DCF: Who are you?!
Astra Armstrong, Creator of STAND TALL AND RISE, an outreach center for children who have incarcerated parents.
Sophomore Business Management Major. Astra plans to open a performance theater for unaccompanied youth and children who have parents that are incarcerated. In March 2013, Astra had the chance to perform her own work alongside the late Maya Angelou, who was reciting her poem Still I Rise. After the performance, Astra lives by three words: “pride, determination, resilience”. Astra now teaches school aged children, at the YMCA, the importance of performing arts. In her free time she volunteers at the city of Norfolk Juvenile Detention Center. She looks forward to a bright future and hopes to become a motivational speaker so she can encourage other young people with similar circumstances. She wants others to aspire and achieve more than what surrounds them to overcoming drugs, homelessness, neglect, poverty, and much more. She has won numerous awards for performances throughout the DC area for her phenomenal outreach within her community and her passion for the arts. She plans to study abroad in South Africa this May 2017 where she will teach underprivileged children the history of the arts as well as complete a community service based project. Astra embodies all these and more as a writer, a performer, and a dreamer. (DCF: I knew we all needed some hope so I am so proud to present the future!!)
DCF: Why do you love what you do? What makes you funemployment?
AA: I love to promote outreach and motivation through the arts by having different events. I enjoy doing these things because I believe that if I can change one life than I know my job as well as my purpose in life has been accomplished.
DCF: Who was your first mentor and how did you find them?
AA: My first mentor was my 9th grade high school teacher Davie Yarbrough. I found her becoming my mentor (DCF: yeah she grows on you and for those that do not know, Davie is my homegirl!!) because I was one of those children who really didn’t believe in myself. She pushed me to become a better writer and to change the way I carry myself as a young lady.
DCF: What’s your happy place?
AA: My happy places comes from giving back to my community and seeing smiles on other people’s faces. It brings me to tears when people tell me how much of an inspiration I am.
DCF: Where do you get your energy?
AA: I get my energy from listening to gospel music. The motivation in gospel keeps me happy. (DCF: Won’t he do it!!)
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find it?
AA: I use 3 planners one for school , one for work and one for extra activities. (DCF: Way to be ahead of the game, I fought the planner for years, now I can’t live without it!)
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
AA: A sacrifice that I had to make was when during my freshman year of college, I wanted to transfer schools but I didn’t want my credits and other things to get messed up so I stayed at NSU. Instead of leaving, I started to have events and things to make the school the way I wanted it and give it more of a performance arts feel. (DCF: Sometimes we have to make our own homes.)
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
AA: Learning how to start a successful business and still get paid doing what I love to do. (DCF: Girl I am JUST getting this one!)
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
AA: The death of my mom was the hugest failure because she was all I really had. I never aspired to be a mom but sometimes I felt I was more of a mother than she was to me. Once she had passed, I knew that I had to get my life together and go down the right path or else I would become another statistic. (DCF: I’m so proud of you and the path you have chosen but please always remember, You are NEVER just a statistic, not matter what you chose to do in life or what happens next, you are a wonderful person who has a beautiful purpose, don’t ever let anyone put you in a box!!)
DCF: What was your proudest moment to date?
AA: My proudest moment is to be producing and directing an original one act play called Super Predator: this play is about the mass incarceration system. How Hillary Clinton once identified us as that. The term means black, broke, fatherless. So the story is centered around 4 inmates who all deal with things that we face in the black community. (DCF: This is such an important issue and conversation that needs to be had, so glad to have your voice in the mix.)
DCF: What are you Currently Conquering??
AA: I am dropping my logo and brand STAR this Thursday at the opening of the play. S-stand Tall And Rise. This is the brand I will use once I open my theater as well as when my entertainment group travels. We are looking for places to tour this play and bring more awareness to the school to pipeline statistics.
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