Theatre instructor tells her story at BSCC for Black History Month

By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 2/17/17

SUMITON — In celebration of Black History Month, Japonica Brown shared her story of perseverance at Bevill State Community College-Sumiton this week.

Brown, a BSCC Sumiton theatre professor, performed a one-woman show on Wednesday titled …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

Theatre instructor tells her story at BSCC for Black History Month

Posted

SUMITON — In celebration of Black History Month, Japonica Brown shared her story of perseverance at Bevill State Community College-Sumiton this week.

Brown, a BSCC Sumiton theatre professor, performed a one-woman show on Wednesday titled “Show My World.” The performance was based on the true story of Brown’s life, growing up in a poverty-stricken area of Mobile.

During the emotional performance, Brown told of her struggles growing up, including physical abuse at the hand of her mother and the death of her father.

“I am a person who believes that nothing can ever heal if it’s in secret, and that everything happens for a reason, even the negative things,” Brown said. “They happen for a reason, maybe to make your aware, help you grow or connect to people that you wouldn’t normally be able to connect with. I’m totally fine sharing and being transparent. I feel like I become stronger when I’m that way. A lot of these things have happened years and years ago, and there is some emotional healing that is taking place. I’m at a place where I can easily share it, and hopefully it’s informative for people like me, and encouraging.”

Brown ended her performance with a dramatic reenactment of a former acting performance. She spoke of her struggles to make it in the competitive world of entertainment, and ended the show by introducing herself as an instructor at the college.

Not letting the pain of her childhood define her, Brown graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Tougaloo College and later received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Brandeis University. She began teaching theatre at BSCC in August 2016, and is studying to receive her specialist degree in school counseling from Jackson State University.

Brown said her desire to pursue performing arts came naturally, and her performances have always provided an escape.

“I have been telling stories since I was little. ... I started in church. I think my very first play was in church, and I loved it,” she said. “I found freedom on stage and safety, in a way, that I just didn’t necessarily feel in my everyday walk of life.”

Brown continued, “When you do one-woman shows, a lot of responsibility is on you. You have to be in the moment but also know what it looks like from an outside perspective. You’re directing yourself.”

“Show My World” is a timely piece for Black History Month, Brown said.

“History is present. We are ever making history every single moment of our day. There are so many symbolisms through the show that connects back to the challenges that African Americans have gone through and the evolution of our community, our culture here in America,” she said. ”Even when I describe that whipping scene, it was very parallel to how slaves were disciplined at some point in their journey. ... It’s the evolution of women and the evolution of a black woman through one person’s lifetime. All these stories resonate with people in different ways, whether they experienced it firsthand or not.”

Brown said she has enjoyed her time at BSCC so far, adding that she had been waiting on an opportunity to teach higher education. By sharing her story, Brown said she hopes others can relate in some way and learn a lesson from her journey

“My dad, he’s passed away now, but he used to always tell me, ‘Nothing lasts forever,’ and I hated that advice as a teenager. ... However, I would give that advice now that nothing lasts forever, so if it’s hard now, know that it won’t always be that way,” she said. “Whatever you’re going through, it will change. You just have to be strong enough to make it through. That has really carried me through in my adult years, knowing that nothing last forever. Everything is temporary, even the good things. Cherish the great things that are happening, because it may not always be there.”

She continued, “Personally, what brought me through so many of those challenging times I described on stage was my faith. ... For me, building a relationship with God was really beneficial toward my success.”

Brown has performed “Show My World” many times, and she said she always asks herself the same question after each performance: “What are they thinking now?”

For more information about Brown’s motivational work, visit www.iamjaponica.com.