This is Da Bidnez director, Linda Vanessa Tovar, also known as (aka) LindaNuves. I was asked to host a Fashion & Music event featuring the staff members and students of L.A's Best After School Program on MAY 26th 2011.
I want to share with you my experience & journey to Watts, Californis's 112th Elementary school.
I will first start off with the bad. It's 9 pm, the event is long done & I'm on the phone.
I'm getting scolded for making the 2 hour plus trip on public transportation to Watts,CA.
My family got word of my trip, when I stopped to ask L.A Sherrif deputies for directions at 2:40 pm. The show was to begin at 3 pm. Off we went with directions from local enforncement. According to the Sheriffs, my friend and I didn't fit in quite well the neigborhood that we were offered a ride to the elemenatry school by the same Sherrifs who had seen us moments before. It worked in my favor to throw my uncles name during our conversation, another law enforcement employee. So of course, news got to my uncle which later resulted in a heart felt yet disappointing conversation with the Deputy within my family. As we headed through the projects, I couldn't help but think that what looked like white concentration camp like housing was in fact the housing units of the community; a raw reality of South L.A's struggle. It was intense.
We arrived to the elementary school, took our final back seat a cop car pictures, bid our adieu's & thank you's to the nice Deputies, and proceed to the event. We followed the roaring sounds of childrens voices, music & mic background noise, while staff members encouraged these K thorugh 6 th graders to simmer down for the show to beging.
I had arrived, moments before show time so I headed back stage, to where a herd of children were running around in their fashion show attire, some excited, others nervous for what was to come. There was no time to find a changing room, so like every great performer and model, it was time to change on the quickness. I came prepared with 4 different changes of clothes. My first look was very business like, like a BOSS. I came out in my Black Suede Stilettos, knitted bell bottom dress pants, a vintage spotted white and black collared short sleeve top with my black robo glases. Straight Boss Lady. It was time to start the show.
Unique Anderson, one of the coordinators of L.A's Best & freelance Photographer, had a great line up of youngins' strutting their stuff down the run way, Singing, & Dancing. Even staff members & parents got down on the runway & some even shared words of wisdom to the students. the stylists and models are children enrolled in the after schoolprogram, in grades Kinder to 6th grade. In total, there were 4 different fashion rounds, 4 different dance perfomances by 112th Elementary's first place dance team, the Fly Girls; a dance tribute to Michael Jackson, 2 guest speakers, & 3 special guest speakers and performances by local South L.A entertainers. After several clothing changes, dancer numbers, performances and fierce walks, it was time for me to conclude the show.
All special guests were asked to head outside to sign autographs. I wasn't prepared to sign autographs but in a matter of seconds understood the importance of what my pressence there had done to some if not all those kids and parents at the show. I greeted and signed autographs to over 50 kids. I gave hugs, left them with words of encouragement & in return recieved smiles and thanks you's; it was an amazing day.
During the event, while interviewing the special guests, I was asked to ask them all, 'What does giving back mean to you?
The answer was unanimous.