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Beautiful Actress From “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” Promotes Little-Known Black Icons

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Karyn Parsons launches Kickstarter campaign to recognize ballerina Janet Collins. www.naturallymoi


Reported by Nigel Boys

According to Karyn Parsons, better known for her role as Hilary Banks in the NBC sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” there are many African-Americans who have achieved greatness in their lifetime, but they are seldom known by today’s younger generation.

The 47-year-old actress, model, television producer and writer, goes on to say that Janet Collins was one of these special African-American people, but her achievement in the world of ballerinas is virtually unknown.

That’s why Parsons has included Collins in her next project with her nonprofit organization “Sweet Blackberry,” so that today’s kids may learn of the achievements of their ancestors.

According to Parsons, the African-American ballerina was so talented at the tender age of 15 that she was invited to dance for the prestigious Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the 1930s. However, Collins turned down the offer, because the company wanted her to paint her skin white while she performed.

Consequently, Collins went on to greater achievement and became the first African-American prima ballerina at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, adds Parsons.

In an interview with The Root, Parsons said “In the schools we pretty much learn about the same handful of stories of black people and accomplishments. And they are fascinating, great stories, but they’re the same ones.”

Parsons believes that by educating black children on the history of their ancestor’s achievements, it will enable them to find the strength and courage to go on and achieve greater things themselves. She adds that non-black children will also learn that African-Americans can achieve greatness, a story seldom told in the media, which will enable them to look at their colored friends in a new light.

According to Parsons, the inspiration for her work came from her mother, who used to head a Black Resource Center in South Central Los Angeles. She adds that her mother would often tell her stories of African-American achievement and most of the stories she had never heard before.

In her “Kickstarter Campaign,” Parsons aims to raise funds to produce a 15-minute animated film about the life and achievements of Collins. However, she still has a way to go to reach the $75,000 goal for the project with only 20 days left to go, but she has already got over $14,000 in donations and pledges.



  1. Goldy G

    June 30, 2014 at 7:01 am

    I look forward to learning more of these little known black icons. We do appreciate the ones always written about but they are not the only ones. I will donate.

  2. Stephaniegh JaquesonMatthews

    June 30, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    EXTRA EXTRA Read all about it
    the real billeejean shinehead
    you go girl

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