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This interview originally appeared on educatedlatina.com on March 22nd, 2015. In honor of Black History month, we wanted to kick off our celebration of Afro-Latinidad, we wanted to bring this interview out from the archives. We hope you are inspired by this amazing Afro-Latina!
What I love about being Latina is that there is so much diversity that makes this community culturally rich and complex. I found out about the Black Latina Movement and its Founder, Crystal Roman on Twitter about a year ago and have been supporting ever since. It’s always inspiring to watch an Educated Latina going after her dream by creating her own opportunities.
I was so happy that Crystal was able to take the time out of her busy schedule to chat with us. Be inspired by this Mover & Shaker.
A native New Yorker, Crystal Shaniece Roman attended New York City’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts while pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Management at the College of Staten Island. After graduating Ms. Roman began acting professionally, appearing in many NYC theaters such as the Producer’s Club, the Roy Arias Theater, and the Manhattan Repertory Theater.
In 2008 Ms. Roman launched The Black Latina Movement, LLC (BLM) and began performing BLM’s first written theatrical piece: a one-woman show about the lives of dark-skinned Latinas and African American Latinas entitled, “Black Latina.” In early 2013 Black Latina received a new format featuring an all-female ensemble cast starring Judy Torres. During the Fall the revamped Black Latina saw the success of multiple sold out shows and the cast kicked off their college tour at Hamilton College.
Ms. Roman produced and directed, “Memoirs of a Black Latina,” which premiered at the Texas Black Film Festival, the International Women’s film Festival in California, and screened at the 4th Annual African American Conference in Harlem. The film was also screened at the 2010 Dominican Independence Day event hosted by Queens Councilwoman Julissa Ferraras. Memoirs of a Black Latina was screened at the 2011 Pan-African Women’s Action Summit and aired on Minnesota’s Comcast channels for Hispanic Heritage Month.
In 2010 Ms. Roman began crafting her first off-Broadway production: an all-Black Latino/African American production entitled, “The Colors of Love.” In 2011 she expanded on The Colors of Love franchise and co-wrote 5 episodes for Season 1 of its television series. In 2013 The Colors of Love was an official selection of both the October Film Festival and the 12th Urban Mediamakers Film Festival.
Ms. Roman has also expanded her philanthropy work, appearing as a plenary guest speaker at the 2011 Minneapolis Pan-African Women’s Action Summit. Ms. Roman was a panelist at the 2012 Black Latino Consortium at Morgan State University in Baltimore Maryland (where Memoirs of a Black Latina was also featured). Most recently in 2013, Ms. Roman was featured at speaking engagements for Latino Authors and Writers and at Byrn Mawr College Reshaping Representation: Afrolatinas Creating Positive Media.
EDL: Why the Black Latina Movement? As a Dominican and Puerto Rican woman, I’ve come across circles in the Latino community where being Black and identifying in that way is frowned upon. What inspired you to take on this issue?
CRS: What inspired me was the lack of knowledge concerning being a Black Latina. On one hand, there was a real issue of innocent ignorance due to the media and education system. Many were taught Latino was a race and not ethnicity hence the confusion some may have when you want to claim both as your identity. But once informed the pressing question that can be posed is ok if my ethnicity is Latino what is my race? On the other hand, we cant be naive and think everyone does not really know, the sad true is many know, but denounce being Black. My own plight as an actress and lack of roles inspired me to clarify all of this from an artistic standpoint.
EDL: What do you attribute to the success of bringing this to life before an audience?
CSR: What I have learned from producing for 7 years is that audiences are interested in relatable characters. Although the premise behind The Colors of Love is Black love and visually seeing Black Latina leading ladies the storylines and situations are those that are universal and anyone from any background can appreciate and see themselves in or have experienced these issues.
EDL: Colors of Love started as a play and is now being produced as a web series. What was the motivation behind that decision?
CSR: It was really something I stumbled upon. After the play, much of the feedback I received were from people who wanted more and to know how the couples got to the places they were currently in. So my partner of the movement and I decided to create a series to better elaborate on the characters and go back in time as a prelude to the play.
EDL: What inspired the characters and their particular struggles in love?
CSR: What I had noticed when creating the concept of The Colors of Love was often times when women get together one of the topics of conversation is relationships. And when I would spend time with my girlfriends we would share stories and give advice. I realized we all were going through similar issues so I decided to take many of my dating stories and issues and expose my life a bit to show the commonalities we all have giving us a window of reflection for all In their love lives.
EDL: How does the color of their last name play into their character and dynamic with their significant other?
CSR: Love love that you got that without me telling you! The Colors of Love is a play on words and the characters’ last name ;). We use the colors from a more cinematic perspective. The characters are often dressed in their color or within the scenes, we may have more of their specific color aiming to drive color from a visual approach.
EDL: Do you have plans to take it to the Silver Screens of Hollywood?
CSR: We are working extremely hard to get season 2 out to a bigger platform be it web series on a network online channel or an actual television network we have been work feverishly for that.
EDL: What advice would you give to an Educated Latina who wanted to bring her stories to life?
CSR: Preparation is key. Having a drawn out plan of what you want to do is essential to implement and execute.
EDL: What do you love about being an Educated Latina?
CSR: Power and opportunity.
Want more? Follow Crystal and the Black Latina Movement here:
Twitter: @OfficialBLMvMt and @MissBlackLatina
Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you
penning this article plus the rest of the site is very good.