Everything I need to know, I learned from 'The Wiz Live!'
Well, guys. The Wiz Live premiered last week on NBC and it was, to sum it up, absolutely incredible. Never in my lifetime do I remember such an event. Maybe that sounds like I’m exaggerating, but it is rare to see such a beautiful, talented, diverse cast. As a biracial person who has always identified more with my Black side, I can attest to the fact that it is rare to see myself or my family represented (and represented well) on television. I always loved The Wiz (I mean, Michael, duh) but this live performance was even more than I could have hoped. The overwhelmingly positive reaction made it all even better. With no further ado:
EINTKILF The Wiz Live
1. Being a part of a family means you always have love.
Dorothy’s aunt, as she is lecturing her on–you know, getting back to the house and such (as aunts do)–reminds Dorothy that being a part of a family means that you will always have love. Though everyone knows that family can be incredibly stressful, it is a nice reminder that family, no matter how strict or complicated or irritating they are, means love.
2. Everyone needs protection now and then.
When Dorothy (played by the incredible Shanice Williams) meets Addapearle, The Good Witch of the North, she finally realizes that she is far, far away from home. After Addapearle serenades Dorothy with her powerful voice and kind words, she gives Dorothy a kiss and lets her know that everyone needs protection now and again. Awww, The Good Witch. Such a gem.
Also I’m going to go ahead and say that it is amazing to see Amber Riley again. I have missed my darling since Glee ended.
3. Beautiful things can be the most dangerous.
Some advice that Dorothy gets from a munchkin doubles up to very real-life advice. Sometimes the most beautiful things are the most dangerous, amirite? That’s why we have to be wary of really attractive people and like…entire pizzas. And poppies, apparently.
4. Makeup is amazing.
Sorry but I barely recognized my boy David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion and that is entirely because the makeup and costumes for The Wiz Live were astonishing. The Tin Man! The Scarecrow! Dorothy’s outfit! GLINDA!! Everything was amazing. I watched with my jaw to the floor. I wish real life was like this and everyone always walked around looking as beautiful as the characters in The Wiz Live.
Also I’m going to pretend that Dorothy’s jacket was homage to Michael Jackson and no one can convince me otherwise.
5. Friendships are everything.
So obviously as anyone who has ever seen any version of The Wiz or Wizard of Oz knows, you know that Dorothy befriends three pals on her way to talk to the wizard. Tin Man, Scarecrow, and The Lion accompany Dorothy on her journey to getting home. Without the friends she makes along the yellow brick road, Dorothy would be super lost, super alone, and probably terrified because she is a little girl. That all being said, she ends up being the ring leader of a group of misfits who end up being the most important people in her life. No one can do anything without their friends, as Dorothy and the others soon learn.
6. Serve, slay, beat, fierce.
Because The Wiz Live was a modern re-imagining of a story that was already re-imagined, we all should have expected something excellent. When Dorothy and her crew finally make it to the Emerald City, the bouncer (played by Common, obviously) lets them into a beautiful example of Black Excellence. The Emerald City residents are vogue-ing and chanting “serve, slay, beat, fierce,” words that we have all adapted to mean, well, having a good time. Killin’ it. Doing well. Living our best lives. Seeing the Emerald City updated and diverse and, well, fierce, was more than I could have ever hoped.
7. Queen Latifah is The Best.
Of course Queen Latifah plays The Wiz and she is phenomenal. Her vocals are incredible, her presence is strong, and she really, really rocks that Draco Malfoy hair. (I mean, can’t you see Draco with Slytherin streaks of green in his hair??) Queen Latifah is so talented and it was so nice to see her.
8. We all have a brain.
And heart, and courage, and a home. We are all capable of the things we are seeking out in life. Though everyone is a metaphor in this movie/story/beautiful live performance, we all need to remember that we have what we are looking for.
I mean, I don’t have a ton of money or Leonardo DiCaprio as my husband, but you get what I mean.
9. Don’t back down.
“This won’t be easy / no way, no how / but we won’t back down.”
Because sometimes all you need to hear is “we’ve got this” and “I’ve got you.” If your friends aren’t singing this song to you on a daily basis, quickly teach them the lyrics and have a much better day, every day.
10. Believe in yourself.
Because we all should. As Glinda / Uzo Aduba tells us, believing in yourself is the most important thing. Because it is. And maybe if we believe in ourselves, we’ll all end up dropping from the sky in beautiful gold dresses.
We can dream. That’s what it’s all about.
Representation matters. It is important for young Black women (and older Black women, and biracial women, and all women, and all humans) to see the people that they can relate to onscreen. Yes, we can all be a bit Dorothy (in whichever form that may be) but seeing a young 19-year-old living out what must be her dream on a live broadcast that night made me tear up. Thanks to NBC for a night that we will not soon forget.