'Snowfall' Alum Angela Lewis is on a Mission to Fix the Black Maternal Health Crisis

The actress talks to BET about how she's leveraging her platform to ensure other Black women have the support they need during childbirth.

Fans of Snowfall, the FX crime drama from John Singleton that concluded in 2023, remember how in the final episodes, Louie––the gangsta auntie of the show’s antihero Franklin Saint (Damson Idris), played by Angela Lewis–– walked through hell as a result of her and Franklin’s choices. And surely nobody could forget that gruesome scene in Episode 6 of the final season when Louie was bound and tortured as Franklin watched. What fans, and Lewis didn’t know then was that she was pregnant then. 

“Prior to stepping on set,” she tells BET, “I would always do a meditation, just kind of filling my body with white light as protection so no negative energy would stick, and then after that I would ask Louie to come. That time, I was running late, and was like, ‘Let me just get dressed, and ask Louie to come.’ But she would not come. She said to me, ‘You have to protect yourself.’ So I stopped and did the white light part, and then she came in. I found out a couple days later I was pregnant. Whatever part of me that is all-knowing knew that I needed to protect myself.” 

Since the show concluded, Lewis has been keeping busy with other acting projects; she has three short films she says are ready to tour the festival circuit, and she starred in a play, Black Cypress Bayou, alongside Brandee Evans of P-Valley at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. But her most ambitious and important project is her mission to protect other Black women who are about to give birth, the same way she was protected by an unseen hand that day on the set of Snowfall. As co-founder of the Moon Child Collaborative, she’s heavily invested in the Birth Village project. It aims to help Black women get all the support, resources, and love they need for a safe, healthy, and positive childbirth experience. When she had her first child in 2019, Lewis had a midwife, a postpartum doula, a reflexologist, an acupuncturist, and a lactation expert––the support she knows she would not have been able to afford were it not for her career as an actor.  “I thought, ‘What if I wasn’t on a TV show?’ It just made me really angry and sad that so many women can't have the bare necessities that I had.” 

For those who believe all the services above might be a little extra or some rich-people nonsense that our moms and grandmothers didn’t need, Lewis is quick to correct them. “Maybe our moms and grandmas didn't have that and everything turned out fine, but our great-great-great grandmas had what we’re trying to do now, and it was taken away. Men decided they wanted to make midwives this uncivilized thing so they could make women have babies in hospitals for profit. And when you know better you do better, right?” 

Besides, even if someone wanted to throw shade on the idea of having a team of healing specialists, nobody can deny the facts: Black women have the highest mortality rates in the country––almost three times the rate of white women––and Black babies are more likely to be born prematurely or die. Something has to be done and with her organization, Lewis has stepped up to help make change. “Too many of us are dying,” she says. “Too many of us don't have access to the resources. We don't even know about the resources. So I wanted to change that. Then I realized, ‘Oh, this is a business. And now, I'm kind of on the journey of understanding how to run a business and what that means. I’m learning on my feet, but it’s a journey of joy.” 

Birth Village gives scholarships to women in need of up to $ 3,000. They recently helped a woman who had a vaginal birth after a previous cesarean, and her baby was breech. It was complicated, but Birth Village got her the assistance she needed, becoming an exciting example for the team of what they could accomplish. Next, Lewis is planning a fundraiser so Birth Village can match payments or donations to keep the giving going. “The vision is coming to fruition,” she says. “It’s really about getting people to understand better ways to care for us. These medical professionals need to hear us. And we teach Black women how to better protect themselves.” 

For more information on Angela Lewis’ initiatives, visit her site, her Instagram, or the Birth Village Instagram.

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