‘Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum’ – Joyner Kersee honored by role


Joyner Kersee on empowering young people

Jackie Joyner-Kersee of ‘Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum,’ premiering Monday on PBS.

Q: Since this is a kids’ show, did you feel like Superwoman or Wonder Woman when you were a kid? And how has your view of yourself changed over the years, your view of the ideal?

A: Well, I have always felt I was invincible, but the reality of it was that I wasn’t. But the sense of courage and strength, always believing the impossible is probable and being able to give that to a young person, growing up in the streets of East St. Louis and traveling to Los Angeles to go to school at UCLA with a mind set of, “I can do this,” and that’s what we wanted to do for young people, is to empower them to believe that they can do it, because most of the time all they hear is that they can’t. “Oh, no. This is not for you” or “You don’t fit into this particular role.” So that nonsense has got to stop, and we’re able to do that.

Q: How does it feel to be sort of immortalized in a book or a TV show in this way?

A: Yeah. First of all, it’s an honor and I just think that it’s really cool, because it allows me to meet kids where they are. And working with kids on a daily basis and being able to share with them in their space to me is no better connection as I continue to try to motivate and inspire them to be the best that they can be. And I don’t want to just say “I.” I’m thinking in terms of “we,” because there’s a team of us. And so to be in this position and to know that they’ll be learning something from me besides seeing me in their social studies book and thinking that I’m not alive, that I am, you know. So what a better connection.

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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