This video is spectacular! I want to see more content like this in the world. Teenagers are more than a gaggle of ears listening to Taylor Swift and One Direction. Teenagers have voices that should be heard. You may be surprised at what they have to say when given a green light.
The reason why I haven’t been as active a blogger into the start of this new year is because I have been pooping on the page. No, not like that. Nooooooo! I have been letting blood out of a stone, writing every day for at least 10 minutes nonstop. As someone who thinks about writing, reads voraciously, and writes on a daily basis to complete strangers or general acquaintances, writing each day for ten minutes about characters that I wish audiences could see on a screen is hard work (especially if you have not written longhand for more than timed five minutes without any distractions). When this person has held onto the valves of your heart for years and you want to see them grow outside of you, this kind of birthing process lends to an anxiety that I can only assume is 1/4 of what human childbirth and rearing must feel like. Right? I’ve heard of directors talking about their “babies”- the first inkling of ideas for a script being realized and then the final project of a film, webseries or television show seeing the light of day only to be praised or ripped apart, or both. As a creative person, having your work dissected by other human minds is frightening. Exhilarating, surely. But your thoughts and parts of your identity are the DNA to every artwork that you may produce and to have it up for discussion is for bold and brave. So to even write creatively for 10 minutes a day is a huge accomplishment and to have a final piece of art out of those ten minutes for seven days a week, four weeks out of a month is a miracle. So, I owe it to myself to at least try and not think about editing during the writing process and if I am doing it “right”. Just doing it is good enough. This is the cornerstone, I believe, to “pooping on the page”.
I first heard of this form of pooping during a screenwriting workshop I took two weeks ago. The experience was liberating because for the second time I discovered that it’s OK to stop self-editing and to just write about anything. Anyone can do this! That’s what making pooping on the page exciting. Write on a blog on in your journal. Just write…about anything! You will soon find yourself not being able to stop and your mind will wander to people, places, and things that may have been plaguing you or ideas that just came to you in a spurt of inspiration. Don’t say no- get into it and let all those thoughts out. There could be kernels of genius waiting to be absorbed by other minds and spirits. You could help to heal or motivate the world.
So…that’s it. I have to go back and poop on a page. Feel free to join me.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! We are eleven days into 2015, but old habits continue to die hard. Twitter beef and intolerance reign and the year of the big butt has made way for the year of big lips, and the world of Hollywood, entertainment, and media lost legendary people whose contributions to the world and bright personalities won’t ever be forgotten (Joan Rivers, Stuart Scott, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Williams, Ruby Dee, L’Wren Scott, and Peaches Geldof, Diem Brown, and Casey Kasem to name a handful). Meanwhile, I have been gorging on midseason television premieres and trying hard not to overextend myself this month, which I have surprisingly been successful at doing. This year is all about “letting go”, “shaking it off”, and evolving. Becoming a higher version of myself.
Having said that, words can express how wonderful last year has been for me. There were some frustrations and struggles, but I cannot complain. I moved to New York City, forged on with acting and hosting classes, was accepted to work with PIT TV, finally saw my first UCB Asssscat show (!!!!!), got a new agent, leapt many step towards becoming SAG-AFTRA, auditioned, booked, went to Fashion Week shows as a journalist, filled my brain with movies upon movies upon movies, connected with new and old friends, met family members who accepted me with open arms, questioned myself, became more confident in myself, and reflected on my life thus far. It’s important to reflect, especially for someone such as myself who can keep going and going like an Energizer Bunny with ADHD. When I slow down and really think about my past accomplishments, I get a little emotional and also mad at myself. Mad at myself for letting those demon thoughts creep into my head “What have you really done lately?” “When so-and-so was your age, they already were nominated for such-and-such award/won such-and-such award”, etc. This type of thinking is BS. It really is. Joan Didion is the new face of Celine now. Anything is possible when you are fierce and smart.
There is no legitimate reason to become brainwashed by mantras attached to people that don’t know me, my background, and my talents. I hope that in 2015 people realize that they can accomplish their goals and dreams without succumbing to starvation by juicing. Squash that noise. I will drink kale, celery and apple juice and eat salmon with a side of roasted potatoes, thank you very much! Variety, variety, variety people.
So, for 2015 I hope for peace, love, and happiness with oneself. This blog will go through some changes, which is also what this letter really boils down to. I will be multitasking and not always able to write every day, but I will write! I will just take my time and be more reflective and analyze much more instead of throwing a “What’s Hot or Not” type post. I have been so inspired by Leandra Medine’s Man Repeller blog lately and it’s concept and am thinking that the focus of this blog won’t shift away from the entertainment industry, lest I talk more about my personal experiences coupled with the newest, best television show you should be watching and why. I have seen and heard a lot of crazy in years past, whether en route to auditions, in class, or at a screening and would like to share in a more intimate way. I will also start to write specifically about my journey to Oprah-like proportional success, or something like it, on my friend Le’s food and film website, Tinsel and Tine. She was just gifted the opportunity to be a Brand Ambassador for Lee Daniels’ new TV show on FOX, “Empire”. I am now going from interviewing Hollywood actors, directors, and producers and reviewing films for her site to talking about my desire to be one of those interviewed for my art one day. Praise be to her for even asking me to be a part of her website as a writer from the first moment we met, based on a mutual friend’s suggestion.
I’m going harder in 2015, but smarter. Saying no when my instincts tell me so. Learning to embrace difficulty. Writing more. Realizing projects that have been in my head for years. Going to more gigs, museums, art shows, and plays. Getting started on my YouTube channel. Reading young adult books, new adult books, and everything in between, and making sure that I write the debrief about these experiences and more on this blog. Here’s to a new year and new beginnings.
There is nothing more that I can say that hasn’t already been said or meme’d in the media about Lifetime’s recent “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B” Lifetime movie. Let me just make one thing clear that you may not know about me: I love Lifetime movies. There is no other television channel in America that produces stories about kidnapping, eating disorders, domestic abuse, incest, and any other human foible that women can rise above like the Lifetime Network, and they own it. If I’m sick in bed or just plain in the mood, I can hop on YouTube and re-watch classics such as “Girl Fight”, “To Be Fat Like Me”, “Fifteen and Pregnant”, “She’s Too Young”, or “A Friend’s Betrayal” and revel in heightened states of emotion. The level of cheese could skyrocket into space, but that won’t stop me from viewing. Lifetime knows their niche and caters to that denominator very well.
Riding high from the recent success of the “Flowers in the Attic” series, it seemed as though maybe, just maybe, they could do no wrong by Aaliyah’s legacy. Even with Zendaya dropping out of the lead role and Aaliyah’s family wanting nothing to do with the production, there was still a chance of this movie at least being OK. Just make sure your casting is on point, because without having the rights to Aaliyah’s recordings or personal photos and media footage, the casting is 100% make or break territory in the case of this production, along with copious amounts of research, and spot-on costume and set design.
But no, not even Missy Elliot famous finger waves made an appearance. I remember the era of Blackground Records very fondly. Hell, I remember being a wee little thing writing lines of poetry in the basement with Aaliyah’s music videos playing in the background. Aaliyah, Blackstreet, Ginuwine, Timbaland & Magoo, Missy Elliot, R. Kelly….they dominated the airwaves during a very memorable time in my childhood. Aaliyah was an artist that I looked up to and admired because she was both sexy and classy. She had personality without being vulgar. She was sweet and ambitious. She was funny, strong, and business savvy. When Aaliyah died, other friends of mine who were also fans mourned. It was the first time that I can remember truly mourning the death of a pop star. There was just something about her that was special, and if given more time, would have been a megastar. She was just getting started around the time of her passing.
Having said that, I more than understand why people are stark raving mad about the portrayal of her life’s story on Lifetime. It appeared rushed and disingenuous. Alexandra Shipp, who played Aaliyah in the TV movie, did a wonderful job. Yet even watching her rendition of Aaliyah performing “Journey to the Past”, something was missing. The magic of the original performance, for me, was not 100% there:
As for the casting of Missy, Timbaland, R. Kelly, and Damon Dash? I’ll let these pictures speak for themselves. You be the judge, jury, and/or executioners:
I would have loved to see the fictional Ginuwine and for the movie to go deeper into how iconic the fashion was then. Aaliyah’s rise to stardom was glossed over and instead the viewing audience was whisked into the R.Kelly & Aaliyah story about ten minutes into the movie, which would have been fine if this subplot went deeper. After all, she was a teenager and he was a grown man twice her age in an illegal relationship. One hour and a half of this and then thirty minutes of the Aaliyah and Damon Dash story, with two short paragraphs about how Aaliyah died and will be missed. No real life footage of her casket being carried on the Upper East Side streets of New York in a horse drawn carriage. No fictional portrayal of “More Than A Woman”, both the song and music video, “Rock the Boat”, her experiences acting in “Romeo Must Die” and “Queen of the Damned”…
I just hope that another movie based on the life of Aaliyah will come to pass on the big screen. One that the fans can appreciate and not make #LifetimeBeLike memes out of. Leaving such an unforgettable mark in music history at a young age, Aaliyah, her family, and her legacy deserve that much, not for clicks, rating, or money, but to share a human story of triumph, adversity, ambition, and God-given talents.
Rest in Peace Aaliyah
This is a first for me- a blog post where I’m not talking about the latest in entertainment, media, or fashion. But I wanted to write this today because of a conversation I had earlier with young, bright teenager worried about the future.
I’ve always wanted to help encourage tweens, teens, and young adults ever since I was a tween myself. That may sound presumptuous of me, but I remember a time when “Teen Summit” was on BET (you can watch old episodes on YouTube!) and when Oprah featured guests from communities in need, rather than couch-hopping Hollywood action stars with last names that rhyme with “bruise”. In the past few years, I’ve met many wonderful young people with aspirations bigger than the towns they’ve grown up in and a predisposition to feelings of anxiety and low self worth. Social media has obviously heightened thoughts of #YOLO and #FOMO and I can’t help but feel as though I should be doing something to say, on a grander scale, that everything will be OK.
So, as a writer, performer, and self-proclaimed youth advocate, I think that I’m going to start making vlogs and writing more blog posts (or creating a separate blog altogether) focused on doling out advice and interviews to help young folk navigate through life. I have ideas for events, music showcases, and giveaways too, but first things first. 🙂
I’m so comfortable performing in front of a camera as a character or on stage, but this is a whole other world in which I will be MYSELF talking to an audience of I can’t see, but I’m excited to inspire, encourage, and inform.
If you have any thoughts, advice, suggestions, etc., feel free to send them my way! My goal is to have this kicked off before the end of summer! Stay tuned.
(WARNING: IF YOU HAVE YET TO SEE THE MOVIE BUT YOU’VE READ THE BOOK, DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER IN READING THIS. THIS IS YOUR SPOILER ALERT WARNING!)
I’m a tad behind on my “Divergent” review, but that’s only because I found myself in a few privileged predicaments, as I like to call them. Nonetheless, I’m so glad that I was able to contribute my dollars to the opening weekend of the movie because it was well worth watching to see Four and Tris rendered on the big screen. Even before the movie premiered, “Insurgent” and “Allegiant” were given the greenlight to be produced as films also and with good reason- this trilogy has a HUGE fanbase. I’m not sure if it’s on the level as “The Hunger Games”, but this will be the only time I will compare the two anyway. Divergent resonates with audiences today, especially young adult and adult readers, because it’s an interesting look into human personality, psychology, the idea of ‘groupthink’ and the choices that we make as humans when given the opportunity to show our true selves. What would you do if you were asked to choose what side of yourself you identify with most, knowing that you would have to live with others you have known since birth, or taking advantage of moving in with strangers whose principles you’ve felt more of a kinship with from afar ? Are you Amity(peaceful)? Candor(honest)? Erudite(intelligent)? Abnegation (selfless)? Dauntless(brave)? Factionless? Or Divergent, a blend of several ideologies?
Veronica Roth’s book made me think of those quizzes I used to ponder over in teen magazines. The ones that are based on your personality, due to how you would answer the questions compiled just for you and every other teenage girl in the universe. I always had a hard time picking just one or two answers, because I easily saw myself as an A and B, or A and C, etc. I could be both kind and smart, the girl who planned ahead and the girl who likes to be spontaneous. I’m both Carrie and Charlotte, with a dash of Samantha and a sprinkle of Miranda. Do I really have to be just one type of person? If I were a part of Roth’s post-apocalyptic world, I would be Divergent, hands down, because I know who I am. But what if I were born into a family dedicated to serving honesty or intelligence? Would I be so certain that I could be both or would I stay in the same lone faction until the day I died? It’s harder to tell knowing that information.
Having read the book before seeing the film, I went to the movie theater with some expectations. I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to be 100% sold on Shailene Woodley playing Tris (I was… 200%). I wanted to see if Eric would be appear just as terrifying on brought to visual life as much as he was through Roth’s imagination and my own (he sure was!). I wanted to revel in Peter and his motley gang hell-bent on making Tris suffer (more on this later…). Overall, I was very pleased and cannot wait for “Insurgent” to be released. But here are some key differences between the book and the movie that I wish could have been rectified:
THINGS THAT MADE ME GO HMMM:
– Christina, Eric, and the chasm: In the book, this scene feels excruciatingly long. Also, from what I recall, there is water and lots of it. I didn’t feel like Christina’s life was really in danger in this part of the movie. In the book? I was holding my breath.
-Peter’s gang: For the sake of the film’s length, I knew, like with many book-to-movie adaptations, that some characters and events would be sacrificed. I just wish that Drew and Molly’s weren’t. Just like Peter in Roth’s novel, Drew and Molly were abhorrent characters. In the movie, Drew was not present and Molly was, but aside from having to fight Tris, Molly ends up thinking that Tris is cool after she stands up to Eric during the now famous knife throwing incident. I wanted to see Peter, Drew, and Molly go all out and make Tris cry for at least one moment.
-The physical struggle of Marcus and Andrew as they head to the Dauntless compound: I wanted to see these two huffing and puffing, trying to keep up with Tris on the way to Dauntless headquarters, as it’s imagined in the novel, but there is no way that Tony Goldwyn is unfit and Ray Stevenson looks buff, so there went that idea.
THINGS I TRULY LOVED ABOUT THE MOVIE:
-Tori: Tori, played by Maggie Q, is dope. Maggie Q is dope. The casting for this character is sublime.
-Casting: In fact, the casting for “Divergent” is A+. I know of some folks out there who were not too keen on Miles Teller as Peter, but I honestly don’t know who else could have played this character better. I thought that Peter would have been meaner in the movie, because he is an absolute terror in the book, but Miles injected his own take of Peter, which fit in perfectly with his surroundings and the imaginary circumstances made real. Anything more might have been on the hokey side. I’ve also read about how some people were upset about Shailene being cast as Tris, due to physical reasons, but seriously, she kills it in this part. She bring the right amount of strength and gravity to Tris and carries the whole film through and then some. It is amazing to watch. Plus she has major chemistry with Theo James (Four).
-Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd as Tris and Caleb’s parents: This is another nod to casting. They exuded selflessness to a T, just as they were supposed to. Plus, they both have a warmth to them that was lovely to see, especially when interacting with their children. When they had the chance to hug Caleb and Tris, it was moving and touching and made me smile.
-Seeing the “fearscapes” realized: They weren’t cheesy and added another element to how I envisioned Tris and Four’s nightmares since reading about them.
-Diversity: This is one of the most diverse casts (including the extras!) in a young adult movie I’ve ever seen thus far. I was very impressed.
-Kate Winslet as Jeanine: Call it “against type” casting, but I loved seeing Kate Winslet as a Big Bad. She was calculating, smart, and a villain whose ideas made sense. A scary thought for a scary character.
-The tattoos: !!!!!!
The questions that “Divergent” raises are very important and relevant. They are questions that young adults begin to think about as they try to navigate between school, parents, friends, teachers, and enemies. Then there’s the idea of the factionless, the castoffs of society who were either once who do the jobs that no one else would do, not just because they don’t want to, but because being factionless means to not belong, just the same as being divergent. Would you rather belong with people who are just like you, or be different, risking your life or your pride in the meantime? Like Four, I would want to have the qualities of all five factions- to be kind, selfless, intelligent, honest, peaceful, and brave. Wouldn’t we all?
“Divergent” dives into these themes and more head first and if they don’t make sense to you, I urge you to read Veronica Roth’s book. Unlike other book to movie adaptations I’ve seen, this one left me wanting more. Bring on “Insurgent”!
p.s. Watching “Divergent” made CrossFit appear less intimidating. My fear of heights and roaming around in the phobias that reside in my psyche is a much, much worse proposition.
Have you read Joe Jonas’ Vulture article? You should. It’s a lovely send-off to his Disney teen past and a look into his hopes for his future music career. Nothing surprised nor offended me. If anything, I was deeply impressed by his candor. It has to be hard to be a Disney kid. Just look at “The Hollywood Complex” HBO documentary or remember “Showbiz Moms and Dads” on Bravo?! These children live in an adult world and have more responsibilities than the kid who only has to worry about school, homework, chores, and getting the requisite intake of vitamins and minerals. Imagine media training and quite possibly never being able to get those “actin’ a fool” years in college out of your system. For all the money, fame, and females in the world, the Jo Bros didn’t have an easy child-to-young adulthood in the spotlight. But it’s nice to see that Joe Jonas can soberly reflect on those years in the Disney mill and look towards the future with hope and ambition.