Actress Marva King is a consummate performer who consistently delivers on stage, in film and in concert. The Diary of a Mad Black Woman star has been busy stretching her acting chops and honing her substantial skill set with scores of other acting projects and musical engagements. Now King is returning to live theater in a provocative play that explores the age-old question can Black mothers raise Black men. The play doesn’t just ponder the issue, it delivers on getting answers.
There are a record number of Black families where women are head of the household, and almost too many big and small screen productions that get close, but don’t delve deep enough to really navigate the subject. Through a profoundly genuine set of some simple and some complex true-to-life scenarios, Can a Woman Raise a Man doesn’t shy from the issue and compels viewers to consider the bigger picture.
King shared insights about this critical social anomaly – now a norm- and how she approaches both raising a son as a single mom as well as how she managed a multi-pronged career while doing it.
Why did you decide to do this play and what was the appeal?
Can a Woman Raise a Man? speaks to what to so many women who have gone through, those who have dealt with similar things or dealt with any kind of abuse or neglect. [It speaks] to anything that happened to a child that would have scarred them, and ultimately would affect their adulthood.
It’s good [story] because it’s good to put things on the table. We know that there are many things that relate to these circumstances and my character, as well as several others … in the play, have their own set of circumstances, as a result of being raised predominantly by women and not having fathers in their lives. And, and they’re good people, very smart people, good hearted spiritual people who love God, but some are still working on loving themselves.
There are some very dramatic moments there that are going to affect a lot of people, both men and women dealing with the issue of not having a father in the home.
What is one of the show-stopping moments in the play?
Nobody will ever forget the choir [scene] as long as they live. They come out in lime green choir robes lead by the Clark Sisters. Jacky [Clark] and her sisters brought the house down … Jackie Clark performs along with Kiki Sheard and oh my god, it’s an amazing moment.
You are a single Black mom who guided your son into his coming of age. How did this role personally impact you?
I did it – and no it wasn’t easy at all. Because God made man and woman to be to influences for the obvious reason. And a boy definitely relates to, I think, wanting to respect a man or wanting to emulate a man, in most cases, more so than a female. So, it’s a real challenge for a woman to be the woman and the man to bring up a child up successfully, especially in the times we’re living in. There are so many influences, especially with the internet and social media that can destroy your child’s life before they can make it to adulthood. So, to successfully get them to adulthood and contributing members of the world, I think all mothers and fathers need to be applauded.
The bottom line is, when life challenges a young man, I think the best person that can counsel him is a man. Now mom can do certain things because there’s unconditional love from a mom, right? Our desire is to see them grow and be the best they can be.
What are your hopes for the play and what do you want audience members to come away with?
It kind of insinuates and suggests as to where people can go to try to get their healing and their lives. And I think that’s good. So, thanks to the renowned writer Q. Allen we’re giving people a solution while we’re entertaining everyone. So, I really hope that so many people come out and see Q Allen’s productions because the show is brilliant, and he has some other projects you’re going to want to see. I certainly don’t want to steal his thunder … but [I anticipate] that is the right play for a national and international tour. We have more dates coming up.
Where and when can viewers see Can A Woman Raise A Black Man?
We have Houston and Killeen, Texas on April 22, and 23, which are Saturday and Sunday. And then we’re back in Houston on May 13 and 14. There are a couple shows on each Saturday, and then there’s a couple of shows in Houston on Sunday, and that’s Mother’s Day, which is [special], time to see it. Tickets are also available on Eventbrite for virtual viewing.
What would you have done had you not become an entertainer?
Music and fashion and things like that. I’m doing a wearable art line right now and it’s clothing that I love doing. But in my career, I think I’m most proud of becoming a producer, because I didn’t plan to do that. … . I only planned to sing and write lyrics and melody. And because of the challenge of being a female in studio that was 99 percent men, it really drove me to produce music. So I’m proud of that, whether I ever have a major accolade or award for it. I’m very proud of my accomplishments.
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