Why did you name the agency 135th Street?
When I moved to Harlem, it wasn’t the borough you know now. Gentrification was just getting started and lots of businesses were coming in so I moved to 135th Street. I was in my early 20’s and had just moved out of my mom’s house. I was finally on my own in my own place with my first car and my first job in my career. 135th Agency, like my street, just felt right.
In reference to the recent Gabby Douglas hair beef, how do you feel about some black women who berate others despite their achievements?
I had this conversation with Spike Lee, I did not pay any attention to the nonsense surrounding Gabby’s hair. First Lady Michelle Obama and Sherri Shepherd of The View were saying how great she is, we should not give attention to riff-raff who can’t recognize an Olympian. For her to have that kind of career at 16, I don’t care if she had one strand of hair on her head.
Did you ever get teased for your last name growing up?
Constantly, when I was in elementary school I was super shy and wouldn’t volunteer in class because I didn’t want people to tease me. My dad was a military-type and if I had an A- on my report card, he’d meet with my teachers to find out what I needed to do for an A+. He helped me out of my shyness, it was why I wasn’t getting higher grades. He passed away when I was 16 and after that my amazing mom taught me to reclaim the power in my last name by making fun of it myself. Now when I check into a hotel, I’ll say ‘Shante Bacon, like bacon and eggs.’
What else is next for the 135th Street Agency?
We’ve got the Urban World Film Festival in September and then the reality show, Vince and Tamar. It should all be fun.
Chantell O. Black lives in Brooklyn and you can follow her at @ChanBacknBklyn
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