I’ve been thinking about this Something Awesome column for my blog for some time now. Hell, I posted the first column back in July, celebrating my friend Brandie June’s stories in the graphic novel series Cthuhlu is Hard to Spell Volumes Two and Three (which you should totally go check out, by the way).
And then… I didn’t post more awesome things. I mean, if you look at my feed on here, I haven’t posted much of anything, really. And that simply is because I’ve been feeling stuck. Well, the only way to get unstuck is to do the damn thing (whatever that thing may be), so here I am on a Friday night, watching Star Trek Voyager re-runs, and composing this blog for your infotainment!
So what’s the point of Something Awesome? Well, I’m fortunate to know tons of incredibly talented people, many of whom are accomplishing amazing things, and I want to acknowledge them, to celebrate their victories with them, and to introduce you to the fruits of their labor.
Speaking of the fruits of their labor, I am an Amazon Affiliate, and when you pre-order or purchase your copy of Blood at the Root or other qualifying items using the links in this post, I may make a small commission. This means that not only are you supporting LaDarrion and his work, but you’re also supporting Something Awesome at no additional cost! So thank you in advance!
Now then, without further ado, let’s talk about…
Author/Playwright LaDarrion Williams and his Boulevard of Bold Dreams
This week, I want to introduce you to a talented playwright and author, LaDarrion Williams. I met LaDarrion years ago through mutual connections within the LA theatre community, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since. Through the tangled web that is social media, I’ve seen him struggle and strive and build a name for himself, and he’s clearly shown me that he is someone to watch.
Last year, I caught a production of his new play UMOJA at the Willie Agee Playhouse, which inspired me to reach out to him and offer to produce his new play Boulevard of Bold Dreams at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Well, that didn’t happen because as it turned out, he had bigger plans for that show.
Much bigger plans.
The play, which had readings at Echo Theatre Company and the Santa Monica Theatre Guild at the Morgan-Wixon, was named a semi-finalist at the Eugene O’Neil Playwrights Conference in 2021 and in February this year, it premiered at Chicago’s TimeLine Theatre Company. This was followed quickly by critically acclaimed productions at the Greater Boston Stage Company in March and Orlando Shakes in October.
Now, while I’m 100% certain I would have mounted an absolute bang-up production of his script… I have to say that I think he made the right choice here.
That said, I’m still a huge fan of his, and I’m keen on finding an opportunity for us to collaborate on another project.
Speaking of Other Projects! As I mentioned before, LaDarrion’s not just a critically acclaimed playwright, but he’s also an author, and his first novel, Blood at the Root, is coming out May 7th, 2024! I’ve already pre-ordered my copy, and I hope you’ll get one for yourself or your kids.
There’s a fascinating story behind how this book came to be, and I’m taking the time this weekend to talk to LaDarrion all about it. Catch us live on Twitch.tv this Sunday, November 26th at 2pm, or check out the live replay from YouTube embedded below starting November 29th at 7pm!
About Boulevard of Bold Dreams by LaDarrion Williams
An historic night at the Oscars. A dream of what could have been. IT IS FEBRUARY 29, 1940, the night of the Academy Awards in Hollywood, California. Bartender Arthur Brooks, an ambitious Black man from rural Alabama, dreams of becoming a movie director. His best friend, Dottie Hudson, is a maid at the Ambassador Hotel who finds herself to be a cynic of all dreams. When Academy Award Nominee Hattie McDaniel stops in at the bar and decides not to attend the biggest event in show business, Arthur and Dottie must do everything in their power to convince her to go and claim her historic win—while confronting their dark past and making their own dreams come to life. This play is about race, class, gender, and the ever-changing landscape of Hollywood.
About Blood at The Root by LaDarrion Williams
A teenager on the run from his past finds the family he never knew existed and the community he never knew he needed at an HBCU for the young, Black, and magical. Enroll in this fresh fantasy debut with the emotional power of Legendborn and the redefined ancestral magic of Lovecraft Country.
“A genre-shattering amalgamation of culture, heritage, and magic….utterly refreshing”
—J. Elle, New York Times bestselling author of Wings of Ebony
Ten years ago, Malik’s life changed forever the night his mother mysteriously vanished and he discovered he had uncontrollable powers. Since then, he has kept his abilities hidden, looking out for himself and his younger foster brother, Taye. Now, at 17, Malik is finally ready to start a new life for both of them, far from the trauma of his past. However, a daring act to rescue Taye reveals an unexpected connection with his long-lost grandmother: a legendary conjurer with ties to a hidden magical university that Malik’s mother attended.
At Caiman University, Malik’s eyes are opened to a future he never could have envisioned for himself— one that includes the reappearance of his first love, Alexis. His search for answers about his heritage, his powers, and what really happened to his mother exposes the cracks in their magical community as it faces a reawakened evil dating back to the Haitian Revolution. Together with Alexis, Malik discovers a lot beneath the surface at Caiman: feuding covens and magical politics, forbidden knowledge and buried mysteries.
In a wholly unique saga of family, history and community, Malik must embrace his legacy to save what’s left of his old family as well as his new one. Exploring the roots and secrets that connect us in an unforgettable contemporary setting, this heart-pounding fantasy series opener is a rich tapestry of atmosphere, intrigue, and emotion.
About LaDarrion Williams
Hailing from the small town of Helena, Alabama, LaDarrion Williams is a self-taught playwright, filmmaker, author, and screenwriter whose goal is to cultivate a new era of Black fantasy. As a playwright, his first play Katrina won first place at the Alabama State Thespian Conference. Black Creek Risin’ was a part of the Great Plains Theatre Conference in Omaha, Nebraska. His play, Coco Queens, was invited to participate in the 2019 Sundance Institute’s Playwriting Intensive. His plays also received semi-finalist recognition from the Eugene O’Neill National Playwriting Conference. He is a 2x finalist for the National Black Theatre I AM SOUL Playwriting Fellowship and American Blues 2023 Blue Ink Award. He is also an alum of the Echo Theatre Playwrights Lab, TSU’s Black and Latino Playwrights Festival, and the Boise Contemporary Theater BIPOC Playwrights Festival. His Jeff Award nominated play Boulevard of Bold Dreams (a story about Hattie McDaniel’s historic Oscar win) was a part of the New Works Festival at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica, California. It had a world premiere production at the TimeLine Theatre Company in Chicago and an East Coast Premiere at Greater Boston Stage Company in March 2023. It will be part of the Orlando Shakes Theater Signature Series in Fall 2023 and will be produced at subsequent theatres nationwide in 2024-2025. In his filmmaking bag, LaDarrion has curated three short films on YouTube. And as a debut author, his Young Adult Blood at the Root was acquired in a competitive auction from Labyrinth Road, an imprint of Penguin Random House, and will debut in Summer of 2024. Bio from PWCenter.org.
Connect with LaDarrion on Twitter at @ItsLaDarrion, or through his reps at A3 Artists Agency.
…we get into the holiday spirit with one of my best friends, Jim Martyka, and his newly remastered single Holiglo. Until then, Happy Holidays!