USA Network and the Moth Launch Characters Unite National Tour to Use the Power Of Storytelling to Promote Greater Tolerance and Respect.
Characters Unite Tour — "A More Perfect Union: Stories of Prejudice and Power" - to Include Community and High School Storytelling Shows in Five Cities with MVPD Partners
Oscar-Nominee Angela Bassett to Host First Event During CTAM Summit, in New Orleans, on Monday, October 18, with Special Guest Appearance by COVERT AFFAIRS Star Sendhil Ramamurthy.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK — USA Network is taking Characters Unite, its multi-platform public service campaign to combat prejudice and discrimination, into communities and schools across the country through a special partnership with The Moth, the renowned nonprofit storytelling organization.
Building on USA's and The Moth's shared commitment of using the power of storytelling to encourage more productive dialogue and foster greater tolerance and acceptance, the partnership includes Characters Unite-themed "Mainstage" storytelling shows in five cities across the country with the support of the Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPD).
"There's no better way to break down the barriers that divide us than to talk about them openly and honestly," said Bonnie Hammer, president, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions. "The Moth is about people speaking from their hearts, not from talking points."
Each Mainstage show - entitled A More Perfect Union: Stories of Prejudice and Power - will feature five to six storytellers sharing a true, personal experience of facing bigotry or discrimination, in front of a live audience, without notes. The tales will highlight a time when the storyteller discovered his/her own identity and voice, making for powerful and uplifting evenings.
In addition to the Mainstage shows, USA and The Moth are bringing the project to high schools in each tour city. The high school program includes a series of four after-school workshops during which ten selected students will receive in-depth training from Moth professionals on the art of storytelling and will develop their own five-minute story about prejudice and power. At the culmination of the workshops, the students will tell their stories at an in-school assembly, giving the entire student body the opportunity to start a larger dialogue about respect and understanding. A Characters Unite/Moth storytelling curriculum will also be available to teachers in high schools across the country to allow them to utilize storytelling in their classrooms.
"The Moth offers a forum where personal stories can come to life, introducing audiences to a vast range of human experiences and a way of expressing respect for diversity. We are grateful to USA Network for introducing us to new cities and new storytellers and welcoming them into the Moth community," said Joan D. Firestone, executive director, The Moth.
Angela Bassett will host the first Characters Unite Mainstage storytelling event, which kicks off during the Cable & Telecommunications Association (CTAM) Summit on Monday, October 18. A respected actress of the stage, screen, and television, Bassett was nominated for an Academy-award and won a Golden Globe for her role as Tina Turner in the film "What's Love Got To Do With It." She also received an Emmy nomination for "The Rosa Parks Story." Other film and television credits include "Strange Days," "Waiting to Exhale, "Notorious," "ER," "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" and " and "Meet the Browns." In 2011, Bassett will be seen in the blockbuster "The Green Lantern" and the comedy "Jumping the Broom."
Also participating in the New Orleans showcase are:
- Sendhil Ramamurthy, Special Guest - Star of USA's hit series COVERT AFFAIRS.
- Jacqui Vines, Storyteller - Senior vice president and general manager of Cox Louisiana, will share how she went from a foster care child to foster care mother.
- Elna Baker, Storyteller - Author of The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance and writer for Elle, Glamour, and The Onion, will divulge how one Mexican-Mormon woman realizes that standing out and fitting in are two sides of the same line.
- "Mack" McLendon, Storyteller - A native of New Orleans and former telephone technician, will reveal why he transformed a warehouse for his old cars into the Lower 9th Ward Village, a neighborhood center to bring his community back together in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
- Jeffery Rudell, Storyteller - A graphic designer, writer and winner of The Moth's annual Story Slam Championship in 2003, will disclose what happens when a cherished son comes out of the closet and discovers the conditions of his parents' love.
- Stephanie Summerville, Storyteller - An actor who has worked regionally in both the U.S. and the UK, will recount the moment when a college student, turned home health aide, finds herself tending to a dying member of an extremist hate group.
Both the Mainstage and school events will be held in partnership with Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPD) across the country. USA and The Moth are teaming up with Cox Communications on the first high school program, which will launch on Tuesday, October 19, at Grace King High School, in Metairie, Louisiana.
In addition to New Orleans, USA's and The Moth's Characters Unite tour will make stops in New York, Chicago, Denver and Seattle. The tour coincides with extensive on-air programming, online content and other off-air activities planned for Characters Unite Month, to be announced in advance of its November 15 launch.
The Moth - hailed as "New York's hottest and hippest literary ticket" by The Wall Street Journal - is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. The Moth has presented more than three thousand stories, told live and without notes, by people from all walks of life to standing-room-only crowds worldwide. The Moth features simple, old-fashioned storytelling on thoroughly modern themes by wildly divergent raconteurs who develop and shape their stories with The Moth's directors.
The Moth conducts seven ongoing programs - The Moth Mainstage, which tours nationally; The Moth StorySLAM program, which conducts open-mic story competitions around the country; The MothSHOP Community Program, which brings storytelling workshops free of charge to underserved populations; The Moth Podcast, which is downloaded over a million times a month; The MothSHOP Business Program, which offers corporate storytelling solutions; MothUP, which enables people to start their own Moth gatherings in their living rooms; and The Moth Radio Hour, produced by Jay Allison and distributed by PRX, which airs on more than 200 public radio stations across the country.
Characters Unite was created in January 2009 by USA Network with the simple premise that life is richer when people see beyond stereotypes and appreciate individual differences. The initiative has included award-winning Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaigns, a multimedia pledge drive for unity, and the first-ever Characters Unite Town Hall moderated by NBC News Special Correspondent Tom Brokaw in Washington, DC.