Chic Spotlight: Melody de Castro, Mother of “The Color Purple” Star

Chic Spotlight: Melody de Castro, Mother of “The Color Purple” Star

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Cincinnati couldn’t ask for more celebration and inspiration when the cast of “The Color Purple” arrived!
Broadway’s “The Color Purple” is based on the novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker. The story flows through every range of human emotion. This epic drama of an African-American womans’ struggle to overcome poverty, racism, domestic violence carries a strong message for every woman.
Included in the cast is Alex de Castro, the 12-year-old from New York who plays young Celie. Her single mother, Melody de Castro, is not only her manager but also her inspiration.

 Melody, who started her own professional staffing company, Alexandra Phoenix Group, Inc.which books actors and models for promo work — says that Alex is a natural at performing and has been involved in the entertainment industry for the past seven years.

In Alice Walker’s 1985 film, “The Color Purple,” there is a scene with sisters Shug Avery and Celie. Celie is in an emotional, “treelike” state and Shug wants to bring her out of that through tenderness.
Shug tells Celie that “Everything wanna be loved. Us sing and dance, and holla just wanting to be loved. Look at them trees. Notice how the trees do everything people do to get attention…except walk?” After some laughter Shug says: “Oh, yeah, this field feels like singing!”

We sat down with Alex’s mom, Melody, to ask her a few questions.


Cincy Chic: On this mother’s day why do you feel like singing?
Melody de Castro:
I am so proud of Alex and her dedication to her career. She constantly amazes me with her good manners and respect for others. I feel like singing because my daughter has continued to grow with intelligence, maturity and has had steady success within her favored industry. Also, I’m glad to get settled in a new city, although we really miss Cincinnati and the many great people we’ve met!


Cincy Chic: How do you and Alex plan to celebrate Mother’s Day?
de Castro:
There is nothing better than a day of pampering. We plan on having a day at the spa followed by yummy lunch somewhere. We love eating out together and sharing desserts!


Cincy Chic: What feelings and fears did you experience as a mother the first time you held your baby?
de Castro:
To tell you the truth, I didn’t have too much worry. I had recently graduated from College in Dance and Psychology in which I applied what I learned from my classes, particularly my Child Psychology classes and used that to help aid me in understanding and raising Alex in the most positive functional way possible. My blessing is that she actually tells me I’m a good mother. Whew!

Cincy Chic: How do you feel about her not-so-innocent role as Young Celie?
de Castro:
It’s just acting. Alex is very mature for her age. She’s an only child and used to being around adults. I’m very proud of her for landing the role and being able to understand it so well. She is really emotionally intelligent. She’s fine.
With all the controversy surrounding reckless parenting in the entertainment industry, you have been successful in making sure Alex doesn’t even wear high heels (we heard wedges are okay) or too much makeup.
Cincy Chic: Twelve-year-old Alex is on the road without you at times and any mother would be terrified.
de Castro:
Every mother should be cheering this bill on: The Child Protection Improvements Act of 2008. It was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate on March 13, 2008. The bill will make permanent a child protection pilot program that allows youth service organizations to run FBI background checks on prospective volunteers and employees.
Cincy Chic: How do you think this bill will affect the peace of mind of mothers?
de Castro:
This bill will keep our kids safer so many working mothers can confidently let their children participate in great programs such as the Boys and Girls Club, Boy and Girl Scouts and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America.
Cincy Chic: “Necessity is the mother of invention (Mater artium necessitas)”, is a powerful quote first used by Plato in the Republic. What was your need that inspired you to create an ingenious solution to being a single mother?
de Castro:
I love that quote. Wow. I think I want it on a T-shirt now. It’s powerful and true for my reasons I chose to start my business. The struggle to have time as a mother and manager for Alex, ensure healthy meals, health insurance, and a solid education in New York was overwhelming. So many doors were closed and I told myself I was not only going to open them but let others in too.
Cincy Chic: What encouragement and advice can you give other devoted and hardworking mothers?
de Castro:
Take time for yourself to nurture your own well being. The less stressed you are, the less stressed your family will be. Period. You might want to get a radio for the shower so you can sing and dance and stretch too while hiding the off-key notes. Go out with girlfriends when you can and meet new people. This feels so good!
So much pain can set in from the reality of being a single mother that it can disrupt the harmony of a family. Without a doubt, low self esteem can rub off onto children.
Cincy Chic: What are some good mommy behaviors that should never go away?
de Castro:
Absolutely no put downs! Your job as a mother is to build your children up. Be silly and crazy at least 10 minutes a day to create happy memories. Hugs and kisses, you know, Xs and Os should be given freely. Always say, “I love you” at least twice a day.The more the merrier though! Gandhi said, “We need to be the change we want to see happen.”
Cincy Chic: Are you in the too-busy-to-be-green club or do you still take time to help save the environment and teach Alex about her human footprint on the Earth?
de Castro:
Alex was the celebrity model for the Eco Go Go Fashion Show on Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati for Earth Day! She really cares about the environment. She also did story time at Joseph Beth Bookseller’s in Rookwood Commons and read Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, which highlights the human impact on the earth. We’re really big on trying our best to use natural organic products and teach others to do the same.
050508SPOTLIGHT2.jpgCincy Chic: Tell us more about who you are, where you are from and some of your talents.
de Castro:
Hmmm? Let me try and summarize this without giving you an entire long drawn out bio. I view myself as a young single mother, born and raised in New York. Originally, I’m from the Bronx but have moved in and out most of New York’s five boroughs throughout my life based on work and personal situations. I grew up with dance and music in my life. I come from a family that is very musically inclined and loves to dance. I graduated college in Dance and Psychology to be a dancer, choreographer and then later lead into being a Dance Therapist, which changed a bit when Alex was born. I found it hard to be a struggling performer and mother at the same time so I went into the white collar corporate industries for awhile to make ends meat then back to school for Entertainment Business to work in the field I really wanted to. Since the completion of my education, I’ve had many jobs working in the entertainment business including being an A&R for Hip-Hop Mix CD/DVDs, working at a record label in Marketing/Promotions, Casting, Booking Agent, etc. All these experiences helped in me being able to eventually manage my daughter’s own career.
Just a little background, when I was pregnant, every night before I went to bed, I placed headphones on my stomach and played Jazz & R&B music for Alex. When she was born, she loved music and as Alex got older she began showing more of her exuberant energy and talents stemming from birth. I was constantly being pushed by others to put her on TV, film, etc.  Finally at the age of 5, she and I paired up with a Talent Manager in NY. We started sending her out on auditions and she basically took off running with it. We’ve both been very fortunate in her steady bookings for the last 7 1/2 years.

Cincy Chic: Who helped you find the star quality in you that helped you discover it in Alex?
de Castro:
I would have to say my father. He was always very supportive of my singing and dancing growing up. He introduced me to song and dance. Every weekend we used to go to “Crazy Eddies”(a music store in the Bronx) and we would choose two to three records to go home with to sing and dance to. He also introduced me to Bob Marley at a young age whose music I truly love. As far as discovering it in Alex, my father was the one who gave me the Talent Manager’s phone number and told me to set up a meeting. The rest is history from there.
The Myth of Self-Esteem is a critically acclaimed DVD program for parents that highlights issues of self-esteem and over praising. It highlights that over praising a child creates overwhelming pressure to be the smartest, best, most wonderful kid ever and can even set them up for failure.
Cincy Chic: How do you view praise of a child that has been extraordinarily successful without creating unhealthy illusions?
de Castro:
Keep it real. I’m her mom and she is my child. There are no celebrity/star treatments from me. She doesn’t get over on me because of what she does. Although she knows that she is very privileged due to her fortunate successes, she also knows that the entertainment business is a very competitive and can also not be a steady one. Given this knowledge, she has much gratitude which keeps her grounded and well-balanced.


Cincy Chic: What advice do you have for mothers who feel weak support from their community or family?
de Castro:
Support is out there. Go online and find support in your community. Say hello to strangers and smile. Network and meet new people. There are good people everywhere.
Today, the cost of low self-esteem is painfully obvious. Young girls are at greater risk of depression and eating disorders than boys of the same age and are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
Cincy Chic: Besides allowing Alex to have Cincinnati’s finest Graeter’s ice cream, how do you help Alex with adolescent self-esteem issues?
de Castro:
Alex is a child. I encourage fitness and healthy meals as any good mother would. We communicate everyday and I feel that a breakdown in communication is where these issues start. Talk to your child!
So many mothers criticize the media for focusing on sex and glamour and then dress like their daughters and go on and off crash diets.
Cincy Chic: What are you doing to be a successful role model and do you think there is a difference between being a mother and being a friend?
de Castro:
I have my girlfriends and Alex has hers. I’m her mother not her best friend. We don’t dress alike and while she can talk to me about anything, she has respect for who I am as her mother.

Cincy Chic: Where did you shop while you were in Cincinnati? Did you find any great spas or salons?
de Castro: The Mustard Seed Boutique in Clifton
was a treasure. Kathleen from DV8 Salon and Spa kept my color and cut fresh while Phyllis at the Madison pampered us with hairstyles and makeup! I have so many people to thank and Hyde Park Floral and Garden was my save-all. Lakesha from Posh Boutique and Dan from Park + Vine were great, as well.


Photos: Leah Saunders, Kimberlite Photography