Books by V.C.
Scattered Leaves /
Girl in the Shadows /
April Shadows /
Child of Darkness /
Flowers in the Attic
* * *
Brooklyn Sudano: The
with Kam Williams
Brooklyn Sudano is an
ingťnue with the beauty, pedigree and versatility which
makes her one of Hollywoodís emerging stars to be
reckoned with. Born in Los Angeles, sheís the daughter
of disco diva Donna Summer and singer/songwriter Bruce
She and her two sisters
were raised by her protective parents far from the
public eye. While Brooklyn was in her early teens, the
family moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where she began to
blossom creatively singing in a gospel choir, writing
songs, and appearing in all of her high schoolís theater
productions. During the summer, she and her sisters
would tour with their mother, performing as backup
singers, dancing in stage productions, even doing some
duets, often in some of the worldís largest venues. Not
one to worry about getting her hands dirty, Brooklyn
willingly pitched in to help with the crew
behind-the-scenes before and after shows.
But in the Fall, she
always turned her attention back to academics, excelling
to the point where she was valedictorian of her
graduating class. Though she was accepted to Brown, Duke
and Georgetown Universities, in the end she decided to
stay close to home and attended nearby Vanderbilt
University, for what turned out to be a short stay.
Her passion for
performing led her to the famed Lee Strasberg Theater
Institute in New York, to study a full curriculum of
method acting, dance, musical production, movement,
stage, film, and television. While in that program,
Brooklyn was spotted by a booker from Ford Modeling
Agency, who signed her on the spot.
She immediately landed
major print ad campaigns and TV commercials for Clairol,
Burger King, K-Mart and Clean & Clear. And she later
made her television debut as Vanessa on ABC-TVís hit
show My Wife and Kids.
Currently living in L.A.,
here Brooklyn talks about her feature film debut in
Rain, an adaptation of the V.C. Andrews best seller
about an orphan raised in the ghetto who learns that she
was the abandoned love child of a wealthy white
debutante and a brother who came from the other side of
* * *
Hey, Brooklyn, thanks for the time.
Letís see, where do I want to start? Iíve got a million
questions I want to ask you. Wasnít your maternal
grandmother a schoolteacher? Didnít she teach in
She may have. I donít know whether my grandma was a
teacher or not. Her name is Mary Gaines.
Iíll tell you why Iím asking. When I was in college in
Boston back in the seventies, I was a live-in servant
for a family with three kids who always talked about how
Donna Summersí mother was a teacher at their grammar
Oh, that side of my family is definitely from that area,
but Iím not sure. I donít think so, but she might have
Where did you get your name? Iím guessing that because
your fatherís from Brooklyn, that thatís where it came
Yeah, I think that had to be part of it, and also that
my dad was in a band called Brooklyn Dreams. I think the
combination of the two, plus my parents being the
creative types that they are, whether I was a boy or a
girl, that was going to be my name.
Have you ever been to Brooklyn?
Yes, of course! [Laughs] I used to live in New York. It
was always a funny thing when someone would ask me my
name and I would say ďBrooklyn.Ē They would always think
that I meant that I lived in Brooklyn, and I would have
to clarify that.
What was it like having disco diva Donna Summer for a
[Laughs] I didnít see it that way. To me, my parents are
my mom and dad, and we were able as kids to do a lot of
cool things. Just being part of that family definitely
brought out and cultivated the creative arts in us. But
to me, theyíre just mom and dad. It was normal and what
Iíve always known. I donít know anything different, so I
donít really have anything to compare it to.
Werenít you parents touring frequently?
My parents definitely went on the road a lot, but every
opportunity we had to join them we did, especially if
they were going to be traveling for long stretches at a
time. We would bring a tutor along, like when we went to
Japan for five or six weeks during the school year. But
if they were just going away for a couple of days, they
would always leave us in good hands.
At what age did you develop your passion for performing?
I think it was just there. Every person in my family has
that desire. But itís more about the art, and being
creative. Whether itís singing, acting, painting or
writing, my entire family engages in those types of
activities. Theyíre forms of self-expression, and itís
what we love to do, so I just grew up in that
environment. When I was a kid, I always envisioned
myself as performing, as being in that business. It was
all that I knew, so itís kind of like Iím just following
in the family tradition.
I know that you were valedictorian of your high school.
What school was that?
BS: That was
Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville. I was always
kind of a student, a nerd. I didnít have a lot of dates
in high school. I really didnít. [Laughs]
KW: Were you one
of those brainiacs who didnít have to study?
BS: No, I was one
of the serious studiers. Iím not somebody who just shows
up and gets a hundred on a test. I really put a lot of
work into it and was always reading books and studying
for tests. I was lucky to have that drive. Thatís for
KW: In watching
your performance in
Rain, I couldnít help but
notice your perfect diction and grammar which I didnít
expect from a character raised in the Ďhood.
BS: Rain, as a
character, was similar to how I am, in that sense. She
studied, she wanted to learn. Education enables you to
see more of the world, even if you canít travel. So,
youíre still able to expand your horizons, and go beyond
your borders, in a way. And Rain wanted to do that, even
though she loved her family. She wanted to see and
experience the rest of the world as well. That excited
interested you in this script?
BS: The screenplay
was by a very well-known book writer, V.C. Andrews. He
wrote the script and heís very eloquent. I think he put
that quality in the character of Rain as well, I think
maybe he wanted that to be a little bit more her vibe.
KW: You mean
ďshe,Ē donít you? The ďVĒ in ďV.C. AndrewsĒ stands for
BS: Well, actually
Andrew Neiderman writes under V.C. Andrewsí name.
KW: Oh, youíre
saying that Andrew Neiderman ghostwrites as V.C.
BS: Iím not sure
if Iím supposed to say that, but heís a very
accomplished author on his own. He wrote The Devilís
Advocate, but I donít know how he portrays himself
in the media, and I donít want to get in trouble for
KW: Okay, mumís
the word. How much pressure did you feel playing the
title character in your first feature film?
BS: It was a very
big undertaking, but I was very blessed to have so many
accomplished people surrounding me. One of the reasons I
took the role was because I would be the lead, but I was
also interested because of the caliber of professionals
I would be working with: Faye Dunaway, Khandi Alexander,
Giancarlo Esposito, Robert LoggiaÖ And then all the
behind-the-scenes people, including Craig DiBona, the
director, whoís been a part of so many amazing films and
worked with so many greats.
KW: Did you
identify with your character, Rain, at all?
BS: Yes, I think
you find pieces of yourself in every character you
portray. I feel I was a lot like her . . . sometimes
misunderstood, sometimes people think of you one way and
their expectations are not who you really are. So, there
were a lot of areas where I could connect with her such
as being a young woman in a new situation
. . . a fish out
of water. . . .
You pick pieces of those things youíve experienced in
life to make it real to yourself.
KW: Well, like
Rain, you do have one black parent and one white parent,
but you werenít abandoned by them.
BS: No, Iím very
well loved. That aspect of it was different for me.
KW: And you didnít
grow up in the ghetto, either?
BS: No, those
things I had to create, but the true essence of who she
was, I can relate to.
KW: Growing up in
Tennessee, I suppose you must have encountered your
share of racism?
BS: I lived in
California until I was about 10, and then we moved to
Connecticut. I didnít move to the South till I was 14
years-old. By then, I had already traveled, and seen
much of the world. I had friends of many different
nationalities. So, when I moved to Nashville, it was a
bit of a culture shock for me.
KW: How so?
BS: It was never
really overt racism. It was more the subtlety of the
mentality. Of course, my parents tried to protect me
from it, but people are people, and I think a lot of
those attitudes are deep-rooted, and itís not like
people even understand some of the things that theyíre
saying. You know what I mean?
BS: Thereís often
a subtlety to it. Itís not always overt. If youíre in
the minority, you often have to deal with bigotry. It
doesnít matter whether youíre black or white, practice a
different religion, come from a different culture, or
have a disability. If youíre different from most of the
people youíre surrounded by, some people might not be as
tolerant as they should be.
KW: Do you have a
favorite city you enjoy living in?
BS: No, from
traveling so much, Iíve really learned to enjoy wherever
Iím at, though Los Angeles is great. The weather is
great. You can go to the beach. I love that about L.A.
New York I love because I can go to plays. Donít get me
wrong, Nashville is a great place, too. Much of my
family and many friends are there, and I have warm
feelings for it as well. So, there are different things
about each city that are special to me. I try to hold on
to the things that I like about a place, and enjoy my
time while Iím there.
KW: Where in L.A.
did you grow up?
BS: I kindaí grew
up in a few different places, but I spent a lot of my
time out on a 56-acre ranch in Thousand Oaks where we
had chickens and cows and dogs. My mom had a big garden,
and I spend a great deal of time playing outside. I had
the country life, but also the city life, since we would
go to New York a lot. Now, I live in the main Los
Angeles area, so Iíve sort of come full circle.
KW: Would you mind
answering the Jimmy Bayan question by telling me what
L.A. neighborhood youíre in now?
BS: Iíd rather not
say, just for safetyís sake.
KW: I understand.
unfortunate, but thatís how you have to be at this stage
of the game, especially because of whatís available with
the help of the internet. You have to be very aware of
the information that you reveal, because you just donít
know how someone might use it. Iím not worried about
you, but you know how things can be with the internet. I
donít even have a page at MySpace. [Laughs]
KW: Was it ever
hard being the daughter of a pop icon?
BS: When you have
parents who are recognizable, thereís a certain part of
you that wants to know that people you meet are able to
not get clouded by that. For one reason or another,
people often get kindaí caught up with it. You want to
know that people see you for who you are before that
comes up. Itís not like you want to hide or be
dishonest, itís just that you want to give people an
opportunity to see you clearly, without anything else
attached to it, if possible. Then youíre able to get the
same shot that they did for a real connection. You kind
of want to be able to meet people directly where theyíre
KW: Do you have
stalker issues? Iím sure your mother must have had some
over the course of her career.
BS: Luckily, I
havenít had anything too intrusive to this point. Iím
happy about that. Iím a pretty private person. Iím not
ďout thereĒ out there. From living in New York City, I
developed a certain awareness that you have to have when
you live by yourself. And I think I brought that with me
here to Los Angeles, even though itís not the same. I
try to be pretty aware, and make sure that Iím safe,
especially if Iím alone.
KW: I enjoyed
youíre singing in this role, but you sound more like
Judy Collins or Joni Mitchell than Donna Summer. Who
would you say are your influences?
BS: The style of
music in the movie is not necessarily the same as my own
personal music. I helped write one of the songs, but the
rest were written by other people. My parents are very
much singer/songwriters, so they ended up showing me a
lot of that type of music when I was a kid, but as Iíve
gotten old Iíve really listened to a wide spectrum of
music, whether itís The Carpenters, Stevie Wonder,
Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z or Lauryn Hill. Iíve kindaí
run the gamut, and in listening to so many different
styles, you come to take bits and pieces from all of it.
KW: How did you
enjoy being on My Wife and Kids?
BS: That was a
great experience. It was my first professional, series
regular gig. I had so much fun, because it was a great
learning experience in a family environment.
KW: How was it
working on that show with Damon Wayans?
BS: He was one of
the most professional people Iíve ever met. And so sweet
and so giving. And [co-star] Tisha Campbell was the same
way. I felt very blessed to be able to get paid to go
there, because I wouldíve gone for free.
KW: You wouldnít
believe how many times I interview someone, and they end
up raving about how great it was working with one of the
Wayans Brothers. Why do you think thatís the case?
BS: They are
enablers, and they do many things well. So, they bring a
lot of people along for the ride, especially if they
believe in you. And they love kids, and they love their
families, and itís very evident in the environment they
create on the set.
KW: In your bio,
it says you were spotted by a booker for Ford Model
Agency who signed you on the spot. I always hear stories
like that. Is that true or was that dreamed up by a
BS: Well, it was
kindaí like that, but maybe a little glorified. The
introduction wasnít solicited by me. I was introduced to
one of the agents at Ford, and very early on, they were
like ďWe would love to work with you.Ē I didnít really
pursue them. It happened through a natural connection,
and it all happened very, very quickly. So, I was really
blessed to get a break because itís not an easy
KW: Iím curious
about how you see yourself ethnically, given that you
have one white parent, and one black parent.
BS: Iíve taken
some journeys with that throughout my life, and come to
an understanding about how I felt about, and then how
the world kindaí sees it. I grew up in an environment
where of my two best friends, one was Korean, and one
was blonde with blue eyes. And I was very close to my
nanny, whoís like my second mom, and sheís from El
Salvador. From very early on, I was surrounded by
different cultures, so, as a kid I wasnít really aware
of it. Then, as I got older, I always identified equally
with my mother and fatherís sides. My dadís family is
Italian-American from Brooklyn, so I always considered
myself bi-racial, because I didnít want to disconnect
from either side, and I felt very strongly about that.
Now, I understand that the world sees me as a black
woman, a person of color, and Iím okay with that. I
wouldnít want to change the fact that Iím a person of
color. But I also try to be fair to both sides of who I
am, since they both played a big part in making me who I
am today. The world kindaí gets caught up in putting
people in boxes, and you have to check a box saying
youíre white, or Hispanic, or black, or Asian-American,
or a Pacific Islander. But we all share the same
emotions and have the same blood running through our
veins and weíre all a part of the human race.
Culturally, we might be a little bit different, and say
things differently, but if we could all see beyond the
boxes and focus on those areas where we are very
similar, at the end of the day weíd see that we are
simply who we are. And I think the film Rain shows that
KW: What do you
see as the movieís message?
BS: It delivers
the message that life is a journey, and that there are
going to be some major bumps in the road. You might
question who you are and what youíre going to be, but
you can fight through it, and even though youíre tested,
it will make you stronger and youíll come to see who you
generation has recently been dubbed ďGeneration E.A.Ē
meaning Generation Ethnically-Ambiguous. The New York
Times says that whatís popular today is a face whose
heritage is hard to pigeonhole. Faces that are
ethnically neutral or diverse suddenly have considerable
BS: Yeah, that is
becoming true, because we live in a melting pot. More
and more, people are some kind of mixture. Even if
youíre Caucasian, youíre a mixture of something.
KW: Like a
BS: Yeah, whenever
I see a family picture of mine, I always call it a
Benetton ad, because it kindaí looks that way. The whole
world is gravitating towards being multi-national and
multi-racial, which has enabled people of my generation
to be more tolerant of differences.
KW: Thanks so much
for the interview. I was extremely impressed by your
being so forthcoming on so many different subjects. I
just hope that when you get as famous as your mother,
youíll still make yourself available to me for another
definitely. Thank you for taking the time. I appreciate
it. Speak to you soon.
* * *
The Price of Civilization
Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity
By Jeffrey D. Sachs
The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our countryís economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political partiesóand many leading economistsóhave missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalizationís long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. Americaís single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not Americaís abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another.
* * *
Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura MarŪa AgustŪn
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura AgustŪn makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."óLisa Adkins, University of London
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Boisí
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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update 4 August 2008