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News Americas, POMPANO BEACH, FL, Thurs. Feb. 1, 2024: The City of Pompano’s tribute to Bahamian roots actress Esther Rolle continues this Black History Month with the “Native Daughter: An Esther Rolle Inspired Art Exhibition” at the Ali Cultural Arts Center.

(L-R) Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Esther Rolle appearing in the ABC tv series ‘Darkroom’, episode ‘Needlepoint’. (Photo by Chic Donchin /American Broadcasting Companies via Getty Images)

The exhibition, which opened on November 8 last year, will run through February 10th, and celebrates the life and enduring legacy of Rolle, who was born in Pompano to Bahamian immigrant parents and became famous for her role as the beloved character, Florida Evans, in the classic TV series “Good Times.”

The annual exhibition, which coincided with what would have been Rolle’s 103rd birthday, is a cherished tradition that commemorates her remarkable achievements as an award-winning actress and passionate activist.

The event showcases a curated collection of new artworks sourced from artists across the nation, including Cesar Ceballos, Tafara Clarke, Sami Davidson, Gregory Dirr, Kim Ferguson, Holly Forbes, Desirae Foston, Joanne Hampstead, Tereza Hazelton, G. Ryan Hudson, Martin Karadzhov, Manzi Liu, Susan Miiller, Leonardo Montoya, Cibby Orozco, Renata Rodrigues, and JL Schwartz.

ABOUT ESTHER ROLLE

Rolle, born in Pompano Beach, on Nov. 8,1920 to Jonathan and Elizabeth Rolle. She was the tenth of 18 siblings. Rolle first attended the Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, Florida, and then, when her family moved to Pompano Beach; Rolle Graduated from Blanche Ely High School.

Rolle initially studied at the Spelman College in Atlanta, however, she soon moved to the Hunter College in New York City, where she worked various jobs at the New York City Garment district to support her college education. Rolle was also a member of the highly prestigious Zeta Phi Beta sorority.

Rolle’s career in acting was aided in part by her performances for the Asadata Dafora’s dance troupe, which was named Shogolo Oloba. In 1960, Rolle became the director of that troupe, which was later renamed as ‘The Federal Theatre African Dance Troupe’.  In New York, Rolle first performed in 1962 for a play called “The Blacks”. Rolle then consistently performed for the Negro Ensemble Company under the highly prolific producer, Robert Hooks. Rolle then appeared for “The Crucible” and “Blues for Mr. Charlie,” which were both relatively successful. By far, Rolle’s most famous stage plays were her portrayals of Miss Maybell and Lady Macbeth for the 1973 Melvin Van Peebles Play and the 1977 Orson Welles Macbeth interpretation respectively.

Rolle’s commitment to addressing social and political injustice extended to her involvement with the National Organization for Women, (NOW), and her honorary membership in Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, an organization of college-educated African American women. Her contributions spanned 39 roles in film and television, along with numerous theatrical performances. Esther Rolle’s final film, “Train Ride,” was released in 2000, two years after her passing, leaving an indelible mark on the world of entertainment and activism.

Rolle’s journey in the entertainment industry began with an uncredited role in Robert Mulligan’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 1962. She then joined her sister, Estelle Evans, for the film “The Learning Tree” in 1969.

However, it was her role in the iconic sitcom “Maude” in 1972 that propelled her to stardom. Portraying the character of ‘Florida Evans,’ the no-nonsense and open-minded housekeeper, Rolle became a household name.

Her portrayal of ‘Florida Evans’ was so beloved that it led to a spin-off series in 1974 titled “Good Times,” where she took on the lead role. In recognition of her outstanding performance, Rolle received a Golden Globe nomination in 1975 for her work in “Good Times.” Her talent further shone in the direct-to-television movie “Summer of My German Soldier” in 1979, earning her an Emmy Award.

Following her success on “Good Times,” Rolle predominantly appeared in direct-to-television movies. Her notable roles included Bruce Beresford’s “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1989 and Peter Segal’s “My Fellow Americans.” She also made a memorable appearance in Fielder Cook’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” based on Maya Angelou’s memoir, and featured in John Singleton’s “Rosewood” in 1997. Throughout her career, Rolle graced the stage with her talent, participating in fifteen stage plays from 1965 to 1989, and took on a variety of television roles spanning from 1964 to 1998.

In addition to her acting prowess, Rolle showcased her versatility by releasing a music album in 1975, titled “The Garden of My Mind.” Her multi-faceted career left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment, making her a beloved and respected figure in film, television, and music.

For more information about this exhibition visit pompanobeacharts.org.

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