Black Wonder Woman

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Black Wonder Woman was the theme in the air at The DGA African American Steering Committee’s Tribute to director Gina Prince-Bythewood. On May 25th, Gina made history when it was announced that she would be directing Spider-Man spin off Silver and Black” She is the first African American  woman to be at the helm of a major superhero blockbuster film! Then a week later Wonder Woman drops and grosses $103.3 million domestically and $228.3 million worldwide directed by a woman! It is truly an amazing time for women in filmmaking.  Between Wonder Woman and honoring Gina, I’m feeling pretty confident about taking over the world!

As the theater filled up I felt such a joy to just be in the room, to stand in agreement with so many folks to honor, celebrate and recognize the “quiet storm” that is Gina Prince-Bythewood.  She truly exemplifies grace, talent and light! As I watched the video package on her career, listened to the incredible speeches made by colleagues and friends, and leaned in for the talkback moderated by Robert Townsend my brain was just spinning. I laughed, I cried, I was overwhelmed with joy and inspiration. The speeches kicked off with Sanaa Lathan as she walks us through her road to Monica Parks. Lena Waithe gave us a hysterical story from her assistant days with Bythewood, and her mission to  get Whoppi Goldberg on the phone. I’m convinced Susan Fales- Hill needs her own sitcom after her description of Gina’s oversized men shirts and baggy jeans to cover all the junk in the trunk in the writers room. Bestie Felicia D. Henderson’s gives us tales of Gina being a ride or die who always rides the bus when the limo breaks down.  Aisha Hinds from Mrs.BytheWood’s latest epic television event, Shots Fired took us on a journey of walking in your purpose that had the whole house holding back tears.

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Many know Gina’s journey began in the writer’s room of “A Different World”   yet she had a burning desire, to direct. The first film she ever directed happened because she simply asked. She didn’t necessarily believe anyone would give her shot, but she wrote it and put herself out there and the producers said YES!

Take away: ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT! As I mentioned on my last post, 13 Reasons Why, I wrote my first short film. Listening to Gina be so transparent about her fears as a writer,  resonated so much with me.

“Does anyone even want to see this story” – Gina Prince- Bythewood.

That’s exactly where I was with my script. I was questioning is it good enough? Fear started creeping up as I thought about the actuality of making this story yet being in this room gave me a peace about it. THIS IS TOTALLY NORMAL! Gina is a lover of music and creates a playlists for all of her scripts. I almost lost it, because there is definitely a Broken playlist on my Apple Music right now! Having that “mirror” moment that a woman I have so much admiration and respect for has a habit in her writing process that I have as well. That was a confirmation for me. I love it when God’s whisper happens! Events like these keep the hope alive in a town that can be really difficult.

THANK YOU DGA AFRICAN AMERICAN STEERING COMMITTEE!

AND THANK YOU GINA PRINCE BYTHEWOOD

FOR ALL OF WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO!

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13 REASONS WHY

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I wasn’t interested in watching a show about a teen who killed herself.  I’ve been dealing with deaths in my own life lately. Death of a relationship, death of friendships, death of my grandmother and even the anniversary of the death of my father. Grief comes in waves and different stages. When the first “death” happened, the heartbreak– a friend of mine told me I should write. To put my pain to purpose and use it. Although I knew my friend was right , I was afraid to write, afraid to feel the brokenness and pain of heartbreak all over again. I had gotten pretty good at running away from this pain, this brokenness.  You can run, but you can’t hide.  I’d like to think that completing my first marathon in the midst of it all was pretty ironic. My father was a writer and maybe subconsciously I’ve been running from writing for that precise reason.

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So I stopped running and wrote my first short film. It was terrifying. It is one of the most vulnerable pieces I’d written in a while and the idea of people picking me apart and judging me was really scary. God kept whispering that he didn’t give me this story, this gift, so I could hide it, I had to share it with the world. After reading my first draft, a friend told me I had to watch 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. I thought “man, people keep talking about this show!” So now I finally have a good reason to watch it. By episode 13, I was in tears. The emotional roller-coaster this show took me on reminded me of things I had forgotten. In some way or another, we all have a connection to Hannah. We’ve been bullied or been the bully. As adults we chalk up what teenagers feel and their problems as trivial growing pains, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. After watching this I’m inspired to write another story. A story I had buried away 15 years ago, but enough about that for now…

Here are my 13 take aways from watching:

  1. YOUR TESTIMONY CAN SAVE SOMEONE- We don’t realize the power in our stories. Shedding light on the darkness in us not only heals us but others who may be going through the same thing. YOU ARE NOT ALONE
  2. LIFE & DEATH is in the power of the tongue- What comes from our mouths is so powerful. You can sow a seed into someone’s life that can literally change everything. These kids had no idea that the things they said/did would plant a seed that would grow to a point that a young girl would take her own life. What we tell ourselves is even more dangerous. SPEAK LIFE
  3.  YOUR PAIN IS IMPORTANT TO OTHER PEOPLE- We tend to go the route of, “I don’t want to bother anyone” or “I don’t think they would care,” but there are people out there that do care.
  4.  CREATIVE EXPRESSION IS TO HOLD A MIRROR TO THE REST OF THE WORLD- I believe that storytelling–which ever way you do it– is one of the most powerful mediums that exists. You can change a life with that painting, that poem, that book, that movie you’ve been holding onto.
  5. ARE YOU COURAGEOUS enough to stand up for YOUR truth?- Whether others agree with how you feel or not, your truth is yours. Acknowledge it, Express it!
  6. YOU CANT CHANGE ANYONE; YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOU- I live by the expression, “if you can’t change the people around you, change the people around you.” Choose alignment with those that propel you towards your best self.
  7. You don’t TRULY KNOW WHATS GOING ON IN SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE- Just because someone says they are fine doesn’t mean they are.  Or just because their social media projects this amazing life doesn’t mean that it is.
  8.  Are you asking the right questions?-  Are you brave enough to ask those tough questions to your loved ones?
  9. IT ISN’T TRIVAL- No matter your opinion, if its a big deal to THAT individual it isn’t trivial. We don’t know how things affect folks and what permanent damage our dismissal may cause.
  10. .WE DON’T ALWAYS GET IT RIGHT- You will fail. Its part of life. God sees our heart. He sees us seeking to do better, but we won’t always get it right, and that’s okay.
  11. DON’T TAKE THE ONES YOU CARE ABOUT FOR GRANTED- Take the time to check-in with the people you love, spend time with them, and tell them how much you care. We tend to take time for granted and think we have it forever. WE DON’T.
  12. YOUR LIFE MEANS SOMETHING- We each were put here for a purpose. WE ALL MATTER, YOUR LIFE MATTERS!

13. “It has to get better; the way we love each other , the way we treat each other”

I AM ENOUGH

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HAPPY MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY & MLK DAY!

As I read this quote I thought

I LOVED & LOST… I TRIED

I DIDN”T BOOK THE ROLE.. I TRIED

I DISAPPOINTED SOME PEOPLE.. I TRIED

I DIDNT TAKE CARE OF ME….I TRIED

I MADE BUNCH OF MISTAKES BUT HEY I TRIED

REMEMBER… YOU ARE ENOUGH!

despite your mistakes.

MLK Day was a day growing up I always looked forward to.I loved hearing the I Have a Dream speech yet as I got older there were times where my identity was question.Wait, you speak Spanish, so you’re not really black.”Well you have another language and culture and a country you can go back to.” For my Latinos sometimes I was “too black”. I thank God that in 2017 folks are “getting woke” and the Afro-Latino/a movement is growing. I had the pleasure of contributing to  #IAMENOUGH a Blog dedicated to empowering Afro Latina women created by Jenay Wright. She started a project called

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This is what Jenay had to say about it:

The Afro-Dominican community was something I didn’t know much about. I knew it existed but not enough to understand what it meant to be one.
What it felt to be Black and from Dominican Republic?
How did the African Diaspora effect the Dominican culture and the people?
This is something I wanted to explore because if this is something that existed there should be noise about it.
Everyone should know who Afro-Dominicans are and if they don’t it’s because this community is underrepresented.
I knew being Afro-Dominican was more than just a skin color, it’s an experience, way of life , traditions, food, dance and many more. I was so hungry so anxious to understand their experience and the only way to learn was through this project.
This is more than a project but a series of stories that represents a community. It’s REALITY! These women opened up to share their lives with us all. To empower , encourage , embrace and educate us on their journey of being Black and From Dominican Republic.
I want this project to encourage women to use their voice and speak up. Don’t let fear hold you back from sharing your story.
This is a space for all women to feel loved, self-assured and most of all ENOUGH.
#ToBeBlackandFromDR is now live on our blog. Blast this all over social media and repost it all using the hashtag above.
Thank you all to the wonderful ladies who contributed. You are magical, beautiful , special and appreciated. You all made this happen and I can’t be more grateful.

Here was my inital response to the release of the project:

TRANSLATION: WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!

Go to www.hashtagiamenough.com to see, and read the culture that is Dominican.

HERE IS MY VIDEO:

New Year, Better Me

I came into the new year in GOLD!img_2875

“The color gold is the color of success, achievement and triumph. Associated with abundance and prosperity, luxury and quality, prestige and sophistication, value and elegance. Optimistic and positive, gold adds richness and warmth to everything with which it is associated – it illuminates and enhances other things around it.

At the uppermost level, this is a color which is associated with higher ideals, wisdom, understanding and enlightenment. It inspires knowledge, spirituality and a deep understanding of the self and the soul.Gold is the color of the winner – first place medals are always in gold”
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This year it won’t be a NEW ME, it will be a BETTER ME. Pressing deeper, working smarter and committing to ME! I want this year to be my GOLDEN year! The End of 2016 came with incredible triumph, completing my very 1st marathon and also with great loss. As 2017 approached I knew I wanted my year to feel like the GOLD medal I obtained. I want to commit to being a champion all year.

In the Alchemist it states,

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

God led me to this planner, the 30 Commit Planner and I asked my cousin for it for Christmas and got it in GOLD of course!

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This planner is pretty special, you make 30 day commitments in them and write down rewards for yourself when you complete your commitments. Talk about things just lining up! My first 30 day commitment is writing every day for 30 days! Whether I journal, write a poem, a scene, or a blog post (wink wink). There is so much power in words, and writing down commitments opposed to Goals or 30 day “challenge” Reflecting on that I decided that should be the 1st commitment of the year. Saying less and writing more, so when I do speak my words will be powerful! When the planner arrived I was motivated! That motivation led me to this quote:

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Starting  Celi’s Hangout was an idea that challenged my need to already be great, I almost didn’t start it, thinking I wasn’t “good” enough to start my own show. So I went back and watched my very first episode and thought to myself , “Wow, I wasn’t great, but I started!” I still have a way to go! So I say to you, GET STARTED! Work on your greatness! I’m working on mine!

Here is a reflection on that episode: Tell me what you are committing to this year!

Happy New Year!

FENCES

“Some people build fences to keep people out…and other people build fences to keep people in”

-Bono

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Still one of my favorite quotes from the prolific writer that is August Wilson. Denzel Washington has taken to task to transform the words of all 10 of August Wilson’s plays into films, and Fences is the debut of this adventure.

Fences, set in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania follows the journey of Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) and Rose Maxson (Viola Davis) an African-American married couple in the 1950’s.  Troy has been beaten down by life and dreams deferred and he spends his days working as a garbage collector alongside his long time friend, Jim Bono (Stephen McKinley Henderson). We see an unfolding of what manhood is and how it affects the only woman in this story, Rose. She is and continues to be an incredible character giving the audience the journey to womanhood. Their sons Cory (Jovan Adepo) and Lyons (Russell Hornsby) are fighting for a dream, a way out and the demons of their father’s past.

In Fences, Wilson reminds us that these people are “fenced off”. They are segregated and institutionalized due to lack of opportunities. Troy’s brother, Gabe/Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson), a WWII Vet who is mentally ill is the embodiment of that institutionalization yet through him we see empathy. He reminds us that we all must face judgement day.

 

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On Christmas Day, I took to the movie theater with excitement having read and seen the play several times, including the 2010 Revival Broadway production featuring Davis and Washington.  Cinematically, the film still gives the sensation of watching a play. The blocking is very stage like and the scenes have long blackout transitions between them.  For a  15-second video stimuli generation, I wondered if this form of cinematic dramatization would be appreciated. The preservation of the art of theater brought to film in this way by Washington for me was inspiring.

Denzel and Viola are a powerhouse and watching this film is a wonderful reminder of how beautiful August Wilson’s writing is, how poignant it is, how timeless it is and the importance of his work for all people, but specifically people of color. This film I believe challenges our generation to be still for 2 hours and 19 minutes and really listen. Once you give over to being “entertained” and truly take in the incredible performances of this cast breathing life into these expressions of the Black experience you will be transported and transformed.

For those who have wanted to, but never gotten the chance to see the play Fences what a blessing that this film version exists for this generation and many to come to be exposed to August Wilson’s work.

Fences is now playing in U.S. theaters. Let me know what you thought about the film in the comments section!

WAR ROOM

Its been a while since I’ve written a blog. I’ve been VLOGGING on Celi’s Hangout these days. Confessions of an actor, where I share my journey. Click the link to catch up 😉 Today I was compelled to write down my thoughts. A lot of great things have been happening in my life, I thank GOD for those things, yet even in the midst of the blessings life happens. Today I visited a church (will not  name the church for privacy)  and realized while I was there that there were still things on the inside of me that I was holding on to, battling, fighting that needed to be released. I knew that I was needing to go to the Altar and be prayed for but the church decided at the end of service to ask folks to raise their hands if they would commit to give money for the building. Now, I’m well aware that renovations and such are necessary, yet where we were in the atmosphere, the saving of souls were oh so more important. Any whooo to not make this a long drawn out thing I left church disappointed, spirit vexed and feeling heavy still. My amazing sisters in Christ, along with my mom and I decided to head to the movies to support Faith-based film WAR ROOM.  I found myself crying almost the entire movie. (DONT JUDGE ME) LOL It was a great film! Well written and honestly made me reevaluate my own prayer life.

I thought to myself.. Man, where’s my “MISS CLARA?” (gotta watch the movie) but without spoiling, an older woman of GOD who truly can pour into my life. It was beautiful to see a woman helping another woman break strongholds in her life. There is a reminder in the film as well that even after God Blesses you with your Miss Clara, you now must go and reach back and help someone else the way you were helped. So, not only will I be praying for God to send me a Miss Clara but that I can continue to pour into other young women who I can inspire, empower and teach to be the best version of themselves.

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Sometimes we all have those moments where life feels like a battle, a war of sorts and I’ve seen the power of prayer first hand and the transformation, yet this film truly shows what happens when you TRULY SURRENDER! Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to truly forgive and surrender. Recently I was asked to pray for someone who hurt me.  I could not disobey, although I won’t lie, my flesh wanted to fight it. It can be very difficult to pray for someone you feel has wronged you or hurt you, but its never really ABOUT YOU! We are not fighting against flesh/people, we are fighting principalities much greater in the spiritual realm. If I didn’t Pray for this person, the enemy would win. Praying for them instead of cursing them for what they had done only helps to release whatever I was holding on to. I thank GOD for continuing to show up and show out in my life. For blessing me beyond my own understanding sometimes and teaching me that  in order to truly walk into what God has for me I must pray for those who have wronged/hurt me.war-room-2

After the movie was over and the tears dried. I sat and watched the credits roll, to learn that they had a PRAYER TEAM on set! I was so happy to see that. I told myself, when I have a SET, I want a prayer team on MY SET! If you haven’t seen this film, TAKE EVERYONE YOU LOVE and go see it together. I’m going to set up a “WAR ROOM” of my own, its time to FIGHT back the best way possible! I pray that you find a WAR ROOM of your own, a prayer “closet” that enhances your life. I always pray in the morning and night before I go to bed but now, I’m GOING TO WAR!

Love you guys! Thanks for reading…

See yall on Celi’s Hangout!

The Accident that Woke Me Up!

This week will make 10 months in LA and as I sit here and type I think to myself, last week I almost didn’t make it to this week. Going into the month of December, I was feeling great joy from my birthday & thanksgiving. Even in my Vlog Post I expressed that I was finally getting into my groove here in LA.  At exactly 12am Saturday morning December 6th I was in a major car accident. It knocked the wind out of me and I woke up in a way.

 There have been places in my life where I have been sleeping and that accident was a wake up call.  As I cried my eyes out at Church on Sunday I knew it was out of thankfulness for Gods grace and mercy for saving my life. I just knew I wanted to have a life worth saving (not to say I already don’t) but on a much deeper level. That my life was worth more than being at a job that doesn’t value my leadership, hard-work and christian values. That my life was worth more if I did MUCH MUCH MORE for others. That my life was worth more being disciplined in reading my WORD & being the WORD. So as I count down the days to travel back east to be able to hug & laugh with my family again for the first time since I left in February, I know that God had it all set up! Its GO TIME! Time to go home for the holidays and recharge/regroup. Reconstruct what I want my life in LA to look like. Its not about New Year Resolutions, for me its about NEW LIFE SOLUTIONS!

What do I want in 2015?

LESS PRIDE, MORE QUESTIONS

LESS EGO, MORE LOVE

New Job, a vehicle, an action plan for my career, and to volunteer much more than I did in 2014.

Its not about chasing the Bright Lights, its about BEING the Bright Light! Your light could shine someone else out of their darkness. Your life is valuable and meaningful and I truly believe we do not leave this earth without accomplishing our purpose. Now what WE may think is our Purpose isn’t always what GOD says our purpose is.

Romans5:3-4 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulations produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

I pray that in 2015, the people I’m already linked to, that we may shed light in one another to make the world a brighter place! and to those I’m no longer to be linked to may God make it an easy GOOD-bye 😉  and for those God will link me to in the future, excited for the new chapters to create!

Love & God Bless!

 

4th Quarter

Its here! The fourth quarter of the year, the final stretch and a great time to reflect on how far you’ve come. How did the end of the year get here so fast? Today marks 8 months living in LA, 8 Months and lately I haven’t been my chipper usual self but we all have our days right? The struggle can get real, whether it is financially or emotionally. Life will send you curveballs and mostly what I’ve learned a TEST. Here is another test. A test of your will, your faith and your ability to allow yourself to go through the trenches, the valleys. A diamond is being molded 😉 

In the midst of life’s stuff some awesome things have happened:

– I booked a co-star role in a new webseries, STYLED BY KREE which will air on Issa Rae’s Channel

– I booked a pilot which is being produced by the Oxygen Channel

– I shot new head shots with photographer Steven Alan Davis

– Had a fantastic workshop with Casting Director  STEPHEN H. SNYDER

– Sent in a video audition for Ms.Moviefone!

**New episodes for Celi’s Hangout are up that I’m very proud of!

With all the no’s and things not always going the way you hope and/or plan you can forget that in the midst of the storm there is sun.

I encourage you all to continue to let your light shine! Be great and finish out the year strong! 

Below check out one of the photos from my shoot: Thoughts?

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Merge Summit

This past weekend I attended the MERGE SUMMIT at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. What an amazing experience! Founded by Holly Carter and Robin Reid 6 years ago, the Merge Summit integrates faith and entertainment. Some folks may think that faith and spirituality can’t exist in the entertainment business, but the Merge affirmed that it is possible! I used to be afraid of moving to Los Angeles, afraid to lose my way by all the stories I had heard about LA, but as the famous quote goes, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” There were an array of classes, workshops and empowerment sessions throughout the weekend. I was touched and moved to be in an atmosphere of believers who also understand the struggle of rejection and the difficulty of navigating through such a tricky business. Here are some quotes that resounded with me:

“Put your actions in line with your beliefs.”

“Success is not an elevator, its a staircase.”

“If you are not faithful to others vision don’t expect folks to be sowers into your vision.”

 

The confirmation I received was crystal clear! Moving to LA was never about me, it was all along in Gods plan for me. As my career moves forward in whatever is destined to come my way, I know that God has a purpose and I am to walk in that purpose. I am to be BOLD, be a light and bless others. It may not always be easy to walk this path, and we most certainly aren’t perfect, but I thank God for growth in Love and understanding everyday. Below is a video of my reflections of my 6 Month mark of moving to LA:

 

 

THANK YOU TO THE PANELISTS FROM MERGE GOD BLESS YOU AND GOD KEEP YOU!

-“NO RISK, NO REWARD: FAITH IS FOR REAL” with Devon Franklin

-MASTERING YOUR DIGITAL DESTINY  with Steve Jones, Billy Johnson, Caralene Robinson, Issa Rae, Leslie Robinson & Darnella Dunham

-BOLD, Beautiful& On Purpose-Lynn Whitfield, Michelle Williams, La La Anthony & Robin Reid

-The IT Factor with Jawn Murrary Yvette Nicole Brown, Erica Campbell, Edwina Findley & Lisa Raye McCoy

-The ULTIMATE COMPROMISE: Dondre Whitfield

-Inside Acting: Brely Evans, Hosea Chanchez, Nate Parker, Brandon T. Jackson, Common & Charles Michael Davis

-Faith, Love & Success: Devon Franklin & Meagan Good, Derek & Sophia Luke, Derek & Faune Watkins, Pastor Wayne & Myesha Chaney.

-ABC ‘Black-ish’ Screening/Q&A

IceBucket Challenge

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The madness has spread everywhere! I am hooked on watching soooo many videos on youtube of folks doing their #ICEBUCKETChallenge My little brother, Chris Chapman as well as Orange is the New Black fan site, @OITNB_BEYOND challenged me and I accepted! Watch video below! If you would like to donate to ALS please visit their website www.alsa.org