Story Of Black Trans Icon ‘Mama Gloria’ Opens New Season Of ‘AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange’

The new season of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange premieres this spring with filmmaker Luchina Fisher’s Mama Gloria.

Airing Monday, April 5, at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT), on WORLD Channel and worldchannel.org, the film presents an intimate portrait of Gloria Allen, a pioneering Black trans icon in Chicago who is still making waves in her golden years.



Presented and executive produced by Black Public Media and WORLD Channel, AfroPoP offers public media viewers a window into contemporary stories from across the modern African Diaspora. The series is co-presented by American Public Television (APT).

Fisher’s feature film debut, Mama Gloria, introduces the world to septuagenarian Gloria Allen, known throughout Chicago as Mama Gloria.

Vivacious, stylish, warm, and humorous, Allen takes audiences along as she makes her way through her daily life while also reminiscing about her trailblazing history as a transgender woman, activist and nurturer of trans youth.

Born George in 1940s Chicago to a Jet centerfold model mother and a seamstress grandmother who made costumes for cross-dressing performers in the midwestern city, Allen’s family recognized and supported her true self when she was a child.

Just as their love and acceptance helped Gloria find her way in the world, she aims to be a source of warmth and community for others. The charm school she started in 2011 served trans and other LGBTQ+ youth in need of guidance.

Fisher’s film, inspired by her daughter who identifies as transgender, is a beautiful tribute to Allen and presents audiences with an important look at life and issues within the Black LGBTQ+ community.

“We are truly delighted to be able to bring Mama Gloria to viewers nationwide as part of season 13 of AfroPoP,” said Leslie Fields-Cruz, AfroPoP executive producer. “At a time when the power and accomplishments of Black women are being acknowledged like never before, Luchina Fisher’s film helps shine a spotlight on a true pioneer who deserves to be recognized and celebrated by all.”

New episodes of AfroPoP will air and stream on WORLD Channel and worldchannel.org each week from April 5 through May 3.

Following Mama Gloria, subsequent episodes in this season include Finding Sally — director Tamara Dawit’s documentary on her aunt’s involvement with the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party and subsequent mysterious disappearance (April 12) — and filmmaker Yaba Blay’s Professional Black Girl, which spotlights New Orleans women including Tarriona “Tank” Ball of the hit musical group Tank and the Bangas (April 19).

AfroPoP season 13 also includes a shorts collection airing on April 26, featuring Christine Turner’s Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business, which profiles the Los Angeles-based nonagenarian visual artist; Elena, Michèle Stephenson’s insightful portrayal of a young woman of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic working to combat anti-Haitian sentiment and immigration policy; and Man of the People, an experimental documentary from Amir George looking at the political life and mysterious death of Chicago’s first Black mayor, Harold Washington.

The season closes on May 3 with Bakosó: Afrobeats of Cuba, as filmmaker Eli Jacobs-Fantuzzi journeys to Santiago de Cuba with music producer DJ Jigüe to explore the city’s historical connections to Africa, modern ties to the continent’s afrobeats scene, and the burgeoning musical genre known as bakosó.

APT will release AfroPoP season 13 to public television stations nationwide on Saturday, May 1, following the premiere on WORLD Channel.

For more on the new season of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, visit blackpublicmedia.org or worldchannel.org. For viewing information, check local listings or visit APTonline.org.

Black Public Media (BPM) is committed to enriching our democracy by educating, enlightening, empowering and engaging the American public about the Black experience.

Founded in 1979, the nonprofit pursues its mission by developing, producing, and distributing innovative Black media content through public media outlets and by investing in visionary Black content makers. For more information, visit blackpublicmedia.org.

WORLD shares the best of public media in news, documentaries, and programming. WORLD’s original series examine the issues and amplify the voices of those often ignored by mainstream media.

The multicast 24/7 channel helps audiences understand conflicts, movements, and cultures from around the globe.

Its original work has won a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award, a National News and Documentary Emmy Award and many others honoring diversity of content and makers.

WORLD is carried by 176 member stations in markets representing over 70% of US TV households. Funding for WORLD Channel is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Wyncote Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and Artworks.

WORLD is produced by GBH in partnership with WNET and is distributed by American Public Television (APT). Find out more at WORLDChannel.org.

American Public Television (APT) is the leading syndicator of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations.

Founded in 1961, APT distributes 250 new program titles per year and more than one-third of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles in the U.S. APT’s diverse catalog includes prominent documentaries, performance, dramas, how-to programs, classic movies, children’s series and news and current affairs programs.

Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated, AfroPoP, Rick Steves’ Europe, Pacific Heartbeat, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Television, Legacy List with Matt Paxton, Lidia’s Kitchen, Kevin Belton’s New Orleans Kitchen, Simply Ming, The Best of the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, Live From the Artists Den, James Patterson’s Kid Stew and NHK Newsline are a sampling of APT’s programs, considered some of the most popular on public television.

APT also licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service and distributes Create®TV — featuring the best of public television’s lifestyle programming — and WORLD™, public television’s premier news, science, and documentary channel. To find out more about APT’s programs and services, visit APTonline.org.

The following hyperlinks were at the end of the press release but removed in the piece– blackpublicmedia.org (https://blackpublicmedia.org/ /) or worldchannel.org (https://worldchannel.org) and APTonline.org (https://aptonline.org/).

Photo credit: Luchina Fisher

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