Healing is a Form of Art
Hola Dollz and Hello Modern World ! There is an art to life and healing. I’ve learned that from life experiences but I learned that mostly from my late mentor Dr. Shirley Basfield Dunlap. Today I am going to share some of my memories with her. First I’ll tell you who she was. Dr. Shirley Basfield Dunlap was from South Bronx New York, Stage Director, Producer, Morgan State University Theatre Department Head, and sooooo much more. I met her in 2013 when I was in the play “Voices” by Tony Roberts, a Morgan State University Senior at the time and his senior project was that production at my high school Mergenthaler Vo tech. I was a junior at the time. Shortly after the production, I attended the Open house at Morgan State University, where she told my Dad that if I attended she would have me covered. To be honest she kept that promise. From the moment I started school, she gave me assignments that kept me close by her so I could learn what she knew.
But today I reflect on how we would talk about “Art imitating life “. In 2017 it was time for me to work on my senior project and of course as you all know that was. However, what you don’t know is that at the time my Gram who contributed research to me for my project had suddenly become ill . 2 weeks prior she was planning Christmas dinner and taking an electronic class. But her randomly being sick after my granddad had just passed that August had made me fearful, depressed, and sad. I shared this with Dr. Dunlap especially when I had to journal my process for my project every week and send it to her. We talked about how I was working on a project about grief and grieving someone who hasn’t passed ( a topic I want to elaborate on later ). But she explained how she knew the feeling and that I had to find ways to heal and still complete daily tasks. With that statement, she was just trying to help me be able to manage my life while being in chaos. She also constantly checked on my Gram and prayed for her. When my Gram passed in November 2018 Dr. Dunlap had a one-on-one with me where she talked to me about when her parents passed. She told me that Gram was still within me. She kept me
encouraged to finish my finals and
task as I was graduating a few weeks later. On Graduation day she told my Mom how she knew Gram was proud and shining down on me. So when she called my name to walk across that stage she said it with so much conviction. All in all, she helped me navigate through my grief and still be able to press on by sharing how she dealt with it.
The knowledge she gave me will always be with me . She taught me how as an Actress I have to live in that moment and be that character but not just with acting , but with singing and work in general. Summer of 2021 I was working with a collective of musicians and we were helping each other brainstorm ideas. My Vocal coach Monique Barnes, who played Dorthy in the production of The Wiz in 2017 that Dr. Dunlap directed. While she was coaching me she reminded me of what Dr. D would say to me which was to tell my story as my character. That statement not only hit home for me but it improved the way I sang those lyrics. All in all, I saw Dr. D in her and in me. She impacted so many lives. When I went to visit another mentor of mine in October Ms. Janice Short, one of my favorite professors I might add. Ms. Short shared with me how Dr. Dunlap's impact still brings opportunities, memories and more to the department in current times.
At the end of the day, healing is a form of art because you have to practice and perfect it and it takes time. I am grateful for the time I had with her in my life. Thank you Dr. D!
We are back every Monday so let us know what topics you want. Also during Mental Health Awareness month we will have our virtual open mic resume so let us know if you want perform. Our first one is May 4th from 8-9pm with Asia Karin as our special guest performer and it's sponsored by The Trust Fund Baby Coach. Follow us @theartlfhealingkl