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Journalist April Ryan Leaps to the National Stage

An article I wrote for The Douglas Review in May. Source: Journalist April Ryan Leaps to the National Stage

Journalist-April-Ryan-Leaps-to-the-National-Stage

Veteran journalist April Ryan perfectly exemplifies the sentiment expressed by the actor Eddie Cantor that “it takes twenty years to become an overnight success.” Ms. Ryan has toiled for exactly 20 years as the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks (AURN) – an outlet barely known outside the African-American community, but prominent within it as the only Black-owned radio company in the nation. Ryan previously spent a decade working her way up the chain to news director at several other radio outlets.

On May 2, the National Association of Black Journalists announced that it has named Ryan its “Journalist of the Year,” inducting her into the ranks of legendary news pros like Ed Bradley, Carl T. Rowan, Max Robinson, Gwen Ifill, and Bernard Shaw. Over most of her time at AURN, Ryan has been the only Black female in the briefing room. Therefore, to the eye that notices such things, she stands out. Yet, she is the kind of old-fashioned news professional who has never sought to be the story. She has climbed quietly, but steadily through sheer doggedness and hard work, reporting on and recording private interviews with three presidents, and increasingly as a guest on Sunday morning news shows.

But recently, several dust-ups with the new president and his press secretary have catapulted Ryan into the national spotlight. President Trump famously asked Ryan in February if she could set up a meeting between the White House and the Congressional Black Caucus, and Sean Spicer compounded the impression of a tone-deaf administration when he scolded her for “shaking her head” at one of his answers. This set off a Twitter firestorm (#BlackWomenatWork) and a national conversation about how Black women are treated in the workplace.

Still, she persisted.

It looks like Ryan’s hard work has paid off. Early in April, CNN announced that it has signed her as a political analyst.

Welcome, Ms. April Ryan, to the national stage.

 

BLOG POST for Black Women Playwrights’ Group’s Launch of the 12Tweets@12Noon Series

The Cyber Narrative Project: joining the movement to bring live theater into the digital world

On April 23, in honor of William Shakespeare’s 434th birthday, the Black Women Playwrights’ Group (BWPG) of Washington, DC, will launch a new series of play excerpts called 12Tweets@12Noon.

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Starting that day and every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until May 18, the writers of BWPG will deliver thought-provoking, foreshadowing scenes via Twitter, each in twelve consecutive lines.

The Twitter community is invited to comment on characters and plot, and to add their own twist to the 12Tweets@12Noon series — in 140 characters or less, of course — at @BWPLAYWRIGHTS. Participating members can also suggest a theme song to fit each espresso shot of a scene!

BWPG Executive Director Karen Evans observed, “We are looking for a way to share our members’ work with a wider audience while creating stories that would maintain our presence in the cyber world, and that’s how 12Tweets@12Noon was born. When we thought about Twitter as a platform, the challenge was on. Not only are we able to work with the 140 character limit, we tell rich stories from the soul that hold together even in this succinct form.”

12Tweets@12Noon is not BWPG’s first cyber adventure!

In February 2012, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC, BWPG officially launched the BWPG Cyber Narrative Project, a project that partners technology students with playwrights of color. This is the first comprehensive project in which regional theaters nationwide explore how the dynamic of live performance can be extended to online audiences.

For this project, BWPG gathered theaters around the country, which, in turn, chose top-notch playwrights for productions in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. Playwrights include Pulitzer and McArthur award-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, and Kristoffer Diaz, The New York Times Playwright of the Year.

The playwrights are creating digital bonus materials for the theater productions. Online, theatergoers will interact with the plays’ characters and themes before, during, and after the performance.

Content developed so far includes a video game, text messages from the characters during a performance, and interactive web sites on which the audience can continue the conversation with the characters.

Partners & Friends

There are ten partners in the BWPG Cyber Narrative Project: Carnegie Mellon ETC-Global, Pittsburgh; About Face Theatre, Chicago; Dallas Theater Center, Dallas; The Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles; The Goodman Theatre, Chicago; Hip Hop Theater Festival, New York; Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco; Penumbra Theatre, Minneapolis; Victory Gardens Theatre, Chicago; and Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington, DC. It is made possible by the generous support of Bloomberg BNA, The Dreyfus Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Bill and Louisa Newlin, and Nick Olcott.

The series is created by BWPG, a service and advocacy group for women writers of color nationwide.

For more information, contact …