Bambadjan Bamba is a busy working actor, but when I get him on the phone, it's clear he's also a busy working dad.

"I have to get my daughter home," he says. "Can I call you back in 15 minutes?"

Bamba's toddler daughter happily babbles in the backseat. It's clearly been a fun afternoon with dad. My phone rings exactly 15 minutes later. Bamba is a man of his word.


Image via Define American.

Bamba is a father, husband, and actor.

You may have seen him in a recurring role on the NBC comedy, "The Good Place," and he'll be in the new Marvel film "Black Panther" in February. At 35, Bamba has built an impressive career for himself, and his star is on the rise. Which is why his next big decision comes as somewhat of a surprise.

Image via Define American.

Bambadjan Bamba is a father, husband, actor, and an undocumented immigrant — a fact he's making public for the first time.

Bamba was born on the Ivory Coast. After years of tumultuous political unrest and upheaval, his family left for America where they applied for political asylum. Bamba arrived in the South Bronx at 10 years old and didn't speak a word of English. Television shows and hip-hop music helped him master the language, he says. But he made new friends and had a childhood much like anyone else's in his new home. He was even homecoming king.

"I consider myself American," he says. "I'm as American as it gets. I love this nation. I really trust that the people definitely love me back."

Image via Define American.

Bamba didn't know much about his immigration status until he started applying for college. That's because while Bamba lived a typical American childhood, his parents wrestled with the immigration process. After applying for asylum and waiting years for a response, the family was denied. The Bambas then consulted an immigration lawyer to assist them with their case. More than 20 years after the process started, their asylum request was granted. However, by then, Bamba's father had passed away, and Bambadjan was over 21 and married, which affected his status on the application.

While he'd been a rider on the request every single time, when it finally went through, he was left off.

Bambadjan is officially undocumented, but protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, better known as DACA.

Established under the Obama administration in 2012, DACA allows some who arrived in the U.S. illegally as minors to receive a two-year deferred action from the deportation, which also makes them eligible to attend school and receive a work permit. More than 800,000 people are enrolled in the program.

However, on Sept. 5, 2017, Trump announced he was rolling back DACA, putting thousands of individuals and families at risk.

"When it happened, honestly, I was shocked," Bamba says.

Image via Define American.

After serious backlash to his initial announcement — as many beneficiaries entrusted the government with information about themselves and their families in the hopes it would not be used against them — Trump said he'd revisit DACA in six months, unless Congress "fixes" it sooner. That's left many people like Bamba in serious limbo.

That's why Bamba is coming out as undocumented and sharing his immigration story.

By every measure, people enrolled in DACA, also known as "Dreamers" after the DREAM Act bill, are an asset to this country. In a survey of approximately 3,000 DACA enrollees, 90% of respondents were employed. Without DACA, the United States stands to lose $460 billion in gross domestic product over the next decade. That's just one of the reasons 56% of registered voters feel Dreamers should be allowed to stay.

"We're your neighbors. We're teaching your kids. We're everyday people trying to provide for their families," Bamba says. "That way Americans can say, 'Hey I don't know an undocumented person,' but hey, you know me. And you know the hundreds of others who are sharing this story every day."

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

But even if DACA is saved, what of the millions of immigrants who reside in this country who aren't covered under the program? Bamba's family is the perfect example that the process can take years — even when everything is done "the right way." The system is broken.

"There are millions of people here, who are basically second-class citizens, who are hiding in the shadows, who are being exploited ... who are fleeing war, who are fleeing persecution," Bamba says. "The same way Europeans back in the day came to America for shelter and protection, America is still a land of liberty. America has to accept those people. Just because they're from different places now, doesn't mean they don't deserve the same kind of protections, the same kind of opportunities to live the American dream."

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

Before we part ways, I can't help but ask Bambadjan what his personal "good place" looks like, a corny nod to his hit show (which was just renewed for a third season). He indulges me.

"My good place really looks like an Earth with no evil," he says. "We can do anything we want, but ... there's complete trust. There's just freedom to be happy, to do what you love and not worry about someone having to kill you or chase you down. A place where there's no more fear."

His daughter babbles in the background, as if to cheer him on. She's the reason he works hard and loves hard. And with DACA in limbo, Bamba will have to fight hard too. But for now, this sweet family will enjoy the afternoon and work to make their good place a reality.

Image via Define American.

Get to know Bambadjan as he shares his story for the first time in this powerful video.

If you think Hollywood should stand with immigrants, sign this petition and join the movement with Define American.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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