What the Will Smith Oscar Slap Proved

It’s been more than a week since the now infamous Will Smith Oscar slap incident transpired between the newly minted Academy Award winning actor, and fellow thespian and comedian, Chris Rock. What went down in front of millions of people was binge-worthy at best and cringe-worthy at its worst. For many authors, it should also be a lesson in the art of storytelling.

Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock at the Oscars
REUTERS Photo by Brian Snyder ⁦@brian_photog

The “Will Smith Oscar Slap” proved the art of storytelling will never die.

Reactions to the upsetting Will Smith Oscar slap in front of a myriad of viewers during the live telecast of the 94th Academy Awards ceremony were skewered. The most extreme being rage and horror to the more subdued confused and perplexed. Some even cheered Smith’s outburst as heroic…claiming Will Smith’s Oscar slap was a harrowing act of love in defense of his bride, accomplished actress, Jada Pinkett Smith. Some critics perceived Rock’s poorly-timed joke as being an unprovoked swipe at Jada’s expense (Pinkett Smith has spoken openly about her struggles with alopecia, an auto-immune disease resulting in hair loss).

No matter where you might fall along the swinging pendulum of emotions about an act that will forever live in Hollywood infamy, let me assure you, this moment of unscripted live TV has given all of us a story to tell for many years to come! 

But isn’t that what storytelling is?

But isn’t that what storytelling is? 

Stories outlive the storytellers. 

A gripping saga is what many of us look for when we open our favorite book or catch up on the latest newsworthy happenings on social media. 

Everyone loves a good villain. 

A shocking plot twist sets our teeth on edge. 

An unexpected ending leaves us wanting more. 

For every would-be writer or established author, as storytellers, we have a high calling. 

Some may feel the need to “get it right” in order to usher our readers into our imaginary worlds. This will most certainly feel like pressure if viewed from this lens of civic duty. 

For when was civic duty ever magical? 

Another take…

Instead, I offer you another take. 

When we welcome others into the worlds of our own making, we must remember what brought us there as that world’s creator in the first place. What captured your attention most when you sat down to craft your opening hook? What was the unavoidable dilemma your beloved characters encountered that would forever alter their destinies? You will do well as a storyteller if you keep the same emotions that initially connected you to your story in the forefront of your mind as you continue to plot your story’s course. When you recall why you set out to write your story at the onset, this will carry you through. 

Recalling why we set out to write our story at the outset will carry us through!

It’s interesting that while we sat glued to our TVs, phones, and smart devices watching that late-night Sunday drama unfold, what gripped us most was also what kept us. We were drawn in but lingered and then decided to remain because we wanted to see how the story would end. Would Chris Rock strike back? Should Will Smith be led out in cuffs? Would the show’s producers cut the feed? So many swirling questions and possibilities awaited every onlooker with bated breath. 

Strive for more as you craft your book!

This, my author friend, is what I ask you to strive for as you craft your hook, pen your novel and write your story. If you succeed in doing this over and over again, I promise you, your readers will stay until the very end. In this way, the art of storytelling will never die. 

Author’s note: I love teaching kids and even grown-ups the art of storytelling! So much so, I’ve coached budding storytellers into becoming published authors and spoken to thousands of kids world wide about how to tell their stories! 

I have also sold thousands of children’s books to people all over the world! I want you and your child to be the best storytellers you can possibly be! If you would like to work with me to grow your ability to tell stories, reach out via this link and schedule a 1:1 coaching session.

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A New Day

I’ve blogged about my family’s homeschool journey since roughly 2016! My main blog, Able to Teach Homeschool Collective is about my children’s lives as homeschoolers and my life as their mother.

Over here, my hope is to shed light on the process I’ve undergone to become a best-selling children’s author. Recently, I accomplished a personal milestone of forming a small publishing imprint. Stories for Us LLC exists to share stories from the truth of God’s word for the dignity of the people He has created, with the love of Christ. 

We will implicitly and explicitly convey truth from the Bible, which is God’s holy and perfect word. The purpose of which will be for practical instruction on how to live in this world.

Our stories will focus on the breadth and beauty of the Black experience. Historically, this has not been the case as a result of the sins of White Supremacy and Systemic Racism in our country and world. To that end, our stories will accurately depict people from the Bible as well as uplift stories about people of color. This will be a counter to the assault on Blackness in our world. Stories for Us aims to shift from the Eurocentric narrative of many stories already available, on to the many diverse peoples in this vast world.

Our stories will communicate God’s love for humanity. In the Bible, true love, which is God’s love, is not measured by human standards. Love cares for people, protects the vulnerable, and calls to action. All of our stories will be robust with one or more of these elements. 

Stories for Us serves to highlight the beauty of the Black experience with every child and family, no matter their skin color. Data from a 2019 survey conducted by The Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), on diverse children’s and young adult books found that the percentage of children’s books by and about BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), only amounted to: 
Black/African: 11.9%
First/Native Nations: 1%
Asian/Asian America: 8.7%
Latino: 5.3%
Pacific Islander: 0.05%

For this reason, Stories for Us will add to the vast body of non-BIPOC children’s literature already available to normalize Blackness. It is vital for a positive portrayal of Black joy to be characteristic to our stories. Books that feature Black and Brown characters are not only for people of color. In actuality, it is important for all children to see heroes they can look to in all shades. Stories for Us will solidify this truth in picture book form!

I hope you’ll join me in the dawning of a new day on this journey.