Photo: NY Daily News
One of the breakout stars in this year’s Sundance Festival, Adepero Oduye earned a standing ovation for her role as 17-year old Alike in the coming-of-age drama Pariah. Adepero is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants who was born and raised in Sunset Park.
Adepero first fell in love with theater as a participant in the Life Lines program at Center for Family Life. She went on to pursue a medical career, but her passion for acting was rekindled in her senior year at Cornell. Her part in Pariah and the rave reviews she received suggest that she’s on the path to stardom.
From the NY Daily News:
“It’s like a role I was born to play,” said Oduye, an Edward R. Murrow High School graduate who got her start doing improvisational theater in schools and community centers through Sunset Park’s Center for Family Life.
“[Alike’s] an outsider and doesn’t belong. I immediately related to that. Part of that is being Nigerian. Part of that is being poor,” said Oduye, who said she remembers being teased for not having the right clothes. “If you don’t fit in, kids will let you know.”
Center for Family Life Director Julie Stein Brockway said she remembers Oduye, who worked as a youth counselor at the center, as someone who was emotionally reserved, but had real empathy for others.
“She had a smile that would light up a room – but it wasn’t easy to get that smile.”
After college, Oduye took a job at the Center for Family Life, but quit to pursue her acting fulltime. “I was telling the kids to pursue your dreams and not be afraid, and I had to listen to my own advice,” said Odyuye.
“[Doing the movie] solidified in my mind what my purpose is in life,” said Oduye, “and it’s to act.”
You can read an interview with Adepero with Indiewire here. The Center is extremely proud of Adepero and excited to honor her at our annual Center for Family Life fundraiser in May 2011.
Each year, Center for Family Life organizes a symposium, dedicated to one of our founders, Sister Mary Geraldine, that brings together experts and practitioners for a discussion of a topic relevant to the work of the Center. This year’s symposium, which took place on February 7, focused on child welfare in a community development context.
Jennifer March-Joly, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children, gave the keynote address, and Belinda Conway, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the NYC Administration for Children’s Services, provided commentary. Three workshops followed the opening presentations, discussing promising practices in:
- Child welfare and community development, led by Paul Di Lorenzo, Senior Director of Casey Family Programs.
- Child welfare and public education, led by Julie Stein Brockway, Co-Director of Center for Family Life, and Carrie Stewart, Family Counseling Supervisor at Center for Family Life.
- Child welfare and workforce development, moderated by Gary Carter, Executive Director of Little Sisters of the Assumption, with Vanessa Bransburg, Cooperative Coordinator at Center for Family Life, and Priti P. Kataria, ACT Director at Lawyers for Children.
Thank you to everyone who came to the Symposium, and especially those who provided the informative and inspiring presentations. Ms. March-Joly’s presentation was the highlight of the event: she offered a cogent and thoughtful analysis of the relationship between childhood wellness, broadly defined, in communities and community-level participation in child welfare services. You can view an outline, including lots of interesting and eye-opening data, by clicking here (pdf).
For an interesting discussion of economic, social and racial factors in child welfare, we recommend this excellent article about a recent conference of leading child welfare professionals at Harvard University.