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Commentator Makes Point With a Wink

Commentator Makes Point With a Wink

June 19, 2008
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Nancy Giles
Wednesday's
Keynote Speaker
1:45 p.m.

Keynote speaker Nancy Giles is used to working in front of audiences for television, film, radio and theater, and when she speaks, she dazzles with provocative, humor-infused social commentary.

    The Queens, New York, native and graduate of Oberlin College provides social commentaries on CBS Sunday Morning and has written and performed the one-woman shows Notes of a Negro Neurotic and Black Comedy: The Wacky Side of Racism.

    Her work takes on misconceptions about race, feminism and sexism—even the American rush to Botox and plastic surgery.

    "When I stop having visible signs of aging, that’ll mean I’m dead," she quipped in one commentary. Her goal is to entertain, but also to make her audiences think.

    Giles spent three years with Chicago’s Second City comedy improvisation troupe and appeared in the off-Broadway musical Mayor. On television she was announcer and co-host of Fox After Breakfast, appeared for three seasons as Frankie in the drama series China Beach, and was Connie the waitress in the sitcom Delta. She has made guest appearances on Spin City, Law & Order and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

    On the big screen she has been in True Crime, Angie, New York Stories, Big and Working Girl. Giles says that when she found black actresses were getting mostly roles for "crack addicts, social workers and boring judges," she tried her hand as a writer-performer.

    On radio she worked with Jay Thomas on The Jay Thomas Morning Show, on New York’s Jammin’ 105. She also co-hosted Giles and Moriarty with CBS News correspondent Erin Moriarty on WPHT in Philadelphia. She also does voiceovers on radio, TV commercials and cartoons.

    In January 2007, she did a CBS Sunday Morning commentary about why evil men get so many women—and that it should stop. "From Hitler’s gal pal Eva Braun to Charles Manson’s chick posse, to Uganda’s Idi Amin, who was survived by four wives and 45 children, the list of despicables with significant others goes on and on," she said. "Help me out here. Isn’t committing genocide a turnoff? Wouldn’t murdering innocent people make a girl a little wary?"

    She then addresses women: "Is power that much of an aphrodisiac to some of us? Or do these women see their men as ‘misunderstood?’ I mean, here we are, worrying about extra pounds and whiter teeth, leading respectable, non-murderous lives, and programmed to think there’s a shortage of a ‘available men’ out there. Game over. Women of the world, I beseech you: don’t settle. Let the despots go dateless. We can do better than that."

    In a more serious commentary, also from January of last year, she cites O.J. Simpson’s post-trial life, which includes a quashed book deal that nevertheless "lets him keep the money and the $33 million he still owed to the Goldman and Brown families for the wrongful deaths of their loved ones."

    "And why exactly are we shocked? Look at our society and culture, 12 years later: news as entertainment, pundits posing as journalists, a ‘reality’ free-fall. Look at how law enforcement treats the privileged class. A mug shot, maybe, but no waiting in line. YouTube has a ‘girl fight’ category that gets thousands of visitors. Nancy Grace and her scary lashes dole out her brand of ‘justice’ five nights a week. Trials make stars. The ‘N’ word still stings. And O.J. Simpson, a celebrity double-murderer, takes his blood money, plays golf and walks free."

    Or, at least until that sports memorabilia incident. Buckle your seat belts: Nancy Giles is at the podium.

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