My name is Jovelyn Diana, I am a storyteller, on stage, the world of literary, radio and film. I grew up near a library it was one of the only places my mother gave me permission to travel alone lucky me! My mother is an avid reader. Mother, sent me at least once a week to get her books. Both my grandmother and mother firmly believed” holding books are equally as important as holding hands.” The librarian knew my face well. What she did not know is that I took out books from the adult section pretending they were all for mother but really at least one or two books were for me. I read the adult themed books secretly in my bed room closet. There were no princess’s on the pages waiting to be rescued or knights in armor, princes or wolves instead there was a truth I connected too. I was eight years old reading, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Maya Angelou, and Willard Motley. I flung myself into the love of literature with passion and my imagination was on fire. My heart broke with the narratives of “others lives”! After those literary encounters the reading material in my classroom became one long boring session until… 8th grade. I was 13 years old and our teacher read out loud Emily Jane Brontes novel, Wuthering Heights. I wept openly yet silently in class tears streaming down my face. Silence, something I had to activate to avoid the commentary from my classmates.
The other place I was able to go alone was to my grandparents. My grandparents owned a grocery store in Milwaukee, Wisconsin named Patterson’s Grocery Store. One of the few black owned businesses in the area. My grandparents lived behind it in an attached apartment. The community of folks that came and went under the tinkle of the bell attached to the grocery store door were as vibrant, poetic lovely ,and desperate as the characters within the books I read. They were people of all colors, shapes, sizes, and accents. The people that shopped at the store had no boundaries to their stories or how to present them. They came in shouting, screaming, whispering, crying or solemn with hunger begging to be put on the books for a bit of food. My grandparents store was a safe haven for the community of black people, spanish speaking families, Italians and gays (as was the term then) in the community. It was a massive confessional booth. The people were gathered into a sort of wedding bouquet of various accents and skin colors in the struggle of daily survival and future dreams. I knew I would become a storyteller in every and anyway possible. I do this as a filmmaker, comedian, literacy instructor, novelist, performance artist and musician. I abundantly enjoy engaging my audiences, students, and friends in conversations of how and why it is essential to be present and realize the stories in our life, to examine the narrative of our collect lives. And lastly… how to be the author and the voice of your life stories.
Jovelyn D, Richards
Jovelyn, in intricate and poetic detail, describes the tension between the white folks bitter about Emancipation and the Negroes left to their own vices, thriving and living well. For the entitled white clans, crops aren’t growing and supplies are scarce. Feeling as though all is lost, they believe fault should land square on the free Negroes living in an old plantation house named Culver Tusk. Read full review here.
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In this original show at Central European University's Nador 13, Jovelyn shares short vignettes of race, gender, and class against the tumultuous backdrop of the United States in the early to mid 20th century. In this excerpt, Jovelyn inhabits the character of a man who's lost the love of his life.
A clip of the character Miss Lucy, from Jovelyn Richards' show "In the House of the Mothers". Taped at La Peña Cultural Center
When a husband goes to war....
Miss Lily is a mixed race woman with blonde hair and blue eyes who has been passing as white and has married a white man. In this scene, her husband realizes she is not white because she has given birth to a brown baby.
Short performance compilation
The National Black Theater Festival 2013
Jovelyn teaches and participates in artist residencies specializing in theatrical expression all over the world, even in places like Budapest, Hungary. She works with talented students from diverse backgrounds to hone their skills in the theater craft.
This excerpt is a performance of the Belle Sisters at Bennett College in Greensboro, NC
Book Jovelyn for your college or theater/music department. She is available to perform or teach.
Jabali Smith discusses his memoir, “Slave: A Human Trafficking Survivor Finds Life,” with KPFA Host;Jovelyn Richards.He talks about the healing of the childhood trauma of sex trafficking that lead to his opening the doors to: The Well Child Foundation
Sinn D. Rella shares from her new memoir:The Bitter Bitch Chronicles with host Jovelyn Richards. Sinn D. Rella discuss the impact of unhealthy work relations, work-related injuries and disability using the medicine of comedy.
Sound healer and performance artist Nekia Wright talks about her latest revelations in healing for community and a discussion of the ways communities and people are actively searching out alternative healing modalities. Hosted by Jovelyn Richards.