Tina Knowles Gives Back to Emerging Young Artists (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
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Tina Knowles Lawson loves giving back.
Beyonce and Solange's mom gave ET's Kevin Frazier an exclusive tour of the WACO Theater in Los Angeles on Wednesday, ahead of its grand opening, and spoke about her passion for helping young artists, and encouraging others to do the same.
Last month, Tina, along with Beyonce and her 5-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, lent their support to those affected by Hurricane Harvey at St. Johns Church in their hometown of Houston, Texas. Tina and Michelle Williams helped out by serving lunch to 400 flood victims before Beyonce took the stage to offer words of encouragement to victims of the disaster.
"I was hoping that other people would get inspired and do the same thing and that they would know that you can start small. If everybody did a little bit, it adds up to be a lot," Tina explained, adding that Procter & Gamble got involved by donating trucks of supplies to help the community.
Community is important to Tina. She and her husband, Richard Lawson, dreamt of building a community center where young artists can follow their passions and thrive. That dream turned into reality, at the WACO (Where Art Can Occur) Theater.
"When my kids were growing up, there was a place called the Shrine of the Black Madonna, and it was a community center, and they wouldn't be who they are today if they had not had that center to go and do all forms of art and learn about it," Tina shared. "The People's Workshop was there, and it was a place where stars came down to work with the kids."
"Without that place, my kids wouldn't be who they are today, and they attributed a lot of their success today to having that community center where they could perform and be around other like-minded kids," she added.
"My concept of Hollywood is plan B. Your career is plan A and that is what you create and manifest," Richard said. "We both have done that in separate forms and now together in terms of the amount of people that she has helped to become who they became by giving them a helping hand and a hand up, so we are both about [giving] a hand up."
The WACO Theater will be a space where young people can learn about art in all forms, and create works that will be sold to the public. Mentoring will also be a large part of the project, as Tina and her husband have already formed groups called Tina's Angels and Richard's Warriors to help students find therapy in artistic expression. "Mentoring underserved communities, that is really important," Tina noted.
Tina already has 15 girls in her program, but will add five more by next year -- and will continue to mentor them through college.
"They're only in 9th grade, so I want to follow them all the way to graduating," she said. "My goal is for every one of them to go to college, some kind of tech school or some finishing education."
"That's the goal, and so I'm going to keep up with them and still meet with them and mentor them," she added. "If that's successful, it'll set the tone for everything to follow."