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The Janet Collins Story, presented by Sweet Blackberry's video poster
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Animated short on Janet Collins, first African-American soloist to perform at the Metropolitan Opera to be narrated by Chris Rock. Read more

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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on July 18, 2014.

Animated short on Janet Collins, first African-American soloist to perform at the Metropolitan Opera to be narrated by Chris Rock.

About this project

***STRETCH GOAL OF $10,000! To 85K!

Let's make the Janet Collins film even better! 

  • Title sequence
  • Live-action bumpers for the film: sequences in the beginning and ending which bring in real children on screen with the narrator. It's a great way for kids everywhere to feel more involved in the story!

Hi, I’m Karyn Parsons. I played Hilary Banks on the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I am also the founder of Sweet Blackberry, an award-winning organization whose mission is to bring little-known stories of African American achievement to kids.

Actor, Comedian, producer and father of two young girls, Chris Rock, has come on board to narrate Janet’s story.

SWEET BLACKBERRY SHARES STORIES THAT INSPIRE!

Sweet Blackberry's mission is to share stories that empower and instill a sense of pride in children. Previous films by Sweet Blackberry have received the prestigious Parent’s Choice Award and Learning Magazine’s Teacher’s Choice Awards, among others. They were narrated by noted actors Alfre Woodard and Queen Latifah. Both films showed on HBO and HBO Family and have been distributed to libraries and schools all over the world and have made a difference!

So much so that a chorus of parents and teachers, around the country, are calling out for us to make more films! For our next story, we will feature the First Black Prima Ballerina Janet Collins! 

SPREAD THE STORY OF THE FIRST BLACK PRIMA BALLERINA

Janet Collins was a remarkable woman who overcame incredible obstacles to become the first African American soloist to perform at the Metropolitan Opera! When only 15 years old, the talented Janet Collins was asked by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo to join their company on the condition that she perform in whiteface!

She declined and later became a celebrated Prima Ballerina at a time when this was unheard of. She also won awards for her dancing on Broadway including the 1950 title of Best Dancer on Broadway

Janet Collins set the stage for an explosion of African American dancers for years to come, paving the way for companies like Alvin Ailey and the Dance Theater of Harlem.

 WHY IS THIS STORY SO IMPORTANT? 

“What she did by dancing the way she did "- dancer, actor, and painter Geoffrey Holder said – "To be a Prima Ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera House – gave everybody hope.” 

Janet Collins's story shows children that they can be anything even if you are being told that what you are is not the model for success. She knocked down the barriers! Janet Collins rose to such heights that it is our duty at Sweet Blackberry to share her story with as wide an audience possible!

Janet Collins was also a real life Black Prima Ballerina. Little girls grow up dreaming of princesses and ballerinas, but some don't have role models to follow and little-known Janet Collins was just that! It’s important that we nurture young girls’ (and boys') self-esteem by providing them with strong, positive images and let them know that they are beautiful.

JOIN US! 

Janet’s story belongs to all of us. We need collaborators to get this done! Together, we will make a 20-minute, animated film, to be narrated by Chris Rock, bringing to life Janet’s inspiring story, that will be distributed to libraries and schools, broadcast to a wide audience, and enjoyed in homes across the country. 

WHERE THE MONEY WILL GO

Celebrated children's book illustrator R. Gregory Christie (who has worked with the New Yorker and New York Times, as well as in over 50 books) has signed on to create the look of the film (including the great illustrations above).

Emmy-Award nominated creative studio PixelPirate Production, will be handling the animation of the film. They've done work with Nick, Marvel and many other brands for kids and adults, so we're sure they'll do Janet Collins proud.

In addition, there are the important touches: title design; sound, mixing and music clearances; an actor, extras, equipment and all the other things needed to shoot a live action sequence; post production and an editor; as well as digital mastery so the project is ready to land in a classroom, on TV or in a home.

 CHECK OUT OUR COOL REWARDS !

Some incredible talents have come together to support this project and donate their time and gifts including Will Smith, Chris Rock, plenty more Fresh Prince cast members, Questlove and more! Be a part of it! Support Sweet Blackberry AND get cool, and one-of-a-kind experiences! 

 Customized, Outgoing Voicemail Message from Will Smith!

 Custom-signed drumsticks from Questlove!

 Customized, Outgoing Voicemail Message from Jada Pinkett Smith!

Customized, outgoing Voicemail Message from narrator Chris Rock! You'll be the coolest kid on the block!

Go shopping w/ Hilary & Ashley Banks!

And so many more!

Sweet Blackberry is a 501c3, non-profit organization, and all donations are tax deductible. We hope you, too, will become a part of the Sweet Blackberry family, and help get these stories out!

Thanks so much for taking the time, and thanks in advance for your support.   

Risks and challenges

The only real risk is NOT making our goal. In that event, we will be unable to produce this important story and get it in schools, libraries, and homes across the country. We really need to harness all the enthusiasm and support for Sweet Blackberry and its mission that we’ve received over the years, and channel it into funding to make this film!

There really are no foreseeable risks once we have attained funding, except perhaps, our narrator’s schedule changing on us, but as we are not a studio with loads of other productions lined up, we have a lot of flexibility.

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    THANK YOU CARD! Thanks so much for your support. We couldn't do this without you! Receive a thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    WATCH THE JANET COLLINS STORY! Thanks so much for your support. Receive a thank you postcard, a digital download and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    JANET COLLINS DVD! Receive the DVD of the Janet Collins Sweet Blackberry video as well as a thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    WATCH THE WHOLE SWEET BLACKBERRY COLLECTION! Get a thank you postcard, digital downloads for ALL THREE of Sweet Blackberry films and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    WINNING T-SHIRT! The winning t-shirt for the design competition will be posted on the website and printed as an award. Enter and receive a copy of the winning design in your custom size!

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    JANET COLLINS T-SHIRT! Get a beautiful t-shirt featuring an illustration by R. Gregory Christie as well as a copy of the Janet Collins DVD. Receive a thank you postcard, a digital download and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    JANET COLLINS' STORY TOTE BAG! Receive the DVD as well as a tote bag with an illustration from the Janet Collins Sweet Blackberry video. Also get the thank you postcard, Janet Collins DVD and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT ALFRE? GET A CUSTOM SIGNED ALFRE WOODARD DVD! Get a custom-signed DVD of "The Journey of Henry Box Brown" on one man's inspiring escape from slavery signed by narrator Alfre Woodard. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    68 backers

    DVD ANTHOLOGY! Get DVDs for all three Sweet Blackberry videos including the one featuring Janet Collins. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    BE A PART OF IT! Vote on your Fav Fresh Prince episode and get access a live feed of an exclusive screening in Los Angeles where the winning episode will be screened and Cast members will answer ALL YOUR TRIVIA QUESTIONS AND PUT TO REST ANY BEHIND THE SCENES RUMORS YOU MAY HAVE STARTED!

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    YOUR NAME, YOUR CHOICE ON A POSTER! Receive a custom-signed by KARYN PARSONS poster featuring an illustration from the Janet Collins Sweet Blackberry video. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    PLAY MISTY FOR ME-Misty Copeland will custom sign an 8X10 photo in your name! How cool is that? Plus receive a thank you postcard and a digital download of The Janet Collins story!

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    10 backers

    HILARY MAKES GOOD! SIGNED KARYN PARSONS PHOTO AND DVD ANTHOLOGY! Get DVDs for all three Sweet Blackberry videos including the one featuring Janet Collins as well as a signed photograph from founder Karyn Parsons. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    GET TO KNOW JANET! READ THE BOOK!
    For all of you that have become fascinated by Janet Collins' story, and just can't wait for the animated film to learn more, Wesleyan University Press has just donated signed copies of Janet's biography, Night's Dancer!

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    8 backers

    CUSTOM SIGNED JANET COLLINS T-SHIRT! Get a beautiful t-shirt featuring a R. Gregory Christie illustration, signed by Karyn Parsons with the message of your choice as well as a copy of the Janet Collins DVD. Receive a thank you postcard, a digital download and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    26 backers

    DVD ANTHOLOGY AND CUSTOM KARYN PARSONS SIGNED TOTE BAG! Get DVDs for all three Sweet Blackberry videos including the one featuring Janet Collins as well as the tote bag with a R. Gregory Christie illustration of Janet signed by founder Karyn Parsons with your choice of message (up to 150 characters!). You also receive the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    16 backers Limited (4 left of 20)

    "The Fresh Prince Cast Loves you!" Once in a lifetime opportunity. The cast will come together to sign a custom 8 X10 photograph to you or someone you love. Plus, receive a thank you postcard and a digital download!

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    QUESTLOVE'S DRUMSTICKS! Get a pair of drumsticks signed by the Roots band member and Sweet Blackberry supporter Questlove. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    CARLTON VOICEMAIL MESSAGE! Have the coolest "Hello you've reached…" message around. Alfonso Ribeiro (aka Carlton on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) will record up to a 15 second long message for you—within good taste and reason. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    PREMIERE SCREENING INVITATION! Pair of tickets to the premiere screening for the Janet Collins DVD--a celebration with plenty of Sweet Blackberry family and friends! (Transportation/accommodation to NYC not included)

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    PAIR OF TICKETS TO ALVIN AILEY! Get a pair of tickets to an Alvin Ailey production of your choice in New York and see the legacy of Janet Collins in action! Also receive access to the Janet Collins story online and of course, a huge thank you!

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    GEOFFREY THE BUTLER VOICEMAIL! Have the coolest "Hello you've reached…" message around. Joseph Marcell (aka Geoffrey the Butler on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) will record up to a 15 second long message for you—within good taste and reason. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    MISTY COPELAND SIGNED POINTE SHOES! Misty is the first African-American soloist with the American Ballet Theatre and is helping share the Janet Collins story. Get a pair of pointe shoes she has signed and the Janet Collins DVD! Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    IN JANET'S FOOTSTEPS! Get TWO prime orchestra tickets for a select performance during the American Ballet Theatre season at the Metropolitan Opera. Also get the DVD of the Janet Collins film and a huge thank you!

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    SIGNED COPY OF MISTY COPELAND'S MEMOIR! Get a copy of Misty Copeland's New York Times best-selling Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. Read how a 13yo Misty took her first ballet class at the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles became one of the top dancers in the world. Get the inspirational book, signed by Misty herself as well as a DVD of the Janet Collins story!

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    PUT HILARY TO WORK!
    I'll record your personalized, outgoing voicemail message! Your choice: as Hilary, or myself!

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    3 backers Limited (7 left of 10)

    JADA PINKETT SMITH VOICEMAIL! Have the coolest "Hello you've reached…" message around. Jada Pinkett Smith will record up to a 15 second long message for you—within good taste and reason. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    15 backers Limited (5 left of 20)

    PREMIERE SCREENING AND AFTER-PARTY!
    Get a pair of tickets to the premiere screening for the Janet Collins DVD as well as two invites to our after-party--a celebration with plenty of Sweet Blackberry family and friends! (Transportation/accomodation to NYC not included)

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    4 backers Limited (6 left of 10)

    CHRIS ROCK VOICEMAIL! HELLO, PLEASE!!!? Who in their right mind would not want the coolest outgoing message of all your friends. Actor and comedian as well as Janet Collins narrator Chris Rock will record up to a 15 second long message for you—within good taste and reason. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    2 backers Limited (8 left of 10)

    CUSTOM SIGNED QUOTE OF YOUR CHOICE! WILL SMITH AND CAST FRESH PRINCE COMPLETE DVDS! Get all 6 season of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and get it signed by Sweet Blackberry founder Karyn Parsons, Will Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro and Tatyana Ali! (DVDs are worth $190 alone!)

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    5 backers Limited (5 left of 10)

    WILL SMITH VOICEMAILS! Hello, you've reached the Prince of Bel-Air! Will Smith will record you a 15 second voicemail message. You choose what he says, within reason, of course. Also get a thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    BE IMMORTALIZED!!! !PERSONALIZED ILLUSTRATION! Award-winning illustrator R. Gregory Christie who created the look of the Janet Collins film will do a portrait of you, or someone you love. Want a group image? It's $500 for each person rendered but can be combined into one, unforgettable work. You'll also receive DVDs of all three Sweet Blackberry films, a thank you and mention on our donor wall!

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    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    SKYPE MEET WITH KARYN PARSONS! Dying to get Hilary Banks's fashion tips? Want to pick Karyn's brain about starting a non-profit? How about some great interior design tips? It can all be yours, as well as DVDs of all three Sweet Blackberry films, a thank you and mention on our donor wall!

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    4 backers Limited (21 left of 25)

    " DADDY CAN I HAVE $500 DOLLARS?"
    WATCH THE FRESH PRINCE, WITH THE FRESH PRINCE CAST! Vote on favorite episode of the Fresh Prince and GET TWO TICKETS to attend a screening plus Q&A with at least THREE members of the Fresh Prince cast. Have your FP trivia questions answered in person! (Transportation and accommodations not included)

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    1 backer

    OPRAH FOR A DAY!
    Be a guest moderator, you and a guest watch the winning Fresh Prince episode at an exclusive screening in Los Angeles then, co-moderate the cast in a Q&A and get a question or two of your own answered. Immortalize the moment with a signed photo of you and members of the cast to boot!

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    2 backers Limited (8 left of 10)

    VISIT FROM KARYN PARSONS! Sweet Blackberry founder Karyn Parsons will drop by your classroom, birthday party, or event of your choice and lead a DVD viewing, discussion and hands-on project. Choose between the inspirational stories of Henry Box Brown, Garrett Morgan or Janet Collins. (Only available in the tri-state area)

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    CORPS DE BALLET SPONSORSHIP! Get signage at Film’s Premiere, FOUR invitations to the premiere, a thank you in the film's end credits and a very big thank you on the sweetblackberry.org website!

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    1 backer

    APPRENTICE SPONSORSHIP! Get signage at the film’s premiere for your incredible contribution, TWO invitations to the premiere in New York and a very big thank you on the website.

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    MET OPERA BACKSTAGE TOUR! The Met and their resident archivist Bob Tuggle will lead an exclusive Janet Collins-focused backstage tour for a GROUP OF 4 through the Met Opera including a special guided tour of the Archives brimming with photos, videos, costumes, and sets. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience behind the scenes of the world's largest opera house! Also receive the Janet Collins DVD and of course, so much love and thanks.

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    "CHILL IN BEL AIR", WATCH THE FRESH PRINCE, WITH THE FRESH PRINCE CAST IN A PRIVATE SETTING! Choose an episode of the Fresh Prince and we'll host a screening for you and up to 8 guests in Los Angeles. At least 3 members of the cast will attend! (Does not include travel and accommodations)

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    ALWAYS WANTED HILARY BANKS'S MAD STYLE? Take a shopping trip with Sweet Blackberry founder Karyn Parsons and Fresh Prince actress Tatyana Ali on a shopping trip. Also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall! (Only available in LA or NYC, transportation, accommodation and shopping money not included.)

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    1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)

    HELLO, ASSOCIATE PRODUCER! HOW BETTER TO GET BEHIND THIS IMPORTANT STORY! Get an associate producer credit as well as the DVD anthology of Sweet Blackberry films, a pair of tickets to the premiere and after-party, tote, and of course, a huge thank you!

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    BLACK TIE AT THE MET! Get a PAIR OF INVITES TO THE PREMIERE of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci on April 14, 2015. This includes a reception, dinner for two, two orchestra tickets to an extraordinary show, and last but certainly not least, an INVITATION TO THE MET CAST PARTY after the performance which will include the chance to get photos with the stars of the production. Also receive the Janet Collins DVD and a huge thank you!

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    ROCK JOCK!
    Always wanted to sit in on a professional studio recording session and meet Chris Rock to boot! Here's your chance!. Attend Chris Rock's recording session of The Janet Collins' Story. Meet Chris and see what really goes into bringing an animated story to life through narration. You'll also get the Thank You postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    DEMI-SOLOIST SPONSORSHIP! Get signage at film's premiere and FOUR invitations to the premiere and after-party in New York. Get a big thank you in the film's credits and on the website as well!

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    LUNCH WITH WILL SMITH AND THE FRESH PRINCE CAST AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER CREDIT! Join Sweet Blackberry founder Karyn Parsons, Will Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro, and Tatyana Ali for lunch in Los Angeles! (Transportation and accommodations not included) You'll also get the thank you postcard and your name on sweetblackberry.org's donor wall!

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    TOP BANANA
    Be the one who does it all. Get all of the T-shirts, DVD's, posters, premiere screenings, signage and after parties your heart desires (within reason)!
    AND be the VERY FIRST "PRESENTS" credit at the top of the film. Just think, you can be our own "Louis B. Mayer" for the Janet Collins story!!!

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Featured

Funding period

- (30 days)