Amas Educational Programs    


Here's what some of our current students have written about the founders and the inspiration for the Academy.

 

Rosetta LeNoire…was an actress, singer, dancer, producer, director, and motivator for all ethnicities. She believed that everyone should have a fair chance to shine, even if they weren’t white and male. She worked to help people follow their dreams, just like she was helped to follow hers.

…Her teacher, mentor, and friend, Eubie Blake, was also a great inspiration for Rosetta. It was Blake, LeNoire often recounted, who taught her to regard humanity the way he looked at his garden, to behold people as "beautiful flowers of so many colors," and how to “look up, and be proud of yourself.”

In 1968, Rosetta founded the AMAS Repertory Theatre Company. It was dedicated to fair, colorblind casting, something that wasn’t common when Rosetta was growing up. She also created an educational branch of AMAS that focused on, in addition to singing, acting, and dancing, making good lifestyle choices…

Rosetta was also on a long­running hit TV show called “Family Matters,” playing Estelle Winslow. The show was mainly sitcom­esque. However, there were episodes to raise awareness about serious topics like police brutality, gangs, and drinking. To be a part of something like this, to raise awareness for such serious issues that still plague the universal community, Rosetta must have been something special. People who are able to show this through their acting and through their words are uncommon, but do exist. Rosetta was able to convey important messages through everything she did­­acting, singing, dancing, producing, and just being.

 ~ Emily, 13


Throughout her life, Rosetta LeNoire fought for racial equality, and was able to make the world a better place through her works in theater. I find it inspiring, and would also like to use theater to fight for social justice. She overcame prejudice, and changed our world for the better.

 ~ Nicole, 14


Rosetta’s mother passed away at twenty seven, during child birth with Rosetta’s brother. Rosetta was just a child. Her mother was not provided with a room at the hospital due to racial restrictions and segregation. Rosetta also suffered from rickets, a disease caused by a lack of vitamins which weakens the bones. At age seven, doctors were forced to break her leg bones in order for them to grow correctly. She married and divorced and proceeded to marry for a second time, but after twenty six years of marriage her husband tragically passed on. All of this misfortune does not define Rosetta’s life, however; her achievements, such as 1999’s National Medal of the Arts, provided a balance to the misery she experienced throughout her life.

 ~ Soli, 15


[Rosetta] did so many things that made me realize, I should always put in 100% to everything I do and I shall love what I do because not everyone gets to have a beautiful opportunity in life. And what you do now can open doors and maybe even change your future path…Overall, Rosetta LeNoire is a beautiful figure I will now always look up to. She gave me courage and just by reading about her gave me strength to continue to do what I love.

 ~ Aysha, 16


[Eubie Blake] also knew that everybody should have the chance to be educated in any area that they wish, especially in the arts.

~ Emily, 16


EUBIE! Opened on Broadway in 1978 at the Ambassador theatre, currently the home of the hit musical CHICAGO…Blake was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on October 9, 1981, by President Ronald Reagan. He died on February 12th, 1983, in Brooklyn. According to him, this was five days after his 100th birthday, but based on government records, it was five days after his 96th birthday. His gravestone was initially inscribed with the music to one of his most famous songs, “I’m Just Wild About Harry.” It listed his official birth date. However, people close to him paid to have this changed to what Blake said was his birth date.

Blake was said to have said on his birthday in 1979, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” It is unknown for sure if Blake was the first person to say this, but it’s still a great quote that he did at some point say!

 ~ Audrey, 16

 


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