Brockton’s Ayana Bean appears on BET’s ‘American Gangster: Trap Queens’

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BROCKTON – In life, we all have chapters in our book that we don’t read aloud. This may be due to embarrassment or not being ready to talk about the past.

But not Brockton resident Ayana Bean.

She’s from the rooftops shouting her story of going from convicted felon to transcendent to Amazon bestselling author, BET TV personality and nonprofit founder.

In 2013, Bean was convicted of stealing thousands of dollars in financial aid funds while working as a financial aid counselor, according to the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office and was sentenced to a year and a half. a day in federal prison.

“When you read my past convictions, it’s human nature to judge and form your own opinion without knowing me,” Bean said.

“I take full responsibility for my crimes and the students I impacted. I served my time, and now I open a new chapter of healing and redemption.”

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At the time of the crimes, Bean was a mother of two living and working in Boston trying to help the father of her children with an active drug addiction that then set her on a path to tax ruin, Bean said.

Bean blames no one for her actions, but many life circumstances played a part in why she committed fraud, she said.

May 2021 - Ayana Bean of Brockton poses in a luxury Boston office after learning she was on one of Amazon's bestseller lists for her self-published book

With the money, Bean could support his family while advancing in the music business and becoming a liaison for big names in the industry, including Def Jam, Sony, Eone formerly Koch Records and Interscope, a- she declared.

“Music helped me drown out the pain of abuse, violence and dysfunction. My love for music and the music industry allowed me to escape reality. However, I had no no escape when my decisions got me locked up and sentenced to a year and a day in jail,” Bean said, using a phrase that would become the title of his book.

After serving her sentence, in 2014 Bean returned home to live on her mother’s couch in Hyde Park. Embarrassed and mortified by the consequences of her decisions, she began to think about a new life for herself. She imagined a life without guilt or pain, a life in which she could raise other women like her.

May 2021 - Ayana Bean of Brockton poses outside a luxury office in Boston after learning she was on one of Amazon's bestseller lists for her self-published book

“Going to prison weakened me as a person. I felt stripped of all my courage, stripped of my independence and my knowledge. I was judged by my peers, but I wanted a better life and I slowly stopped caring what they thought,” Bean said.

“I carried a heavy load of things that were happening in my life, and I put on a brave face and kept moving. I kept trying to live each day, no matter the scrutiny “, said Bean.

One day the roles turned and she got a phone call from BET producers wanting to film an episode about Bean’s crimes and success in the Boston music industry for “American Gangster: Trap Queens,” which follows several women for their crimes in America.

Ayana Bean from Brockton films outside the South Bay Reformatory where she was previously incarcerated.  Here she is interviewed for the BET original series

The true-crime documentary series features Bean in season one, episode seven. The 41-minute episode gives a timeline of the rise and fall of Bean’s life.

“People are always assuming who you are and judging your character based on the decisions you make. A lot of times we make decisions that don’t fit our character. It’s not fair, and it’s a stigma that the society will inflict you forever as a formerly incarcerated person. I am more than my crimes and my mistakes,” Bean said.

After incarceration, a person may face several hurdles, such as finding employment above minimum wage and acquiring housing, Bean said.

Ayana Bean, right, movies

“Society doesn’t welcome you with open arms once you get out of prison. The system itself is broken,” Bean said.

Despite how Bean thinks society views her, she gives other incarcerated women hope for a fresh start with her new self-help book, “A Year and a Day: Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl.” , and a television appearance. Bean self-published the memoir to honor her journey of redemption, she said.

And so far, Bean has sold more than a thousand books and was one of the top sellers in the e-books department on Amazon selling more than 20 books a day, she said.

The memoirs describe Bean’s entire life so far with all the trials and tribulations in between. Bean’s close friends call her Alice in Wonderland because of the nature of her attempt to escape painful realities, Bean said.

“I want to teach other women and girls that life is full of challenges and making the right choices will help us overcome them,” Bean said.

“I tell my story of going from the darkness of prison to the bright light of a businesswoman. I want to help women avoid bad decisions that can lead to imprisonment and to motivate those who are currently in prison and who may feel trapped inside. I want to encourage women and girls to be patient with themselves and let them know that choosing the right thing to do is always the best thing to do,” Bean said. .

Sharing the unfortunate turn of events that resulted in Bean’s incarceration was difficult. However, being open and honest about the crimes she committed opened her eyes to the people she hurt and gave her a way to fully heal.

“It was a tough therapy session. I learned that my crimes had resulted in victims. It was painful to hear what you did to yourself. Life on the streets is too glorified and it does not make you happy. hard to go to jail or do wrong by others,” Bean said.

“So many women with the same story as me reached out after the show aired. A young woman with a similar crime decided to put all her things away and leave Massachusetts out of embarrassment and shame. said she didn’t know there were others like her, and it feels good to have someone who can understand her situation and not judge her,” Bean said.

Using Bean’s new platform, she can travel the United States and share her experiences on major media outlets, including “The Breakfast Club,” a popular New York-based radio show.

Bean’s interview has generated over a million views on YouTube, and it’s not stopping there. Bean is starting a nonprofit that will help incarcerated people reintegrate into society and give them resources to improve their quality of life, from finding better-paying jobs to helping with housing.

Alisha Saint-Ciel, corporate staff reporter, can be reached by email at stciela@gannett.com You can follow her on Twitter at @alishaspeakss. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.

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