Celebrating National Women’s History Month
Standing at an elegant height of five feet and eleven inches, her striking features, flawless skin, and stunning low-cut coiffure, only accentuate the inner beauty that ascends from her pioneering personality. From gracing runways to adorning magazine pages and igniting theatrical platforms everywhere, from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta, Georgia and New York City, Betty Entzminger exposes a grace that illuminates as bright as the sun. But more than outer beauty, flair, and achievement, what is most important to Betty is the journey for understanding and honoring the spirit within.
In a recent conversation, I asked what her legacy to all women would be. She replied, “Loving yourself, so you can free yourself”, a personal belief that her and I have both discovered – and shared – for more than ten years.
Like many women, Betty Entzminger has had her share of challenges and changes alike. But like many women too, the road to harmony and self-approval seemed rather distant while growing up. A native Washingtonian, fourth generation, and second youngest of ten children, her enduring journey as an African-American woman has taught her the value of gratitude and self-love. As a child, she was teased and often called “little buckwheat” because of her thick curly hair and deep complexion. As she reached womanhood, she learned to appreciate more of her long legs, dense hair, and coffee skin. Much of that life experience compelled her to write one of four books now in progress, Little Buckwheat Grows up To Be a Model, a children’s book that will strengthen and encourage the ambitions of African American children in communities throughout the world.
At a glance, Betty’s exquisiteness and spiritual essence bring to mind the intriguing
mystique of Grace Jones. However, with a closer view, you discover that Betty’s aura is exclusively her own. Her beauty is refined, her charm is contagious, and her poise on point – all of which is present in all of the characters she portrays.
In the 1993 action film, In the Line of Fire, she represented the role of an African Queen, not ironically. On the American Television Series, The Wire, she was a police officer. In a compelling performance of James Baldwin’s three-act play, The Amen Corner, a play that addresses themes of the role of a church in an African-American family and the effect of a poverty born of racial prejudice on an African-American community, Betty defined the role of Dee. She powerfully portrayed the Lady in Purple in Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls, a poetic musical that expresses the many struggles and obstacles that African-American women face throughout their lives, and a clear representation of sisterhood. These are among the many distinguished roles that Betty has depicted over more than 30 years. In her most recent performance of February 2015, she performed a theatrical monologue of Sojourner Truth at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
Her musical talents blossomed early in her childhood. The daughter of a Baptist minister, her fervor for singing has been noted as a jazz vocalist, voice-over talent, a First Round Contestant on BET’s Sunday Best, and a background vocal of the American Choir for Beyonce and Bruce Springsteen at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration of President Barack Obama. Today, she continues to command the audience and win over the hearts of thousands with her extraordinary sound, whenever and wherever she performs. To highlight her musical accomplishments and honor the height of her journey, she has composed a sultry single track from her second CD Project 9th Child titled Bare My Soul, which will release on April 13th on www.CDbaby.com. As well, she has composed three additional CD projects.
Her most challenging life moment, she courageously describes, is getting evicted from her home less than one year ago. She stated, “It has allowed me to take off the mask of non-transparency. I now understand what that means. This journey has taught me about inner-trust, humility, and gratitude.”
For Betty, life has been a magnitude of color: successes and failures, loves and losses, lessons and necessary voyages. But most of all, this mother of two adult children says that her life is full of grace and gifts; the most significant, being a mother.
“Two of my most successful moments in life have been showing up as a mother – and the authentic experience to have had love with a black man.”
Come what may, she continues her journey of inspiring and being inspired all the same. Many of her modeling credits are documented nationally, to include, Essence Magazine, Brides For Today, Today’s Charlotte Woman (North Carolina) and a number of other publications. Augmenting her many accomplishments is her participation in the Miss Black DC Pageant (1977), the Dionne Warwick Celebrity “Look-a-Like” Contest in Los Angeles, CA, and singing the National Anthem for the Lightweight Championship Fight featuring Mark Johnson. She is, and perhaps will always be, one of the most preferred models of color throughout the United States. Her “secret weapon” is simple: grace.
A natural nurturer and lover of life, Betty now understands that when life gives you lemons, simply make lemonade. She continues to “show up” in the world as an example to all women, young and old, making history, sharing sisterhood, spreading love, and bestowing grace. She is an upcoming competitor in the AARP Super Star 2015 Contest, which will be announced on March 16th. http://aarpsuperstar.votigo.com/aarpsuperstar.
She meditates and sings with the certainty of her favorite quote – and a personal mantra of our late great sister friend, Dyan Adams:
“Come in Pieces. Leave whole.”
Love and Light for your Tuesday!