So You Seriously Want Your Kid to Be a Star?


(Take 1)

So you think your child has what it takes to become the next Usher, Wynton Marsalis, J-Lo, Bill Cosby, Nas, Chris Tucker, Morgan Freeman, Bobby McFerrin, Jasmine Guy, Laurence Fishburne, Bernie Mac, Mos Def, Marc Anthony, Wesley Snipes, Halle Berry or Jamie Foxx huh?

You really do think that your precious, precocious little daughter has the looks, pizzazz, and more importantly—the talent—to become the next Angela Bassett, Jada, Beyonce, Beverly Johnson, Alicia Keyes, Selma Hayek, Tyra Banks, Sally Richardson, Nia Long, Missy Elliot, Toni Braxton, Rita Moreno or Queen Latifah.

So your son/daughter has that "certain something" that makes you believe that s/he could be just as great as Gregory Hines, Will Smith, Sidney Poitier, Lauryn Hill, Prince, Richard Pryor, Michael Jackson, Leontyne Price, Oprah, India.Arie, Grace Jones, Jon Lucien, Bobby McFerrin, Denzel, Russell Simmons, LL, John Coltrane, Art Tatum, Wes Montgomery, Johnny Hartman or Celia Cruz?

Personally, I have made the acquaintance, professionally and personally, of young people who had that "certain something" that if properly nurtured, developed and guided, could very well have made those young individuals highly successful, artistically and financially, off-Broadway, on Broadway, in Hollywood, on the (fashion) runway, on Madison Avenue and in the "music game."

There is one story I often share concerning this elementary school student I came across over five years ago while a Theatrical Artist-in-Residence in a small South Carolina town. I will never forget the elfin young girl, approximately 10 years of age, who had such operatic control of her voice as she sang traditional Gospel songs in her audition for the original play we were mounting. She bashfully told me that she couldn’t act but she loved to sing.

I kid you not; there was something about the young lady reminiscent of Mahalia Jackson. It was her delivery—not only was she able to place the notes exactly where she wanted to but they were from the center of her diminutive soul. The songs oozed a maturity and passion that should not have existed in this tiny little person. I was astonished that this colossal talent was dwelling in this small, insignificant town.

I called three universities: New York University, Georgia State University and an Atlanta-based historically-Black institution that shall remain nameless for a soon-to-be apparent reason, to ascertain what their individual policies were for "discovering and determining artistic and creative genius."

In other words, were there any programs available at the respective schools for those children whose creative and artistic intellect was far in advance of their chronological age?

Well, both New York University and Georgia State University told me that such a child could be tested and if found and deemed "intellectually gifted," there were programs available at their respective universities to nurture and develop prodigies.

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Photo credit: Timothy Aaron-Styles