BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: Emily Yancy on her career and ‘Having Our Say’

By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

Three women whose paths in entertainment have inspired generations are uniting for a one-time-only dramatic reading of Emily Mann’s “Having Our Say” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre on April 13, at 3 p.m. for the Los Angeles Inner City Cultural Center, in association with the African Grove Institute for the Arts and UCLA’s Beloved Community Initiative.

Faye Hauser-Price, so familiar from her roles on “Days of Our Lives,” and “The Young and the Restless,” and in “Akeelah and the Bee,” and “Roots: The Next Generations,” directs this adaptation of the Broadway play depicting the lives of Sadie and Bessie Delany, who wrote their story in 1993 at the ages of 103 and 101 respectively in collaboration with Amy Hill Hearth.

Hattie Winston, who was featured on stage in historic Broadway productions of “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” “The Tap Dance Kid” and “The Me Nobody Knows;” as well as on TV’s “Becker,” and “The Electric Company,” is Bessie, the younger sister described as “strong-willed and outspoken.”

It is a role Emily Yancy has taken on multiple times, but this marks a first for the veteran performer of stage, screen and television as she tackles Sadie who is more of an obedient mama’s child.

“It’s quite a challenge but it’s such a lovely piece,” she said in a delightful post-eclipse chat, “because it is all our histories as African Americans dealing with our place here in this country and dealing with the obstacles placed on us. This is an ongoing challenge we have against the white establishment people that want to keep us down. It’s still going, as you know. Look at this thing that might be our next president. All that racism. So, it’s ongoing.” 

Yancy broke barriers on Broadway as the first African-American woman to play the role of Dulcinea Aldonza in “Man of La Mancha,” and was a member of the landmark Black cast of “Hello Dolly” starring Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway.

Her love interest in that show was Jack Crowder, who she would later team with as Thalmus Rasulala in the cult classic “Blacula.” “Get the ‘Hello Dolly’ cast album and you can hear our singing on it,” she urged.  

We spoke about her being in 1970’s Ossie Davis-directed “Cotton Comes to Harlem.” 

“It was a new generation of films,” said the former New York University medical researcher who was relatively fresh in the business at the time. “Before that we had Stepin Fetchit and the rest of that stuff.” 

Of the movie’s heartthrob, Calvin Lockhart, Yancy said, “Calvin worked with me fine, but they had their problems with [him]. He was quite a lover man. And so, he would have his ladies. I heard one story where the dressing room was locked and I think they stayed there overnight. He was giving them the loop to a degree, but he was so wonderful in the film. Years later I did a play with him for the Inner-City Cultural Center. Calvin was Calvin. He was a striking looking and intelligent man.”

In addition to a head-turning supporting performance in the HBO mini-series “Sharp Objects” with Amy Adams, she most recently can be seen playing the mother of journalist Isabel Wilkerson (portrayed by Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor) in Ava Duvernay’s highly acclaimed “Origin.” 

It is a role almost missed due to her reluctance to work when the pandemic started. It took a second notice with the gifted Duvernay’s name attached and the persistence of friend Erica Gimpel (of TV’s “Fame”) who helped her to work on the scene, shoot it and send it off.  

Yancy considers the film a masterpiece and is very proud to be a part of it. 

“I think it’s going to be around for quite a while,” she noted. “I know there was talk about the film getting nominations and Aunjanue is just impeccable. But for one reason or another it didn’t. As they say, that’s show biz.”

TICKET WATCH: Missy Elliott, the first hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, is going on incredulously the first headlining tour of her career. For more info on “Out of This World: The Missy Elliott Experience with Busta Rhymes, Ciara and Timbaland (coming July 11 to Arena), visit Ticketmaster.  

RED CARPET WALK: MGM’s “Challengers” starring Zendaya has its Hollywood premiere April 16 at the Regency Village Theatre, which the next day hosts Giancarlo Esposito, Dan Stevens, William Catlett and Alisha Weir for the debut of Universal’s vampire thriller “Abigail.” 

PRICELESS: Some of Tony Bennett’s collectibles are going on sale at April 18-19. Among the gems are Stevie Wonder’s Hohner harmonica played for their duet recording of “For Once in My Life,” and what Rolling Stone reports as one of its priciest items — a typed 1965 letter from Martin Luther King Jr. Init, King thanks Bennett for his contribution to that year’s Selma to Montgomery civil rights march.

HAPPS: One Way, the funk group that popularized the song “Cutie Pie” jam at La Santa OC on April 12, as The B-52s begin three nights at The Venetian  

April 13 has CeCe Winans at the Peacock Theater, Peter Frampton at The Greek, and a double bill of Chubby Checker and Gary Lewis & The Playboys at the Cerritos Center  

Original Tower of Power trumpeter Greg Adams & East Bay Soul comes to Vibrato Grill on April 14 … 

Valerie Bertinelli discusses her new book “Indulge: Delicious” on April 15 at Vroman’s Bookstore … 

Luis Miguel kicks off a a two-night stand at Arena on April 16, while Flo is at The Fonda; and Ras Kass & RBX are at The Venice West  

Herbie Hancock plays April 17 at Granada Theater, as Leila Rhodes is at The Hotel Café  

Mavis Staples’ 85th All-Star Birthday Concert with Michael McDonald, Black Pumas, Chris Stapleton, Norah Jones, The War and Treaty, Robert Randolph, Keb’ Mo’, and Taj Mahal is at YouTube Theater on April 18 … 

Also that evening, RuPaul visits the Arlington Theatre, as The Bourbon Room hosts Rockin’ with the Stars with Bill Bellamy … 

Hard to choose where to go April 13 with Ledisi at YouTube Theater; Raheem DeVaughn at YouTube Theater, and Meshell Ndegeocello: No More Water/The Fire Next Time; The Gospel of James Baldwin at The United Theater on Broadway

Eric Roberson – The 30th Anniversary Tour arrives April 14 at Lodge Room … 

The Inner City Cultural Center hosts “An Intimate Evening with Margaret “Shug” Avery“ at the Willie Agee Playhouse on April 16. Come to hear the stories of this beloved icon with standout turns in “The Color Purple, “Cool Breeze” with Pam Grier, “The Jacksons: An American Dream,” “Being Mary Jane,” “Genius MLK/X,” and “Which Way Is Up?” with Richard Pryor … 

Seasoned Deaf filmmakers and up-and-coming Deaf creatives from around the world are coming together for the inaugural SignLight International Film Festival (April 16-20) at SilverScreen Theater. Founder CJ Jones (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and his “CODA” Oscar-winning co-stars Marlee Matlin and Troy Katsur will appear along with Emmy-winners Rosie O’Donnell and Keivonn Woodard (“The Last of Us”).

TASTY QUIP: “This [Netflix] version of #GoodTimes is edgier and more irreverent than the ‘Good Times’ of our childhood, but it’s still a show about family, fighting the system and working to make things better despite where you start out in the world. That 100% lines up with my values. Nobody’s forcing you to watch something you don’t want to watch. Just don’t watch. Solved.” – YVETTE NICOLE BROWN to critics of the Steph Curry, Seth MacFarlane, and Norman Lear-produced animated reboot in which she stars. 

TC ON TV: April 12 – “Strange Way of Life” (Netflix): Pedro Almodóvar directed this western short with a twist pairing Pedro Pascal with Ethan Hawke

April 13 – “Saturday Night Live” (NBC): Ryan Gosling hosts with musical guest Chris Stapleton 

April 14 – “24 in 24: Last Chef Standing” (Food): Michael Symon and Esther Choi host this new competition with judges Eric Adjepong, Maneet Chauhan, Stephanie Izard and Jet Tila. “The 100th: Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden” (CBS): With Sting and Jerry Seinfeld. “Unsung” (TV1): Stetsasonic “Uncensored” (TV1): Leon Robinson 

April 15 – “Denzel Washington: American Paradox” (PBS): A comprehensive review of the actor’s remarkable career and his indelible impact on the film industry.

April 16 – “Under The Bridge” (Hulu): Oscar nominee Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) stars in this mini-series based on the 1997 story of a 14-year old girl who went to join friends at a party and never returned home. 

April 18 – “Elspeth” (CBS): Blair Underwood guest stars as the competitive father and coach of a rising tennis star in this episode directed by Rob Hardy (“Power Book III: Raising Kanan”).     

END QUOTE: ““For [Beyoncé] to come out with a country album, I applaud her. Give me a reason why she shouldn’t sing country. Because she’s Black? For them to criticize her, it’s ridiculous. For those criticizing her, they should SHUT UP!” – SMOKEY ROBINSON on Fox 5 DC 

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.