Mom and Daughter at the 75th Annual Tony Awards

Tar Heel – “Vivien Yearwood has had a feeling” since her 3-year-old daughter Valencia was that dancing might take her place – although medical school eventually topped the list of priorities.

“I kind of thought she had a chance even back then.” said Vivian, a resident of Tar Hill. “But even though she went to medical school in Syracuse, there came a day when she told me she couldn’t do it anymore…she just wanted to dance.

“After getting to my knees, I gave her my support,” she added.

On June 12, mother and daughter attended the 75th Annual Tony Awards at Madison Square Garden, where Valencia was nominated for seven Tony Awards as co-producer of the Broadway play “Colored Girls”.

“It was amazing,” Vivian said. “It was like an out-of-body experience.”

There was “a lot of glitter and lights,” Vivian said, and she was treated like a celebrity — including being transported in a limousine and driven to the event.

“I’m not the star-studded type, but I’ve been able to see some famous people like Samuel L. Jackson and others,” she said.

For her part, Valencia, who lives in South Orange, NJ, the seven Tony Awards are the culmination of a career that includes a part in the Broadway play, “The Lion Kings,” and includes parts in the currently ongoing Colonial Bean. A commercial and advertisement for Trust is coming.

“The Tony Awards nominations were one of the highlights of my career,” Valencia said, despite not winning. “He was charming, inspiring and wonderful. There is nothing like when your tribe comes together to celebrate the best of all of us…

“It was even more special to share with my mom,” she added.

Valencia continues to test the performance of parts in commercials, but plans to take a break this summer to recharge.

“I’ve had offers to produce in the fall, so I’ll think about that along the way,” she said.

However, the mom continued to enjoy her daughter’s accomplishments after the Tony Awards earlier in the month — as well as remembering something from the past.

“I took her when she was eight, in 1972, to see the original ‘Colored Girls,’ so I completed the episode by co-producing the same show for Broadway,” Vivian said. “In addition, Valencia had her degree in biology, but she was around the world in her career.

As for her pride in her daughter…

“I couldn’t be more proud of what I’ve accomplished,” said Vivian. “But I joke about telling people that I’m the co-producer.”

More about Valencia

Valencia Yearwood began her career as a dancer, joining the Harlem dance scene, where she rose to the rank of soloist.

Her film and television appearances include The Guiding Light, Clockers, Malcolm X, The Cosby Mysteries, and Law and Order. She has appeared in numerous national and regional commercials, including Liberty Mutual, Advair, Hotels.com, Verizon, FedEx, BJ’s Warehouse, Publix, New York Lotto, and Partnership for a Drug Free America. Her voice work includes campaigns for Walmart, Target, Nickelodeon, McDonald’s, Goodwrench, Soft Sheen Carson, and BellSouth.

Her credits include Off-Broadway Encores! @ City Center, and the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City. She co-produced a one-woman show ShelfLife at the Fringe Theater Festival in New York City. Valencia’s Broadway credits include once on a mattress with Sarah Jessica Parker, and she was last seen on Broadway in The Lion King.

As an entrepreneur, Valencia is the owner of Linci Productions, Inc, a company that helps individuals, nonprofits, and corporations develop their presentation skills through classrooms, coaching and mentoring programs. With a passion to help artists, entrepreneurs and corporate professionals express themselves authentically and effectively, Valencia trains its clients on how to enhance communication and team building practices using the art and skill of acting.

Her professional membership includes the Equity Actor Society, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Screen Actors Guild, and the New York Women in Film and Television Guild.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or ncvincent@bladenjournal.com.