My Personal Theme for 2014

There’s something really spiritual about the start of a new year for me. It feels good to witness and live through another year. I give all praises to God for allowing me to experience 2013 and to see a new day in 2014. Some may say that today is no different than yesterday. But I disagree. We’re on day 1 of the new calendar and there are 364 more days full of new possibilities.

Instead of listing new year resolutions that I may or may not keep, this year I am proclaiming a theme: Be Bold and Move. 

2013 was a quiet year for me filled with growing, planning, and planting seeds. Last year, I was really good at coming up with ideas, talking about these ideas, and waiting for the ideas to grow into something real. I strengthened my foundation in faith and placed my trust in God hoping that He would turn these ideas into to something for me. But that’s not what God wants me to do. Constantly, He reminds me that faith without action is dead. It’s easy to say that I am a faithful servant and I believe in God’s will and purpose for my life, but what am I actively doing to support that claim?

There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in my life and the community that surrounds me. In 2014, I declare death to fear, doubt, insecurity, and laziness. I declare death to procrastination!!! This is a year of movement. This is a year of action. Ideas were planted in 2013.  This is the year to give birth to these ideas and actually make.things.happen. I will apply action to the visions I’m always dreaming. 

So I am writing for all of us who are ready to take action this year. May God give us the discipline, strength, courage, and wisdom to overcome our apprehensions, worries, barriers, fears, and any other obstacles that get in the way. This year, we will not let ourselves or excuses stop us from pursuing our visions, missions, and goals. This year, we will execute our plans and cross accomplishments off our lists. And even when God laughs at our plans and switches things up, we will not freak out–just take a deep breath, step back, and follow His lead.

2014 is going to be a great year. I can feel it.

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Why I Choose to Rebel with AFFRM and Celebrate Black Cinema

affrm together we are strong logo

I often find myself in passionate discussions with family and friends about the representation of people of color in film, or lack thereof. I love watching movies of all kinds, getting lost inside the world on my screen for a couple of hours, and seeing the stories unfold. I especially love seeing myself in those stories. And when I say myself, I really mean black and brown people that are portrayed as dynamic and full characters rather than the static one-dimensional characters that are common in many Hollywood films. Now, more than ever, Americans are more racially & ethnically diverse than earlier generations. Yet, this great diversity is not equally visible during Hollywood’s Oscar Night.

photo credit: AFFRM

photo credit: AFFRM

But who’s looking to Hollywood anyway? In the age of DIY media, entrepreneurship, and Youtube, we don’t need to knock at Hollywood’s door hoping to get a chance to get invited to the party. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a party going on right now filled with emerging artists, storytellers, and advocates choosing to see diverse images on screen. This is why I support AFFRM, the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement, which was created by filmmaker Ava DuVernay and a community of film artists and advocates that were tired of not seeing themselves on the big screen. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” In the similar vein, AFFRM is a supporting movement for storytellers and image makers to create the films that they always wanted to see and share stories that they always wanted to tell.

Since 2011, AFFRM successfully released several black independent films representing different stories from the African Diaspora. Now heading into 2014, AFFRM seeks an even larger community of film lovers to join the movement and support independent black cinema. So here’s a call to action–if you love indie films of any kind, especially films told by black filmmakers, join the movement. I sure did.  Affrm Thyself.

Take action at affrmaction.com

Brooklyn Photographer Sabrina Thompson Reminds Us that Marriage Rocks

Sabrina Thompson is an amazing photographer and visionary who creates positive imagery through her online campaigns The Social Series, to combat the continuous negative images that populate mainstream media. In June, she released her campaign on black fatherhood, titled Fatherhood Is… Her project celebrating fathers was touching and inspired me to reflect on my relationship with my own father here.

Sabrina’s recent campaign highlights the beauty in marriage featuring couples that were married 10 yrs or more. If you were skeptical of marriage before, this campaign will definitely change your mind. By the end of the video, I found myself shedding a few tears because of the true beauty of love that was presented in the images.  Through her images, Sabrina reminds us that it is okay to celebrate love, in fact, we need to do so more often.

When Sabrina began her casting call for this campaign, I knew I had to nominate my parents, Karen and Garry, as an exemplary married couple. On August 13th my parents celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary, which is a true testament that marriage can work. Before my parents began dating, they knew it was important to take the time to build a foundation of trust in their relationship. Even when they do not see eye to eye, their commitment to each other never fails. I asked my dad to define marriage and he discussed the power of a unit.  He told me that marriage is the act of two individuals becoming a single unit with shared responsibilities. He said marrying my mom completed him because she helped him become the man that he is now. My mom told me it is important to remember that marriage is hard work, but the lifetime companionship makes the struggles in marriage worth it. My brother and I are blessed to witness our parents’ love, support, and respect for each other.  Thank you Sabrina for this stunning portrait!

marriage is...the deans

You can learn more about all of the lovely couples here. Also learn more about Sabrina Thompson and her company, KUU Photography here.

Song, Imagery, and Dance

I had a very long yet rewarding day volunteering at BlackStar Film Festival. I’ll have a cohesive reflection of my experience in a future post. As for now, I’m watching a few music videos to unwind.

Check out the creative genius that is Canadian filmmaker, Wendy Morgan. Wendy directed quite a few fun music videos–or I should say, short films with great soundtracks. Here are my favorites:

 

 

 

 

I enjoy seeing the common thread of choreography throughout the videos. What do you think of Wendy’s work? Do you have any favorite music videos or directors of music videos? Leave a comment and let me know.

Black Indie Films Shine at Film Festival

I’m beyond excited to be a part of the 2nd Annual–BlackStar Film Festival taking place in Philadelphia this weekend. BlackStar is Philly’s only festival that showcases film, artwork, and stories about people in the African Diaspora.  As a woman who values storytelling and image-making, I’m drawn to the festival’s focus on celebrating independent filmmakers that tell dynamic stories of black people. Often, we, or shall I say people in Hollywood, run the risk of producing and promoting a single narrative.  However, a festival such as BlackStar is the perfect platform to shine light on a variety of narratives that embody an entire global community.  For the next three days I will volunteer at the festival, watch films, attend a few panel discussions, and ultimately just soak up all of the greatness.

There are over 70 films that are screening at the festival this weekend. About half of the screenings are free admission. For a full schedule of films check here. Some films that I’m definitely excited to see are as follows:

Yelling to the Sky, directed by Victoria Mahoney ; shown Aug 4th at 4pm at International House Philadelphia

“A visceral coming-of-age story, “Yelling to the Sky” features a sobering, breakthrough performance from Zoe Kravitz, with an all-star supporting cast including Jason Clarke, Gabourey Sidibe and Antonique Smith.”

Things Never Said, directed by Charles Murray; shown Aug 3rd at 9pm at International House Philadelphia

“Wounded by a miscarriage and an angry husband, Kal tries desperately to find an outlet for her artistic voice.”

Nairobi Half Life, directed by David Tosh Gitonga; shown Aug 3rd 7pm at International House Philadelphia

“A young aspiring actor from upcountry Kenya dreams of becoming a success in big city Nairobi. After he makes his way there he quickly learns why the city is nicknamed Nairobbery as he is robbed of his money and belongings. He forms a friendship with a small-time gang leader who takes him in. Drawn into a new world of theft and violence, he struggles to keep his acting and criminal worlds separate.”

There are over 70 films that are screening at the festival this weekend. If you’re in the Philadelphia area come out and support!