I must admit that I was a bit nervous about this interview and the process of landing the appointment. This was the first person that I have interviewed in quite some time that I did not know personally and I had no idea of what to expect. I was able to contact Ms. Hamlin as a result of a tip from Ms. Connie Smith, also a Winston-Salem native and proprietor of Triad City Tours which conducts area Black History Tours. I have known and have been working with her for over a decade with Queen City Tours™ and Travel. I was getting a bit dissuaded after sending several emails for over three weeks without a response. With my interview deadline rapidly approaching, I decided to just pick up the phone and call over to the office of the National Black Theatre Festival.
I was quite surprised when the gentleman that answered the phone stated that his name was Larente’ Hamlin. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I thought, is this a coincidence? Turns out he is indeed the stepson of Ms. Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin, my target for this interview. At first he was a bit reluctant to furnish me with his mother’s email – which I can understand – but was willing to confirm that the address that I had obtained from Ms. Smith was indeed correct. I gave him a brief overview and purpose for my wanting to get in contact with Ms. Hamlin – this article – and he was nice enough to furnish me with his email address to forward my previous correspondence to his mother. The next thing you know, Walla, a quick response from Ms. Hamlin! Persistence pays!
I was given a time of 3PM to call Ms. Hamlin on Monday June 20, 2011; her phone rang at precisely that time. I did not want to miss out on this much anticipated opportunity. I was quite relieved to find her very cordial, friendly, and honest about her role as the Executive Producer of the highly acclaimed and esteemed National Black Theatre Festival which is a biennial week-long event that has been taking place since 1989. This event was the brainchild of the late Larry Leon Hamlin (1948 – 2007) who also founded the North Carolina Black Repertory Company in 1979 which was the first professional organization of its kind in North Carolina.
He was a graduate of the prestigious Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI, and their company produces area Black theatre to include the highly-acclaimed MLK Birthday Celebration in February – Black History Month – and the Black Nativity play in December; both in Winston-Salem, NC. I have attended the annual MLK celebration and it is well worth the trip up from Charlotte, NC. I must admit that I had known about the National Black Theatre Festival for quite some time but like other folks in Charlotte, I had been procrastinating. Not this year, I will be there with bells on to rub elbows with some of the invited celebrities and other theatre attendees. I can’t wait.
A (Hamlin): I am the Executive Producer of the National Black Theatre Festival
Q (Jay): How long have you held this position?
A (Hamlin): I have been the Executive Producer of the National Black Theatre Festival since 2007
Q (Jay): Where were you born?
A (Hamlin): I was born right here in Winston-Salem
Q (Jay): How did you and Mr. Hamlin meet?
A (Hamlin): It was at a social event in 1979 which was a dinner for professionals. I was there selling cosmetics and he was there selling his company. We got married in 1981.