Sharing a journey of African American culture

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TAMPA, Fla. — March is Women’s History Month, and the musical “Crowns,” produced by the Straz Center, highlights the cultural journey of African-American women.


What do you want to know

  • March is Women’s History Month
  • Natasha McKeller plays the singer wearing the Mother Shaw crown in “Crowns”
  • She has been acting for over 30 years and said women haven’t always had the same opportunities as men in show business.
  • To help change that, she started her own production company.

It focuses on the history of “church hats” and the meaning of wearing them, and we caught up with one of the stars who showed us what it really means to wear a crown.

Natasha McKeller is director of the Boys and Girls Club by day and mother Shaw, who wears the crown, by night.

“I feel like as women, whether we have a hat on or not, we’re constantly going and doing constantly,” she said.

McKeller is part of the female cast of “Crowns” at the Straz Center, sharing a journey of African American culture and women through hats.

A friend urged her to audition for the musical, and the heart of the show does not go unnoticed for her.

“I think about how women are the glue of the earth,” McKeller said. “They are the glue of society – they hold everyone together, they keep everyone afloat. Without women, where would we be?

McKeller has been acting for more than 30 years and said women haven’t always had the same opportunities as men in show business.

To help change that, she started her own production company.

“There are so many beautiful women here in this world who are silent because they think, ‘Nobody wants to see me, nobody wants to give me a chance,'” she said. “I created this production in the hope of, ‘I’m listening.'”

It’s a message she shares every day with her own daughter and with all the kids in the Boys and Girls Club.

“Sometimes these kids feel like a number, they’re a number in school, they’re a number on tests. They’re a sibling,” McKeller said. “I let them know they belong.”

“Crowns” runs through March 6 at the Straz Center. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Center Straz website.

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