Craig DeLuz & Amy Henry sit down with legendary entertainer Ben Vereen
Craig DeLuz & Amy Henry sit down with legendary entertainer Ben Vereen

SACRAMENTO – Legendary Actor, Entertainer and Tony Award Winner Ben Vereen made a very special visit to Sacramento recently to share his wealth of experience with local film makers and promote the Sacramento launch of his program, Wellness Through the Arts (WTA).

Vereen sat down with Sacramento Film Works hosts Craig DeLuz and Amy Henry to discuss the many lessons his decades of work in stage and film have taught him.

When asks about the roots of his passion for entertainment, Vereen shared, “The passion is within us all. It’s when we awaken to it that it begins to form and shape itself in our lives. We have passions in all sorts of ways. But mine was called forth to be upon the American stage. I started my passion, actually in church, singing with my God-mother.”

The legendary entertainer, perhaps best known for his Tony award winning performance as the Leading Player in the Broadway show Pippin, went on to earn an Emmy nomination for his role as Chicken George in the ground-breaking mini-series Roots. He also performed in the critically-acclaimed Broadway shows Jesus Christ Superstar, Jelly’s Last Jam and Wicked.

This year, Vereen is starring in the soon-to-be-released major motion picture, Time Out of Mind, with co-star Richard Gere and directing a production of the musical Hair in the state of Florida.

Vereen discussed how he has learned through his experiences the value of the performing arts and how it can help all of us share who we really are with the world. That, he declares is the very foundation of WTA.

“It says in my Bible that God created man. It doesn’t say God manufactured. So, we must recognize the creative aspect of our being”, he shared. “But the first thing we cut in school is the arts. We’re telling our children ‘You cannot be creative. You must me manufactured.”

WTA uses the performing arts as a foundation for healthier lifestyles.  WTA focuses on “key topics of obesity, low self-esteem, diabetes and bullying.” The program promotes mental and physical well-being through performing arts practices – dance, voice, acting, movement – that enable youth to express themselves freely and with discipline.

Ben Vereen has met with several members of the Natomas Charter School, the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission and others to assemble a program that will be instrumental to the future of arts and education in Sacramento. WTA has taken off successfully in both San Diego and Tucson, Arizona. Now, Vereen is hoping WTA will gain momentum in Sacramento with the support of key capital city leaders.

Sacramento Film Works is a produced by the Northern California Filmmakers Coalition. It airs the first Saturday of the month at 6:00 pm on Comcast channel 17 and AT&T Uverse channel 99.

The first of two Sacramento Film Works Episodes featuring Vereen will air on Saturday, September 5, 2015 at 6:00 pm on Comcast Cable, channel 17. The second will air the following month on Saturday, October 3, 2015, also at 6:00 pm on Comcast Cable, channel 17.