Originally published in the Houston Press.
Joseph “JoeP” Palmore is a class act. Introduced to the performing arts early on by his father, Joe, a former theater professor who taught classes at Texas Southern, University of Houston, Houston Community College and New York University, Palmore was destined to be in the limelight. He first emerged to the stage while in grade school. His father had him recite a poem by Benjamin Mays for a church play. A self-proclaimed “knucklehead” while a student at Jack Yates High School in Houston’s Third Ward, he was pulled aside in the 10th grade by his then speech teacher Sandra Shelton who pushed him to hone his skills as a performer. With both of his parents being members of the cloth, many projected Joseph to be ministering from the pulpit, but instead he’s cultivated a more secular gospel that is all his own.
What he does: Palmore is a triple threat. He acts, performs poetry and finds time to mentor young thespians. While he is a jack of many trades, he’s quite honest about what he loves the most. “I am an actor first because that’s my first love, it’s what I do,” he said. “It wasn’t until six years ago when I started writing poetry and that came from moving to Houston after graduating from Clark Atlanta University.” He is enjoying his fourth year with the Ensemble Theater and recently finished playing Emmett Till in The Ballad of Emmett Till this past February.
Why he likes it:He looks at his role as a poet and performance artist as a platform to help others. “I feel my whole purpose is to be heard, not just to be popular in this city,” he said. “I want people to hear my work and be able to hear my work and relate to the situations I talk about. That’s what I try to do as an artist.”
What inspires him: “Life and how individuals react to life’s situations,” Palmore said. He recently produced his first play called “Love, Pain, Passion, Progress: A Poe-A-Trical Life Story” last year with the Black Box Theatre Group in June after he went through a nasty break up with a past girlfriend.
If Not This, Then What: He would be a full-time speech or theater teacher.
If Not Here, Then Where: “New York, it’s the theater mecca,” Palmore said. “The energy you experience while being on stage is like no other. It’s that ‘live or die’ moment and you can feel your audience react to you.”
What’s Next:He is planning to release the follow-up to his producing debut in late April, Love Pain Passion Progress: The Next Chapter. You can catch him co-hosting Poetry Lounge Sundays at Bambou with Se7en the poet. The address is 2450 University Blvd in Rice Village and the show starts at 7 p.m..
If you are interested in seeing Palmore show off his acting chops, check out his next performance at the Ensemble Theatre in “Cuttin’ Up” starting March 22 to April 15, Thursday through Sunday.
Originally published in the Houston Chronicle.
Page Parkes knows models aren’t born, but discovered.
As owner of Page Parkes Corp., a Houston-based modeling, management and acting agency, Parkes is always on the hunt for fashion’s next “it” girl, whether in a fast-food restaurant or shopping mall.
She shows off her skills in Scouted, a new E! Entertainment Television reality series in which modeling scouts search for fresh faces in Houston, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Richmond, Va. The show debuts at 9 p.m. Monday on E!.
Unlike America’s Next Top Model and similar reality shows, Scouted focuses on finding models, instead of having the models compete against each other.
“All the other shows start with the contestant working in the industry, and that’s all you see,” Parkes said. “Scouted gives you more than that, it’s like a human treasure hunt.”
“Scouting” refers to the process in which models are discovered. Naomi Campbell was scouted at age 15 while window shopping. Cindy Crawford was found at age 16 by a newspaper photographer and Canadian model Coco Rocha was discovered during an Irish dance competition.
“All my life I have been addicted to finding the next ‘it’ girl,” Parkes said. “I scout everywhere I go. There isn’t a special place I visit. The show didn’t hire me to be an actress. This is what I do.”
In one episode, Parkes visits a Sonic drive-in in Cypress to talk with a prospective model.
“I’m not looking for beauty queens, but characteristics that others might not find beautiful,” she said about the scouting process. “I look for long legs, a short torso and striking facial features, something out of the ordinary.”
And she looks at height. Most female models are at least 5 feet 9 inches tall, Parkes said. (Supermodel Kate Moss is a rarity at 5 feet 7 inches.)
Parkes, born in Denton and raised in Clear Lake, studied fashion design at the American College in London, where she became fascinated with modeling.
“I found out that models were extremely important because they sold the clothes,” she said.
After graduating in 1979, she returned to the United States to work with Michael St. James, a Houston modeling school and agency. In 1981, she started her agency and has worked with models such as Stephanie Seymour, Tyson Beckford and Rebecca Romijn.
Channing Tatum, who starred in films such as Coach Carter and Dear John, got his foot in the door by signing with the Page 305 agency in Miami. Parkes discovered Alexis Bledel, who starred in the television series Gilmore Girls, at a Houston shopping mall while Bledel was a St. Agnes Academy student.
Scouted was created by model agent Michael Flutie, a longtime friend of Parkes.
“We show you how we go about the scouting process in Middle America,” Flutie said. “You get to see the process on how she’s discovered, evaluated and found by an agency.”
Parkes said there’s no formula to becoming a model.
“There is no real college education for trying to be a model,” Parkes said. “You have to basically travel the world with your agent who will create a financial worth for you. It’s an exciting process.”
Originally published on For Harriet.
The civil rights movement produced several notable female leaders; however, many of their stories have never been told, that is until now. One such unsung heroine was unshakable. Her name: Daisy Bates. Her mission: dismantle Arkansas’ segregation laws.
I recently had the opportunity to watch a screening of Daisy Bates: The First Lady of Little Rock at a Houston PBS event.
To say that her story inspired me would be an understatement. I was left in awe of her resilience. She was so poised, strong and brave.
Imagine being 8-years-old and finding out from a playmate that your real mother was raped and killed by racist thugs. What if you walked into a store and just because of the color of your skin, the owner tells you to wait “nig—” until I serve these white people and then gives you a piece of meat that’s not even fit for the hogs to eat?
How does one cope with that kind of hatred? For Bates, it was the love of her dear parents. They sheltered her from much of the cruelty in the segregated South, but they could only do so much. Soon Bates learned to tangle with the wicked reality of inequality.
Her story empowered me. Bates’ childhood made her story all the more complex.
She not only had to fight through the issues of racism and sexism, but she had to deal with the internal conflict of being adopted and the truth about her mother’s rape and murder; truths that were revealed to her through the taunting of school children in her community. She made no excuses for herself and empowered me to take my own challenges and use them to propel myself into something greater, to never be too concerned with where I am because I have the power to overcome the misfortunes in my past.
Instead of becoming bitter, racism humbled Bates, made her determined and a fighter, which made me respect her even more. The maturity and selflessness displayed by Bates was something I had not seen before.
She was a fierce debater and even though she only completed eighth grade, Bates was known for her determination and eloquence. She used the tragedies of her past to become an advocate for the disenfranchised individuals in her community.
Bates started her crusade for change during her teenage years when she met and married a journalist named Lucious Christopher Bates in the early 1940s. Together they started a weekly African-American newspaper, the Arkansas State Press.
The newspaper allowed her to make the fight for equality front and center in Arkansas. She soon became the president of the Arkansas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1952.
At the time of her presidency the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional in the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954.
However, Arkansas schools still weren’t admitting African-American students in white institutions. Bates and her husband used their newspaper to bring the issue to light.
As schools in the North began to admit black students, the schools in the South did not. Many were afraid that if Arkansas started integrating its schools, it would act as a domino effect and desegregate schools in the South.
In 1957, Bates had enough. She helped fight to get a group of young African-American students, known as the Little Rock Nine, into Little Rock Central High School. She served as an advocate for the students. Her home was a safe haven for the students to organize their plan to achieve equality.
Her story humbled me.
Being a student at a historically black university in the deep South, I have never had to deal with the mental and physical anguish of being denied an education simply because of the color of my skin. If anything, I have been pushed to work harder.
Watching the hatred and brutality Bates and the Little Rock Nine endured made me so much more appreciative of the civil liberties that I enjoy today.
I especially admired the courage of Little Rock Nine’s Elizabeth Eckford. Eckford, unaware of a schedule change, showed up at Little Rock High School to be greeted by an angry mob that shoved and hurled obscenities at her. She stood her ground. It took courage for her to do that.
As I watched Daisy Bates’ story unfold, it angered me. Why hadn’t anyone talked about her? I vaguely remember hearing about the Little Rock Nine in grade school and I certainly did not hear about Daisy Bates at all. Bates singlehandedly took on racial segregation in Arkansas. In my eyes, she was braver than most of the men in Arkansas.
Mrs. Bates has definitely been short changed.
We live in a patriarchal society that has condensed the history of an entire ethnic group into one month and unjustly we are seeing that the women, who were on the front lines demanding justice, don’t get the glory.
It moved me. It forced me to question my belief system. Would I be strong enough to stand up by myself for what’s right like Bates? Would I be able to put my life on the line for the next generation of African-Americans?
I hope that we continue to give attention to those who are lesser known. I am happy that an underreported civil rights heroine, such as Daisy Bates is getting some attention.
She showed me that one woman with a vision can make a difference. It is a lesson that needs to be heard by many others and I am happy to see that there is now an opportunity for others to hear it.