That’s what has happened (so far!) for Angela Golden Bryan.
In this interview, Angela reveals her inspiration and path to success. Angela is a speaker, author, and professional actor, as well as a “cultural ambassador” for the US Virgin Islands, spreading the word about “the rich history, culture, and beauty of the islands beyond the beaches and rum.”
Q: Why did you decide the USVI history needed to be shared more widely?
The history of the US Virgin Islands is fascinating—seven flags have flown over the island. My “Fireburn” books are based on a historical event that took place when the islands were owned by Denmark, therefore, part of Danish history. Many Africans were brought in and enslaved, and Fireburn relates to the history of the African Diaspora. Now the islands are a US territory and the history is relevant to many Americans of different cultures and heritages.
My passion for this history is fueled by my own heritage, as I grew up on the beautiful island of St. Croix.
Q: One of your books was recently featured with other acclaimed books relating to the islands’ history?
My web developer asked me if I had any links for media and an internet search resulted in quite a pleasant surprise. I found out that my children’s book had received an award from an independent organization that rates books from all over the world. My book, James and the Fireburn: An Anti-bullying and Human Rights Story Inspired by Caribbean History (Suncoast Digital Press, 2019), made the list of “Best Caribbean history ebooks of all time”. No one told had me about it, so I had no idea that I was the author of an award-winning book! This led to me being interviewed by two newspapers from the Virgin Islands.
Q: So, the USVI know about you and your stories?
Yes, especially after my trip down there in early 2020 to film a documentary. Because the Fireburn is such an important part of USVI history, my projects have gotten a lot of praise and attention. As one can see from the documentary, people in politics, the University of the Virgin Islands, cultural ambassadors, and artists enthusiastically stepped forward to be a part of the project.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to also produce a documentary?
No, I am an actress and have never even considered myself a writer. I wrote my first book so that I could have a screenplay to act in. There was such interest in my historical fiction that I decided to produce a documentary on the same topic. My goal is to provide historically accurate information to as many people as possible in a variety of engaging formats. It was a lot of hard work and very rewarding.
Q: Are you becoming a celebrity in the USVI?
Islands are very much like “small towns” in that everyone seems to be connected and related in some way. Islanders jokingly tell their children to be careful not to date a relative accidentally. So, when a Virgin Islander succeeds in an area, it is a success for everyone. It is a matter of cultural pride, especially if the individual is seen as a cultural ambassador, telling others about the rich history, culture, and beauty of the islands beyond the beaches and rum.
Q: How has becoming a published author impacted you?
I had wanted to write a book for a long time and now that I have published three books, I am very proud and look forward to writing more. It is a very fulfilling feeling to do something that I once did not know how to do. The process has helped me in the areas of discipline, focus, and growth. People now perceive me as an authority and I am getting more requests for speaking engagements.
Schools have had me come and read my anti-bullying children’s book (James and the Fireburn), and that is a lot of fun. I also speak to corporate and community groups on communication and empowerment. I know my acting background helps me because I’ve been referred to as an “edutainer.” That’s what I’m good at, educating and entertaining. I would like to do more keynote speaking.
Q: What is the message you want your readers and audiences to take away?
If there is a desire in your heart, something that you really want to do and have not taking steps towards – don’t wait! Don’t buy into any excuses that may be holding you back. Take steps daily towards that goal and one day you will have achieved it.
Q: What are the goals of The Fireburn Project and how can people support you?
The Fireburn Project seeks to educate people globally regarding the rich history and culture of the US Virgin Islands. We are in post-production of the documentary and are still raising funds to complete it. We are producing the documentary through nonprofit organizations, so all financial gifts are tax deductible. This is a way that everyone can partner with us in producing this timely and important tool for education and cultural preservation. Visit the Philanthropy page on my website: AngelaGoldenBryan.com, where you can view the teaser for the documentary and read about the project and what your donation and support would mean.
Thank you, Angela!
To connect with Angela, visit AngelaGoldenBryan.com