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Chicago State professor’s TV series gives inside look at lives of preachers’ kids

“Preacher’s Kids: The Untold Stories” on Amazon Prime showcases the types of churchgoers the director saw growing up as the son of a Washington Heights reverend.

“Preacher’s Kids” producer-director Alvin Daniels (middle), pictured with his sister Tiffany Lee (right), is the son of Victory Cathedral Faith Church’s Rev. Dr. Princella Brady Lee (left).
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When Alvin Daniels hit the game-winning jump shot for Julian High School versus Carver and future NBA legend/guard Tim Hardaway in the 1983 Public League playoffs, he remembers celebrating with his teammates and looking into the crowd for his mother.

She didn’t attend the game because she was handling church business.

He knew he had to share her with the community because he’s a preacher’s kid.

“I don’t say that out of spite,” said Daniels. “I don’t say that, you know, out of madness. I just say that was a reality.”

Daniels, a producer and director, turned those types of memories into “Preacher’s Kids: The Untold Stories,” a docu-comedy series explaining the nuances of growing up as the child of the pastor in the black church.

Daniels, a third-generation preacher’s kid, draws from the experience of growing up in Washington Heights’ Victory Cathedral Faith Church under the leadership of his mother, Rev. Dr. Princella Brady Lee.

The show, which was originally a play performed at Victory Cathedral Faith, showcases some of the characters he saw growing up — people who traditionally attend black church services:

  • “Deacon Pray Too Long” — the deacon who prays so long on Sunday, you think he hasn’t talked to God all week.
  • “Sister Tell It All” — the sister who will tell all your business but you haven’t heard it from her.
  • “Sister Off-Keys” — the sister who sings in a key only Jesus understands.

“I want them [viewers] to look at my characters and I want them to identify with them,” said Daniels. “I had two people call me and say, ‘Hey man, you took me on a walk down memory lane. When I was growing up, when we used to be at church all day.’ ”

Alvin Daniels, a broadcast and communications professor at Chicago State University, has filled various roles at his church including music director, pianist and fill-in minister. | Vincent Walker

Over the years, Daniels, a broadcast and communications professor at Chicago State University, has filled various roles at his church including music director, pianist and fill-in minister. He says the TV series pays homage to his grandfather, the late Rev. Dr. H.B. Brady.

“If we go to a church that I’ve never been to, and they don’t have a piano player for the organ, guess what? I got to get on the organ,” said Daniels. “So again, the preacher’s kid always has to pick up the slack.”

The first episode, which became available Saturday on Amazon Prime Video, was filmed in 2012. Daniels plans to film newer episodes by June, if the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down by then.

Daniels’ interviews to date include: Pastor David Winston, son of Pastor Bill Winston of the Living Word Christian Center (Forest Park); Apostle Mark Henton, son of the late Apostle Richard D. Henton of the Monument of Faith Church (Chicago), and Freda Sampson, daughter of the late Rev. Dr. Fredrick Sampson of the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church (Detroit).

Daniels hopes his show can highlight the importance of preachers in the black community.

“People don’t realize the church is such a major historical place in the community, and preachers leave that legacy,” said Daniels. “It’s important that they’re respected; they’re not looked at as God but they are looked at as God’s messengers.”