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.
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
At the beginning of this year, I decided that I wanted to send out daily emails of spiritual readings that I was blessed with by a fellow actor. Everyday has been tough at times, (hey life happens) but now, as the 2nd quarter of the year has come into full swing I wanted to share on my blog what the “DAILY WORD” has been for me. I usually just send what is written in the little book to an email list of what is right now around I think 80+people but ever so often I will write my own little message of what I’m going through or how I’m feeling. It is so freeing to share my thoughts and my testimony with people I love, respect and inspire me! So here is today’s thoughts:
Hope you are all well and blessed. I must admit this morning I felt off kilter, my energy was off and my mind was racing on trying to figure out all sorts of things going on in my life right now. Even in the storm, the blessings came. Today’s Daily Word was so on point and right on time for me! Last night I had my first dinner here in LA at my house. Friends & Family were over, Dominican food and music were in the air-Awesomeness! Even with all this great stuff happening around me, I was still feeling yucky this morning. I wanted to send the Daily Word but then I got the call to interview Kimberly Elise today about the new film she’s starring in, Apple Mortgage Cake . The day just zoomed by and I went home and watched her new film with my Mom. Great family film! It has some great gems to take away. As I began to write my article for Houston Style Magazine I realized I hadn’t sent my Daily Word out and on the eve of GOOD Friday/Easter weekend I am reminded that even in the midst of blessings I have to take a moment to pause, breathe and acknowledge the moment in order to really feel them. Blessings are all around yet the battle comes when we least expect them. I want to thank everyone who takes the time to read my emails, send good vibes my way, and who believes in me even when at times I don’t believe in me. (CLICK ON PICTURE TO READ DAILY WORD)
In my last post, I talked about moving to LA, taking the leap of faith– and after two months in, even with all the great things happening, that faith is tested constantly. Most of us look up to,
admire, wish we could be like… So and So but don’t know what its like to walk a day in their shoes. Strive to be the greatest version of YOURSELF possible. LOVE YA’LL…
2013 was a year of growth and development for me professionally and personally. I spent the last months of the year laying the ground work for taking things to the next level. After creating “Celi’s Hangout!”- Interactive web talk-show for the inspired artist! Dedicated to empowering artists EVERYWHERE! I knew that there were some great things in store for me! The joy and labor of love for engaging the artistic community overflowed into my own life. I started feeling empowered and motivated. I knew that I was comfortable in NYC and in order to grow, one must be “uncomfortable” sometimes.
So in the new year, I decided to resign from my job, buy my one way ticket and make way to Los Angeles! I touched down on February 15, 2014 and after only being here 6 days, I was asked to be a correspondent for Houston Style Magazine! My first assignment, The NAACP IMAGE AWARDS! This was the ultimate sign that I was taking a step in the right direction!
L:R- Crystal Windam(Interior Designer of 2014 Chevy Impala), Franceli Chapman(LA Reporter for Houston Style Magazine), Gerald Dewey (Videographer)
Saturday, February 22nd began with a Media Brunch at the Langham Property in Pasedena, California. General Motors/Cheverlot were honoring one of their own, Crystal Windam, the 1st African-American female car designer for the company. We were able to hear from Mrs. Windam, get a tour of her newest creation- The 2014 Cheverlot Impala, and network with one another. It was a wonderful experience to be at the table and to honor the work of someone like Crystal Windam. She is definitely an inspiration for all.
Next stop was the red carpet for the NAACP IMAGE AWARDS! I had the opportunity to interview folks like Chandra Wilson (Grey’s Anatomy), Brandy Norwood (The Game), Elijah Kelley (The Butler, Red Tails) just to name a few. I was able to have a behind the scenes pass on what life is like for an artist first hand. After the red carpet we heading up to the Press Room for interviews with the winners. The press room was a chaotic wonder. I was in the room, 5 feet away from the cast of Scandal (Winner of Best Drama Series) and so many others. Not bad for my first week in LA! I am so grateful for this opportunity, brining New York, Afro-Latina flavor to Los Angeles! 🙂 I will keep you all posted as things progress.. In the mean time in between time, Check out Celi’s Hangout & Houston Style Magazine!
The leaves have changed colors and the temperature has dropped here in NYC…. I can’t believe its November already! October just flew by! It was a busy month for me and I couldn’t be more thankful. To kick off my month of October, I was a part of the Mario Fratti-Fred Newman Political Play Reading Series. You know that wonderful moment, as an actor when you read a script where the playwright has given you words to really play with– that’s exactly what happened with Jason Maghoney’s script, HEART. A compelling story about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina & how a young woman tries to show her “heart” on putting the pieces back together. Being able to be directed again by Theater Hall of Fame Producer/Director Woodie King Jr. was a joy!
On Stage after the reading L to R: Woodie King Jr, Playwright Jason Maghanoy, Justin Armstrong, Reynaldo Piniella, Franceli Chapman, Sidiki Fofana, Allie Woods
Other exciting news of October, The Fall Season of Celi’s Hangout kicked off with vengeance! I took my first ever ON CAMERA Technique class. Dena Tyler is such an awesome teacher I learned a great deal from her and look forward to making my transition from theatre to TV and Film. Speaking of transitioning , it has already begun. Look at all the screen credits that happened in October: (Click on links to watch)
Outside the ABC Studios after shooting the Dr.Oz show! One day I will be on a show here!
To round out the month, for Halloween, I paid tribute to actress Uzo Aduba from Orange is the New Black! (I love the show!) I dressed up as character “Crazy Eyes” and uploaded to Youtube a “home video” performing lines from the show. As an actor, its great when there are shows that come along that inspire us. Orange is the New Black is a show that truly shows an array of characters! Who knows? Maybe some day I can be a Litchfield prisoner as well 😉
On September 17th I had the pleasure to “hangout” on the couch of 123UNODOSTRES studios with the Latino Cast of the new hit show, Orange is the New Black! To kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, 123UnoDosTres (Sponsored by Netflix) asked Adel Morales (Actor/Director-Pushing Dreams) and myself to host! What an honor! We had a blast “hangueando.” If you are not hip to the show, get a netflix account , borrow one, and get ready to be stuck to your computer for the next couple of days! Everyone I’ve spoken with about the show I’ve gotten them hooked! QUE ORGULLO (WHAT PRIDE) it was to sit in a room with these beautiful latinos and chat about who we are, fashion, how the show has impacted their lives and more! We had over 600 live views!!!!
Thank you so much to UNODOSTRES, Miriam Morales, Olga & the entire team for putting this together! Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!
R:L- Dascha Polanco, Laura Gomez, Adel Morales (Co-Host), Franceli Chapman (Co-Host) Berto Colon, Selenis Leyva, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Diane Guerrero,Jessica Pimentel
Check out my “INTRO VIDEO” and the “HANGOUT” below:
On Wednesday, August 21, 2013 I hosted/moderated a cool hangout for Cinematiq Magazine! CINEMATIQ Magazine kicked off their first ever Google Hangout Fund Drive for husband and wife team, Director, Craig Ross Jr (NCIS, BONES, PRISON BREAK) and Actress, Caryn Ward-Ross (THE GAME, THE SHIELD, GENERAL HOSPITAL) and their new digital film, THE AFFAIR in conjunction with “Indie Night” at Xen Lounge. The AFFAIR, will be shot entirely on the iPhone 5, revolutionizing digital filmmaking. While I was in Long Island City, NY at the Cinematiq Magazine headquaters, Craig and Caryn were LIVE in Studio City, CA we “hung” out via Youtube.. Check out the video below:
The husband and wife producer team exceeded their kickerstarter goal of $15,000! Whoohooo!! Special Thanks to Cinematiq Magazine founder/producer of the hangout Angel Brown.
In LA the stars came out to support Craig & Caryn. Some celebrity guest included: William L. Johnson (BLUE HILL AVENUE), Dan Martin (THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL) and his wife, Ella Joyce (TEMPTATION: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor ), Eriq La Salle (ER), Kiki Haynes (Tyler Perry’s FOR BETTER OR WORSE), Keena Ferguson (THE MARRIAGE CHRONICLES), Khalilah Joi (APOLLYON) and a host of others. The film will make it’s debut the start of the new year, 2014. For more information on THE AFFAIR, go to www.theaffair-themovie.com.
“I wanna Love and Be Loved! I wanna Love and Be Loved!” was the tune that was in my soul when I left the theater after seeing Venice! Venice is one of the best new musicals out! It is fresh, hip and alive! This interesting take on Shakespeare’s, Othello set in the fallen city of Venice, Matt Sax’s music & Eric Rosen’s Book transports us to a place of hope & love. After a 5 week run at Public Theater, tonightUzo Aduba, Jennifer Damiano, Jonathan-David, Emilee Dupre, Claybourne Elder, Semhar Ghebremichael, Leslie Odom, Jr., Victoria Platt, Angela Polk, Devin Roberts, Matt Sax, Haaz Sleiman, and Manuel Stark will fight for revolution one last time tonight! Making its NY Debut as part of the Public Lab, I’m hoping Venice will take flight on another stage really soon! This incredibly talented cast has brought life to a show that has been in development since 2011. If you missed your chance to check out Venice, see video below from their Fan Preview Event at Joe’s Pub.
I am hoping that I can get some of these actors on my new web talk show, Celi’s Hangout! I would love to hear what the process has been like bringing to life this work of art. Leslie Odom Jr. was the perfect villain you loved to hate, while Uzo Aduba(Anna Monroe), Victoria Platt(Emilia) & Angela Polk (Hailey Daisy) put the battery in my backpack inspiring me with their talent, beauty & incredible voices. Venice left me rejuvenated. The magic of theater when its good, you are moved as an artist to be better & do better. So for that I thank the entire cast and crew of Venice, KUDOS!
**Public Lab at The Public provides audiences with access to new work and Shakespeare with low priced tickets and provides emerging and established artists with a platform to further develop their work on stage and in performances with scaled-down productions (shorter rehearsal periods and smaller budgets.)
Usually the Public Theater using the summer to focus on the spectacular event that is Shakespeare in the Park every year, but this summer they’ve had their hands full with the park and two musicals down on Astor Place! (Here Lies Love & Venice) What a glorious and busy summer it has been at the Public Theater thus far! Shakespeare in Park kicked off this Summer with Comedy of Errors while bring forth a world premiere musical, Venice (based on the story of Othello). Today, (June 30th) both shows will have their final curtains.
Going to the Delacorte Theater in Central Park is always an event & a special way to see theater. The beautiful outdoor theater creates magic! Whether its the moon shining right above the stage that make it look like a perfect prop to the show or the rainy days where the actors perform there hearts out despite the weather. This Summer has been a rainy one for the run of Comedy of Errors featuring J. Clint Allen, de’Adre Aziza, Becky Ann Baker, Emily Bergl, Tyler Caffall, Reed Campbell, Keith Eric Chappelle, Robert Creighton, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Reggie Gowland, Jonathan Hadary, Bryan Langlitz, Brian T. Lawton, Hamish Linklater, Michael McArthur, Rachel McMullin, Heidi Schreck, Skipp Sudduth, Adrienne Weidert, Natalie Woolams-Torres and Jessica Wu. See highlights from the show below: (courtesy of Playbill)
Comedy of Errors was a hit! There are plenty reviews out there of how great the show is, but instead of a review of the show, I rather share with you Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s Facebook Status from one of the most memorable shows the Public has had!
Last nights performance (6.27) of “The Comedy of Errors” at The Delacort Theater for Shakespeare in the Park will be an experience I will remember forever. It will go down as one of the most moving nights I have EVER had as an actor. Here is what happened:
About 30 minutes into our 90 minute show it began to rain. Nothing new for an actor doing out door theater. We continued for about 10 more minutes until it began to down pour. Buckets. At that point our stage manager, Cole made an announcement to the audience over the sound system that we would hold until the storm passed. The audience cheered, encouraging us that they were willing to wait out the rain with us. After all, they waited all day for the free tickets that got them into the theater in the first place! (New York theater goers are beasts. I love them!)
The rain only got worse. I began to realize it would be very unlikely for us to be able to continue. Our dancers would slip, the expensive sound equipment that we were wearing to amplify our voices would be ruined. Still, the audience stayed, only cheering harder when the rain increased.
Finally, the storm lightened and Cole announced that we would begin again shortly which was met with applause and cheers from the audience AND the cast.
Then something beyond mother natures control happened: the sound board fried and shut down. Apparently there wasn’t enough time to properly cover all the equipment and now the entire sound system was down. No mics to amplify. No speakers to play music for the dancers. Nothing. Stage Management was about to announce to the audience that we would have to unfortunately call the show.
Courtesy- Joan Marcus
Then Hamish and I had an idea.
Did George C. Scott have a body mic when he did “The Merchant of Venice” back in 1961 at this same theater?
(Granted, he didn’t have to worry about helicopters or private jets flying over the Delacort Theater on their way to the Hamptons).
Lets finish the show wireless. Unplugged!
To my amazement Rebecca Sherman, our company manager took a deep breath and just said “Do it. It will be amazing.”
Hamish and I ran out onto the soaking wet stage and announced to the equally wet audience that we would continue! Using Hamish’s mother’s famed “Linklater Technique” we explained to the audience that they would have to move down as close to the stage as possible to hear. (Only 600 brave people from the originally sold out 1800 seat house had stayed).
What proceeded was one of the most magical hours of my life.
The brilliant De’Adre Aziza started where we left off, with her jazz influenced version of “Sigh No More”, the audience snapping along to keep the beat.
One of the dance fueled transitions started with Bryan Langlitz, our dance captain yelling out : “And a 5,6,7,8” as the dancers leapt and flew across the puddled stage.
During a moment that required a sound cue of a bell, I pointed at the church that was meant to be producing the sound and exclaimed “BONG! BONG!”
When Emily Bergl knocked a gun out of Tyler Caffall’s hand the entire company, in unison yelled “BANG” and then produced the dying cat sound that was meant to follow.
Actress De’Adre Aziza -Courtesy: Joan Marcus
At one point it started raining sheets again… only this time Cole had no way of stoping us. We just spoke louder to be heard over the rain that was pounding down upon us.
Hamish called it the greatest game of “Chicken” ever played. The audience wasn’t leaving because we kept going and we continued on only because the 600 strong stayed put. Everyone was soaked but at this point, who cared. (Apologies to our brilliant costume designer Toni Leslie James who probably cared a little.)
The play finishes with a quiet moment I share with my long lost twin. The audience stayed completely still and silent to hear the final words of the play, laughing where the jokes were but then silencing immeaditly to hear the next lines. That’s when I lost it. You never would have been able to tell because I was soaking wet but I started to ugly cry.
I was so moved by this shared moment. It truly personified why I am fueled to put on silly costumes and wigs and pretend to be someone else in front of a collected group of strangers.
When we finally reached the end of the play the audience exploded into applause. We didn’t bow though….all we could do was applaud right back to THEM.
From this day forward when I am asked why I want to act I will think upon last night. Thank you to the cast of “Comedy of Errors”! Thank you to the crew at the Delacort for being so game. Thank you to the staff at The Public Theater and to the ushers who never flinched. Thank you to the wardrobe and hair department who had to dry all of our clothes and reset our wigs…and again, sorry. Thank you to our Stagemanager Cole and our company manager Rebecca who told us to just go and have fun. Most of all: Thank you to the 600 amazing audience members who cheered us on and stayed. You have no idea what joy you gave ALL of us.
Also, R.I.P. old soggy sound board. You will be missed.
Here Lies Love was conceptualized by David Byrne. He teamed up with Fat Boy Slim to create an interactive dance musical that has been winning over audiences performance after performance. Working for the Public, there was buzz in the air about the show before it opened and I knew I wanted to see it, yet didn’t rush to put in for my employee tickets. What a mistake on my part! before I knew it previews started, word got around town and we were sold out! Here Lies Love is definitely a hit! Many folks have made their way to come check out what all the craze is about. This week alone Jeff Perry (Grey’s Anatomy,Scandal) , Sally Fields and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all come to see HLL. The show has now been extended four times and I was lucky to get in for Saturday night’s performance. The Luester Hall has been transformed into a nightclub and in the trance of the ambiance, rocking music, and flashing lights you are taken to the Philippines. Not your traditional musical theater setting, the audience is fully immersed in the show. I enjoyed dancing and singing along with the cast. As I watched this incredible ensemble of talented actors I couldn’t help but feel an immense sense of pride for the Filipino community. I just stood there and thought to myself how wonderful it must feel not only for the actors who are in the show to be a part of the show and tell “their” story but for their community to be represented in a place such as The Public Theater.
Photo from the show with Trevor Salter, Conrad Ricamora, Maria-Christina Oliveras and Janelle Velasquez
When In the Heights won Tony Award for Best Musical in 2008, I cried. It was a beautiful moment for the Latino community, we all won that day. The featured actors shine yet I love to watch the ensemble actors, they work so hard playing multiple roles and bringing the show to life in a fantastic way. For Renée Albulario, Melody Butiu, Natalie Cortez, Debralee Daco, Joshua Dela Cruz, Jose Llana, Kelvin Moon Loh, Jeigh Madjus, Ruthie Ann Miles, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Conrad Ricamora, Trevor Salter, and Janelle Velasquez it must be a dream not only to do what you love everyday but be a part of show that has such a significance in the history of the Filipino people.
The Beautiful Ladies of HLL on Opening Night at Public Theater L:R Janelle Velasquez, Debralee Daco, Ruthie Ann Miles, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Renee Abulario, Melody Butiu, Natalie Cortez
One of my favorite moments of the show is a beautiful acoustic performance featuring Kelvin Moon Loh, Renee Abulario, and Joshua Dela Cruz with lyrics from the actual words from the People Power Revolution. Now while I’m sure the show was unable to cover all the historical and political aspects of the time, I believe it did the job of the theater; to teach and entertain. Now, thanks to Here Lies Love my keyboard typing fingers hit google. I did some reading/research on Imelda Marcos and the Philippines. Hopefully the show has the same affect on the others.
*HLL has been extended 7/01-7/28 if you can. Run, don’t walk to the Public to see this show!