Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Thank You Sterling K. Brown!
Final Thoughts About
'The People v. O.J. Simpson

Source: FX Network
So many of you have told me how you appreciate reading my take on “The People v. O.J. Simpson” miniseries. There might not have been any blog posts if it weren’t for actor Sterling K. Brown. I read some interviews where he gave his take on my father and I thought to myself, “This dude gets it.” Brown celebrated the acquittal of Simpson back in the day, but researched my father and recognized that he was treated unfairly. I’m grateful that he was able to put his views aside, open his mind, delve into my father’s past and bring his performance artistry to this role.

Sterling K. Brown played my father with dignity and heart. He nailed his voice and got his movements down. His performance triggered bad and good memories, but also influenced me to reevaluate some of the past. I appreciate that during the promotion of the show, he spoke about my father’s challenges during the trial and encouraged people to take a different look at Chris Darden. And I’m also thankful that he mentioned my website and work in his interviews. Brown’s mentioning of me led to other media outlets contacting me for me interviews. I was able to tell my story to more people.

Brown and I tweeted during the miniseries’ run. I referred to him as my “TV Dad.” He is the best TV Dad a girl could ever had.  I’m so happy he was cast for this role and has gotten even more exposure. I hope this role opens even more doors for him in his career.  And I hope we get to meet one day. If he and Sarah Paulson both win awards for their roles, there will be no words to describe how hyped I would be. No words. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  

How I Really Feel About the Show

Simply put, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” is downright, a prime example of good television drama.
Actor Sterling K. Brown
Source FX Network
When I say good drama, I mean on the level of a “Dynasty” or “Dallas.” The casting was excellent. It’s the best casting I’ve seen in a long time and I hope other casting directors take note when doing films or shows on real life events.  The makeup work was phenomenal. The actors looked so close to the real key players, which made the series even more believable. And the writing was strong. It was an incredible production.

The show’s creators were right in shining light on the sexism Marcia Clark experienced. Race was a major issue, yet the public ignored sexism. I’m glad people are waking up to this. As for Sarah Paulson, she did the damn thing as Marcia Clark. She and Sterling K. Brown had amazing chemistry. Again, that goes back to good casting.

The actors did not come to the set to play. They brought their A-game. I want to hug the person who had the sense to bring Nathan Lane on board. Courtney B. Vance was amazing. The public got to see more of his acting range because he’s often cast as a regular attorney.  I hope this role opens the door for him to play a variety of characters.

There were some downsides. Some of the Kardashian kids’ scenes early on were cheesy and overboard. Not everything depicted was true or accurate. I strongly encourage people to read other books and bios from the trial. Johnnie Cochran, Marcia Clark, my dad of course, and others wrote books. Read them to get their sides of the story. Also, my father says parts of the show were taken from his memoir, yet he received no compensation. That’s not okay and I can understand his frustrations.

Source FX

 Like the real case, the series’ drama still overshadows the deaths of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. You get lost in all of the juicy stuff and forget this is a double- murder trial. Remember, two people died horrifically. 

One characteristic of my father that the show’s writers left out was his tougher side. My dad can be aggressive when needed. I don’t blame Sterling K. Brown. The creators of the show didn’t capture that side of my father. I also wished they showed how the media hounded my father and that he received threats. My dad and Marcia needed security because tensions were serious.

On the flip side, what I most love about this show is how they humanize the people involved in the trial. People didn’t realize that my dad, Marcia, Johnnie, Judge Ito, etc. had real lives. They were real people. Their lives weren’t just about heading to the courtroom and going home. They had other stuff going on personally. 

A major strength for this show is that it doesn’t set out to convince people if O.J. Simpson is innocent or guilty. The purpose of the show is to give audiences an idea of the craziness surrounding the trial and how the jury reached a not guilty verdict.

But the story doesn’t end with the verdict. Actually that’s just the beginning. The trial is over and now, for my father,  comes the challenge of going from a regular guy to a celebrity. How do you reconcile with a community that you loved, but saw you as a traitor? How do you have normalcy and not beat yourself up for mistakes made? How do you differentiate the people who really care about you as opposed to those who want to be around you because you're a household name? Then there’s people sending mean letters, being followed by the press and losing a brother to AIDS. This was not an easy time for my father and family. No matter how much time has passed and how much of the past we released, a piece of this trial stills sticks with us.

This trial left me with some trust issues. I had to hide who I was out of my own emotional protection. I encountered people, some envious, who thought my life was easy and glamorous because of the trial. The drama can be real. But I think the show and my articles have made people look at my experience differently. As I said when I first started blogging about the trial, I wish what we experienced on no one. 

I’ve come to accept that O.J. story will never end. Looking deeply inside and sharing my story has been a new beginning for me spiritually and mentally. I thank you for taking time out of your lives to read my perspective and follow me. I thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I thank you for respectfully engaging with me, even if you feel Simpson is not guilty. I've enjoyed engaging with so many of you. Please keep following my work and this blog. I'm going back to working on my Black Erotic Literature and Sexuality research. Again, this is only the beginning. 


  1. Thank you again for sharing your story with us!! I'll definitely keep following your blog!! Big hugs to your dad. I have so much respect for him. xxxooo

    1. Thank you again for all of your comments! I'll send those hugs to him next time I see him.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your point of view! I feel everything you said about the show-- I truly enjoyed it as the drama it was, however, I did appreciate the glimpse into the sides we didn't see. Your post is an extension of that, so once again, thank you for writing. Moreover, I'm glad I get an opportunity to read more from you!

    1. Thank you Terrica for taking the time to read my posts! I'm glad you enjoyed the show, but also took my insight into consideration as well.

  3. Thank you for being so open with us. I'll continue to come to your blog and see what your "real life" job is like!

    1. Thank you! This O.J. stuff has been my real life for a long time. LOL But I get what you're saying. I'll be posting links to other stories I'm working on, as well as my thoughts on race, gender, sexuality and mental health.

  4. I found your blog via a link from an article about the miniseries, but I plan to be a regular reader. I've enjoyed your take on the trial and your views in general. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for clicking that link and reading my posts. And thanks for following me!

  5. You have done a wonderful job shedding light on the personal side of this trial and I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You clearly have the courage of both your parents in spades.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. I appreciate you for reading my posts and taking to leave a comment. I learned a lot from my parents during the trial and after.

  6. Cocoa Fly is now saved in my favourites. Found you through an article about the miniseries and glad I did. I think you should tell your Dad that even those black folk who thought OJ was guilty back then wouldn't have gone against the opposite majority and supported your father verbally because it was just too dangerous. He had more private support than he knows.

    1. Great! And you're right that Black people who did support my father were quiet because they were also afraid of the backlash. I agree that he had more private support than he realized. People have contacted me and expressed that. Thank you!

  7. Hi Jenee!

    Really excellent to hear your perspective of the show. It's always fun to get a bit of a look behind the scenes as it were.

    Just wondering what your thoughts are about the ESPN series "OJ: Made in America", as it is more in the vein of documentary than drama, and gives a lot more of the background information of the time.

    I can remember this trial well. I remember the Rodney King verdicts in 1992, and the subsequent LA riots, as I was in my final year in High School before I went to University, and I thought I should pay more attention to things happening around the world. With the advent of a 24 hour news cycle, even though it hadn't yet take hold here in Australia. But with the OJ Trial I do remember a lot of it getting coverage on our local stations, especially through the repeats of such shows like Entertainment Tonight.

    With the way in which it was portrayed in the media, it took what was supposed to have been a very serious trial and turned it into farce. I feel that being able to watch the court proceedings and have it become more focused on the theatrical display really changed the way in which the trial was conducted. The stress your father must have been under would have been immense. And I have to say, in my naivete, I was also taken in. With the media focus on the sensationalism of it all, and the constant hammering of bad evidence collection, compromised witnesses (Fuhrman), and the theatrics of OJ trying on the gloves (which was later done correctly before the judge, but not the public), it was easy to be led to the conclusion that this might have been a conspiracy.

    I do also note that as soon as the trial was over, the sensationalisation did not stop, as various media outlets kept reporting on OJ and his actions. It was the second bite of the cherry you could say. First tragedy, then farce. And it seems that the desire for truth was too quickly disposed of in a search for ratings and viewers. I am just wondering how this has affected your work as a journalist? It's a hard line to walk, between objectivity and the need for people to be engaged enough to read and want to find out more about a subject, but also wanting to stay away from pure sensationalism as the main driver for articles.

    Thank you for taking your time to write these posts and let others know a little bit more of the behind the scenes goings on, it puts a different perspective on it!


    1. Hi Mike,
      Thank you for your comment. My apologies for getting back to you so late. I agree with much of what you said. I wanted to be a journalist since I was a kid. After the O.J. trial I lost interest because of how the media sensationalized so much of the trial. It made me look at the media differently. But my heart was in journalism so after college I began to work as a journalist. It's amazing because the trial changed news media and we saw the emergence of the 24 hour news cycle.
      As for the documentary I need to finish watching it, but just in the first half I've seen it is great. It does an excellent job in giving historical context to race and why that became such an issue. I encourage people to watch it and compare it to the TV show. Thank you so much for reading my posts!


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