Charenée Wade performs at the Harlem Stage annual spring gala May 21, 2018, in Harlem.
Photo: Marc Millman (Harlem Stage)
AntisocialThe society column for people afraid of society, written by The Root's Editor-in-Chief and resident Bipolar Disorder expert/sufferer.  

It really doesn’t take much with me.

For most of my adult life, I’ve battled with my size. And it doesn’t help that the medication that keeps me on an even keel also makes me gain weight. So when I started taking antidepressants to bring my mood up a bit, I found a great, positive side effect beyond just feeling more energized and alert: I lost weight. Ten whole pounds, in about three weeks.

Anytime I lose any weight—be it 10 pounds or 30 pounds or 50 pounds or whatever—I have pretty much the same reaction.

“OMG! I’m beautiful!”

I’m secretly an egomaniac.

Me at Harlem Stage’s #Disrupters Gala on May 21, 2018
Photo: Danielle Belton (The Root)

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Welcome to Antisocial, the column for people with social anxiety disorders, and I love me. I love a good picture of myself. Or a mirror. Or a well-done rendered drawing. Or anything that is about me. Me. Me. Me. I’m having a love affair ... with myself. I treat myself pretty well. Which is why I took myself (and our weekend social media editor, Corey Townsend) to Harlem Stage’s annual spring gala on Monday, May 21, at its gatehouse on Convent Avenue in Harlem.

This year’s gala celebrated the works of actresses Tamara Tunie (who also serves as board president at Harlem Stage) and fellow Law & Order alum S. Epatha Merkerson, as well as piano prodigy (and one of The Root’s Young Futurists) Matthew Whitaker, and featured performances led by Grammy Award-winning drummer, composer and bandleader Terri Lyne Carrington. Also on hand were film and stage actor Manu Narayan, actor Vondie Curtis-Hall, singer-songwriter Somi, and R&B, jazz and soul singer Charenée Wade.

The gala’s theme was disruption, where various hashtags from #LoveIsLove to #BlackLivesMatter were featured on the centerpieces, and the gala “paid tribute to artists as activists, creators and catalysts” while celebrating Harlem Stage’s 35-year history.

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Photo: Danielle Belton (The Root)

“Our #Disrupters Gala enables Harlem Stage and our artists to join together with our audiences, community and supporters in the contemporary struggle to realize a just, equitable and truly democratic society,” said Patricia Cruz, executive director of Harlem Stage.

The event raised more than $385,000 for the theater program, which supports “visionary artists of color and the thousands of New York City schoolchildren Harlem Stage serves each year through the Frances Davis/Harlem Stage Arts Education Program,” according to a release by Harlem Stage.

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While the performances were outstanding and we met several very cool people, probably the highlight for both Corey and me was meeting Hermione herself, actress Noma Dumezweni from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, currently running on Broadway.

Deirdre May and Noma Dumezweni
Photo: Marc Millman (Harlem Stage)

Dumezweni, who was only able to attend the opening reception, is an incredibly sweet, shy and yet super-busy woman with her work in the two-part stage play, based on a new, original Harry Potter story by author J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany.

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We chatted and bonded over getting used to life in New York City—for her, coming from England, and for myself, just coming from St. Louis. Long story short, New York, you’re kind of stress-inducing, but we still love you!

The overall stress-inducing nature of New York City is why I struggle with taking the subway, why I avoid crowds and Times Square, and why I get vertigo just from looking up at the buildings. But a springtime gala in Harlem is about my speed. If I can’t handle a mixed drink and some sparkling conversation, I can’t handle anything.

Besides, I had to show off those 10 pounds I lost. Priorities.