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!
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)
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!
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.
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!
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!
My Sister and I (Universal Studios)