What The Hobbit, The Battle of the Five Armies Can Teach You About Diversity

{SPOILER ALERT}

First off, I love the Lord of the Rings franchise. I read the books back in the day and instantly fell in love with Middle Earth. Many times while reading I wanted to live there, always as an elf, and other times I found Middle Earth to be a scary and frightening place. Nevertheless, when Meatball said he had tickets to the IMAX, 3D advanced screening I could not hide my excitement while at work. The movie didn’t disappoint either. There was more than 1 scene that either had me jump because it felt soooo close and real, or I wished I had a sword so I could help kick some ass! All that being said, who knew The Hobbit would be dropping gems about diversity. Salute!

1. Never Underestimate The Little Guy – Those damn dwarves were not to be slept on. They may have been “vertically challenged” but they worked together to find solutions to their shared problems/issue – reclaiming their throne. Now, King Thorin went through some trials in this one. After taking back the kingdom he pretty much lost his damn mind. He thought everyone was trying to steal from him, and he became obsessed with finding one heirloom! His lust for his new found wealth, and his inability to think for the team almost ruined it for his dwarf subjects AND cousin all of whom came to his aid to hold onto the kingdom he’d JUST gotten back! He did finally have a come to Jesus moment – though it took most of the film. Nevertheless the dwarves heart, fire, and eventual focus allowed them to come together and overcome! And believe it or not, despite the few moments of selfishness their reputation as warriors preceded them.

So remember: don’t sleep on the little guy, the funny girl that seems like she’s not on her job, or the quiet guy in the back with his head down. They might just muscle you from your position and you won’t see it coming!

2. Pretty People Can Be a Pain in the Ass – Now I want to be an elven lordess as much as the next girl, but that father of Legolas, Thranduil was conniving, petty and pretty as hell. You got to watch those pretty people, they might be too pretty to think clearly for the team. He too was concerned about reclaiming some FAMILY heirlooms that King Thorin was now sitting on, that he was not heeding wise counsel, from GANDALF mind you. Who was telling him to make nice with the dwarves and work together to tackle the REAL issue…the damn orcs that were en route to slaughter EVERYBODY! However in Thranduil’s defense when you step on the scene like thissssss 

I have to give you a pass. I mean what is this beast of majesty he’s on? The elven army slayed that day! And these costumes.

3. Keep Magic in your Heart & Old People on the Team – Wise counsel, divine intervention. To be successful all it takes is a little faith and a discerning spirit. Be able to spot out prophetic counselors for your life. Everyone needs a Galandriel and Gandalf the Grey on their team. Their insight is of another world, and their power is unmatched. After witnessing Cate Blanchett in yet another elegant, ethereal, and frightening performance as Galandriel, I know exactly who I’m channeling for the 2015 Halloween galas!

4. Diverse Teams Fight the Good Fight – If everyone is on the same page, giving of their individual strengths and talents then all you can do is win. It might not be easy to find your footing or voice at first, but find a cause you believe in and your voice will be heard – do your part and fall in line. Everyone can’t and should not lead but we can all do what we can to push HUMANITY forward. In this film you had elves, dwarves, men, and wizards come together to save the day. Is your team as diverse or does everyone look and think the same? When you’re up against a group of orcs who’s only purpose in being created is to takeover EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY you’re going to want some diversity on the team!

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies comes out this week, December 17TH. Check it out in Imax, 3D for an unforgettable experience.

 

 

 

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Inside The Actors Studio, Where are the black legends?

Dave Chappelle on Inside the Actors Studio – Season 12

After watching a riveting performance by James Earl Jones on an episode of Law and Order SVU, I wondered, had James Earl Jones ever been on Inside the Actors Studio. Had James Earl Jones ever sat on the coveted couch? As I navigate my acting career, watching Inside the Actors Studio is a MUST! A couple of years ago I would spend hours watching available episodes on YouTube, and making sure to catch the current seasons on Bravo. You know hearing the journey of some of my favorite actors keeps me inspired, humble, and hungry for my “Big Break”. Dreaming of someday having a similar, intimate conversation with host James Lipton; hopefully inspiring someone else to reach for the stars.

Soooo I googled.

SURPRISE!!! James Earl Jones has NOT been on Inside the Actors Studio. How the hell does that happen? The voice of Mufasa AND Darth Vader has never been on this show. Seriously, James Earl Jones career spans over 50 years and includes numerous awards including an Honorary Oscar. Of course discovering this made me frustrated, so I looked through all the seasons of Inside the Actors Studio and saw they’ve been missing the mark on educating generations of aspiring actors and film-makers since 1994.

I came up with my own list of actors and film-makers of color that I feel are more than deserving of time on that stage.

For instance:

  1. Diahann Carroll
  2. Ruby Dee
  3. James Earl Jones 
  4. Cicely Tyson
  5. Billy Dee Williams
  6. Phylicia Rashād
  7. Debbie Allen
  8. Stan Lathan
  9. Della Reese
  10. Melvin Van Peebles
  11. Angela Bassett
  12. Jefferey Wright
  13. Damon Wayans
  14. Honorable mention the late: Sherman Hemsley and Richard Pryor
  15. The casts of Good Times, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Martin, A Different World, In Living Color

Honestly, this could be the list that never ends. But the only way to really start moving Hollywood forward would be to start at the root – education.

Don’t get me wrong, Inside the Actors Studio has had legendary African-American entertainers on the show. Such as Eddie Murphy who spoke candidly about his relationship and the work of both Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor. Of course other black folk have been on the show: Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Halle Berry, and hell – even Jennifer Lopez’s been on the show twice. But it wasn’t until Season 4 in 1998 that any African Americans showed up at all. Don’t believe me, here’s a list of guest. Lets not even discuss the sad amount, or lack thereof of African-American female actors that have been featured.

I don’t know, perhaps Inside the Actors Studio just doesn’t value the experience, education, and careers of the above artists. Maybe they just don’t feel their contribution to cinema and theatre is relevant to their students — as the show is taped and apart of the curriculum at Pace University, not to mention the vast Bravo TV audience available to them. Lord knows all the colored folk watching shows over there, myself included. Or just maybe those listed above are just not requested by the students, probably because they aren’t being exposed to their work. #insertsideeye

But shucks… what the hell do I know? I don’t know what the curriculum is, nor do I know for sure what people want to watch. I’m just an actress with a blog. Dreaming of some day sitting on that stage with ole Jimmy my damn self. Hopefully this blog doesn’t ruin my chances. However, should I make it to that stage, please have a plate of cookies waiting for me like the ones you gave Barbara Streisand when she inquired of food for her 2 hour special, because as you know…

 

 

 

Black Jews Then & Now

A few weeks back, for whatever reason, former Bad Boy artist Shyne was on my mind. His song “Bonnie & Shyne” was in constant rotation in my house when it came out. The video was everything, as ghetto-fabulous as it could get. Cars, furs…you know all this abundance and still living in the projects… #shade.

Nevertheless, I was going through some left-over pictures from my library visit last week, you can click here to check that post out, where I snapped this image of Black Hebrew Jews shot by James Van Der Zee during the1920’s.

photo 3

This led me down a rabbits hole, reading articles on the history of the Black Jews and how they came to inhabit Harlem. Somehow I came back around to Shyne and I remembered reading that he converted to Judaism a few years ago. I also remember seeing pictures of him gallivanting around Paris Fashion Week with Diddy in his new-found garb.

photo 1photo 4

Gearing up for my exotic trip to Istanbul next week has me thinking about traditional dress, and how I can incorporate some of these looks into my own. As I conceptualize my travel wardrobe I can’t help but be inspired by the looks they’re wearing. Satin jackets, variety of hats, and shawls all essential wardrobe staples.

I especially love the below shot of Shyne. There is something kinda sexy about him in this costume, all layered up and lighting a cigar; minus the shoes. He’s even in on the long-running pattern on pattern trend!

The rapper Shyne lights a cigar before the world premiere of his short films in Jerusalem, Israel

Bonus…Bonnie & Shyne  video.

 

Gotta Get Up – (I)

Did I ever tell you I was a restaurant hostess? And that I hate waking up at 4:15am (Mon-Fri). I work the AM shift which is  from 6:45am – 3pm, it’s a long day and utterly exhausting. I’ve been at the restaurant for about 6 months and I understand why there is such high turnover in the restaurant industry – – – it’s modern-day slavery. While the majority of the customers are a joy to interact with, there are others that you just want to slap/strangle/destroy, etc., but of course you can’t just go around giving Bruce Lee teas, though sometimes I am feeling like…

Lets not even get into the managers, while they “seem” cool, in reality most of them are drug addicted, aloof, and grossly overpaid. In any event the last few weeks have led me to reevaluate my relationship with the restaurant and to start taking steps to transition out of the space and move to the next level in my career that brings me joy in doing the work I love (Acting & Writing) and making great money while doing so. Not to mention my birthday is just a week and half away.

Which brings me to this “sacrifice to survive, discipline to thrive”.

I’ve shifted my thinking so that I’m beginning to thrive. I’ve joined the B.P.A.I.D. Business Planning Mastermind Group led by Jullien Gordon.  The mastermind consists of 9 conference calls covering topics such as – Finding Your Idea and Why, Finding Time and Flow, Finding Your Brand and Positioning and much, much more. The group has been so introspective.  And as I do the assignments and speak with my assigned accountability partner I find myself getting clearer and clearer on how I can use my gifts, talents and experience to create new revenue streams doing work I greatly enjoy.

However the mastermind group has also been a kick in the ass!  At times I am so tired from work that I have to drag myself to the computer on our conference call days which are 3x per week and also make time to do the assignments. Its been a big lesson in time management and critical thinking. Which overall has been great at helping me put 1st things 1st!

I also began a new publishing project with a friend, that I’ll keep under wraps for now; but except more information on that soon. This I am really, really excited about because its something that I’ve wanted to do since I moved to New York and was an intern at Vibe Magazine in 2005.

I could go on & on about all the new things I’m working on, but I refuse. I know what the hell I’m doing plus I’m the type of person that does their shit on the low and just let nature takes it course. But since I am tooting my own horn I’ll leave you with this…

My first feature film See You Next Tuesday is really on a roll. Picking up awards in Chicago, Boston, and Alabama! Its making it’s way all around the world with upcoming screenings in Australia, Germany, Canada and now London. Also earlier in the  year I was in a music video directed by Terence Nance of Oversimplification of Her Beauty and its finally out!!! In France for now. Hey gotta start somewhere. lol Anyway the song is called Triggers and it’s by Melissa Laveaux  so if you’re in France check out the video and let me know what you think. It was such a pleasure working with the cast members and talented crew, not to mention I was asked at the last minute because the person who was supposed to play my role was stuck upstate in traffic. I said YES to the project not knowing 1 iota about the director, artist, genre, nada. But when God opens a window and you know it you just move!