A Little History:
The Brown Betties® emerged in 2004 out of a casting call in LA that read something like: looking for female triple threats to be in a 1940s dinner-theater show.
The women that answered that original call were Crescent Muhammad, Keena Ferguson and Danielle Lewis.
I met Crescent while we were dancing to Prince at a movie premiere. We were at the reception, drinking wine, looking cute, strangers to one another…until the song came on and suddenly she was Prince and I was her back-up dancer and we had a performance in the middle of a lounge. During our applause, I looked at her and said, “Would you like to be a Brown Bettie?”
Keena came as a referral from our friend LeShay. I was working the front desk at Equinox West Hollywood and had asked Keena to stop by during my break so that I could sort of audition and interview her. She walked in with this air of authority and Hollywood starlet sassittitude. As soon as she removed her sunglasses, smiled and said, “I’m looking for Peppur, please?” I knew she was a Bettie.
Keena brought in Danielle. They had danced together on several projects. When Dani sauntered into the first rehearsal with this sort of bowl of honey-fied confidence topped with a playful cherry, I knew I had my fourth Bettie.
I believe the Universe brings people together for a reason. Later, the Universe brought Christy Gamble, Tanya Alexander (Dir/Chor) and Marliss Amiea. These girls became my life-long friends and were always the epitome of what a sultry, sassy, sophisticated woman is and could be. Over time, we grew and more women joined our cast and now we’re like an army of Betties!
A Brown Bettie is a sultry, sassy, sophisticated woman who is confidently aware that her personal journey has made her so beautifully brilliant, she deserves a spotlight.
What’s A Bettie?
My grandmother told me to always be a lady.
When I created the Brown Betties® in 2004, I wanted an entity, a community, a thing that spoke to me and represented me. A lady.
This woman needed a place to exist and I realized she needed to exist on stage and through entertainment. I wanted her to shine and to live in a spotlight that belonged to her…one that was made specifically for her.
I wanted to bring Black women out of the shadows and into the forefront in a positive way. That is what our dinner-theater show, Harlem’s Night: A Cabaret Story starring The Brown Betties & Joe, was designed to do.
As the show progressed and as I learned more about myself, the girls, the brand and our audience, the definition of a Brown Bettie expanded. It became something broadly serving and grew to an entity larger than what was initially unanticipated.
The question began to surface about what and who a Brown Bettie was off the stage. The answer is that a Bettie is a woman of any background who is on a journey; she is a woman who knows the difference between what is sexy and what is sultry and chooses the latter; she is a woman who wants to be sophisticated and will continue to grow as person until she is that; a Bettie is a woman who can laugh with herself and at herself while holding onto the arms of girlfriends.
A Brown Bettie is YOU.