Jelani Alladin on Frozen, Hercules and Telling Stories the ‘World Is Finally Ready to Hear’

first_img View Comments Jelani Alladin (Photo compilation by Ryan Casey for Jelani Alladin in “Frozen” and “Hercules”(Photos: Deen van Meer/Joan Marcus) Jelani Alladin has been staying busy while quarantined due to the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down Broadway. Not only has he been using his social media platform to create important conversations about racial equality on Broadway, but he has also started his own production company, is working on a children’s musical, finished writing a TV series and is optioning a solo play. On top of that, Alladin also appeared as the host of the 2020 Shubert Foundation High School Theatre Festival that took place on June 15. The stage favorite appeared on’s #LiveatFive: Home Edition to talk about his experiences as a leading man and what he hopes for the future.Known for making his Broadway debut as Kristoff in Frozen, Alladin later went on to lead the Public Works staging of Hercules in the title role, once again taking on an animated character  originally portrayed as white on the big screen. Alladin would like to do away with a certain way of describing such casting. “I think the phrase ‘colorblind casting’ is wrong. To say that you’re colorblind is actually the problem,” Alladin said. “To say that you are looking at me and not seeing the fact that I am an African-American denies my authenticity. The authenticity of my work, my history and all that I am is one of the only things that I can bring to a piece. When you’re casting Jelani Alladin, you then have to bring all of his history to the piece and the character is therefore informed differently because of that. You’re never actually blind to the color of someone that you’re casting. You should be more in tune with and conscious about it. You don’t want put forward narratives that are against the fight for good.” Hosting the 2020 Shubert Foundation High School Theatre Festival means that Alladin got to watch some of the top high school theater students perform, which gave him a renewed sense of hope. “It’s amazing how innovative these performances are,” he said of the festival. “It proves the point that theater can never die, and will never die because we’ll just keep finding new ways to make it.”Alladin ended his #LiveatFive visit with a tip for aspiring artists: “I think for so long we, as Black and indigenous persons of color actors, felt that we had to fit into a box. We had to change ourselves to fit the form of something that we were never really invited to. And I say never again. Everything that you are is beautiful, worthy, valid, authentic and should be celebrated. Never leave any of that behind and trust that what you are will guide you to what you will become. Everything that you need is already inside you.”Hear Jelani Alladin talk about his upcoming projects and more in the full episode below! “I’m ready to share stories that I think now the world is finally ready to hear.”center_img Star Files In Alladin’s eyes, it all comes down to the fact that non-white actors are getting roles because they’re the best for the job. “I was actually fired from Hercules and they went on an audition process to find someone else and they came back to me,” Alladin said. “I got the job because I can do the job and I’m the best person for the job. The truth is, I couldn’t sing “Go the Distance” and a certain member of the team didn’t want to take a chance on me. But through the audition process, they came to realize that I was the best person for it. I put in the work.”For Alladin, “putting in the work” means telling the stories that he’s been seeking. “One of the reasons why I decided not to renew my Frozen contract is because I knew I had a larger job to do,” he said. “There was this whole world of the arts I wanted to help influence and change through telling my stories, so that’s when I began to write. During this quarantine, I opened up my production company. I’m ready to share stories that I think now the world is finally ready to hear. I’m working on a 30-minute children’s musical, I’m writing my own TV pilot and I’m trying to option a book to write a one-man play. All of these things didn’t begin just because of the past two weeks, I’ve actually been working on for the past year. I’ve just been very silent about them. I’m silent no more.”  Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 31:04Loaded: 0%00:00Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently behind liveLIVERemaining Time -31:04 1xPlayback RateChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedEnglishAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button. Jelani Alladinlast_img read more

Overland Park hot air balloon marketing company builds, pilots balloon for Worlds of Fun

first_imgWorlds of Fun now has its own hot air balloon, thanks to Kansas City AeroSports of Overland Park. Photo credit Worlds of FunWorlds of Fun got its own hot air balloon this summer, thanks to Kansas City AeroSports, a downtown Overland Park balloon marketing business.The park debuted the new balloon at its Grand Carnivale earlier this summer. To prepare for the special event, the park hired Amanda and Chris Sabia, the couple who own the Overland Park hot air balloon marketing company, to build and fly the hot air balloon as a sky-high marketing tool.Chris Foshee, communications manager for Worlds of Fun, said the park has had hot air balloons in the past, but it’s been awhile.Chris and Amanda Sabia, owners of Kansas City AeroSports“This is the first time that we’ve kinda brought it back into the light after at least several years,” Foshee said. “The hot air balloon is very iconic with the Worlds of Fun brand; it is incorporated in our original logo and still used today, so we were excited to bring that back. It’s such an important visual piece of the park.”Foshee noted that the hot air balloon has been a part of the park’s branding since 1971, citing a quote from Jack Steadman, a former general manager of the park at the time.“We chose the large, multicolored accession balloon for our symbol because it represents fun, adventure and travel reminiscent of the movie ‘Around the World in 80 Days,’” Steadman had said.In just a few weeks, the Sabias had the balloon handmade at Cameron Balloons, a balloon manufacturer in Michigan. The balloon debuted in around the start of July, just in time for the Grand Carnivale in July and August.“I think it’s iconic,” Chris Sabia said. “For a big corporation to come to a locally and family-owned business says a great deal for their values and our values as to what we produce.”Foshee said it’s also important to Worlds of Fun to do business locally, making Kansas City AeroSports a good business fit for the park.“We’re an important part of the Kansas City community, and we want to support the people that help support us,” Foshee said. “It was also an easy decision to do because they just do excellent work. The hot air balloon that they designed for us was just magnificent.”The Sabias pilot the balloon for the park and store and maintain it when it’s not in use.Kansas City AeroSports also markets for other brands, such as Wonder Bread. Amanda Sabia said she enjoys seeing the looks of awe on everyone’s faces when they see the hot air balloons.The Worlds of Fun hot air balloon glowed at night during the Grand Carnivale this summer. Photo courtesy of Amanda Sabia“With Wonder Bread, it’s so kid-friendly,” she said. “We’re marketing to children, and with Worlds of Fun, again you’re marketing to children, and balloons are perfect for that. Because kids, whether you’re an 80-year-old child or a 24-year-old-child or 4, you get excited when you see a balloon.”Chris Sabia said that with companies such as Wonder Bread and Worlds of Fun, “they see the value in what we do,” especially as a grassroots marketing tool.“You can come up and talk to the people, see the balloon and kinda be involved in it,” he said. “And I think that both of those companies, Worlds of Fun Oceans of Fun and Wonder Bread see the benefit to that.”Foshee said they’re not sure how Worlds of Fun will use the hot air balloon in the future. But in the meantime, for anyone wanting to catch a glimpse of the Worlds of Fun Oceans of Fun hot air balloon, keep your eyes to the skies — or check Kansas City AeroSports’ Facebook page for updates on future flying times, weather permitting.last_img read more

Trump ‘canceling’ Obama’s Cuba policy but leaves much in place

first_imgiStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — After nearly three years of warming relations between the United States and Cuba, President Donald Trump has announced that his administration will unravel many of his predecessor’s policies on the communist state.Speaking from Miami, Florida, Trump announced changes to President Obama’s historic rapprochement with Cuba — fulfilling a promise to the anti-Castro voting bloc he believes helped his campaign clinch the state, but stirring fear among others he could set back business interests and Cuba’s potential for a more prosperous private sector.The Cuban government said in a statement published in the state-run newspaper Granma, “Again, the United States government resorted to coercive methods of the past, adopting measures to intensify the blockade, in force since February 1962, which not only causes damage and deprivation to the Cuban people and constitutes an undeniable obstacle to the development of our economy, but also affects the sovereignty and interests of other countries, inciting international rejection.”The statement continues, “The Cuban government denounces the new measures to tighten the blockade, which are destined to fail as has been shown repeatedly in the past, and which will not achieve its purpose to weaken the revolution or to defeat the Cuban people, whose resistance to the aggressions of any type and origin has been proven over almost six decades.” Decades of contention before ObamaIn one form or another, the embargo on Cuba has been in place since the Eisenhower administration. But beginning in late 2014, President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro began a process that gradually thawed diplomatic tensions and eased commercial and travel restrictions between the two countries.This process culminated in significant economic opportunities for both the U.S. and Cuba. American businesses, including airlines, cruise lines, and telecommunications companies, earned 26 agreements with the Cuban government from 2015 to 2017.Hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars flowed into privately owned businesses in Cuba, The Associated Press reported , spurring the growth of a nascent middle-class that could thrive independent from the government.For Cuba, there have been tangible benefits in tourism and telecommunications. According to the Cuban Ministry, 74 percent more American citizens visited the island in 2016 than in 2015 and, following through on a pledge to Obama, Castro opened nearly 400 new public Wi-Fi access points around Cuba.However, the U.S. International Trade Administration told ABC News it hasn’t yet released its 2016 statistics on outbound travel and therefore could not confirm those numbers from the Cuban Ministry on U.S. tourism.While Obama did not end the embargo on Cuba, since only Congress has that power, the U.S. and Cuba reopened embassies in each other’s capitals for the first time since 1961. The U.S. and Cuba have also signed multiple bilateral agreements to work together on everything from human and drug trafficking to maritime security and migration.Finally, Obama ended the “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy that applied only to Cubans. Previously, Cubans who reached U.S. shores earned automatic visas. Now, Cubans have to follow the same process as other refugees and immigrants.What is President Trump reversing?Trump is reversing all of Obama’s changes, but sources told ABC News he’ll likely redefine what it means to be part of the Cuban military, which could prevent U.S. companies from doing business in Cuba.This comes amid concerns that the Cuban military could be the beneficiary of increased American private investment, at a time when Castro has failed to take action on human rights. In 2016, there were 9,940 short-term detentions of protesters, up from 8,899 in 2014, the AP reports.According to senior White House officials, Trump is also revisiting trade and travel policies towards Cuba, clamping down on individual people-to-people travel. There will still be certain exceptions under which Americans can travel to Cuba and family travel will continue to be authorized. Importantly, no changes will go into effect until the Treasury and Commerce Departments issue new regulations that conform with the administration’s policy.The changes will certainly harm relations between Cuba and the U.S. In a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained, “The general approach, if I can say that, is to allow as much of this continued commercial and engagement activity to go on as possible because we do see the sunny side, as I described it. We do see the benefits of that to the Cuban people.”But then Tillerson qualified his statement. “On the other hand, we think we’ve achieved very little in terms of changing the behavior of the regime in Cuba and its treatment of people,” he said, “and it has little incentive to change that.”What about diplomatic ties?Senior White House officials say that Trump will not close the newly re-opened U.S. Embassy in Havana. He will also not reinstate the “wet foot, dry foot” policy.To avoid alienating the Cuban-American community, which largely votes Republican, Trump will not re-implement limits on remittances — U.S. based money transfers — that Cuban-Americans can give their families back on the island. But if the administration follows through on redefining what it means to be part of the Cuban military, that could affect policies on remittances down the line.Lobbying Trump on CubaSen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, both Republican, Cuban-American hardliners, lobbied Trump hard toward reversal. Importantly, the Trump administration wants to build good rapport with both. Rubio sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is currently looking into the Trump campaign’s supposed contacts with Russian officials. He spoke in Miami briefly before Trump took the stage.It appears that Rubio and Diaz-Balart will win out, though there’s no shortage of actors lobbying the White House the other way. Last week, a group of House Republicans sent a letter to Trump opposing “reversing course” on Cuba. A similar group of Senate Republicans wrote to Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, citing the entrepreneurial and national security benefits of continued engagement. Airbnb, Google and other notable businesses have also spoken out recently in support of maintaining current policies.Tillerson had privately expressed support for Obama’s Cuba policy during the transition, according to sources. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, when governor of Georgia in 2010, led a delegation to Cuba and said at the time to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “I think business cures a lot of ills.”Leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have also urged the administration to keep Cuba open.“More travel, more communications access, and more dialogue with Cuba are the way forward for human rights in Cuba,” Amnesty International wrote in a blog post, adding that Obama’s trip to Cuba last year opened the door to “scrutiny and transparency” of human rights on the island for the first time in nearly 10 years.Reversing policy is bad for Cubans, Human Rights Watch said in a statement, “and insisting on human rights progress as a precondition to a new policy is unlikely to bring about change.”What did Candidate Trump say?During the campaign, Candidate Trump slammed Obama’s Cuba policy, telling a crowd in Miami: “All the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them. And that I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands.”But at the same time, Trump often criticizes regulations on the business community as “burdensome” and “job-killing.”Friday’s speechBy delivering a speech in Miami, Trump made his policy known in the center of the Cuban-American community. By rescinding certain Obama-era Cuba policies, he went against the advice of Democrats, Republicans, and business interests. He did, however, fulfill a campaign promise.ABC Breaking News | Latest News VideosCopyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.Powered by WPeMatico Relatedlast_img read more