Imagine growing up believing that the man who you called ‘Daddy’ was actually not your father. This was the reality for Vincent Ellis White, author of Finding Chris my father; a memoir detailing Vincent’s heartfelt journey to find his biological father.
Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Vincent grew up with a father that was consistently in and out of jail. While growing up he faced issues that many young African-Americans endure because an adequate father figure is not present, such as getting into mischief at school and battling with identity issues. At the age of sixteen his mother informed him that the man he knew to be his father was not and that his real father was a gentlemen named Chris Anderson.
Throughout high school and college Vincent masked his pain and anger towards Anderson, but could not seem to rid the name from his mind. After learning that Anderson was not aware that he had a son, Vincent realized that he could not fault someone who was just as blinded as him. The journey to find Anderson began and at the age of 27 Vincent reunited with his father. “I was 27 on the outside, but on the inside I had to be six years old. When I saw him my hands were shaking and I was rocking,” said Vincent.
Writing the book initially served as an outlet for Vincent to express his feelings, but it soon evolved into an inspirational movement. People within the community began to seek him out to speak at various events and from there Vincent soon discovered that his life story was destined to serve a higher purpose. “Grown men and women and young adults would cry and give their testimonies, that’s when I realized that this was bigger than me and that my book was being used as a vessel by God to be able to assist other people…” said Vincent. His story was so monumental that it sparked the interest of stage play producer, Lamont Ferguson and acting coach, Marlon Hargrave.
Vincent could not fathom the idea of his story being transformed into a performing art piece, but a year later the play had its debut on September 5, 2013 in Portsmouth, Virginia. After the first performance Vincent wanted to present the play to the city where it all originated, but due to the lack of funds the transition was a little more challenging than anticipated. Through partnerships with schools and organizations such as Virginia State University, Richmond Family and Fatherhood Initiative and Henrico’s Heroes, Vincent was able to successfully bring the play to the city of Richmond and has had several performances since.
Vincent plans to further expand the play outside of the Virginia area. “Fatherlessness is something that is an epidemic across the United States and even beyond. My mission is to take it to places like New York, Florida, DC and California.” His passion lies heavily with assisting youth who are dealing with similar situations that he can attest to, thus the creation of VEW Enterprises. With the business White has brought together all the aspects of his mission, the book and the stage play underneath one umbrella. VEW represents his initials, but also symbolizes voice, empowerment, and wisdom. Vincent wants young people to acknowledge and understand that they possess a voice that is powerful and teach them how to effectively articulate it so that they are not only heard, but also understood.
The second part of the acronym was chosen because Vincent believes in empowering youth to use their voice opposed to keeping feelings bottled up inside. “I think that would avoid a lot of suicides and a lot depression and a lot of acting out if people actually expressed what they are dealing with.” Lastly wisdom ties all the components of his vision together. Vincent wants to help youth gain additional knowledge and wisdom in whatever subject or topic they feel passionate about and once that wisdom is discovered they will be empowered to use their voice.
To find out more ways on how you can get involved or continue to add to the growth of VEW Enterprises Vincent Ellis White can be contacted via email at VEWRVA@gmail.com. Also visit www.lifelovereligion.com for information regarding play dates and more.
Interview by: M-Lifestyle’s Pascaline Ezouah
Images: Courtesy of Vincent Ellis
(M-Lifestyle does not claim ownership of any images used, unless otherwise specified.)