Lead Story West Edition

Avid reader Kim Coles to serve as book fair ambassador

LEIMERT PARK — As the daughter of educators, Kim Coles was able to read before she began grade school. At a young age, she learned the importance of books and reading and that type of nurturing by her family helped foster her belief in the importance of education.

At the 11th annual Leimert Park Village Book Fair, the actress, comedian, author and speaker will serve as the fair’s ambassador. The mission of the book fair is to promote, encourage and advocate literacy, education and the love of reading throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

Book fair ambassador is a ceremonial title bestowed on celebrities or community leaders. The ambassador functions as a spokesperson for the book fair, much like the grand marshal of a parade.

Coles is best known for being a cast member of the sketch-comedy series “In Living Color” and as Synclair James on the 1990s sitcom “Living Single.”

She is familiar with the Leimert Park Village Book Fair and was excited to learn that her first time attending would be as book fair ambassador.

“I’ve always said I would go,” Coles said. “I’ve heard over the years what a classy and beautiful event it is.”

Coles’ latest book, “Open Your G.I.F.T.S.: 22 Lessons on Finding and Embracing Your Personal Power,” will be on sale at the book fair. The book is an anthology of 22 women sharing their unique journeys and life lessons.

“I would hope that people gain that there is truth and beauty and redemption in all of your lessons,” Coles said.

She hopes readers see that those aspects make up the mosaic of who they are and that is a beautiful part of life and should be embraced.

“When we look at the yummy and yucky experiences, there is a gift and what you do with the gift is what makes a difference in your life,” Coles said. “The gifts are the lessons.”

Coles said she is “looking forward to seeing all of the beautiful black and brown faces in a spirit of learning, education and a thirst for knowledge” at the book fair.

When asked why promoting literacy and education was important to the black community, Coles shared how they both equate to freedom and should be embraced due to the history of African Americans.

“We should embrace it and drink up all of the knowledge that we can possibly take on if for no other reason than it was denied from so many of us for so long,” Coles said.

Coles will not be the only celebrity gracing the main stage at this year’s fair. Actor, director and cowboy Glynn Turman will be on hand to receive the Leimert Park Village Book Fair Legacy Award.

Turman is known for his role as Col. Bradford Taylor in the sitcom, “A Different World” and Clarence Royce in the drama series, “The Wire.”

Being the recipient of the award is an honor for Turman.

“I’m absolutely honored in large part because I’m glad to be a part of a community that offers such a positive message about education to the community and youth in particular, and that they would choose me to be a recipient of the award,” Turman said.

Turman has attended the Leimert Park Village Book Fair in the past and says what he enjoys most about it is that “it creates an atmosphere that makes it clear to the community that reading books and getting an education is a cool thing and a good thing to do.”

Turman, who credits a camp that he attended as a youth for saving him from going down a path of juvenile delinquency, created his own western-style camp program, “Camp Gid D Up” with his wife in 1992.

The mission of the camp is to provide an opportunity for inner-city and at-risk disenfranchised youth to attend a free western-style summer camp.

The theme of this year’s book fair is “The Great Outdoors,” and Turman, who has been a cowboy for many years, is an advocate for urban dwellers to get outdoors. Those attending the fair can expect to see cowboys, cowgirls and horses walking throughout the venue.

When asked why the promotion of education and literacy is important in the black community, Turman said:

“Despite changing laws, rollbacks and acts of government, education cannot be taken away. You can be homeless and still have an education that cannot be taken away.

“If you have your education, you always have a place to start from,” he added.

Both Coles and Turman are excited and honored to participate in the 11th edition of the Leimert Park Village Book Fair. The fair is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Aug. 19 in the promenade of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit www.leimertparkbookfair.com.