News & Vibes: Volume 1


Hey Y'all!

Here is a quick newsletter to share important "news & vibes" at the moment. Check it out. Use what you can, pass along what might help someone else, and let me know what I should include in future editions!

#iammrsbranch


Let's talk about STEM & Diversity!

I'm excited to announce that I will be moderating a series of conversations on Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion in STEM (science, technology, engineering,& mathematics) education and careers with Wake County Public Schools. As we know, careers in STEM fields are still mainly occupied by White males. K-12 educators have the power to change this. This conversation is an opportunity for STEM professionals to discuss their experiences with diversity in their field with classroom educators who are impacting the students who are the future of these careers. Download the flyer for the event and plan to join the conversation!


As you know, careers in STEM fields are still mainly occupied by white males
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The "Big Night In" Returns in 2022

As a Board Member for the United Arts Council, I am seeking sponsorships for the "Big Night In for the Arts" which returns Thursday, March 10, 2022 and will be broadcast and live-streamed in partnership with WRAL and several other North Carolina Arts Councils.


The event will feature performances from local and national talent, and address the impact of COVID-19 on the arts. Funds raised will help local nonprofit arts and cultural organizations continue on a path of recovery and reentry post-pandemic.




2022 Mabel P. Robinson Emerging Artists Awards

The NC Black Rep Theatre is working to level the playing field for students in acting, directing, and design! They are offering 6 scholarships to cover their attendance at the 2022 National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF), the 2023 Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC), and the 2023 Black Theatre Network Conference (BTN). This could be a game changing opportunity for Black students who typically experience barriers that prevent them from participating in these conferences which provide them with education, access, and experience in the industry.

Know of a young actor who should apply?

Know of any theatre students who should, or would like to apply, but may need some assistance preparing their material? Please connect them with me so that I can help!


Modern Black Mommy Social Returns in February!

Modern Black Mommy is the lifestyle brand I started in response to becoming a mother in 2018. It is my passion project and has brought so much joy and opportunity to my life. Modern Black Mommy is growing and expanding this year and I am moving purposefully! I took a break from my Modern Black Mommy Instagram page in the month of January. It was important for me to focus on planning some really great content for the coming year around that is mission driven:


"I energize Black women in every phase of motherhood around their parenting choices, challenges, and experiences as we redefine the task of raising Black children who are safe, smart, happy, healthy, wealthy, and whole!

With all that in mind, I spent some time creating content that will generate conversation and action. I'm really looking forward to what's in store and I don't want you to miss out on anything. Be sure to follow the Modern Black Mommy Instagram and other social media pages! I'm also testing a website and welcome your feedback!



Internship for HBCU students

The Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCU) & Minority Institutions of Higher Education (MIHE) Internship is a paid, ten-week program designed to expose, engage and educate students by giving them tangible, real-world experience with various divisions within the NC department of Cultural Resources. We have partnered with North Carolina’s HBCUs and MIHEs to provide this opportunity to rising Juniors, Seniors and Graduate Students. Interns work 40 hours per week for 10 weeks in the summer. Essential components of the program include professional development, leadership training and networking opportunities. Candidates interested in these opportunities should complete an application (link below) and submit their application, resume, as well as a cover letter and transcript to HBCUintern@ncdcr.gov .



Rediscovering the Spirituals: A Listen and Learn Experience

Rediscovering the Spirituals is a concert that will provide an overview of the origin, history and meaning of the Negro Spirituals. Come hear me sing in this concert which will include the performance of several Negro Spirituals paired with an in-depth overview of the history of the folk songs that shaped the musical foundation of our nation and several of today's popular genres.

We will also celebrate the launch of the Deep River Podcast, a program that aims to encourage the exploration and preservation of the Negro Spiritual. This event is presented through the support of the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Arts Council and the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.



Hayti Lit Book Club

This new series explores classic literature that reflects the Black Experience in America. In our first year, we start with Classics in the American Canon. Every 4th Thursday of the month, we will discuss the themes that occur in each classic, supported by facilitators and highlighted with discussions, readings, and performances from each work.

The Durham County Library is partnering with the Historic Hayti Center to make this happen. Here is the reading list for the whole year:

  • Devil in A Blue Dress by Walter Moseley – Jan. 27th

  • All About Love by Bell Hooks – Feb. 24th

  • Color Purple by Alice Walker – March 24th

  • For Colored Girls by Ntozake Shange- April 28th

  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin- May 26th

  • Blues People by Amiri Baraka – June 23rd

  • The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah- July 28th

  • Kindred by Octavia E. Butler- Aug. 25th

  • Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde – Sept. 22nd

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison – Oct. 27th

  • 1619 Project – Nov. 17th

  • A Treasury of African American Christmas Stories by Bettye Collier Thomas- Dec. 15th

Tip from me: I plan to use my free Audible credits to get the audio versions of these books each month!

Pro Tip from me: I increase the listening speed in the settings so that I can listen in half the time as I commute between work, events, day care, rehearsals, and meetings!


Snow Day in Raleigh!

Recently, we were snowed in here in North Carolina! As a native Floridian, I had every intention of staying in with my Netflix and my home made split pea soup, but I was persuaded to go out and frolic in the snow for a few moments. As you can see, Young Miss had the most fun! I love watching her play...she is so carefree and creative. It seems that she is part mermaid (she loves the water) and part snow bird (she didn't mind that snow got down the back of her coat at all). Seeing her play in the snow is especially magical because I think about the fact that she was born in September...just count backwards nine months. Baths, naps, and hot chocolate were our reward after getting a little exercise. Now, we wait for spring!




Top of Mind...

On My Spotify


GirlTrek's Black History Bootcamp with Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison

How great is this podcast? I will be re-listening to the series...from start to finish, for the second time this year. I finished the entire podcast last year, but I was always listening while I was on the move. I need to sit with a journal this time around so that I can capture all the little gems and explore the emails and playlists that accompany each episode.


This is Erykah Badu Playlist

This is clearly the "vibes" part of the newsletter...Before bed for the last couple of nights, I put it on shuffle, light a candle (on a tall shelf) and let it roll while I twist my hair or whatever else I need to do with the last few moments of the evening.


On My Audible


The Artist's Way: 25th Anniversary Edition by Julia Cameron

This is another text that I am revisiting. I really loved reading the book a few years ago and it gave me quite a few things to reflect on in my journey as a performer. I'm coming back to it now because I find that I am in a new place as a professional and I want to explore some of the concepts as I parent my high energy, super creative 3 year old.


My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir by Jessica B. Harris

I highly recommend this tale of love, friendships, disco, food, and brown liquor told by a woman who is brilliant in her own right and was close with some of the most noted and influential Black artists of the 1960s and 70s. One of my favorite things about listening to this audio book is knowing that I am listening to the author herself. It really feels like story time as I am sitting at the feet of a learned elder!


On My YouTube


We, Too, Sing America from the Aural Compass Project

I am such a nerd. Choral music, especially Negro Spirituals...are my jam! That's why I got excited by this series that recognizes and explores the music, the composers, the scholars, and the singers that you should know as you appreciate this beautiful American artform! There are 13 episodes and a few bonus videos in the playlist. Special shoutout to my Showstopper Brother from Tennessee State University, Dave Ragland, who is featured in episode 6!


Family Therapist Reacts to Encanto from Steph Anaya, LMFT

Just wow...this lady lays out why we don't talk about Bruno! More over, she explains why Disney's newest animated film, "Encanto" is resonating with so many people and increasing her client load as a licensed family therapist of color. The video does contain spoilers, so if you haven't already seen the movie, streaming on Disney+, you may want to come out from under your rock and watch that first!


Ok Y'all...that's about it for this go round! I hope you find some value in this post and that you will follow up with me if you have questions about anything listed here!


Until next time,

Light, and light, and light, and light, and light and light, and light!

*Chanda