Betty K. Bynum's I'm A Pretty Girl Collection

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[Black Star Interview]

I had the pleasure of speaking with the
multi-talented Betty K Bynum about her newest venture, the "I'm a Pretty
Girl Collection". A collection of children's books, apparel and dolls
that remind us of just how beautiful different can be. 

BSN: Good morning and congratulations on your new collection.
BKB: Thanks so much!  I just feel so blessed to be doing what I am doing. I
wish I could say it's all me but it's mostly GOD and my belief in HIM.
 Not to mention a lot of help from some immensely talented people! 
BSN: What was the inspiration behind this collection? 
BKB: I was watching Julianne Moore on the Today Show. She was promoting
her children's book, "Freckled-Face Strawberry". She spoke about how
being a red-head little girl with freckles wasn't so popular back then
and how it had made her feel like she didn't belong. It got me to
thinking about how we, as Black women, have issues about how light or
dark we are.

We're so many beautiful colors and tones. We should be
celebrating that instead of being divisive.  We need a joyful, natural
way to celebrate each other and be one.

I had a big
moment of clarity when I attended the Toy Fair at the Jacob Javits
Center as Madame Alexander's special guest. After walking around the
fair I realized I was the only Black person there, absent the coat check
and security. I was like, wait a minute this can't be! I walked
through the entire fair again and yep I was the only black person.  Now
if this is a representation of the people who are designing and
manufacturing the toys, this is why what we see in the stores is not
BSN: That being said how difficult was it to shop your idea?
BKB: The credit definitely goes to Todd Williams, an amazing Black
man. He is responsible for chaperoning me into the deal with Target.
 He really pushed the idea. Also Keith Harrison [Marketing] was
instrumental in helping me close this huge deal. We have been working
on this Target deal since January of 2010 with some really great people. They are very specific about the merchandise they carry and how it
reflects their brand and purpose.  Luckily, my products fit the niche
and were exactly what they were looking for.

BSN: When can we look forward to seeing your collection in Target stores?
BKB: We are on schedule with Target to debut in Spring 2013.  I'm so
excited to see this come into fruition!  I jotted down the first draft
of my book in 2008. It's been a long time coming.  The first book, "I'm a
Pretty Little Black Girl" is available now at AMAZON.COM 
BSN: I had a chance to see the book cover art and it is gorgeous.
BKB: I had the honor of working with an amazing Illustrator, Claire
Armstrong-Parod.  She took what was in my head and made it beautiful.
 She's such a joy to work with and an artist in every sense of the word.
 Claire made sure every color was perfect, every shade matched.  We
worked side-by-side.  I wound up art-directing the entire book.  Who
knew I could be an Art-Director?

BSN: Wow!  Let's add that to your already extensive résumé?   Do you have any room?
BKB:  I'll have to make some! [Laughs]
BSN: I understand that this collection will also include a line of dolls.  Tell me about that.
BKB: To my utter surprise, after one meeting with Madame Alexander,
they decided to come on board.  I was floored!  You can imagine my
shock.  Lawrence Christmas, a dear friend of mine, created seven dolls
(one for each character in the book).  It was his beautiful
craftsmanship that snagged us this deal!   He said to me, "Betty, this
never happens.  No one gets a 'yes' after a 30 min meeting.  It's
unheard of!"   Me telling them about the dolls paled in comparison to
them actually seeing Lawrence's work up close.  I cried when he showed
it to me for the first time. It was perfect. 
BSN: I love
the fact that you not only have a Pretty Little Black Girl's character
but you've also included a Latino, Asian and Indian characters.
BKB: Actually, I have my son to thank for that. He said to me,
"Mommy, I go to school with Spanish, Chinese and Indian girls too. They
want to go to the library and read a book about themselves!" 
BSN: He's a smart boy.
BKB: Yes, he is.  There is a void that needs to be filled for all girls and women of color.  I've read my books to grown Black, Latino,
Asian and Indian women and they all cried!  It's so important to me that
the girls feel loved after they read my book.  I want them to know that
they look exactly the way they're supposed to and they are fabulous.

a dark-skinned woman in the film industry, I can't tell you how many
times I've been looked over for a role for another black woman who was
lighter or more caramel than me.  It creates a sense of competition
between us instead of a sense of community.  I pray that this book
series will start the healing process by teaching our young girls and
women of color to celebrate each others' differences because they are
what makes us beautiful and unique. 
BSN: Have you thoughts about bringing this book to television or the big screen? 
BKB: That's very interesting. Claire's five year old daughter was
looking at the book and said to Claire, "Mommy, this is great!  When
does the movie come out?"  I would love to see that happen! 
BSN: We are definitely lacking diversity in cartoons and animated
films these days. In our era we had the "Jackson Five" and "Fat Albert"
to watch.  I bought a DVD box-set of "Fat Albert" and my children love
BKB: Wow!  That's awesome.  You should let Bill
Cosby know that!  He would be so happy.  I'm going to try and find that
for my son too.  I would love for, "I'm a Pretty Litttle Black Girl" to
become an animated series for all children to enjoy. 
BSN: The collection is phenomenal and we look forward to its debut in
April of this year. I'm sure it will be a huge success.  Best of luck
to you and thank you for your time. 
BKB: Thank you so
much. I am happy to have support from people like you.  I love your
magazine and am honored to be in it.
GIRL COLLECTION" is a joyful and natural way to celebrate diversity
among all colored girls and women.  Filled with positive self-images and
moral messages, it's sure to start a cycle of healing in our
communities.  She's already received accolades from the likes of Chris
Rock, Debbie Allen and John Singleton.  We salute you, Betty K Bynum;
 talented writer, actress, singer/song writer, entrepreneur for tackling
this most important issue and making it PRETTY!

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