In August 1963, there was Dr. King's historic March on Washington for Civil Rights. The racist murder of four little girls in a Birmingham, Alabama church bombing happened the following month. In November 1963, America was stunned and paralyzed with grief by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. That was a national shock and grief not matched until the September 11th attacks in 2001. In 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. In 1965, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act and we had the Watts Riots. Watts, our predominantly black and underprivileged community constantly overlooked by mainstream press in Los Angeles, suddenly became the lead story in the national news.
I wanted to contribute fresh racial images to TV via my work. I am still proud to be from South Central L.A., now called simply South L.A.
Tom Bergeron, ABC's Dancing With The Stars host, and I are about the same age. We've worked for some of the same people in our TV careers. He's got representation. I've had years of broadcast agents turn me down with "I wouldn't know what to do with you." That's been said to me was on national TV and national radio. That had more to do with the entertainment industry's need to embrace diversity than it did with my talent -- because I did manage to get myself work. But, without an agent, I had difficulty landing auditions for big gigs like the kind Bergeron has for ABC. As a black performer, I've been lucky to get the opportunity to audition for an opportunity. I have over 10 years of network TV jobs as a talk show host, pop culture host, movie critic and actor on my resumé. I was hired by VH1, CBS Late Night, ABC News and Food Network, to name a few. I'm still without a broadcast agent. I hustle up my own gigs.
If you'd like to hear the incomparable Larry Mantle host AirTalk ® and hear the program Take Two devote its August 11th broadcast to the anniversary of the Watts Riots, check out this website for more info: KPCC.org.