes in yourself or the world unless you step out in faith.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Since I am also a strong believer in making shows that look like the communities we live in, this felt to be a perfect time to tell this story about the drug crisis which has had such a devastating impact on all of us.
And since I put this grandiose idea out there and acted, without really knowing what I was doing, I was presented with an opportunity to put the show up at a local community theater in Long Beach. I've had very talented friends show up and say "yes" to being in the production. People are offering me their services in production and consulting and mentorship. Janice Freeman, one of last season's top 10 contestants on NBC's The Voice, is starring as Cleopatra.
Here's a clip of her and two of my other fabulous actors, Joey Molina and Victor Chan, doing a mini concert of selections from our show:
And magic is starting to happen.
Big ideas need big support. If you are so moved to support in terms of sponsorship, donations, or resources, or simply buying a ticket to the production we would be grateful! Our show runs March 8th, 9th and 10th at (For tickets, just click on this link) The Long Beach Playhouse.
I appreciate Katy's tremendous generosity and support by allowing me this space to share a little bit about this work I am doing. It's bigger that me and although I am still plagued with self doubt about my own abilities, I have to remember that the world can be a generous place and that I do not have to go it alone.
Thank you for reading. If we all stepped into doing that we were called to do with love and purpose instead of a sense of obligation, I wonder what kind of big magic we could make in the world? I wonder if our hearts would crack open a little bit more and there would be no room for hate, for fear, for competition. That there would not be "other," just us, lifting each other up and living our best lives. Dr. King and many others went before us so that we could have the audacity to dream and the ability to fulfill them.
I wish you all your best lives!
You can contact Karole here. Contributing to this production will give you back money (since it's tax deductible), and if you live in Southern California, it's sure to give you an experience you won't forget (if you buy tickets)! Plus, it could be the next Hamilton, and then...you'll wish you had a chance to buy tickets this cheaply or say...hey! I supported it from the very beginning! Happy MLK Day! Take the time to honor him by honoring your own dreams and the dreams of others!