DJ and performer Amanda Seales put on a one-woman musical narrative encouraging men and women to re-examine how women are treated in the mainstream media Saturday in Grey Chapel.
Death of the Diva uses music, humor, and monologue to portray Seales’ message.
The event was presented by seniors Alexis Williams and Samantha DeJarnett, HBC, WOHO, Sisters United, Black Men of the Future, SUBA and the Women’s Resource Center.
Seales received her master’s in African American Studies from Columbia University while serving as an MTV video-jockey. She appears regularly on VH1 and HLN as a music expert and commentator. Williams said she discovered via Twitter that Amanda Seales wanted to begin performing on college campuses.
“She connected her email to her Twitter, so I contacted her. I didn’t expect a response, so I was happy when she replied to the email, and I immediately contacted the heads of various academic departments and clubs to see if they were interested.”
Williams said she hoped the audience would take a different look at how women are portrayed in pop culture after seeing the performance.
“I hoped students would start to re-evaluate the people that they ‘look up to’ or become fixated on. I used to watch the Kardashians and Jersey Shore, but now I feel differently as I think about the messages that are being sent.”
Seales’ performance consisted of various musical and monologue acts explaining the media’s portrayal of women.
In one part of the performance, she acts as a male rapper who regrets recording negative lyrics about women as he holds his infant daughter. In another part, she sings about a woman at an audition with a critical audience.
She communicates all sides of this issue to her audience.
Seales, according to her website, considers her effort a “war against the overwhelming amount of negative images in pop culture.”
DeJarnett, moderator of the House of Black Culture, said Saturday was Seales’ third time performing “Death of the Diva,” and her first time performing the show on a college campus.
“People are becoming complacent with the treatment of women in music and on TV because that’s how one has to be to become successful. I guess the most important thing I took away from it was that Hollywood is making a lot of money off of the negative image of women, and will continue to because the reality (TV show) age is all the youth know and all they want to be. It needs to be made aware to us, and then we need to change it,” she said.
Williams said there are several traits she thinks the term “diva” should embody, and although she thinks it will be difficult, the diva can be revived.
“One of my favorite acts Seales performed was when she pretended to be at an audition, listening other people criticize her,” Williams said.
“A person that stays true to themselves amidst constant rejections knows they’re good at what they do and at being themselves … that’s a diva to me,” she said. “Amanda Seales is the diva that we hope to see in the future … I think more performers under the radar, like Amanda, need to be recognized and acknowledged for the message they are sending.”
DeJarnett said she has no doubt Seales’ show influenced the student audience gathered Saturday. “There’s no way the audience didn’t walk out of there rethinking their favorite TV shows and how they affect their viewers. Somehow we lost sight of the power behind a strong, educated and polished woman…I think women should be portrayed how they used to be to give the younger generation, both male and female, role models for the types of people they want to be and the types of people they want to be with.”