A Full Circle Moment in Manhattan
Today was a great day for me for many reasons. I got to be in the place that I call my second home (Broadway), I got to see a show and a disipline that I have a passion for and one day hope to persue professionally (musical theater), and I also got to meet this incredible Woman of God again (yes I said again :).
I met Ms. Brandy Norwood when she was first starting out in her career. We were both much younger then (she was only 17 if you can believe it which would have made me all of 10 years old!) I will never forget it. My dad and my Uncle Vincent suprised me, my sister, and my cousin with a trip to see her. She was still riding the success of her debut multi-platnium album, had the #1 song in the country and had just released a little duet called "Brokenhearted" with Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men. She was doing a joint publicity tour sponsered by Sears that went hand in hand with the Boyz II Men "II" tour where she was their opening act. We waited in a line that flowed out of Sears and into the Mall just to get a 30 second photo-op and autographed 8x10 of her.
I couldn't help but feel nostalgic as I waited in a line for her again, this time almost two decades later in the neighboring state of New York for a 30 second photo-op with her. And I wasn't the only one. This time, there was no mall but the line stretched three buildings long. Everyone there to get a glimpse of this woman.
I'll let you in on the worst kept secret ever: I am a HUGE Brandy Fan. I own every single album that she has put out (including most singles), have seen every music video and movie that she has made and when the announcement came that she was going to be in Chicago the Musical. I knew it would be a perfect fit, I knew she would give a stellar performance, and I knew that I had to be there to witness her Broadway debut! I traveled 12 hours on a train from Charlotte to be able to do this and it was absolutely worth it.
Sure, the girl is talented, but beyond that, she has been an idol of mine since I met her at that sears meet-in-greet. A lot of people know the musical theater side of me but I also do some dabbling in the world of R&B and songwriting. There is no one that I look up to more than this woman in terms of what she has done in the entertainment industry. When Cinderella came out a reporter deemed her as a "songstress". It might have been something that looked good in print but it was a title that she was deserving of. She has done it all. She sung her way to the top of the charts, she's broken the color barriers with Cinderella and she's won a well deserved and long awaited Grammy. She has also battled with self-esteem issues and the almighty question of "yeah, but am I really, really good enough". Something that I, and others can identify with well. But Ms. Norwood did something important when she said yes to Roxie. She took on something that she might be good at, believed in herself, asked for help from a higher being that was greater then her and stepped out on a limb. She worked her ass off and smashed the role. This is a lesson that I had to learn and many others too.
To me, this lesson goes beyond the stage. It's a metaphor for life. Sometimes, people will tell you that you can't for whatever reason. Sometimes it's because they're hating, sometimes it's because they were scared to try it themselves. Sometimes it's well intentioned and they are ginuinley looking out for you. But here's the thing. As well intentioned as they may be. It is YOU who have to look yourself in the mirror everyday and be happy with you. They have made there choices, and have lived their lives, now it's your turn...and mine. I'm going to try starting today to make steps towards that and I hope you will join me as well.
Ms. Brandy Norwood, thank you. You earn the Evening Star Award tonight for continuing to inspire myself and many others as you have for so long. Cheers to you and your Broadway debut. We hope to see you back real soon!
This has been a confession of an insipiring actor.