Karyn Parsons is changing the world one children’s storybook at a time. The celebrity mom discusses her nonprofit company, Sweet Blackberry, with Forbes.
“The mission is to bring little-known stories of African-American history to children,” she tells the media source. “We create short, animated films with a single narrator and the way that they’re animated makes it more like a picture book that comes to life,” Parson shares. “It’s important to shed the light on people that we don’t hear about; there are so many stories that are so inspiring and offer so much to all children. For children of color, they offer something really great and fortifying. We don’t have enough of that.”
Karyn Parsons and her publishing company are presently working to bring the story of Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to earn her pilot’s license, to life. “I also love the collaborative process,” Parsons says of her method for choosing who to shed light on and who to save for a future time. “I write the stories,” she explains, “and I usually have them in mind for a really long time, and then I sit down and write it with kids in mind.”
Parsons is most remembered for her role as Hillary Banks on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. “I came from being an actor, and I didn’t know anything about business at all,” she tells Forbes of her experience with going from show business to nonprofit.
“It makes me kind of laugh looking at it now,” Parsons admits. “I didn’t think practically, and I never have. I’m not a practical person—I just dove into it with passion and not necessarily what it would take to sustain something like this; which is good because if I had known I probably would have thought it was too daunting and not started it.”
Although there have been a few challenges along the way, Karyn Parsons’ publishing company continues to educate children and the public at large about the many contributions of African Americans in the United States. “It’s hard and it’s constant work, but I know now that you can do both,” Karyn says. “You can have a for-profit arm, and that’s probably something that will happen soon for us, as well.”
Learn more about the Sweet Blackberry Foundation here.
Photo: Karyn Parsons/Forbes