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HomeNewsLocal newsFormer TV Sitcom Star Seeks Role in Youth Empowerment

Former TV Sitcom Star Seeks Role in Youth Empowerment

De Gruy says he’s traveled across the U.S. promoting youth self-awareness through the performing arts. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

A cast member from a 1970s TV comedy show is in the Virgin Islands on a mission to help local youth. Now retired, actor Oscar De Gruy spoke to the Source about his ongoing efforts to help young people build character, develop self-discipline, and find out what it takes to bring out the best in themselves.

De Gruy’s visit to the territory is part of his artist-in-residence affiliation with the Baha’i faith community, says Rod Clarken. Clarken is a professor emeritus from Northern Michigan University. De Gruy says he has been promoting self-expression through the performing arts as a way to encourage self-awareness.

Since he arrived in the territory on Sept. 25, the actor says he’s dropped in on the Boys and Girls Clubs on St. Thomas and St. John, paid a visit to the St. John School of the Arts and met the principal of one public school. Through these and other visits, De Gruy said he hopes to create the latest iteration of a 10-week performing arts production.

Its working title is the Insight Empowerment Program.

“I’m trying to work with a number of organizations and schools with this program I developed early in my acting career,” he said. A similar effort is planned to start on St. Croix within the next few weeks.

He also mentioned a parallel outreach effort intended to build a program that can continue after his stay in the V.I. is over. That effort seeks young adults and college students willing to learn the components of the empowerment program and use them to guide future performance productions.

“If we can train young people in the community who are going to be here, it’s going to grow,” he said.

De Gruy appeared as the comedic character Mad Dog in the 1970s sitcom Good Times and made appearances in other TV shows of the era, including Room 222, the Streets of San Francisco, and Hill Street Blues.

Clarkson, his host in the Virgin Islands, said the value of passing along skills De Gruy learned through his acting career can help young people deal with situations they may face in their everyday lives. “Youth is the treasure and the hope for the future,” Clarkson said. “We are very interested in helping the world become a better place,” he said.

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