NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ--Author Takerra Allen, raised in New Brunswick, has written ten books, including the 2010 African American Literary Award nominated hit novel, "Heaven's Hell."
The daughter of former Black Panther William Garland and half-sister to the renowned rapper Tupac Shakur, Takerra has been featured in several publications and has a huge fan-following.
Takerra is proud to acknowledge that her New Brunswick roots helped lay the foundation for her career as an urban fiction writer.
In particular, Takerra appreciates her past experiences as a student in the New Brunswick Public School system.
“I was in the TAG program (Talented & Gifted) and had the opportunity to learn different languages and even travel to France. I’ve been in Health Scholars and gained some medical knowledge. We’d take trips to the theater, I was able to be in plays and take acting classes.”
“The opportunities the school system offered helped me to realize my love for the craft of writing and the arts.”
Takerra hopes for further opportunities and success for the children of New Brunswick through programs offered by the city.
“I think anything that lets young people explore their passions – music, writing, drama programs that are modern and innovative. Programs that offer financial advice for the youth, not just math but how to manage money, how to get and keep good credit! Anything that prepares them for the real world. Counseling sessions, group talks, guest speakers they can relate to, more one on ones with people that they see as role models, people like them.”
Allen would encourage the young people of the city to find their passions as she has.
“I wish that there be no wasted talent. That every child would have the opportunity, encouragement, and confidence to follow their dreams and achieve what they were put on this earth to do. If that happened, we would truly see all that New Brunswick has to offer.”
The complexities of the city and its residents has served as an inspiration in Ms. Allen's work.
“There are so many different areas to the city and just spending a day exploring it, you can witness so many different people and cultures.”
“I mention various locations constantly in my writing, from the hospitals, to Rutgers, to even some restaurants. I am forever influenced by the city.”
"Heaven’s Hell" has been made into a movie, and some of the scenes were shot in New Brunswick.
An actor from the main cast and two supporting cast members are from New Brunswick as well.
Takerra and her business partner Sandra Mobley, also a New Brunswick native, are committed to giving back to the city that has given Takerra so much artistic influence.
“Sandra and I have done many givebacks for New Brunswick .We’ve prepared and donated food to the men’s shelter, we’ve done a food drive with the New Brunswick Post Office, we’ve had school supply drives, and I’ve done a book talk at the New Brunswick Public Library to speak to any youth interested in writing. We are now in talks of our next giveback projects.”
Hoping to be an inspiration to the children of her hometown, Takerra offered some poignant words of advice.
“Take advantage of the opportunities presented to you. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future. Try everything and find your passion. Follow your dreams and never ever give up. I’ve been told I couldn’t do everything I’ve done and still am being told I can’t do everything I plan to.”
Up next for Allen?
Takerra recently revealed that the release and premier information for the Heaven’s Hell film will be announced in the very near future.
Takerra Allen’s success offers a lesson for New Brunswick residents and anyone with a dream: With hard work and vision, you can use your environment as a platform for your success.