Over the Memorial Day weekend, Randall and Deena Bacon— both actors and commercial and print models who live in El Camino Village, California —introduced the First Annual Bacon Family Reunion. The Williams, Coliers, Hollands and Bacons come together to effervesce in the magic of their unions. “Deena and I want to create our own traditions. We both have big families but we rarely have family reunions anymore. It’s important to do, so we know the people in this family and how much family we have that loves you and supports us.”
But back to the models’ “meet cute.” When Deena and Randall met as actors on movie set, she had no idea she had found her match—a man who honors family as fervently as she does. Randall recalls, “She smiled at me, really brightly. I thought I had to have met her before or I don’t think she’d smile at me like that.” Deena recalls, “I thought he was really handsome. He says I smiled at him a lot, but I smile at everyone.” Laughing, she states, “I don’t think I was giving him extra smiles or anything.” Deena’s friends on set advised her not to date the sexy suitor who was five years her junior. Coyly she responded to their reservations with: “I’m not. I’m just looking…” Before leaving for an audition, Randall exchanged numbers with her.
At the time, Deena had 2 sons, who were 10 and 3. “Randall was really family-oriented. We would go on dates and he would often say let’s take the kids with us. I would say, you want to take my kids, too?” Doing everything as a family, even while dating, Deena thought, “Wow, he’s really nice, good with the kids, he’s fun, funny, he’s handsome and humble.”
“When I met Deena, she was driving a Range Rover and I was driving a 1996 Crown Victoria,”—with a broken window, broken door and half the key broken off in the ignition. “I remember one time I asked her to drop me off around the corner because I did not want her to see my car. Figuring out the reason for his reluctance, she said ‘Honey it’s ok, I will take you to your car, it’s ok.’ Deena’s compassion moved him. “She was just too genuine and too pretty not to lock her down.” When Randall proposed, he did so in the presence of Deena’s sons: Their engagement, a family affair.
Married since 2012, they now have five children— Daman(17), CJ (10), Randee (3) Dane-Randall(2) and Raydan is 7 months old. Deena gave birth to the youngest in the car at the stoplight on the way to the hospital. Ironically, the night before, “Randall and I were watching ‘The Leftovers’ on HBO and a woman delivers her own baby. I said out loud ‘I could do that!’ But I was not thinking I was going to do that. But I did that, the next day!”
The Bacons are excited to share this story and more at the reunion on the 29th. Choosing to buy a home as opposed to having an expensive wedding, Deena shares, “We never had a party or anything to celebrate our marriage so this is a good time to get both sides of our family together.” The Bacon children will experience their first family reunion to which little Randee interjects, “Oh yeah!”
Randall recollects his first reunion as a child, feeling his cool quotient increase after encountering his cousins. “I was around 8. I met all these cousins I didn’t know I had. They were talking about stuff I never heard about. And they kind of look like you too! That was the most fun ever! It’s like people you want to be friends with anyway, but somebody says, ‘that’s your cousin!’ and it makes the bond official.”
For Randall and Deena’s first foray into reunion reconnection, they knew the food would benefit from gourmet grilling.
Garrett Henry, Randall’s cousin, maintains the legacy of his father—Ron Henry— as the family’s exalted chef. For the past 25 years, Henry Catering Company has catered the Long Beach Jazz Festival, serving over 3000 guests as well as menu requests from the night’s performers. Since his father’s untimely passing, Garrett has carried on the business. Looking forward to serving close to a hundred kin on Sunday, Garrett is grilling with soul: “ We’re going have barbecued ribs, barbecued chicken, barbecued hamburgers, hot dogs and we’re going have a good time enjoying one another. Garrett adds, “I learned everything I know from my dad—feed people through the love and passion for cooking. And if they’re happy, I’m happy.”
Randall believes strongly in family as a support system. “I strive to create opportunity for my family. I’ve done over 20 print ads with my kids.” The coolest opportunity he feels he’s created? “Getting my great uncle and aunt in a print ad at 80-something—” Odom and Betty Williams of Los Angeles, California, married 69 years! “I am from a small family. When I married into this big family they treated me as if were a blood relative. And Randall really looks up to us, he loves us,” his aunt says. “His mother considers me a second mother.” Randall’s Uncle Odom looks forward to the reunion stating, “Our family is very close-knit. Getting together keeps everyone on the same page.”
The First Annual Bacon Family Reunion is planned with the future in mind. “This is big,” Deena says. “With all these kids, we are certainly going to have grand babies,” who will be taught the tradition, the richness and historical relevance of the Black family reunion through their own experience.
The Bacons believe in another family bonding rite, the mother-actress expresses, “I don’t know how we’d get through it all without prayer.” Randall has a ritual he’s created when someone in the family is moody or tense. Deena explains, “We all line up, say what’s on our hearts and the next person prays for you. For instance, if I say ‘I need more patience, I’m getting overwhelmed,’ my son might say ‘I pray that my mom is no longer overwhelmed and receives patience.’ It’s encouraging and we want to create whole people, so we help them create whole, healthy African American families.”
Click HERE to watch the Bacon Family Reunion in action.
Joicelyn Dingle travels to find the Coolest Black Family in America exclusively for EBONY.com. She splits her time between Savannah and Brooklyn. She is currently completing a documentary on the making of Honey magazine and the 1990s urban publishing era. Friend her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter @editorialgenius.