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Niecy Nash-Betts Recalls Childhood Encounter With Ed Asner, Shares Life Lessons With Masterclass Attendees

By Pamela Chelin
Los Angeles Magazine
July 10, 2023
July 10, 2023

In a talk hosted by filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Creative Campus, the actress reveals how she manifested being, ”Black, fabulous and on TV”

When actress Niecy Nash-Betts was five years old, back in 1975, she was watching TV with her grandmother when she was captivated by a performance from flamboyant nightclub singer Lola Falana.

“In that moment, I feel like my destiny was stamped on the canvas of my imagination,” Nash-Betts tells a rapt audience during a recent Masterclass at ARRAY’s Creative Campus, an arts and social impact collective founded by filmmaker Ava DuVernay in L.A.’s historic Filipinotown. “I looked at my grandmother and I said, ‘That’s what I want to be—Black, fabulous and on TV.’”

From that point on, Nash-Betts insisted on being called Lola, refusing to answer to her real name. What’s more, she’d sit on the family’s porch wearing dresses and scarves to emulate Falana. When told she was too shy to make it as an actress, she remained undeterred. She stacked two phone books on top of one another, stood on her makeshift stage, and slowly turned around in a circle.

At that moment, her grandfather saw something special in his granddaughter and knew she had what it would take to be in the spotlight.

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