BRIGHT IDEA: "No matter what we do in Jamaica, if it's not values-based, it won't last."
On a serene Wednesday evening at St. Andrew's Eden Gardens, Beverley Manley Duncan is telling me, quite engagingly, about the myriad 'reincarnations' that have come to define her life. "I recently read a book by Jane Fonda, who is in her 70s, and what she's really saying is that she's in her third chapter. I am 71, and I am in that chapter," she reveals. "And what is wonderful about this chapter is that I have all the experience I have gained, the journey I have gone through. But I can take the decision to wipe that slate clean of everything that has happened, good and bad, and just reinvent my life and create anything I want to create. That's where I am."
Doubtless the wise woman will bring all that rich insight and more from her personal journey to Breaking Through with Beverley, the new transformation-centred talk show she's hosting each Sunday evening on CVM, starting June 16. "The programme is really about people who have been able to reinvent their lives, whether they're into transformation or not," she explains, "and then to say to viewers, this is entirely possible for you, that in spite of your circumstances you can decide to invent a life that works for you."
Sponsors like Jamaica National didn't hesitate to come on board, recognizing the show's mix of timeliness, inspiration and wholesomeness. Still, Breaking Through's best asset is Bev herself, a woman who has seen it all and done the rest, impacting lives in her own way long, long before the show was even a figment of the imagination.
"[She] has been so instrumental in my life, catapulting me into action," testifies Della Manley. "My first song that I wrote, which is "Ashes on the Windowsill," it was Beverley and my father-in-law at the time, Michael Manley, who got Fab 5 to play the song and record it and shop it around. So every musical junction, she has been there pushing me and encouraging me to write, or in dealing with other problems that I had."
Though Breaking Through takes cues from such international network hits as Iyanla Vanzant's Fix My Life, Manley Duncan is clearly interested in creating a product that's uniquely Jamaican. Perhaps its most persuasive selling point is the marked emphasis on helping to shape Jamaica into a better place to live and work. "No matter what we do in Jamaica, if it's not values-based, it won't last," she observes. "If [we] live true to your core values, it's gonna uplift all [our] relationships at the household level, at the community level, and at the country level, so even things like corruption would fall apart."
It is hardly surprising that a book is in the works. "As you know, I have my memoirs, [but] the book I'm writing now talks much more about all of this," she tells me. "It might be titled Breaking Through, but I'm not sure yet."