Ron B: Portraits Through Time

Photographing celebrity host, actor and activist Ron B through the years

I met Ron B in 2007. She was performing at a World AIDS Day event I was covering. The first thing that stood out to me, upon seeing her on stage, and then off stage, when she came to introduce herself to me, was the way she connected and interacted with people. That’s true to this day, and I think it’s part of who she is, as an actor, activist…and person. Ron B connects with the audience, while on stage (or, as I’ve found out over the years, in studio), and she’s warm, candid, and always thoughtful.

Ron B in studio at Manhattan Neighborhood Network in NYC. Photographed by Alina Oswald for A&U Magazine--America's AIDS Magazine.
Ron B in studio at Manhattan Neighborhood Network in NYC. Photographed by Alina Oswald for A&U Magazine–America’s AIDS Magazine.

When I met her, on that WAD 2007 night, she mentioned her appearances in TV shows and movies, including Angels in America, one of my favorite movies that I always watch on December 1. And to this day I remind her that she had me at Angels in America.

Ron B is a celebrity impersonator and celebrity host of MNN’s show No Boundaries Up Close and Personal. She’s an actor, and LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS advocate. Ron B is also a phenomenal friend, supporter, and a role model. And for now more than a decade, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to tell her story or at least part of her story, in words and images. Here are a few examples:

The first time I had the chance to sit down and chat with Ron B was in early 2008, for an Out IN Jersey Magazine article, “Just Call Me Ron B.” Here’s an excerpt:

Celebrity host, activist and actor Ron B, photographed in studio by Alina Oswald for A&U Magazine--America's AIDS Magazine.
Celebrity host, activist and actor Ron B, photographed in studio by Alina Oswald for A&U Magazine–America’s AIDS Magazine.

Many may know Ron B. from her appearances in Law & Order and Angels in America. Others may have seen her perform as Tina Turner at Oxygen in the Village or for children with HIV/AIDS in Staten Island. Many more may be familiar with Ron B.’s activism work. But who is, really, Ron B.?

“I am a lot of times unsure, a lot of times creative, many times sensitive, but most of all, I think it’s the transition within that kinda makes me almost the mother figure for many who are underprivileged,” Ron B. candidly answers, “because most of my life I had to fight for what I believe in. And I continue this [emotional and spiritual] fight to bring myself to the being the Great Creator [the power above all of us] wants me to be.”

  • Ron B. No Boundaries Up Close and Personal.
  • Ron B performing. No Boundaries show at MNN. Photo by Alina Oswald.

A New York native, Ron B. is also a Native American. As a child she could not identify with her heritage… […] “What changed my mind was my mother’s strength,” the entertainer explains, “she telling me that [I should be proud of who I am].” It was Ron B.’s Native American heritage that gave the performer strength in the chosen career. […]

Over the years, Ron B. took many roles, but maybe the most inspiring “role” is that of Tina Turner impersonator.

  • Ron B. at MNN in NYC. Photo by Alina Oswald.
  • PepC and RonB at MNN. Photo by Alina Oswald.
  • Bts images from RonB's show, No Boundaries. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

The Ron B. people know today is really “a catalyst” of everything that defines her as an entertainer, actor, celebrity impersonator, activist for the rights of people who have been discriminated against.

***

  • Ron B at Brooklyn Pride 2019
  • Ron B. at Brooklyn Pride 2019

For over a decade and counting, Ron B has been the celebrity host of No Boundaries Up Close and Personal, an MNN show I’ve been fortunate to be part of many times. At the end of each show, Ron B says “And remember, there are no boundaries to what you can achieve in life.” These words stay with you beyond the studio walls and long after the show ends. In 2018 Ron B shared with me more about her show and her activism work (and, yes, Angels in America) in our interview for A&U MagazineBreaking Boundaries article published in the Pride 2018 issue of A&U Magazine–America’s AIDS Magazine. Here’s an excerpt:

Celebrity host, actor and activist Ron B photographed in studio by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

“Through No Boundaries, Ron B. has started much-needed conversations surrounding LGBTQ rights, women empowerment or HIV awareness, to mention only a few. Over the years, she has also helped raise HIV awareness through her performances and appearances.”

***

In a previous post I’ve mentioned the importance of still having meaningful conversations . Ron B’s show, No Boundaries Up Close and Personal that offers a safe space for open, honest and meaningful conversations.

Ron B in studio at Manhattan Neighborhood Network in NYC. Photographed by Alina Oswald for A&U Magazine–America’s AIDS Magazine.

Thank you, Ron B, and many thanks to the readers and followers of this blog for your ongoing support.

I much appreciate it and, as always, thank you for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

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