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Project focusing on fatherhood

A local video producer and radio personality is going public with an issue he believes needs to be discussed in the black community: fatherhood.

Dwaine "DT" Terry, host of the radio show "Unsigned Hype" Friday nights on 93.7 WBLK-FM, is shooting a documentary that explores the topic in hopes of educating young men about being strong role models for their children.

"Seldom do we get together as young black men and talk publicly about this issue," said Terry, 44.

"But it's important," he said, "because when you talk about the breakdown of the family home, it's usually because the father's not in the picture. It's very relevant to a lot of the problems today."

Three months into the production of "Active Fathers," Terry has interviewed about 20 dads who share on film their experiences with their children and how their own upbringing -- with or without a father -- has impacted their lives.

It's a welcome contrast to the stories of deadbeat dads and stereotypes of missing black fathers.

"How often do we hear about guys who are active in their children's lives?" Terry said. "We're always hearing about the guys who aren't."

Terry grew up in Buffalo before moving as a teenager to California, where he learned the recording and video industry, producing more than three dozen rap videos for major and independent labels.

He returned to Buffalo in late 1996 and made a name for himself as host of a cable show for teens called "Late Nite Noise."

He also became a father.

While he's no longer with his daughter's mother, Terry knew that as a dad he wanted to be a part of his little girl's life and not repeat the cycle that had left him without a father growing up.

He also knew being an active parent -- his daughter, Amaiah, is 6 -- meant swallowing his pride and learning to get along with his ex and her husband. Terry has made it work, but he noticed many of his friends have not.

The topic of fatherhood piqued Terry's curiousity, and he thought it would make a promising documentary. He put word out about what he was doing and was surprised how many men wanted a chance to talk about being fathers.

Emmanuel Kulu is one. The young Buffalo father of two was interviewed by Terry for the documentary in the Apollo Media Center on Jefferson Avenue, where Terry works part time as a production trainer.

Kulu, 26, loves the idea. "I wanted to be a part of this, because I really wanted to talk about the importance of a father's role," he said. "I think it's important that active fathers start speaking up and talking to these younger kids that are becoming fathers at younger ages and don't know what to do."

Terry hopes to debut the documentary locally on Father's Day, submit it to film festivals and release it on the Internet as "webisodes." He also wants to start a father's club and show the documentary in schools.

"I really want to catch the attention of the young men," Terry said. "I think it could be a a blueprint for those who are missing a father or role model in their life, and can answer some questions or tell them how to."

Have an idea for a person, organization or event that would make a good East Side Story? E-mail it to eastsidestory@buffnews.com, fax it to 856-5150 or call 849-6026.

e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com

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