Black History Month: The Words of Avery Brooks
In each and every single person there is an inherent need for self-expression.
One of the greatest actors to ever grace television and film, Avery Brooks, has taken his own need for self-expression and provided audiences with many powerful portrayals.
Brooks is best known for his portrayal as Hawk in the series Spencer: For Hire and as Captain Benjamin Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In the latter, Avery played in and Star Trek’s first series that featured a Black Captain. Avery discusses that need for self-expression that stemmed from the performance arts world being in his blood and most of all the importance of struggle in life.
Avery Brooks was born in Evansville, Indiana. From the age of 8, he was raised in Gary, Indiana. He was always encouraged by his parents to pursue roles in Church and school performances. His need to express himself came at a very early age and Avery was certainly no stranger to the world of performing arts.
“Expression, oral expression; the gambit of human expression is endemic to African people on the planet. It’s a part of who I am, as opposed to being an actor, where ever there are African people, there’s music, there’s dance, there’s the spoken word.” Avery said.
In conversing with Avery, it was more than apparent that the world of acting was more than the sum of the word. It was, for him, finding the art in self-expression.
“In terms of acting, I have an equity card. I have a union card and to that extent while I’m in a play I’m an actor.”
Avery recollects during childhood how important it was to his parents that he be on the stage.
“Growing up, the various things that adults, especially my mother and father required us to do was to be in the Church pageant or the school play. I mean that’s all it was to me, until the 60’s.”
Avery discusses the point in which it became more than that of a mere performance.
“I discovered more about the utility of art and specifically theatre and expression.”
Life began to open new doors, those doors led to the continued learning and understanding of a world that Avery embraced as part of his being.
“I went to the Hampton Institute in the summer of 1965 and I was introduced to World Theatre, including African theatre, Japanese theatre and all; a tradition which talked about the utility of the integrating of expression in the community rather than being a separate idea.”Continued on the next page