Kansas City author and illustrator, Shane Evans, will be at two events this weekend showcasing his new children's book and film, Chocolate Me!.
Chocolate Me! is a collaboration with actor and model, Taye Diggs, known for his roles in the original Broadway production of Rent and the movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Although Diggs often plays the hunk on the silver screen, as a kid he was teased for his looks.
Evans and Diggs are childhood friends, and at Evans' urging, Diggs took to the page with his childhood experiences, resulting in the book. Chocolate Me! is in the process of being spun off into an animated series, and has been adapted into a documentary, which will show this weekend in Kansas City. They're hoping to eventually turn it into a musical.
Chocolate Me! is the story of a boy with dark skin and curly hair who overcomes feeling different. Evans says that although the story touches on skin color is not a racial book.
“If I was like, what flavor of chocolate are you? We’re not talking about race," says Evans. "We can take it out of that realm of speaking on race by going around it in a different way.”
Evans says Chocolate Me! speaks to a universal theme of wanting to fit in and encourages all people, especially kids, to love themselves. He and Diggs hope the book will serve both adults and children as a tool to explore differences and self-acceptance.
So far the book has been promoted by national talk show host, Ellen Degeneres, and Essence Magazine. Evans and Diggs hope to reach even more audiences with a Chocolate Me! animated series.
“We want to try and mimic the shows we saw as children,” says Evans. “Like the Electric Company and Sesame Street.”
Shane Evans will be singing, talking about the book and screening the documentary, Chocolate Me! The Experience on Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Kansas City Plaza Library at 2 p.m. and on Sunday, Dec. 8 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, at 2 p.m.