Patria-Kaye Aarons: Giants among women
There are some ladies whose shoes I can only but dream to wobble in, let alone walk. Ladies who perpetually exemplify the strength of a woman Shaggy sings about. I've had the pleasure of meeting quite a few. However, my favourites have shared themselves, both on screen and on stage. These three have left their marks on me.
Alma Mock Yen is a treasure. On my first encounter with Alma, I had seen a pilot air on TV for a sitcom called 'Uppers and Downers'. In it, Alma played the feistiest helper imaginable; and she was a riot. A modern-day 'Sophia Petrillo', she was quick-witted and irreverent, and I got the sense that perhaps the show's character possessed Alma's personal spice. I was right.
My second encounter with Alma was two decades later on a salsa dance floor. Full head of white hair, she kept up with the every turn and cross-ball change of the other spring chickens on the dance floor. Alma was obviously full of life and couldn't give a hoot who was watching. She was having her fun.
Today, Alma is one of my most active social-media contacts. Her near-daily Facebook posts put me to shame and jettison the idea that technology is 'young people ting'. Alma has shattered whatever concept I may have had in my head about growing older. Surely, now I look forward to ageing with the very same zest for life and limitlessness she has paved the way with. Bless her!
My love for Leonie Forbes is the stuff restraining orders are made of. The woman is sheer genius on a stage. I happened to see her last weekend in David Tulloch's 'Not My Child' and my love graduated to worship. It's a beautiful thing when what you love and what you're good at collide; and its apparent Leonie has found the formula.
Always effortlessly convincing in every role I have seen her play, this one was no exception. Incidentally, she, too, was playing a helper in this production, but one with a far more complex persona. The role was a physical one, and without fear, the lady of the stage took it on. Forget fragile old lady. Leonie Forbes is anything but that. For the entire production, Leonie drew me in. And when it was done, my hope was that in my golden years, I, too, would be doing what I loved, and doing it well.
What I love most about Leonie is what young actors who have worked with her have to say about her willingness to teach. With motherly compassion, she shares her wealth of experience and is always ready and willing to help young thespians get better. Not everyone can do that. And some who do, bring with the teaching an air of snobbery. Not Leonie. It all comes from a good place. A place that genuinely wants to bring out the best in the talents that cross her path. Bless her!
As a broadcaster, for me, Fae Ellington is the gold standard. As MC of the opening of Highway 2000, she was required to introduce the members of the head table. I heard Fae pronounce six Chinese names as if she had been born in Beijing. Flawless. She was perhaps the first person who I saw look comfortable in her own skin on TV. No airs, no TV voice or accent, never afraid to slip into the Jamaican vernacular, and when she did, it never felt out of place. And she always has fun doing her job.
I thank her for living out loud. For paving the way for others of us to be confident presenting our true selves in media. I also thank her for demonstrating that standards don't have to mean stuffy. Bless her!