Pray Then What

I have been known to call the next great thing way before anyone else a time or two and I pretty much have been calling it about Nate Parker for quite some time now. 1954-2I mean, how could I not be captivated? My first time seeing him was opposite Denzel (who happened to be his director at the time) and I was so caught up I only saw Nate Parker (I generally say his whole name so don't mind me). He was really remarkable. Like super solid and handsome and leading man and yeah all of that lol. I'm sure my friends were sick of me with Nate Parker. Then there was a period where I still loved him just didn't dig his character or his role much. And that's no dig - it happens if you watch enough movies (same with books - you don't love every single character!). Then he came back so hood/gangsta in "Red Hook Summer", I was convinced he could do it all. And then came "Beyond The Lights" andjz9imknnakqasiza7n0x that would get me all off topic (OMG super fine, saved the damsel in distress and preferred the natural girl oh yes Nate!). I digress...

I'd never see him out or in the news so I figured he was probably a quiet, well read guy. I figured he'd likely direct nateparkerpicsomething one day - again Denzel directed him in his first feature. I always had an eye on Nate Parker honey. I remember when I got my hands on "Birth of A Nation". It was late in the day when it came so I printed it and got ready for an evening in. I was so amazed. My vision of near perfection had been surpassed. This brother can write - like the kind of entertaining and structurally sound film writing dripping in intellect and confidence in the factual historical content type of write. By this time he was in production and casting and I didn't know the story of how he got the money. I thought he made good choices as I read about the project on Deadline. I just knew it would be great.

His film appeared at Sundance on Monday evening. And the preceding news stories all reported on how he raised TEN MILLION DOLLARS for his film. I also read he stopped being available for work until his project was done. Nate Parker was BOUT THAT LIFE! For real. The buzz was swift and favorable - Nate Parker had written, acted, directed and produced himself to the top of the Sundance conversation. Everybody everywhere was talking about "Birth of A Nation". Around 11ish, my coworker told me there was a livestream interview with cast and crew from the film. I immediately got the earplugs out and tuned in to this conversation and found out so many interesting facts including that he has a wife and a mortgage but put up $100,000 of his own dollars to make the movie, he had to go out and ask people for money, he was so knowledgeable about what's happening in the world right now. But there was one fact I didn't know and it really took me by surprise.

The moderator asked Nate Parker something like how did he do it but really the question became obsolete once I heard the answer. He responded, "I didn't know how I'd get it done. It was just pray, pray, pray, pray, do it. Pray, pray, pray, do it. There was no luxury of thinking about it."

pray-work-hand-drawn-vector-illustration-drawing-handwritten-phrase-48441466I have been struggling with what to DO about my career. I have a big birthday rapidly approaching and I feel like it's now or never on my dream or I feel like it's about time to let the dream go and at last, focus on getting this money (my dream has money potential but I'm still in the not enough coins phase). Then I see someone as awesome-sauce as Nate Parker, making a clear line in the sand for his film. It surpassed what HE could do, he had to seek the supreme power...

As I review the last year of my life I've been super busy but I'm not sure what I was doing. I didn't write. I didn't shoot. I did simple edits at work but nothing for real. I wasn't even doing my collage scrapbooks - I was not in my creative flow. When I'm not creating the doubt flows in. When I'm being doubtful the world appears dark and there's nothing I can do to shake it. Even things I once viewed favorably become awful (Yeah I shot a short but it had sound and mirror shot issues; yes I produced a play but I don't have any of the money left I raised to put on the show; yes I work for a top talent management company but there's nothing happening there as it relates to me/my goals/my career.) Everything seems dark.

I admit, I turn to prayer in these times but when my prayer life is on, the truth is that my action levels are not. I pray and wait. I go into hiding as I pray and wait. I don't like to talk to my friends or family, I just pray and way. But there was Nate Parker with another alternative. And like all "signs", this one work because it reminded me of my Granny's "faith without works is dead" mantra. What about if I pray and do? Like make it a point to pray and do. Ironically a good friend who never talks church or God recently shared her experience with a fast. She said she felt compelled to DO something for God. What have I done? While I don't think comparison is helpful in general, I do think we can compare our actions to that of someone we see achieving what we want - i.e. how we all look at youtube videos for workout, cooking and hair tips! Where was my action?

In the past, I recall praying for work then going out and applying any and everywhere. I remember praying for writing opportunities then sitting at my computer and creating them by blogging and submitting articles. I remember my prayers around my last short film project and then going out and asking for actors, crew and locations. Things do happen when prayer and action combine. For Nate Parker, the result was a record breaking film sale at Sundance and as I learned in his interview, more importantly to him, he's telling a story not many people know. He's creating a reference of a man that decided today is the day and he wouldn't take it anymore. He's drawing a parallel to a time past and subconsciously asking us what will we do. What better messenger than Nate Parker to deliver the news. I've had enough. I'm ready to go about this life in a different way. I'm picking up my weapons-prayer and action.

Time for my own revolution.

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Straight Outta Thin Air

This week I've been walking around in a daze. I had no idea a movie about a famed rap group would continue to enforce the power of gratitude, law of attraction and MAGIC at work in my life. When I moved back to Louisiana in 2008, things looked dismal. I'd returned home without work, very few friends and low funds. After trying to secure a "real" job and getting no results, I opted to go back to waiting tables. In the past, that type of work always led to new opportunities AND going home with cash everyday is always nice. I got a job at HoustonsHouston's on St. Charles in New Orleans - plus side it's always packed. Downside it's always packed with people who had known me before so they wanted to know what happened with my life that after working in Hollywood with "the stars", I was now a waitress. Although it was embarrassing at first to share that I'd come home to regroup as the pursuit of my dreams had left me a bit discombobulated. Luckily I had coworkers that believed in me when I'd share my dreams. In particular there was my friend Darren, a talented musician who could relate to the plight of a creative dreamer. And then there was Yvonne. Yvonne was someone who always had the right words - like when I first came to work wearing my hair in it's natural state, Yvonne was the one who said rock that ish. When I would get upset because I had to face folk who knew me when I was up, Yvonne was the one who gave pep talks in shaking them off. And when I'd have a bad day and feel like my dream would never come back around, Yvonne was the one who would provide enthusiasm and pep talks to get me through the shift. Yvonne and I became friends at Houston's but our relationship was able to last beyond that - highlights include me doing her first radio interview and her giving my sister her first production job. So I was pleasantly surprised when I moved to L.A. last August and low and behold, guess who was in town indefinitely? YVONNE! She had moved to L.A. for a while to help support her brother who was filming the new NWA movie. Once again my life was in transition and once again Yvonne had popped up to bring new energy and motivation. My first few months here were great as she was a welcome piece of home as I re-navigated the city.

IMG_2377Fast forward to last week. I'd spoken to Yvonne who was planning to come to L.A. for the premiere of "Straight Outta Compton" to support her brother. I invited her to stay with me. She arrived last Thursday. Our first two days together were a recap of all the things we'd spoken about that have since come to pass - how I talked about getting back to Cali when we worked together or how just last summer she called in production accounting work! We literally have been manifesting our lives the entire time we've known each other. And now we were surrounded by more people with stories that paralled. Here we were sitting and chilling with her brother who critics are praising for his portrayal of rapper Easy E. His dreams are coming true right in front of us and that's powerful to witness. All of this "magic" was happening as a result of her visit! All I could think about were the possibilities of what could happen and we hadn't even seen the movie yet!

On Sunday we went to a cast/crew screening of the film. At the screening theIMG_2395 director, F. Gary Gray (side note: Freaking F Gary Gray! FRIDAY! SET IT OFF! That dude!), gave a brief speech about how the film had come together. He spoke to the cast/crew as if he were genuinely grateful for the work they had done to make this vision a reality. He gave numbers examples of specific things people had done. The attending cast got to speak. It was crazy listening to O'Shea Jackson, Jr. talk about this being his first movie role and how it felt to play his dad. I couldn't imagine...then it was time for Yvonne's brother Jason to speak. He was so excited as he thanked everyone for helping make his dream come true. As someone who has worked in production, movie making is truly a team sport. It felt good to see the movie for the first time with those who had labored for it. The movie was amazing...so great I'm going to write a whole 'nother post reviewing it when I get to work! But the feeling I got from being in the theater with those people who literally made the movie.

Monday was the premiere. Let's be clear, this was not my first premiere but there was something special about going and celebrating with my girl. Our word for the night was CELEBRATION and we were bout that life! I'd taken off early and got my nails done. We met up, got dressed and went to get makeup done. When we arrived at the shop, it was clear we were running very behind schedule which is a nightmare for me. My ego kicks in with the mental chatter about "messing up" and I silently start to freak out. But because I was Yvonne's guest, I opted to go with her flow which was calm and flexible. Once makeup was done we hopped in an Uber. The driver was excellent, taking us through 6pm Monday L.A. traffic like a pro. We got the venue with 10 minutes to spare. Again, this was not my first premiere but I had NEVER seen an event line like the one ahead. IMG_2407My experiences with these type of events had me prepared for the crowds and lines but this premiere was the most massive I had seen! First of all it was at the type of theatre that houses concerts and plays not movies. It's HUGE and from the looks of the line, every seat was going to be accounted for. The good news about the crowd is at that point I know it's impossible to start the movie on time. That helped me relax, figure a short cut to the line and get the tickets quickly. We arrived to our seats, shortly after Jason came over and then it was showtime. Tonight, F. Gary Gray (yes I keep saying his whole name!) was accompanied by the people who made it happen - the surviving members of N.W.A.

Now listen, we're talking Ice Cube, DJ Yella, MC Ren and Dr. Freakin DRE on stage talking about their lives and this movie they had made. I was so captivated but for obvious reasons I was estatic when Ice Cube spoke about how he wrote Friday and collaborated with F. Gary Gray to make the movie and now they got to do this storyIMG_2409 together. I was full of emotion. I'm sitting on the row as a guest of one of the stars who is from where I'm from, I'm surrounded by "the stars" and I'm facing people who in the face of adversity leaned on their talent and changed their entire world. EXHALE! It was a lot to take in. One thing I will say about the movie is that the opening scene makes me want to scream aloud. I am still not quite sure if it's based solely on the sequence's action or if I'm just in awe of how this night had come together for me.

I wasn't there because I worked for such and such who manages you know who. I wasn't there because I was dealing with some dude who gave me the hookup. I was there supporting my friend who was supporting her brother who was very happy to have his people there with him. That's my dream - to do what I love and be surrounded by the people I love who love me back. I'm always on the lookout for the signs - signs that I'm on the right track, signs that it can happen, signs that dreamers like me were here and made it. The experience of STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON has been such a clear and vivid sign of what I truly desire and how close it is to me at all times.

The evolution continues...

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Which Way Do I Go?

0097447b-21ea-4c90-b88a-fb189307270aYou're driving along in your car to a destination you've never gone. The iPhone GPS told you to make a left several miles back and you think you did, but you can't quite recall as that was at least 30 minutes ago. You haven't seen another car for some time and the sun is starting to set. Your iPhone service is going in and out so the GPS is sketchy during this stretch. According to your research and how long you've been driving, you know you should arrive soon but you can't tell for sure since your devices are tripping. You're getting nervous - you have only used a 1/4 a tank of gas and you have some water and snacks so you know you're safe it's just a bit weird and that icky feeling is taking over. You notice that in a few miles you'll have the opportunity to turn off the highway and go another route. You wonder if it'll get you there faster or if you'll end up even more lost and confused. Of course the phone is tripping at this point and now you must rely on your gut. Do you stay the course (even though you may not be on the right path due to that confusing left a while back), turn right and start a new direction (hoping your GPS might kick in once you hit the new spot) or do you just pull over praying that somehow your phone and the 4G you were so excited to get finally come to your aid? What do you do? Which way do you go? How do you get back on track or are you in fact on the track still having never left? How can you possibly tell where you're going if you don't know where you are?  If you could, you'd ask someone for directions but there isn't another soul in sight. If your phone would work you'd call but again, how can they help you if you don't know where you are. On this journey, no matter what you decide, it shall be a decision totally based on you.etsy-com So...which way shall you go? Only you can decide...only you can get you where you need to go...

The Valley of Artistry

JoelOsteenANightofHopeOn Friday night I got to go see Joel Osteen at the Staple Center. One of our amazing clients was kind enough to invite me out to the Night of Hope event - Joel pastors Lakewood in Houston but travels across the country and the visits are called "Night of Hope". I'm a fan of Joel's and listen to his podcasts often to find inspiration and motivation. It was an amazing opportunity to see him live and in person. I was intrigued when I found out the night's topic would be "The Valley of Blessings". A valley is defined as a low point or a condition-not usually the first place that comes to mind for blessings. In short, Joel's message revolved around the fact that in life we will all find ourselves in a valley at some point. While God will sometimes remove these valleys, other times we have to go THROUGH the valley to experience growth and to prepare us for what comes after this point in our lives. Without quoting him line for line, Joel said there are blessings in every valley. Further, if we can focus and rename our valleys, we'll be able to go through these low points with more ease. He gave many examples of valleys, including jobs, relationships and of course, Biblical stories illuminating those characters valley moments. It was quite revealing.

I moved to L.A. to push myself to the next level of creativity and career advancement. I started writing, acting and producing in New Orleans and while I think I did pretty well, it was clear to me I need to become better at my craft. Since arriving here in August of last year, I've been all around unsure that I made a good decision. (Sidenote: Joel did say, we are where we are supposed to be and "if you were supposed to stay you would not been able to move".) My job has been a humbling experience. I've worked freelance since 2009, so returning to a "regular" job has been challenging. I'm very used to doing work in a systematic way that works for me. Now I'm in a situation where our work is based on a model that doesn't value my experience or input. I know I'm currently in a valley and I have been calling it "The Valley of WTF have I done to my life!".

In an attempt to apply what I heard at the Night of Hope, I felt renaming my valley was essential. In true DaVida fashion, I needed to research this valley and see what it is really about. My research led me to look toward people who have achieved the type of success I seek. I wanted to cross reference my valleys with theirs. I found quite a few similarities:

1015-oprah-daily-show-rally_standard_600x400The Valley of Rejection: I still find it so amazing that folk really rejected OPRAH! The now mogul has often shared stories of being let go from news anchor positions for a variety of reasons. She was also talked down to by the casting director of "The Color Purple" during the process of being cast in Oscar nominated portrayal of Sophia. If Oprah bounced back I know I can!

 

 

paulocoelhoThe Valley of Are You Crazy: I've heard I was crazy a time or two in my life but I can't imagine literally being committed in pursuit of my dreams. Paulo Coehlo says that when he told his family that he wanted to be a writer, they thought he was surely mad so they committed him! Crazy? Coehlo has gone on to write 30 books and sold over 175 million copies. His most famous work is "The Alchemist", which is regarded as one of the most read book in the world.

 

JayThe Valley of Isolation: While I have many friends and associates in L.A., it's not the same as my circle in New Orleans. There I was in a creative groove and the majority of my circle was in the same space. We'd create a lot and while we were learning as we went, we kept each other motivated. This feeling of isolation reminds me particularly of Beyonce/Jay Z. While there's so much speculation about the validity of their relationship, this I know for sure - both of them had to part ways with essential members of their team to advance to the next level in their career (which in my opinion has got to give them a serious bond that few others understand). They both caught flack for it and those losses could have halted their progress. Obvi no one really knows what goes on with them behind closed doors, but it appears they found a way to continue moving forward and pushing to toward their goals on their own. Seems to have paid off pretty well.

 

taraji6The Valley of It Takes Time: Taraji P. Henson has been working for years in Hollywood. She's been doing movies, TV and stage work for years. This year, she's suddenly become a household name for her portrayal of "Cookie" in FOX's phenom hit, EMPIRE. While she is a beast in this role, I'm moreso inspired by her tenacity and hard work over the years to get to this point. Taraji's trajectory is a great reminder there are no overnight successes EVEN if it appears to be the case.

 

jk rowling 210707The Valley of Dayum I'm Broke: I often get so upset over money. I often feel myself just getting by and am not able to earn enough to have a strong savings account. This bothers me so much and I find it hard to focus on acquiring wealth when I have no idea how I'm going to take care of my basic necessitates. Then I recall J.K. Rowling's story. Now boasting a net worth of $1 billion dollars due to the success of her Harry Potter empire, Rowling was a poor single mother on welfare (shout out to 2Pac). Talk about momma we made it!

 

While these are just a few of the examples that came to mind, I'm convinced these valleys all combine into one HUGE valley in which I now reside. I name it "The Valley of Artistry". I came to see everything I'm going through now is to make me a stronger artist. Great artists evolve into their craft and now I'm gathering more tools to perfect my craft. I'm also dealing with me, the deep down stuff that stands between me and my best work. It's all a process but now that I know what to call it, I already feel better about my situation. I'm confident that all the lessons I'm learning right now are going to be necessary once I move from this valley and into my next season.

The journey continues...

Going Back Home

IMG_0073One of the highlights of 2014 was attending my 20th year high school reunion. Yeah I know I look too young to have graduated that long ago. I was smart and they skipped me quite a few times...ok not true lol. I discovered so much about myself over the three days of spending time with the people I grew up with recalling the good ole days and catching up on where life has brought us to now. As I reflect on the year, going to the reunion had the most influential effect on my year. I hadn't been back to any events at Plaquemine High since I graduated. I take that back - I went to visit my aunt's class in 2005 to talk about pursuing non traditional careers. Other than that I hadn't been back. This may not seem abnormal - when I was discussing going back with my friends who grew up in larger cities, they never even considered going to a high school reunion because they don't recall their high school friends or lives. Since I'm from Plaquemine, Louisiana (and just for clarity, that's the city not the Parish), the people I went to high school with were my true peers. We literally grew up together. I went to pre school with these people and with the exception of a transfer student here or there, we sat in the same classrooms from first grade through twelfth! Nothing ever made me and my friends fall out-it wasn't that type of thing. We all went to college and stayed in touch for a while, but it wasn't the same. Now that I was at college I had so much more to do. I was in so many clubs/organizations, I worked a work study job and an off campus part time job, my family literally moved away while I was in college - my life was changing and keeping in touch wasn't as easy. (Truth is it became a pattern-I've moved A LOT over the past 20 years and whenever I relocate, I have to start again and many of my aces become strangers because I'm just not that good with staying in touch...)

So I was a bit nervous about the reunion. I wondered if it would be awkward seeing everyone again. I IMG_0141mean it had been literally twenty years since I had seen my former best friends! I was also nervous about who I had become - enter the DaVida Drama (insert dramatic dun dun duhhhhnnnn music). See although the reality is that I was scared to death to see my peers. I mean I used to be pretty cute and was definitely slim-code for super skinny like before I got these current hips lol. I had a nice smile, REALLY amazing hair (except that time I chopped it off in the 8th grade which these people would recall so I couldn't go with bad hair!) and back then I was in a power couple! Like totally on the high school level but we literally won best/couple  like all the time lol. And now I haven't had a real boyfriend in dayum near as long as the reunion. Plus my friends were super intelligent and we were all competitive! We did not play over grades and we all had big goals for ourselves when we graduated. I wondered if they'd get where I was on this artistic path...would they see me as a failure?!?! I was S-C-A-R-E-D!

Then it hit me. I was going HOME. These people knew me. They BEEN knew I was scared lol. But what I now knew was that I was so much stronger. Oh don't get it twisted, I'm not saying their opinion didn't matter, it mattered a lot - I had to go get the super duper press for my hair and even got my sister and her friend to do my makeup and styling that night to make the focus on the hips not the belly fat! S E R I O U S! LOL but I was no longer afraid to do things as I had been growing up - partially because I was free from the threat of getting beat or super punished! I was grown and I had grown up a lot over the 20 years. More than scared to see them I was excited to see who they had become and how they had grown. I remembered their dreams and I wanted to see if they were coming true!

Going to my 20th year reunion became one of the turning points of the year for me and I think in retrospect, probably my life. We had a lovely time, I saw people I hadn't seen in 20 years. We'd all changed but not really. We were still deep down who we were then. Of course life had happened but everyone was good - REALLY GOOD! It reminded me that I didn't grow up friendless in some small town finally escaping to Hollywood to pursue my dreams which is the melodramatic story that plays around in my head on my bad days. Going home for that reunion reminded me of the truth. I grew up around some pretty amazing people who have grown into even more amazing people with families, careers, and lives that make our small town proud. Going home reminded me of so many great memories as well as my childhood desires. I've wanted to tell stories all my life. Going to that reunion helped me make the decision to come back to L.A. and give my dream another chance...

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Cruising

IMG_1118On February 22, 2014, I embarked on my first cruise. The experience changed my life. I love to travel but had not gone on an adult vacation to that point. I'd had girl weekends here and there and super cool birthday/bachelorette weekends, but never an escape type vacation. The cruise meant disconnecting from my normal life (cell phone an wifi rates on the water are hefty!) and spending a week away, exploring new beaches (one of my fav activities in the world), eating great food, reading books I'd neglected and just unwinding. This trip also meant bonding with my family as the trip was to celebrate my sister's 21st birthday and was sponsored by my mom! This trip was amazing - relaxing, beautiful, exotic - but it changed my life in a different way. The month before the cruise I had a huge argument/disagreement with my mom and my sister. I had no desire to go around the corner with them, let alone leave the country with these two people that had hurt me so. My grandmother who knows how much I love to travel persuaded me to go. I was still mad but attempted to start getting my attitude together around the trip. I was a bit concerned about money-when I'm mad at folk I detest getting anything from them so I wanted to ensure my financial independence from my mom on the trip. The week before we were set to leave, I entered a contest on Instagram and won $250 - super random contest where all I had to do was share an inspiring quote. Maybe the day or so before the trip, I won $50 on a scratch off lottery ticket. I'd gotten $300 seemingly from no where to go on this trip. At this point, I figured the universe was conspiring on my behalf so I was more excited to go and the night before I was super anxious and excited, barely getting any sleep.

The day we were set to leave, I set an intention to have a peaceful trip  and asked that I can be more IMG_1177forgiving towards my mom and sister while on the water - after all I was going to be sharing a cabin with my sister and I didn't plan on throwing shade toward my mom for an entire week! I just wanted to go and relax and be happy. The cruise was amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it - my fav part was parasailing in tandem with my sister. While we were miles above the boat we got lifted from, we proclaimed our intentions to the universe! Our adventures were numerous and I did feel more connected with both my mom and sister as we discussed life at dinner every night. It was again very awesome, but here's the life changing part:

The trip made me realize that the Universe is indeed working constantly on our behalf. One night on the cruise I decided to go get some lemonade alone in the middle of the night. As I walked on the deck where drinks were, I realized I was the alone, just me and the stars. I was surrounded by darkness all around me but I felt no fear (which is odd since I can be pretty scary). I felt calm and peaceful. In this great expanse of the ocean, I knew for a fact I'm never alone and that I'm always safe. I felt protected and surrounded by love. I felt like being there in that moment on that ship was a metaphor for life. I embraced it.

After the trip, life was still life. There were many ups and downs as the year continued to unfold. 2014 went on to be the year full of the most change in my world. And although I'd get scared and freak out as per usual, I'd think back to that night on the cruise often. That was the shift. I no longer wonder if things will work out. I know and believe I'm protected. Always in all ways. Since the trip, I'm closer to my mom and sister (even though we did have a physical altercation months later but I digress lol). That cruise, from the fact that it was provided as a gift to me by my mom and my spending money was taken care of by my winnings, was a blessing. It serves as a constant reminder the Universe will provide and that was one of the biggest lessons I learned in 2014.

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How Free?

“Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.” ― James Baldwin

I want to be free and that desire led me to see what or who was keeping me bound.

Imagine my shock when I found out it was me! There was no high powered white man cracking the preverbal whip, no family matriarch looking down on me, no authority figure waiting to beat my ass into submission. Nope none of those. My thoughts, my beliefs, my actions. All of that was leading to my bondage. Held captive to a myriad of self-inflicted torment. Aggressive physical and mental abuse in a variety of forms including but not limited: self sabotage, fear, martyrdom, doubt, lack, inadequacy, seeking validation outside of myself, lies, hurt, poor diet and drama.

But now that I know what keeps me bound, can I just walk away and step into my freedom? How free do I really want to be? No REALLY? If I truly desired freedom, wouldn't I be able to step right into it? Shake off those shackles like they were a polaroid? Start fresh and forge a new path free of all those things that no longer serve me. Free to just be me.

Yet freedom remains elusive...

 

 

Maybe It Worked

fajb_time_travel_01_jan2014I've always had a fascination with time travel. Growing up, one of my favorite shows was "The Twilight Zone". There's an episode where the main character decides to go back in time to correct some things about our collective past. He attempts to thwart Hiroshima, kill Hitler and get Lusitania off course. All of his efforts are unsuccessful and he even plays a hand in a tragic event in his home town. He decides the past can't be altered and returned to the future.

During the mid 80s when "Back to the Future" hit, I was again intrigued by the prospect of going back in time. Since Marty McFly was only going back in time to correct his family's issues, I wasn't that big of a fan but the story line won me over. The movie made me feel as if one day the technology would allow me to hop through decades at some point.

The show that really sold me on the idea of time travel was "Quantum Leap". This show changed my perception of time. Because the main character was a governmental scientist, the writers/show creators did a great job of convincing me that there was classified technology that would allow people to leap into other time periods. I became fascinated with "leaping" to the 70's.

I was no big fan of history class in my academic studies. My grades school and high school history7b3a6cc8324ca5f25e547820e5af6cbb class teachers are not ones I remember (except the one from high school my classmates and I figured had a drinking problem but I digress). I don't recall ever getting really excited about the things that taught EXCEPT when we grappled the 70s. I was drawn in particular to 1976, the year of my blessed birth. I took pride in the fact that I was a "Bicentennial Baby," having been born in July 200 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. I always felt very patriotic due to when I was born. I wanted to leap back to the decade of my birth with my current level of intelligence to see just how much America had changed 200 years after the founders penned their intentions for this country.

Fast forward to present day. My fascination with time travel expanded not just to going back in time but to the possibility that time is non linear. I also got hip to the possibility that there's parallel universes and it's possible our souls are living multiple lives at once. These new theories and expanded possibilities of how I view time, made me begin to wonder, have I actually some how leaped back into the 70's? Clearly I know it's 2014, but I wonder if i'm currently living the 1970s experience I had imagined "leaping into"? Follow me now, here's where it gets interesting...

I grew up in a small town in Louisiana. When I visioned myself in the 70's I always figured I'd head West. I was into images of New York's "Studio 54", but always saw myself living in a warmer climate with the option of the beach. Additionally I always felt as if I would be better suited to Los Angeles. I've always wanted to work in entertainment and I was always fascinated by the variety in belief systems that seemed to come from West Coast'ers. The women from this time seemed beautiful, intelligent and not afraid to stand up for what they believed, whether it was racial or gender equality. I always wondered how I would have been in the past. Would I have been marching and protesting? Would I have been blowing shit up? Would I have been a Black Panther? Would I have been an academic or a politician making waves that way? Or would I have been a hippie dippie artist type, living life on the fringes but using my work to state my politics? And less poignant questions filled my head as well. I wondered would I rock an afro or cornrows or get fresh blowouts? Would I be super fit and baring my midriff or would I be super conservative?

As much as the country has advanced today, there are quite a few similarities to this current time and life in the 70s for American citizens. The 1970's are historically viewed as tumultuous, with people at home fighting for equality and soldiers or foreign land fighting as well. There were huge economic disparities between the haves and the have nots. Citizens were increasingly distrusting of the government and it's leaders. The country was left divided from the uproar of the 60s and many people with conservative views supported a new regimen called the "New Right". The New Right fought against high taxes, affirmative action, desegregation in schools and government meddling. Sound familiar?

Right now those seem to be the issues of the day. The economic disparities are huge and some experts proclaim there is no longer a middle class in this country. Our students are falling behind as our educational system seems to be in shambles. Citizens today are highly distrustful of government and that distrust is only extrapolated by media pundits second guessing everything our elected officials are doing. And today, black men continue to be arrested at a higher rate that whites and tragically are also being killed at high rates by police officers entrusted with their protection. While I don't mean to exaggerate the situation by saying we haven't progressed, I find myself often disappointed at our current state.

fergusonIn this "new world" I'm often left asking the same questions as I did when I was contemplating time travel. The difference is that now my questions have very visible answers. I'm no longer considering what if's but rather living the realities of what is. Now I know what I would have been doing because it IS what I'm doing daily. While I'm not always voicing my opinions in a visible way, I'm dealing with my emotions in a creative manner. I've had long term issues with living in America and wanting to be an upstanding person of color. I now realize that those are confines I set for myself and trying to win over racists with my excellent personality is a futile goal! I've opted to channel my emotion, talent and energy into my creative work. I never really thought I'd be a hippie-dippie artist type, emoting all over the page, but that's where I am. I fought it so long trying to be a more dynamic, outspoken and captivating vision of myself that wasn't quite lining up with what my soul was saying.

The thing I most enjoyed about "Quantum Leap" was that the main character remained himself noSamleaping matter what body or time period he leaped into. His belief system and his nature/personality remained the same-his SOUL did not alter. What I've found is that as much as I grow and evolve, my soul too remains the same. If I were to go back in time, I think I would bring my light to the world then much as I do now. I believe we all have been given gifts that will need to be utilized before things get better. Our souls are burning to activate and change the world for the better. Ever little thing we do in the name of fairness, equality, compassion-basically everything thing we do in the name of love gets us closer to where we are going. As I sit and type this, I struggle. It's hard for me to grasp that this is enough. I want to be a part of social change and I wonder me sitting around writing and attempting to become better at storytelling in general is enough...

Then I recall all this started with the desire to time travel and I got the idea simply from watching an old school TV show.

When we do the best we can, it is always enough.

Spottieottiedopalicious

THEN: The first time I met OUTKAST was in the fall of 1994. It was my freshman year at college, and I was working for the Southern University Student Government Association for Homecoming. My job was to assist with the artists performing at the concert. I was assigned to Aaliyah. While she was doing soundcheck, I was sitting in the stands and I turned around and no shit OUTKAST was sitting there. We struck up a conversation...which really means I started talking to them as per my usual. They were super cool and humble (at the time they were OPENING for Aaliyah so) and I was excited about where their career would go.

IMG_1838Fast forward to spring 1997. The fall 1996/spring 1997 school year was one of the best moments in my life! Seriously. I was on the homecoming court in the fall and that spring I pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. The previous school year I had become a total Outkast fanatic. I had also found out the hype behind marijuana and no artists mixed quite as well with weed as the ATLiens (still a fact lol). This was the life. I was wrapping up my junior year at college, I'd risen to the high ranks of the social scale at school and I was feeling pretty optimistic about life. Icing on the cake? Guess who came to perform at Springfest! Yup OUTKAST! This time there was something different about the group.

In the three years since we'd previously met, they had sold a gazillion albums and even introduced the world to GOODIE MOB. These were no longer just two young guys pursuing music, they had put the south on the map in a major way. I was super excited to meet them once again but this time I found them more focused than laid back and cool. They inspired me that it was time to get a plan. In 1997, my life became focused on getting to Los Angeles. I felt if I could just be in the City of Angels, opportunity would come. I felt I'd get discovered for whatever my talent was and I believed with all my might that it would happen.

 

NOW:

In the 17 years between Springfest '97 and today,  so much has happened. I moved to L.A. - twice. I discovered my talent (for myself, no one ever magically appeared to tell me what it was). Outkast stopped making new music. They announced they'd do a 20 city tour to celebrate their 20 years in the business. I was confident I had to see them. I was fortunate to go to Voodoo Fest in New Orleans for their Halloween night performance. The show was amazing. While there I began to ponder on my life and what I had done over the 20 years since first seeing the guys in the FG Clark Activity Center.

1891078_10152352257291400_8391061365961831905_nMy initial reaction was sadness. When I first started listening to OUTKAST, I wanted to be so many things. I really thought I'd be an MTV VJ one day-that was my highest aspiration to be the next Downtown Julie Brown. That didn't happen. I hadn't had a horrible life but I also hadn't reached the goals I'd set for myself. My mind quickly shifted from what I had wanted to accomplish to what I wanted to be. When I was in college, I often dreamed of the person I wanted to become. I wanted to be a single woman, very connected with her friends but also committed to her career. I wanted to go to amazing concerts and get to know music artists in social situations so I could ask them questions and share how their music influenced me. I wanted to work hard on creative endeavors but also play hard, traveling often and enjoying life. I dreamed and longed to not live a status quo life. I wanted to experience everything that life had to offer, not just what I knew in my small town upbringing. I wanted to be an adventurer, fully engaged and open to what the world had to offer.

As I stood awaiting the group I'd followed for two decades to appear on stage, I realized that I AM who I wanted to be. I have seen the vision for my life unfold and I've done even more than I imagined. Life has been pretty amazing. As the night went on I couldn't help but focus on the future (especially since my costume was from the year 2076). I began to visualize who I want to be and what I'd like to experience in the next 20 years. As I shared my vision with Andre 3000 later in the night, I looked around and saw my line sister from 1997 and my homegirl from my days at Purdue-both people who were there at different points of my OUTKAST journey. I felt myself in the flow of life - how vision becomes reality...how all things align. It felt like a story unfolding...it felt pretty damn Spottieottiedopaliscious!!!

 

ETC:

For your listening pleasure...

 

It's Happening

October was a pretty rough personal month. I asked myself a gazillion times if I had made a poor decision in moving to L.A. Things have not being going according to plan. Today was one of my best friend's baby shower. This is no ordinary friend, this is my GIRL! I couldn't make her wedding or graduation due to financial constraints but she's always been able to show up for me. I vowed to be there with a great attitude and no trace of the drama I've been experiencing. I also opted to take my camera to help gather lasting memories from the event. The day turned out to be so special! Not only was it a beautiful shower (complete with a 4 course meal and great wine!) but I realized Los Angeles is exactly where I want to be right now. Not only am I here with my great friend as she embarks on her new life as a mother, I love the weather, healthier lifestyle and exposure to such a high level of talented people. While there are many goals left to accomplish, I realized today without a doubt that I am on the right track. Since I had the camera out from the shower, I opted to do a short video to reiterate the fact that I'm watching things I've desired come to pass. I guess I'm a pretty powerful manifestor after all!  

But I Like Her...

As I was getting my gossip fill this morning, I saw a bunch of sites reporting a Shonda Rhimes quote about Katherine Heigl. The first thing I thought was, "Wow! The most powerful woman in TV speaks and that's the soundbite we gonna roll with? Ok." As it sat with me a bit longer, I remembered my experience with Ms. Heigl and instantly a quote from Martin Luther King came to mind.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

First of all, let me clarify. I do believe Ms. Rhimes is speaking her truth. I recall the articles when Ms. Heigl was quoted as saying some not so cool things leading up to the Emmys. I've also seen quotes from Seth Rogen and they were equally unflattering. But I'm a firm believer that people are not just one way. If you were to take a random sample of folk I've met over the years, I might be called a sweetie, an inspirer, a bitch, a pothead, a hard worker, a slacker, a beast or a scary cat - trust me I can give all of that and more on any given day! I just wanted to go on record of my experience with Ms. Heigl. When it's all said and done, if someone is recounting their negative experience with me, I'd hope someone would chime in with their positive experiences as well. (NOTE: I doubt Katherine Heigl is somewhere crying in her soup because someone said a mean comment about her lol. I also doubt she or Shonda Rhimes are awaiting the release of my latest blog post! I do believe I reentered the blog space to speak my truth though, so I can write what I want. And before you pseudo "black folk need to stick together commenters appear, please STFU. Let's not EVEN go there. I'm clearly a Rhimes stan-catch me any given Thursday and I'll be all up in the ABC space!)

article-2330114-19F85E29000005DC-161_634x600In April of 2013, I got hired to be a cast driver/assistant on the indie film, "North of Hell", filming in New Orleans. I was excited because I was supposed to be driving Patrick Wilson-good lawd that man is FINE! I was planning all my charm when due to a schedule change, I was informed I'd now be with Katherine Heigl. Due to her negative press, I was NOT excited. I was very nervous because I had read she could be a bit rude and I was not ready to deal with a diva. I was hoping for a relaxing job to earn some relatively easy money so I was more than a bit concerned. The first day we were set to meet, I got up early, I said my affirmations and I prayed my production job prayer that I always pray before starting a job, "Lord let me handle that comes my way with grace and ease."

When I reported to work, I didn't know what to expect but I had my guard up. It quickly melted when we met. Ms. Heigl was delightful! She had a great positive energy and one main intent, to show up and do justice to her quite demanding role. Every morning (and sometimes night for late shoots), I'd arrive at her home to scoop her up. She'd be ready to face the day and always showed up with a kind good morning, good music and energy that permeated the Chrysler 300 I'd drive us to work in. Eventually I met her mother/manager, Nancy Heigl. Now if Katherine was delightful, Nancy was inspiring. I've worked most of my career with talent managers, and the good ones all have one major objective-helping their talent reach their goals. Nancy was amazing. I'd hear (eavesdrop) her on business calls and she was so capable and amazing, it reminded me to focus on my goals. Both women were very interested in me and what my goals were. They quickly picked up on the fact I had prior experience in the industry. We talked about projects and they treated me with great respect. At the end of our time together, they gave me an amazing gift that helped me pursue my production goals.

From my experience, Katherine Heigl was amazing. I'd proudly work with her in a heartbeat and I can not wait to see her new TV show "State of Affairs" in November. I'm proud to have grown up a bit. My old way of thinking was that if we were friends you couldn't like someone I don't like. (So Shonda if you wanna give me a new writing gig, my belief that Ms. Heigl is awesome shouldn't affect that lol! Call me girl! I've got some thoughts on some storylines honey! LOL. Oh you too Seth Rogen boo-feel free to hire me at your will!)

At the end of the day, this is just my version of my experience. Me speaking MY truth. And who can be mad at that?

-xoxo