Black History Month: Tracy ‘Twinkie’ Byrd Finds Her Directing Voice

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5 years in the past, I made a decision to grow to be a 49-year-old scholar of Richard Lawson Studios in his PDP 60 (Skilled Improvement Program) class. I used to be the oldest scholar in his class on the time. Whereas learning, I discovered so many issues about myself and my very own factors of view. I additionally discovered that I’m a storyteller and the way storytelling has touched my life.

Raised in a principally white neighborhood in Brooklyn, the identical neighborhood that Chris Rock’s character was bussed to on the hit present “All people Hates Chris,” I discovered the significance of getting a Black voice and methods to use the compelling reality of Black History in my work. By means of asking questions and searching for data of self, this grew to become a burning ardour.

First, I needed to fall in love with myself. The little woman who was informed in her third grade historical past class “You ask too many questions” and was referred to as nosey by her academics in class. My mom shortly set the file straight with “The phrase is inquisitive” and that’s precisely what her daughter is, inquisitive. How did this dialog come about? My Instructor, Mrs. Carter, didn’t look after my easy query, “How can Columbus uncover America when folks have been already right here?”

As a toddler, a tremendous miniseries premiered on tv referred to as “Roots”. It was a Black History occasion! We watched “Roots” collectively as a household to study and take up as a lot as we may. The facility within the visuals was astounding. Every episode transported me together with the transformative music of Quincy Jones.

The subsequent day I used to be teased, ridiculed and referred to as “Kizzy” all day by the white children, led by the college’s greatest bully. I’ll always remember it. That incredible occasion amongst others taught me the significance of storytelling. That Black History second caught with me.

The visuals from “Roots,” “Marva Collins Story,” Roots: The Subsequent Technology,” “The Autobiography of Ms. Jane Pittman,” “King” and plenty of extra Black movies have been so impinging they left an indelible mark on my coronary heart. If it may have that form of impact on me, then I should be part of that form of storytelling for others.

My PDP class was coming to an finish and the ultimate class task was to direct a brief movie. I discovered my voice to direct. At all times intrigued and enamored by the superhero braveness of the Civil Rights period and particularly these college students who marched, stood and sat down for our civil rights; I used to be impressed to put in writing about them.

The A&T 4 was the inspiration for “The Counter: 1960,” my Award-winning quick movie. “The Counter: 1960 “is a narrative about three “woke” college students in current day who discover themselves seated on the Woolworths lunch counter in 1960. The query is, will they be served?

Using Black History to encourage my artwork is my Artivism.

Creating Black History.

Shifting ahead, my purpose with my work whether or not it’s casting, producing or directing is to encourage and educate our youth. To look to the previous and glean braveness, power and technique for our current and our future. A Sankofa Spirit.

Tracy ‘Twinkie” Byrd is a casting director who has labored on “American Pores and skin” and “The Clark Sisters: First Women of Gospel.” She has additionally labored as a director on initiatives that embody “Making a Sale,” and “No Favors.” 

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