Nonprofits Team Up to Inspire Children of Detroit with “King Richard” Movie

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When the founder of “Tuff Cookiez,” a women’s empowerment organization focused on young women, was visiting LA last August, she said she wanted to host a confidence-building event for young people from around the world. the city of Detroit.

She was in Los Angeles working with young girls to help them build their self-esteem by spending a day at the spa and taking them to a screening of the movie “Cinderella”. During the events, she said, she also saw a teaser for the movie “King Richard” and thought about the impact the movie could have on the young people at home.

From left to right, Dorothy Burston of “Tuff Cookiez”, Horatio Williams, founder of the Horatio Williams Foundation and Tonesa Welch of the SylentHeart Foundation all pose together after the screening of King Richard in the lobby of the Emagine Theater in Royal Oak on November 20 2021.
Jasmin Brown, Detroit Free Press

“I was like, I can’t wait for this movie to come out,” said Dorothy Burston. “I’m going to have a theater and fill this sucker with kids so they can be inspired by it.”

So on November 20, Burston didn’t just have one movie theater at the Emagine Royal Oak full of kids, she had two.

People seated inside Theater 11 at the Emagine Theater Royal Oak watch the King Richard movie on November 20, 2021.
People seated inside Theater 11 at the Emagine Theater Royal Oak watch the King Richard movie on November 20, 2021.
Jasmin Brown, Detroit Free Press

Tuff Cookiez, along with the SylentHeart Foundation and the Horatio Williams Foundation, have teamed up to give the children of Detroit a day at the movies to watch the stories of two of the world’s most famous tennis players of all time and their father. . “King Richard” is a biopic about Venus and Serena Williams’ father and trainer, Richard Williams, whom women consider to be the force that helped make them superstars in sports today. Burston said that after learning more about Richard’s story, she knew kids everywhere needed to hear and see this movie.

“He was dedicated to his family and his daughters who were successful in their tennis careers,” she said. “Children should learn that as long as you believe in yourself and stay dedicated, you can achieve anything you want in this world.”

Tonesa Welch, founder of the SylentHeart Foundation, which focuses on helping children whose parents are incarcerated and those who are also homeless, said seeing this film is crucial for the children her group serves.

“I think it’s so inspiring to know that no matter where you’re from or what obstacles you face, you can still be successful,” Welch said. “Even if you don’t have both parents at home, you still keep going and you will be successful.

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Lavita Cox, a volunteer with
Lavita Cox, a volunteer with “Tuff Cookiez” standing behind the registration table while waiting for other children to register for the King Richard movie so that she can hand them a gift bag to take with them in the movie at the Emagine Theater in Royal Oak, November 20, 2021.
Jasmin Brown, Detroit Free Press

A total of 408 people, guardians and children, attended the 2 hour and 24 minute film event that shed light on the lives of Venus, Serena, their three sisters and their parents from a difficult life in Compton, California, before moving to Florida when Venus and Serena were teenagers.

Among the attendees were several children from Friends of the Children-Detroit, a nonprofit organization that works with children from poor, violent or traumatic backgrounds. The CEO said she thinks it is important for their children to see the film because inspiring young people are really making a difference.

“It is important that our children dream of possibilities for themselves as they see others succeed by overcoming obstacles,” said Nicole McKinney, general manager of the Detroit site. “Especially people of color who come from similar backgrounds.

A group of 25 children from Detroit were transported to the viewing by a valet service provided by actor Tristen Fazekas, who currently plays the role of a detective in the STARZ series “BMF”. Fazekas said he provided transportation with just one request from the children: “Pay it next. “

“I am where I am today because someone believed in me… and it took me a village to get me here,” the 37-year-old actor said. “I don’t know all of them. personal stories of these kids, but I want them to know that someone cares enough to create memories that I hope will last a lifetime. “

Welch, who is also a former member of the Black Mafia Family organization, said neither his nonprofit nor Burston’s were receiving funding. Thus, donations from outside groups including Chedda Boys Films, The Hyman Group, Emagine Theaters and Detroit educator Ryan Banks, as well as help from the Horatio Williams Foundation, were very helpful in making the event a success.

Seven-year-old Ayden Epps, from Detroit, poses at the concession booth with a bag of Air Heads candy and her King Richard gift bag at the Emagine Theater in Royal Oak while her mom Fee Epps buys snacks before King Richard starts on the 20 November 2021.
Seven-year-old Ayden Epps, from Detroit, poses at the concession booth with a bag of Air Heads candy and her King Richard gift bag at the Emagine Theater in Royal Oak while her mom Fee Epps buys snacks before King Richard starts on the 20 November 2021.
Jasmin Brown, Detroit Free Press

Each child who registered for the event received movie tickets, cups and a gift bag containing water bottles, a beanie with affirmative quotes, a “King Richard” bracelet and photo posters. promotional film.

Star Valet, owned by Sam Bazzi, donated candy to the kids, and inside the cup holders of every seat in theaters were large cups of popcorn for each customer.

And little Ayden Epps, 7, who attended the screening with his mother, Fee Epps, 36, from Detroit, couldn’t have been happier to be at the event. While waiting at the concession stand with his mom, having his snacks, he said, “I’m here to watch a movie with my mom and can’t wait!

Jasmin Barmore was born and raised in the city of Detroit. She covers neighborhoods and communities across the city using her passion as a motivation to give a voice to the voiceless. You can reach her at [email protected] or by sending her a message on Instagram or Twitter at @bjasminmare.

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