Grace Blake: Never Had a Bad Day in America

Grace Blake: Never Had a Bad Day in America


Expert Author Karen Taylor Bass

Grace Blake: Never Had a Bad Day in America
By []Karen Taylor Bass

Grace Blake is a legend and trailblazer.

She is the renowned film producer and executive behind many of your favorite movies of the ’80s and ’90s and you probably didn’t know. Her keen vision and storytelling made groundbreaking films like Silence of the Lambs, School Daze and The Wiz, major box-office hits and rewrote history as an African American female filmmaker. Blake is also the past Executive Director of the famed Apollo Theatre and past president of New York Women in Film and Television.

Born and raised in Venezuela she came to the United States in 1960 and ‘never had a bad day’. “I came here with a proud heritage, positive attitude and tenacity to make it happen and live the American dream. Having a strong foundation, never feeling intimidated and realizing that I matter always pushing to get to the next level,” says Grace Blake.

Grace Blake has received a number of awards including the Leader In Action Award for Business from the New Women In Leadership Symposium, the Long Island’s 50 Top Women Award and most recently, the 2009 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award from the Hollywood Baptist Cathedral, the 2009 NAACP Freeport Roosevelt Award acknowledging her excellent service in the film industry and business during their 100 years celebration. She was also and honoree of the New York Women In Film and Television Music Awards along with Lauren Bacall, Jane Pauley, Sally Field and Penny Marshall.

Hempstead Living recently had the opportunity to chat with Grace Blake and her story will inspire you to live and take chances.

HL: What makes Long Island special?

GB: Long Island is a gem with great schools, exceptional restaurants, warm people and the best lifestyle for raising balanced children Also after working a long day in the film industry coming home to Long Island was my ultimate retreat.

HL: What are you most proud of (professionally)?

GB: I am proud of the fact that as a Black woman my experience int e film industry was comfortable empowering and mentored. There was never a moment when I felt unaccepted. My personality and background coming from Venezuela prepared me to work with all types of people and never felt that I did not belong. Often times our mind limits us.

HL: What are you proud of personally?

GB: I would have to say my children and working on my marriage at the time. I have three amazing spirited children and that is a huge blessing. Unfortunately my marriage did not work, however, I gave it all I could at the time.

HL: What was your big break?

GB: I’ve always understood the importance of an education and recognized that I had a gift. My gift was being a first-class stenographer and that talent took me to the office of the president at the Herald Tribune, then William Morris Agency to CMA (Creative Management Association) later changed to CAA and each opportunity was used strategically as a stepping-stone.

HL: When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?

GB: I went to set for the first time and witnessed magic in the making with For Love of Ivy with Sidney Poitier; that moment changed my life. I knew this is where I wanted to be. As the producer secretary (at the time) everyone was nice to me and I used the opportunity to ask questions.

HL: How was your interaction as a producer working with other Black folks and people of color?

GB: Honestly, I never understood why my young brothers and sisters would come looking for work and be afraid to speak up and allowed intimidation to take over their talent.

HL: What would you tell future filmmakers wanting to break into industry?

GB: The most important concept to understand and master is film-making Learn everything you can, make films, write, and go to school and network. Also, the first opportunity you get to enter the union-do it. It is still difficult to penetrate however it is possible. Lastly, we need to write and create our stories; there are not enough stories about us (still).

HL: What’s next for Grace Blake?

GB: Living and enjoying my life as a retiree and grandmother.

Karen Taylor Bass.

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Article Source: [] Grace Blake: Never Had a Bad Day in America

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