Echoing Voices- From Dream to Legacy

Last Updated: March 6th, 2024By Categories: Blog3.2 min read

In the world where history and today’s pop culture meet, Natalie Speech shines bright. Currently working on a documentary film titled: “Not by Design: When Illness Alters Everything,” as well as a children’s lifestyle travel show, “Life of The Party.” She’s not just a writer, director, and producer; she’s a dreamer who wanted to make sure Black artists get the recognition they deserve in entertainment. That dream led her to start the Black Entertainment Museum Foundation (BEMF), a special place that celebrates the amazing work of Black artists in movies, music, and more.

Natalie’s love for the arts started back in Kansas City, where she grew up dancing, acting, and even doing acrobatics. She was always in the spotlight in school plays and local shows, but her real magic happened behind the scenes when she started directing and producing. Ms. Speech founded the performing arts group “Artist in Minority,” and went on to produce several theatrical events on campus such as ‘In the Wine Time’ by Ed Bullins, West Coast Night at the Apollo, South Bay Comedy Jam, and the original stage play  “The Aftermath”, a critically-acclaimed production she also directed, and which garnered her the Toddy Award for Best Student Director from the acclaimed San Jose State Theatre Department. After moving to Los Angeles and starting her own company, Ne’j Productions, Natalie became the go-to person for making creative ideas come to life.

Creating BEMF wasn’t just a job for Natalie; it was her way of keeping the stories and achievements of Black entertainers alive for future generations. She shared that “yet, as a mother, grandmother, and Black woman, I am acutely aware of the unfortunate reality that the contributions of Black artists are often relegated to the sidelines or overlooked in mainstream narratives. It became a personal mission of mine to ensure that my grandchildren and future generations are fully informed about the significant contributions made by Black individuals to the entertainment landscape “. It was her promise to herself and her community to never let those contributions be forgotten.

Starting a non-profit like BEMF, especially during the tough times of a pandemic, could have been super hard. But Natalie found a group of helpers at the NEW- Women’s Business Center. They were like a guiding light, offering her all the tools, advice, and connections she needed to make her dream a reality. The courses and one-on-one talks with experts gave Natalie the boost of confidence and know-how to tackle any challenge that came her way.

Today, thanks to her hard work and the support from the NEW-WBC, BEMF is a place where people can come to learn about and celebrate the legacy of Black artists. It’s a testament to what can happen when you stick to your vision and get the right support.

Natalie’s journey from performing on stage to standing up for Black cultural heritage is a powerful reminder of the importance of celebrating diversity in the arts. Her work with the NEW-WBC shows just how much can be achieved when you have the right help and a heart full of determination.

Ms. Speech didn’t stop there. She dove headfirst into learning everything she could to make her foundation even stronger. She sat through over 30 webinars and spent more than 20 hours in counseling sessions, all through the NWBC. She even shared her knowledge as a panelist during a Black History Month event, proving she’s not just learning but also giving back, sharing tips, and lifting others up. In her own words, “the NEW-WBC was like “a life raft” in uncertain times, showing everyone that with a bit of support and a lot of heart, you can make even the biggest dreams come true”.

Mary Clark

Program Assistant

NEW- Women’s Business Center

Antelope Valley Branch

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