Dancer and actress Vanessa Bell Calloway discussed with EBONY what her early life was like and what led to her career in the entertainment industry.
“I grew up in Cleveland’s inner city,” Calloway said. “I was just back there doing my play, and I went around my old neighborhood. I tell you, that was quite an eye-opener; memories just started flooding back. It was incredible because we had a better neighborhood and more of a neighborhood than they do now.”
She went on to describe being “gutbucket poor” and playing barefoot back in the ’60s. “It’s just a different Cleveland than it is now, and it was a different kind of poor than it is now,” the 61-year-old said.
The eight-time NAACP Image Award nominee revealed how the dancers on The Jackie Gleason Show were her introduction to the art form before famed-choreographer Judith Jamison. Calloway progressed to become an Alvin Ailey dancer before making a move into stage shows and acting on-screen.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.