Dee Freeman, writer/performer of Poison Gun, on the incident that changed her life

I asked Dee what inspired her piece.

“At four years old, I had an idyllic life with five brothers and two sisters on a 100-acre farm in Louisiana. One and a half miles down the road was my best friend, my grandfather Archie, and his wife. My life was centered around our two farms. 

“Now, my grandfather was a Moonshiner who hid his money on his farm. He’d noticed I was great at math. Archie was legally blind and at the age of four, I became my grandfather’s eyes. He didn’t trust banks or most people; he trusted a 4-year-old child. He prepared me to become his banker. 

“The show deals with the incident that blew my whole world apart.”

Almost as an aside, Dee said, “I didn’t want to tell this story. 

“I saw that the actor/director Juliette Jeffers was offering a solo workshop. I thought, ‘Oh, I’ve got two kids who are biracial and my husband is white, so I’ll go in and do a piece about the fact that they ain’t got no rhythm.” I laughed. 

“Juliette said, ‘That’s great but no, I want you to talk about Louisiana.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to f**ing talk about Louisiana!’ 

“Juliette asked, ‘How many more years are going to go by?’ and kept niggling at me. And niggling.

“‘Okay, I will,’ I told her, ‘But I’m doing this just to stop you.’ 

“Honest to goodness, it’s the best thing that could have ever happened to me. All the fears weren’t realized – it’s actually been cathartic. 

“No one in our family talks about it. We threw it in the closet, locked the door, and left it there. All these years later, I’m grateful to Juliette for pushing me to talk about it because it has been such a relief.”

I asked if any of her siblings had seen her show.

“My youngest sister did. She’s the only one. I don’t think the rest of them are ready.”

I asked Dee what it means to her to be a woman.

“I am a black woman from the South and we have certainly walked down a graveled road. But finally today we’re beginning to see the fruits of the seeds that were buried years ago rise from the earth. 

“I can’t tell you how proud I was of the fact that women finally said with the #MeToo movement, ‘You know what, this was done to me,’ and people listened. We have women who’ve been dealing with this for decades. It’s so surprising to me when people say, ‘We weren’t aware.’ Of course, you were. Finally, those voices are being heard. 

“I look at some of the women today who are at the forefront like Ava DuVernay, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer, and I thank God. 40 or 50 years ago, one or two of us were represented. 

“I would like to see more of us behind the camera. I did television shows and had white writers telling me how to act black!”


“Yes. And I asked them, ‘Do you know what you’re actually asking of me is a caricature? That is not true of who we are.’ The more African American people are working behind the scenes, the more realistic our lives will be on television.

“I am appreciative of the direction we appear to be heading yet some things still happen that set us backward.”

I asked Dee what might surprise people about her life.

“I’d just gotten out of high school and a TV commercial came on about the Marines. I said to my friends, ‘I wonder if they’re looking for a few good women?’

“My friends said, ‘Not you! These are tough people who run all the time. Girl, only running you do is to the mall and back.’

“Three goddamn months later, I entered the Marine Corps., like, ‘Guess, what? Let me show your ass!’”

As if confiding, she added, “I remember the first night of boot camp. There were 68 of us crying ourselves to sleep. I was right in there along with them. ‘What the hell have I done and how can I get out of here?’

“All I knew was that my friends had dared me and at the age of 17, like an idiot, I couldn’t stand a dare!” 

I told Dee she has great stories.

She said, “If you have any other questions, give me a call, girl, no worries.”

To read more about Dee click here.