Essence Atkins: Actress, Mother, AIDS Activist

    essence-atkinsEssence Atkins, who plays mother Suzanne Kingston-Persons on the show, is a mom herself. And being a mom in Hollywood is something that Essence had to get used to: autions, interviews, mommy duties and pretty much doing it all.  But one thing she still makes time for is her community.

    Volunteering for the Greater Than AIDS campaign, Atkins admitted that labor would have been the only thing to keep her out of the studio that day. “As I begin my own journey to become a mother, I recognize that the community is so important, and making sure that we look out for each other,” she said in 2011.

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    Atkins then reflected on the 13-year-old honor student who had recently been denied admission to the Milton Hershey School in Pennsylvania because he was HIV positive. According to the school, the young boy was a “direct threat” to the other students. “These are the kinds of things that are happening 20 years after Ryan White that drive me to be a part of this,” said Atkins.

    Having started her career as a ballet dancer in New York, and growing up in the 1980s, when AIDS took a devastating toll on the arts community, Atkins is encouraged by the progress being made in science and medicine. “We just have to know our status first of all and seek access to the proper treatment,” she said. “The thing that keeps African Americans from empowering ourselves is ignorance; the things that keep us from eradicating this disease and…

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