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Hilary Banks wants to educate the kids, beauties!

Karyn Parsons, who played the adorable Hilary Banks back in the day on “Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air,” recently created a Kickstarter to raise funds for an educational animated short called “The Janet Collins Story.” Janet Collins was the first African American ballerina to perform solo at the Metropolitan Opera. When Collins was 15 years old, the company Ballet Russes De Monte-Carlo offered to give her a dance position in the company only if she performed in whiteface. The precocious dancer turned it down, but her slight obstacle only prepared her for her future accomplishments as a ballet pioneer at the Met. Comedian Chris Rock will join the project to narrate Collins’ inspiring journey.

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Parsons hopes to raise enough money through Kickstarter to compensate the film’s illustrator, the team behind the project’s creative studio PixelPirate Production, and other crew members behind the film. The production is a part of Parsons’ Sweet Blackberry, a non-profit organization she started in 2005 that aims to expose Black children to stories about African Americans that are known to few. Although facts about leaders, like Martin Luther King Jr., are important, they are not the only stories that should be told, according to Parsons. “In schools, we’re only taught about a handful of stories on African Americans and their achievements,” Parson says in the Kickstarter video. “I think it’s important that we get to these kids young and we engage them an excite them about these incredible people that came before them.”

Parsons and her team at Sweet Blackberry have already produced two short animated nonfiction films — “The Journey of Henry Box Brown,” a story about a slave who mailed himself to freedom and “Garrett’s Gift,” a story on traffic light inventor Garrett Morgan — and hope to create more in the future. And, in case you’d like to know, Parsons’ former “Bel-Air” co-star Will Smith agreed to contribute money to the film as well. I’m excited to see what else Parsons has in store and would love to see this project get off the ground. From her video promoting the animated short, the stories look polished and it seems as if her team spent a lot of time laying out the groundwork for each production.

Here’s to hoping this cute, educational film is seen everywhere!

If you’d like to contribute to the fund, check out Parsons’ Kickstarter page, or if you’d like to learn more about Sweet Blackberry, check out the site.


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