November Baby

Sousa, Dominican Republic

For as long as I can remember I’ve made it my business to celebrate my birth the entire month of November. In fact, November 10th is the day my mother was actually due to have me.Yet, November 20th is when I arrived for all the world to see. Doctors had to induce labor for fear of my life, so here I am!

November 10th managed to remain a significant date in my lifetime because it is also the day that my spoken word piece, Broken Poem will screen at the Caribbean Film Festival! As I am getting ready to embark on another trip around the sun, I wanted to share this incredible testimony of Love, Family and Friendship!

My birth was the very beginning of the many sacrifices my mother has made for my dreams so I had to make it my business to make a pit stop in NY to celebrate my birthday early (after all my mother says it’s her birthday too!) on my way to Dominican Republic. This year’s trip was to celebrate Crystal Brown’s birthday, my friend of 18 years. To say this trip was needed is an understatement. At the top of this year I declared it to be the Year of Franceli, stepping into some uncharted waters, which was really scary. I started freestyling publicly, joined a band, and even started a bible study group.

When I look in the mirror sometimes I see my father, Francisco Chapman-Veloz, a man who was so much to so many, a man who overworked and over extended himself at times to a fault. He was charismatic, intelligent & passionate about so much, but most importantly, people.

So here I am back in the Dominican Republic, hoping to find the happy balance between what my parents have passed down to me on this island all those years ago.

Sousa, Dominican Republic

There were so many special moments on this trip. Eight is the number of new beginnings and on this trip I reconnected with someone I hadn’t seen in eight years. There is too much to say about the timing of this connection for this blog. 😉

To the director of my short film, Broken, Yolande Geralds, thank you for seeing me and wanting to help me make this thing happen. Spring 2019 here we come!

With these new beginnings God has also allowed me to revisit the past in a full circle way. I went to see a play at the theater where I started my professional acting career (Castillo Theater) with two of the same people I started with, all while catching up with two of the mentors of my life from all those years ago.

L to R: Michael Alcide, Franceli Chapman, Dan Friedman (Artistic Director of the Castillo Theater), Sita Sakar

Then there are the tres amigos from High school. All three of us have seen our share of life, yet there they were in the Bronx, laughing and sharing tales with me like yesterday. We found a tape and threw it in my old karaoke machine and uncovered a freestyle tape that we recorded in the 11th grade. A tape of Chaz and I rapping.

L to R: Sirena Valree, Franceli Chapman, Chaz Van Queen

Chaz Van Queen, Franceli Chapman

So in rapid fire fashion here are some other highlights:

  • The words of encouragement from my cousin Jose Luis, (he’s also an artist)
  • the Chapman turn up!
The Chapmans
  • the sister who will fight anyone for me
  • a little brother who reminds me of my worth
L to R: Maireni Chapman, Franceli Chapman, Chris Chapman
  • A Special red head whose handwritten letters make my heart melt (she reminds me of myself in that way)
  • A Mom who threw a Dominican Birthday dinner party!
  • the Varela cousins who drove across state lines to see me (Scarlett, Arela, Fabiola, Justin, Jason)
  • The gifts and cards from the family (you don’t expect these after 30)
  • My amazing aunts and uncles
  • Carlos- who drove 2 hours to catch up over a road trip in DR
  • The pastor on the beach in DR who reminded me of my purpose
  • My first ATV riding experience
  • first private boat party
    My bestie, Crystal Brown who lets me speak my truth & doesn’t hate me for it
  • sheesh I am beyond blessed and loved! All I could do is cry on the plane heading back to LA.
  • What social media doesn’t showcase are the nights I cried myself to sleep, the moments I doubted If I was enough, qualified, or chosen. Guess what, though? God chose me! My life isn’t by accident or else I wouldn’t be here. For every November 20th God allows me to see I pray to continue to share who I am with the world, to share my gifts and inspire you to fight for the best YOU!

    I’m training for a half marathon to FIGHT for my physical health!

    While in NY, I connected with 5 time NEW YORK marathoner Kwasi, who spoke on a panel on running NY & it re-inspired how special it is to be part of the runner’s community and the #marathoner club. Franceli Chapman(2016 NYC Marathon) Kwasi Kessie (2014-2018 NYC Marathon, 2018 Berlin)

    I am writing poems and scripts again to FIGHT for my mental health!

    Speaking publicly on Afro-Latino representation in Hollywood to FIGHT to be seen & heard!

    National Hispanic Media Coalition Protest

    Serving the kingdom of God by being a prayer warrior to FIGHT for my Spiritual health and growth!

    Continuing to become and evolve doesn’t come easy, you gotta push out the darkness and fight to stand in the light!

    Amor Cubano, East Harlem NYC

    Advertisements

    SWEAT

    1531861127-Sweat_tickets.jpg

    The blood, sweat, and tears of America are written all over the stage in Lynn Nottage’s “Sweat” at Center Theater Group in Los Angeles.

    Set in the industrial town of Reading, Pennsylvania, the backdrop is a local bar where a group of old friends working at Olstead’s steel mill go to decompress. The Industrial Revolution of the 1700s made way for generations of families to eat, but by the 2000s plants were being shut down and jobs exported. The text takes you on an incredible ride of how the destruction of jobs also led to the destruction of these long-standing relationships.

    Curtain up, it’s 2008, and you see a parole office alternate between two different conversations: one with a young, tattooed, white supremacist and the other with an African American male. The roller coaster takes off as the officer goes between these two stories in the exposition and what seems like two young men from completely different worlds. However, we find that the sweat on their backs are interconnected from a long line of work, family, rage, addiction and friendship.

    04_S411

    L-R: Kevin T. Carroll and Grantham Coleman in the Center Theatre Group production of “Sweat” at the Mark Taper Forum.  Photo by Craig Schwartz.

    Although 10-18 years removed, it felt like looking in a mirror as the parallels between Trump’s America and Bush’s America are eerily similar. The same tension among a community due to economic strife and race relations exacerbated by a tricky political climate still exist.

    The play left me asking, “How do we assume less and love more?”

    This play is heartbreaking yet thrilling. I was at the edge of my seat wondering what happened to these people and how they got here. At the helm of this play, Director Lisa Peterson commends Nottage for “creating a play in which absolutely every character can immediately seem like a person you know.”

    As an actor, going to see theater is always such a treat. We are so overcome with media, visuals and human interaction via screens all day that going to see a play in a room full of people with live people on stage ignites physical human connections that we lack. This is why theater is necessary. I won’t stop loving this experience and “Sweat” was a master class on the power of physicality.

    Actors are magical. John Earl Jelks and Amy Pietz will have you studying and watching their every move as they numb their pain in dope & gimlets. Your heart breaks open with just Micheal O’Keefe’s last walk across the stage. There isn’t one weak link in this ensemble cast with each exhibiting strength and vulnerability.  They transport you to a different time and beautifully capture the complexities of what it means to be American.

    Go get your Sweat on now playing at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles until October 7th, 2018.

    For tickets and information, please visit CenterTheatreGroup.org or call (213) 628-2772.

    IMG_8302.JPG

    Franceli Chapman and Essence Atkins at the Mark Taper Forum for Sweat

    FullSizeRender.jpeg

    Backstage hanging out with John Earl Jelks

    Sorry To Bother You

    Excuse me, Sorry to Bother You, but my name is Franceli Chapman and I am hitting up the blogger world to talk to you about this provocative, thought-provoking film. There was so much hype about this film at Park City earlier this year during the Sundance Film Festival when Annapurna Pictures bought its distribution rights for seven figures. On June 14th, at The Theatre at Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles the Sundance Institute held a special benefit to celebrate and honor Boots Riley (Writer/Director) with the Vanguard award. The evening featured opening remarks from Charles D. King (Macro) who is a Sundance Institute trustee. Rosario Dawson who’s voice was in the film, presented the Vanguard award to Boots Riley.  The evening also featured the LA debut screening of the film. ( SORRY TO BOTHER YOU.)

    Sundance Institute’s Vanguard Award honors artists whose work and vision represents the highest, most breakthrough level of innovation, originality, and independent spirit. For an hour and 45 minutes you are taken into a dystopian world, the world of Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a telemarketer who finds his ‘white voice’ to success. This film pushes the envelope and makes you say, what the F&*^? is going on in this world that Boots has created? The film’s central villain, is a company, Worry Free, which signs laborers to unpaid lifetime contracts in exchange for a guarantee of meals and glammed-up prison-style housing — bunk beds crammed beneath chandeliers. It may seem outlandish but the parallels between this fantasy world of Oakland and our world may not be too far-fetched. The scary reality that a film written in 2011 is still relevant today, a world with a privatized prison system heeds us to rise up and do something about it. When the credits rolled I just sat there pondering how the rest of the world would take this social satire in. I had so many thoughts and feelings about my own battles with cultural appropriation, code switching and “black success”. Growing up, Animal Farm was a piece of literature that was set in a fictional setting, it evoked so much of the realities of the dysfunction to our system. Sorry to Bother You is meant to bother you– shock you into action if you will. A cinematic slap to America’s dysfunction.  Make sure you get your dairy aire to the theater July 6th!

    35272178_2117149331632930_7732772622819131392_o

    After Party with Boots Riley! (L to R) Michael Baez, Maylen Calienes Boots Riley, Anthony Brandon Walker, Valeria Chavez, Franceli Chapman

    After the screening there was a Q&A with Boots Riley and Michelle Satter (Founding Director of the Sundance Institute). Boots began the journey of writing this story in 2011 and the skeletons of the script came from his real life experience of working as a telemarketer. To discover this film had 61 locations and was shot in 28 days just added another level of respect for hustler’s like Boots who fought his way to getting this film made. What was most telling, this stellar cast,  Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun, Jermaine Fowler, Armie Hammer, Omari Hardwick, and Rosario Dawson, to name a few, all worked on this film for SAG SCALE. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) established “scale” pay, which refers to a minimum rate for actors’ salaries. In other words, the all worked for the “actor minimum wage.”

    The art, the importance of the telling of this story was clearly something these talented creatives wanted to get behind. It wasn’t about the money. Kudos to the producers  Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Charles King, George Rush, Jonathan Duffy and Kelly Williams, who took a chance on such a cinematic revolutionary undertaking. Isn’t this why we become artists? To be a vessel, to transform minds, entertain and educate?

    35360600_2117149404966256_7481011801820233728_o.jpg

    L to R: Richard Eick, Michael Baez, Charles D. King,Maylen Calienes, Franceli Chapman, Valeria Chavez, Anthony Brandon Walker

    Speaking of reasons we become artists, I went to this event with an incredible crew of artists! Maylen Calienes founder of Latinos Filmmakers Network has always been gracious in connecting the community. At the after party, she connected us with Isabel Celeste Dawson (Rosario’s mommy) who serenaded us with her gorgeous voice, performing a song she wrote in tribute to her Godmother THE CELIA CRUZ!  Meeting Rosario’s mommy confirmed what I already knew and felt of her daughter, she comes from good stock. I don’t normally fan girl, yet Rosario Dawson is the summation of what one may strive for. Being from the Bronx not many of us “get out” and seeing a woman who is from where I’m from moving in the world the way she does is inspiring! Not only is she a great artist, she uses her platform to be of service. At the afterparty we had a moment all to ourselves, she threw up the X sign (its a Bronx thing) and I was able to express my gratitude of what her presence in the world means to a lil Bronx gal like me. Its funny recently I was asked if I had to do a biopic who would I play? I said Rosario. Look at the universe working ;).  This evening was another confirmation that our motivations for creating matter. Boots Riley said he hopes this film will impact its audiences to get involved in any said organization, and take any part in changing the shape of our society.  The world will try to tell you to gain accolades, fame and fortune for self, but the ultimate measure to the value of our lives is how we impact this world and the people who inhabit it.

    Rosario Dawson and Franceli Chapman

    Top Row(L to R): Richard Eick, Eddie Navaro, Michael Baez, Valeria Chavez  Bottom Row: Maylen Calienes, Franceli Chapman, Anthony Brandon Walker

     

    Year of Franceli (Part 2)

    Celi WordPress

    Here we are in JUNE, almost halfway through 2018 and at the beginning of this year I declared 2018 would be The YEAR OF FRANCELI .  So here’s my check in on where I’m at on that and my 2018 take aways so far: Making no excuses, setting boundaries, my daddy issues & Finding Sisterhood is the short of it  🙂

    THE LONG OF IT:

    For years I had been saying I wanted to go to the Sundance Film Festival and when the opportunity presented itself to go, I made no excuses and bought my flight the day before. What a time I had! That should of been a blog in itself! I connected & vibed with so many dope sisters making moves! Special shoutout to Brittney McDade (TCA), Aaliyah Williams (Macro), Novi Brown, Maylen Calienes (Latino Filmakers Network) Nicole Beharie and Lena Waithe. Thank you for your love & words of encouragement!Sundance-2

    So it became clear early in the year that a shift was happening. I was saying YES to Franceli and it was all because I spoke it! Which meant I was saying NO a lot more to others. The amount of love, time and effort I was putting into others, well I was finally doing that for myself. This is the year of woman & finding new levels of sisterhood! I could feel myself moving in the world differently.

    With that being said being an actor since high school I decided not to wait for the “worldly” validation to become a member of a the Screen Actor’s Guild! There were these lies in my head telling me you don’t even have a TV credit to your name, its not your time yet, work non-union until you can’t anymore, etc. I silenced the noise and realized that I was holding myself back. I am enough and this IS MY TIME! If I want to be elevated in my work then I must think and believe that kind of work would come my way by joining. So with some help from momma (no shame) I became a member of SAG-AFTRA!

    For Black History Month I was in a reading of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Red and Brown Water directed by Page de la Harpe. Page is a white woman from South Africa. She is quite a talent with an incredible heart. On the first day of rehearsal she told the cast how aware she is of her white privilege in the world yet how deeply moved she is by McCraney’s work. She led the ship gracefully. The audience gave us a standing ovation! I love doing work that honors the ancestors. Another honor I had was co-producing a reading of Tell Pharaoh by Loften Mitchell which was introduced to me by my late professor Dr. Clarence Murray. To do this play with fellow Norfolk State University Alumnus (Keith Andre Collins, Swisyzinna) from his tutelage I know he was smiling from heaven. Now Swisyzinna & her husband picked me up from the airport the day I landed in LA so when they asked me to be a part of their dope pilot on marriage, Gabby’s Chance I ran to the set.  They are one of my favorite married couples, and have continued to encourage my growth. Having a village here has been essential to not running back to New York. Part of my village here is photographer Miles Maker . We first linked up in New York & when he started his photography venture we supported one another and with every photoshoot we do together we both get better and better. (See below)

    Sundance

    Now with every new level we encounter new devils. I had heartache, lost jobs, questioned if I was doing enough yet God has reminded me that it is just as, if not more important to work on self. The self work trickles over and effects the work. So it was important for me to LIVE.. FALL.. RESET.. TAKE BREAKS.. TRAVEL.

    Travel I did! In and out of LA! I explored & tried new things I hadn’t done in my own city yet. I went to new restaurants, museums, Universal Studios, got in the gym, got my hike on, put on some roller-skates, hit the zoo, did community service and went to San Diego, Arizona, Vegas, San Fran, NY & DC! Talk about living my best life! When my aunt came to visit from Dominican Republic, I drove 8 hours to the Grand Canyon!  It has definitely been on my bucket list for a while. To see the vastness of this place, I just reveled on how amazing God is!

    Laugh live love

    April and May are two months in the year that come with such a convoluted mixture of emotions. When I was 20 years old I lost my dad.  It rocked my world in a way that even 11 years later I’m still working through the remnants of trauma rising up from the subconscious. I find myself feeling needy and emotional. My daddy issues resurface. Yet this year I dealt with it differently. April is my dad’s birthday and my mother’s. So I challenged myself to National Poetry Month (in April) and wrote poems (almost) everyday to channel my feelings somewhere and got on a plane to take a break from the LA madness to be loved on by my momma and little brother. There is nothing like the love of family.  May is the anniversary of my dad’s death and for 3 weeks I checked out of social media. I needed to get still and tune out the noise to really get some clarity. That includes getting to the root of things and breaking some stuff off.

    img_6630

    Dominicans in Cali Shirt

    My dad was a huge advocate of my blackness. He taught me the huge influence AFRICA had on Dominican culture. As an actor it hasn’t been always easy to find my lane as a Latina woman who’s black. The industry is shifting but it’s up to us to tell those stories. So when fellow Dominican sister Lorena Jorge asked me to be in her project BLACK IS THE NEW BROWN, which was shooting on the same week of my dad’s anniversary I knew that was no coincidence. One of the things I’ve prayed about is being more connected to the Latino community both in entertainment and personally. God gave me both! I feel as though every day I am serving as a board member for Dominicans in Cali  I am honoring my father’s legacy.

    So without the social webs I finished the book I had started at the top of the year, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye & Jerry B Jenkins. I filled up my ears with podcasts; The School of Greatness, NY Times Daily,  and The Blawg Boys to name a few and worked on my spiritual life even deeper. What did that look like? Being disciplined in sending a daily word email blast everyday, listening to a sermon 3-4 times a week & reading the Bible more frequently. It even meant walking in boldness & praying at an industry party And boy did God show up that night. A week later I was on set shooting a sizzle reel with Garcelle Beauvais and Essence Atkins and some other dope women! Obedience is better than sacrifice! May was all about being present in my moments, in my experiences and my feelings. I celebrated, I laughed, and I cried!

    Laugh live love (1)

    Check out the video below as I checked off another bucket list item this year  by running across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco!

    Whew! 2018 has been quite a year so far! God has granted me amazing spiritual sisters here in Los Angeles. Yet I’ve been praying and asking God for a new level of Sisterhood specifically with the first sister God gave me, my biological sister. On the last day of May my sister got on a plane to LA and we got to spend some alone time together for the first time as adults. (We grew up with 5 brothers y’all) The breakthrough & prayers answered is another blog in itself. (SUBSCRIBE, I may write about it lets see) In the meantime I am grateful for being held accountable, for having an amazing village out here and most importantly…. WHO RUN THE WORLD? GIRLS!

    Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-10-3,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

    My Sister and I (Universal Studios)

    I Pray for you

    I pray for you

    I pray for the wolf on the inside

    The one that thinks he’s hiding well

    Acting like a sheep

    I pray for you

    For the carnality that takes over

    That makes you messy

    I pray for you

    Because my kindness that you attempt to take for weakness is my biggest strength

    I pray for your heart to be renewed

    And your mind to be transformed

    For the sake of not hurting another anymore

    Marathon

    You want to walk a day in my shoes?

    Let me give you the grand tour

    Of the bumps and dead skin

    from the miles I’ve put in

    This marathon I’ve been running

    Giving me all kinds of run ins

    Betrayal & Death

    and I hadn’t even hit the first mile yet

    In this race there was much to face

    just keep one foot in front of the other

    With every step you take

    Every time my mind or body hit a wall

    I looked out in the crowd and my village never let down

    Seeing their faces kept me going

    Who would of ever thought I had it in me

    To cross the finish line even with a hurt knee.

    A true test of strength

    Not just in the physical sense

    This was truly a spiritual test

    God carried me through

    To help use me an example

    That nothing he gives us we can’t handle

    To all my marathoners out there running for their lives

    Keep fighting the good fight!

    Angry Black Woman

    As I fight for my creative freedom

    As I write this poem

    I think of you…

    Beautiful Black Woman

    Who’s told to sit down shut up & take it

    Don’t complain

    You won’t be treated the same

    Don’t raise your voice

    Now you’re ghetto

    Don’t play golf, tennis or any of “their” sports

    Just the mere presence of you they won’t support

    Where is the outrage & outcry for you?

    You beautiful black woman you

    Co Parent

    I felt real good today

    I prayed for you today

    Despite all the mean things you said to me yesterday

    Today I felt sad for you

    Today I cried out for you

    Praying that the storm that’s coming your way brings out the best of you

    I want that for you

    Truly, I do

    Not for us

    but for the little person that was created

    By Us

    Addicted

    Each Day

    I’m stronger

    Each Time

    I’m bolder

    I used to be nervous around you

    Questioning my worth around you

    But now I look at you knowing there’s a Queen standing next to this hurt

    I don’t know what’s gotten into you

    But I don’t see you the way I used to

    The hold you had on me is fading

    Time is healing in the waiting

    I didn’t get under anyone to get over

    Substitution is the temporary fix

    Because your feelings you don’t want to expose em’

    I’ve been a solider

    Fighting through withdrawals

    Not having you

    For a while I could still taste you

    The linger

    almost

    had me run back to you

    Kicked it to the curb

    These thoughts.. absurd

    Took back control and leaned on my faith

    I kicked this bad habit

    And I’m back on my game

    I Want It

    I Want it

    Without guilt

    I Want it

    With a compromise

    I Want it

    With love in your eyes

    I Want it

    For our souls to collide