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Daily press conferences display NBTF stars

Louis Gossett Jr.

Daily press conferences display NBTF stars
August 03
05:00 2017

While a number of the events during National Black Theatre Festival cost money, probably the most affordable way to see the stars up close and personal is the free daily press conference held in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel. 

Each day actors, directors, writers, and others come together to discuss their productions featured during the week-long celebration and share their thoughts on the importance of the festival. During the opening press conference on Monday, July 31, celebrity co-chairs Obba Babatundé, and Anna Marie Horsford were joined by Sidney Poitier Lifelong Achievement Award recipient Louis Gossett Jr., teen co-chair Colby Christina, Angela Robinson, Debbi Morgan, Darnell Williams, and Morocco Omari, just to name a few. 

“This news conference is like a mix between a revival and family reunion all rolled into one,” said Brian McLaughlin, NBTF media relations director. 

Babatundé, who attended the first festival held in 1989 and was a good friend NBTF founder Larry Leon Hamlin, said he was honored to not only serve as co-chair but to be surrounded by so many wonderful people in the world of theater. 

“This is the family, the foundation. We can go through each individual name and identify a part of our life that they represent,” he continued. “That’s an awesome responsibility and must be taken seriously. These people behind me today deserve a standing applause for representing who we are around the world.” 

Louis Gossett Jr., who is most known for his role in “Roots,” told a personal story about his great-grandmother, who lived to be 115 years old. He said after performing in his first play and feeling full of himself, she taught him a lesson that stuck with him for the rest of his career. 

He said, “She told me God was here before you got here. He’s going to be here while you’re here and he’ll be here long after you’re gone, so you might as well calm down and let him run things.”

Gossett said the same way he was humbled on that day is the same way he felt when he found out he was going to be awarded the top honor during the Opening Night Gala. 

“After all those years from 1953 until today, this has come back full circle,” said Gossett. “I love you madly for the award and its full circle and it’s only just begun.” 

During the press conference on Tuesday, Aug. 1, those in attendance got a taste of the Midnight Poetry Jam hosted by poet and scholar Dasan Ahanu, who is from North Carolina. NBTF Film Festival coordinator Kathryn Mobley discussed the independent films featured in this year’s event, and city deputy director of marketing and communications Frank Elliott provided an update on the NBTF Hall of Fame and Museum. 

While the Opening Night Gala may be the most star-studded event during the festival, it’s safe to say the daily press conference is just as popular and $265 less. But if anyone hopes to see the stars inside the Marriott Hotel lobby at lunch time, they’d better get there early because seats go fast. 

“I can’t afford to make it to a lot of the plays and the gala, but these daily press conferences are the next best thing,” said festival regular Corey Washington. “I think it’s great that these big stars are willing to discuss their careers with normal everyday citizens like me. It shows that they really care about their fans.” 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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