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!

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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?

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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

 

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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.

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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!

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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

God will always be there!

The Devil tried it

Back against the wall

And my tears

I couldn’t fight them

Sat there

I couldn’t move

Unaware of what to do

God is punishing you

The serpent whispered

You got what you deserved

Stop being so giving

Stop being so nice

That’s the devil device

To kill your hope

Steal your joy

And destroy your purpose

So today I had to fight

My God doesn’t punish

He prepares

And although I’m in pain

My God will always be there

Father Comes Home From War

He left

Left to fight a battle , A WAR of regrets

I was 8

my heart has been at WAR ever since

And around it I built a fence

Became a man quick

To keep my loved ones in or was it out?

I’ve been having a lot of doubt

Will I turn out like him and leave for WAR too?

My fear is that I’d do that to you

father never came home from the WAR

Left us to fend for ourselves

He called from the field & it was infuriating

This birth call is outdated

20 something years, you think I sat by the phone and waited?

I’ve been too busy at WAR too

Not knowing how to forgive you