StoryCorps Alum Turned Bestselling Author Reflects On The Power Of Storytelling
Jason Reynolds is an award winning writer, specializing in novels and poetry for young adults and kids. He started writing poetry at the age of nine, and by 16, he had self-published his first work. He went on to become a #1 New York Times bestselling author, and was also recently appointed the 7th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress.
But before all that, he was a StoryCorps Facilitator.
At the age of 22, he sat down to record with another facilitator for the very first time, to ponder his dreams for the future, and pay tribute to the woman who inspired him.
Isabelle Reynolds and Jason Reynolds, at their StoryCorps recording in 2006. Photo by Justina Mejias for StoryCorps..
Top Photo: Jason Reynolds, on November 15th, 2006. Photo by Jonah Engle for StoryCorps.
“I Want This To Not Be Normal”: After Giving Birth Prematurely, Two Moms Are Working To End The Cycle
Sabrina Beavers and Shantay Davies-Balch have spent their careers fighting for Black maternal and infant health.
When both women had their babies weeks before their due dates, they found themselves at the center of that very issue.
Sabrina came to StoryCorps in 2019, just five weeks after giving birth to her daughter Destiny. She talked with her friend and colleague Shantay about their firsthand experiences with preterm birth, and their shared hope that conversations like theirs will become more common.
Top Photo: Sabrina Beavers and Shantay Davies-Balch at their StoryCorps interview in Sanger, CA on May 3, 2019. By Nicolas Cadenat for StoryCorps.
This interview was recorded in partnership with Independent Lens and Valley PBS as part of a project to record stories about health and access to care in rural communities.
Originally aired July 2, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
“My Mother the Performer”: The Life and Legacy of Dorothy Toy
In the late 1930s, Dorothy Toy and her dance partner Paul Wing made their Broadway debut after years touring on the Vaudeville circuit. In one of their earliest Broadway appearances, the duo, billed as Toy & Wing, performed in a musical review. That night, as Toy & Wing took their bows, the applause was thunderous. Dorothy later told her daughter that the audience got on their feet and applauded so vigorously the bandleader was forced to bring them out repeatedly – stalling the next act. Dorothy would say, she lost track of how many bows they took that night, but that they became a fixture on Broadway from then on.
Dorothy, Paul and a young Dorlie Fong dancing the cha cha during an encore performance. Courtesy of Dorlie Fong.
Dorothy Toy and dance partner Paul Wing (Toy & Wing) posing at the Forbidden City Nightclub in 1950’s San Francisco. Courtesy of Dorlie Fong.
Decades later, after founding her own dance company and touring the world, Dorothy Toy planned to visit StoryCorps with her daughter, to look back on a lifetime of performance. But she passed before that was possible. Dorothy was 102 years old when she died. She had suffered multiple broken hips and lived with dementia, but she considered herself a dancer well into her final years.
In March of 2021, her daughter Dorlie Fong came to StoryCorps to honor her mother. In that session she committed to tape many of Dorothy’s stories from a bygone era of Vaudeville, Hollywood, and Broadway. But beyond that, Dorlie described what it was like growing up backstage and finding connection with her mother the star.
Top Photo: (L) Dorothy Toy and her young daughter Dorlie Fong backstage in the 1950’s. (R) Dorlie with her mother on her 101st birthday. Courtesy of Dorlie Fong.
Bottom Photo: Dorothy Toy performing in her home dance studio in front of a CBS news crew. Courtesy of Dorlie Fong.
Originally aired April 2, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
A Mother on Her Fight Against Depression and Her Suicide Attempt
People often come to StoryCorps to record difficult conversations that they’ve never been able to have before. That’s how Linda Kwong and her daughter Emily came to our recording booth to talk about a tough time they were going through as a family.
In 2012, Emily Kwong was a college senior studying in New York. Just before finals, she received a disturbing phone call from her father. Her mother, Linda, who had been suffering from depression, had attempted suicide.
At StoryCorps, Linda and Emily talk for the first time about what happened that day.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for help.
Top Photo: Emily Kwong (left) and her mother, Linda, at their StoryCorps interview in 2013.
Originally aired August 24, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.