Thursday, December 14, 2006
The Lord works in mysterious ways! When God shuts a door he opens a window! Those are two sayings that I take to heart. I think Jennifer Hudson must agree them right now.
For those who remember, American Idol Season Three. She was seventh from the top when she got booted off in what was labelled a racist vote. Jennifer could sing better than most of the remaining contestants but she got the ax anyway. I was watching and was in tears at seeing her getting the vote so soon especially before 'several' others. Anyway that year, Fantasia Barrino went on to win.
But today, the Lord has done wonders for Jennifer. She has been nominated for Best Supporting Actress for the film, Dreamgirls. In the film she plays Effie White, the lead singer of a girl group who gets dumped in the end. I haven't seen the film, but I'm looking forward to see it when it is released. I have read rave reviews and major praise for Jennifer Hudson, which is great considering that this is her first major movie.
Let's see what the Oscars and other awards have in store for her. And hopefully this is the start of a great acting and singing career for Jennifer. Yes, the Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways.
JENNIFER, YOU GO GIRL!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
The Documentary film, 'Aftershock: Beyond the Civil War ' will Premiere on the History Channel on Tuesday, December 19, 2006 at 8:00PM Eastern. It will be shown again at Midnight (12:00am) on Wednesday December 20th, 2006.
The film is a documentary filmed mainly in Massachusetts. I play a field hand in it. You can find more details about the film on imdb.com.
Aftershock: Beyond The Civil War:
Despite common belief, the Civil War does not end in 1865, and the blood of many Americans continues to flow freely. It is a period known as "Reconstruction." America is supposed to be reuniting and healing its wounds, but what emerges is a picture of murder, terrorism and chaos as "free" black men and women remain enslaved by a South that does not completely surrender. Insurgencies led by ex-Confederate soldiers rip through every southern state. America's first terrorist group, the Ku Klux Klan, is formed. Hundreds are butchered in citywide race riots, like the infamous New Orleans Massacre of 1866. Counter-insurgency groups form, like the Lowry Gang, who fights a guerilla-style battle against Confederates and northern carpetbaggers like D.P. Upham, who battles the Klan in Arkansas. All Americans feel the Civil War's aftershocks for years, while some believe its tremors are felt even today.
You can read my Previous Blogs on my experience making the film Here:
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Will Massachusetts have its First Black Governor?
Today is Election Day. Usually I try to avoid talking about politics, but today I will do so. The reason being that I have seen one of the nastiest campaigns ever in this state for the Governors races.
This race will be historic no matter who wins. Kerry Healey (46), a white woman is running on the Republican ticket, while Deval Patrick (50), a black man, is running on the Democratic ticket. If Healey wins, she will be the first female Governor for the state and if Patrick wins, he will be the first black Governor. There are two other candidates, Christy Mihos, and Independent and Grace Ross of the Green Party.
Let me say that while I would love to see a woman Governor, the nastiness of this woman's campaign turned me and many other off her. In the push to garner votes she came off looking like an evil, snobby, rich bytch, concerned only with the little circle of people around her.
Healey is a Republican. For the past few years she has been the Lt. Governor for Massachsetts under Mitt Romney. Romney is a trip as he only ran for Governor of Massachusetts so that he could run for President. Let the entire USA know, Romney is a photo-op guy who cares nothing for Massachusetts and spend little time him during he tenure as Governor. Let me lay off Romney and concentrate on Healey.
Healey was Romney's shadow and in fact he rarely let her speak. It's a miracle that the Repblican's even let her run for Goveror. I am sure that all her campaign ads were approved by the state Republican committee before airing. First, they tried to 'Willie Hortonize' Patrick because he defended a rapist. Patrick worked as a prosecutor and a defender and we all know how that goes. So kudos to him for doing his job. How many times have we seen attorneys defending shady characters. That's the beauty of the American justice system. Justice for all.
Then Healey's team dispatched campaign workers dressed in Orange prison uniforms to the homes of Patrick and his running mate Tim Murray to protest. Well, this stunt backfired big time. Tim Murray's 12 year son was home alone getting ready to go to school when the orange clad group showed up and terrorized the boy. After that both Patrick and Murray had police assigned to their homes.
Next Healey's team aired over and over again and ad is which some woman heads to her car in a garage and gets raped or is about to get raped or something, while the narrator says something about Patrick allowing it and he should be ashamed. I had to switch off my TV. It was disgusting. Grace Ross said of the commerical during a debate, " That ad makes rape victims feel like they are being raped again!"Then Healey's campaign went to media with something about Deval Patrick's sister being raped by her husband! The husband served time over it and in fact the two have been happily married for over 15 years and they are counselors and their children knew nothing about it until Kerry Healey's campaign exposed it! Hey Healey, what did that have to do with the campaign, that was just vile!
Now, many times a day we see a buff white guy jogging in some suburb, thinking to himself about Deval Patrick. In my opinion the only thing he didn't put into words was that he did not want to be governed by a black man!
And where was Deval Patrick during all this negative campaigning...well believe it or not, he stayed positive and focused on what he would do as Governor. He refused to go negative on Healey. He proved himself to be Gentleman. He could have had a field days with Healey's views that the elderly are overhoused.
Even in the debates Patrick showed his decency, though he did throw some jabs at Healey like, "Why don't you come down off your high horse, and I'll show you around so you can see how it works." This was after she attacked him over his work in the justice system.
Deval Patrick ran a grassroots campaign and reached out to everyone. Let me just say that I never even saw Kerry Healey in my neighborhood, or any of her people. And the barbebcues held by 'ordinary citizens' that she was seen attending were in posh suburbs. So obviously she doesn't stand for the common man. At one of the debates Patrick said that Healey should talk about the issues instead of trying to scare people into voting for her.
Let's see what the turn out will be. I hope that Deval Patrick wins. If he does, let it be a lesson to those who use negative campaigning tactics. People are not stupid.
Monday, October 30, 2006
By, Josiah Kibira
Kibira Films International is currently looking actors for its upcoming project to be filmed next year in Tanzania - July 1st - July 31, 2007 This new movie is a sequel to the movie Bongoland which was produced in 2003 by Kibira Films. Bongoland was/is a drama about different challenges that immigrants face once they arrive in the foreign land. It dealt with issues of immigration papers, employment, school and relationships. The main characters asked - "would you rather be a well fed slave or a hungry freeman"? He asked this while contemplating whether to keep chasing the ever elusive American dream or go back to his native land.
The sequel is a continuation of that drama following the main character Juma to see if his dreams for a better life were fulfilled after he decided to go back to his native Bongoland. The working title for the movie is "Bongoland II - There Is No Place Like Home."
Here are the qualifications for the post:
[1.] Be a male actor. [2.] Fluent Swahili speaker.[ 3.] Some film or stage acting - not necessary but would be helpful. [4.] Have seen the movie "Bongoland" [5.] Currently living in the United States [6.] Have legal status to travel in and out of USA. [ 7.] Willing to work on a deferred payment contract. [8.] Ability to get along with people.
Additional Perks for the role:
[1.] Free round trip ticket to Tanzania. [2.] All accommodations provided while in Dar. [3.] Daily stipend while on the set. [4.] Possibility of earning a role in Kibira Films future projects. [5.] Exposure to Film festivals in USA, Europe and Africa. [6.] Screen testing in Minneapolis, MN if selected or being considered. [7.] Possible career move.
[1.] Send a headshot. [2.] Your resume OR. [3.] An essay of why you think you should be considered for the role. [4.] Any tapes, DVD, vocals showing your acting abilities - In actual production i.e. play, movie (if you have it)
[5.] Send to: Kibira Films International 2860 Zanzibar Lane North Plymouth, MN 55447
[6.] Email - firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks and Good Luck.
More information about Kibira Films - www.kibirafilms.com
Phone #: Office: (612)-291-2719; Mobile: (763)-229-2495
Saturday, September 09, 2006
When people here in America tell me that I have a big behind, I tell them that I wish it was twice the size. When I answer that, I can see them in shock. I grew up in Africa and believe me, the bigger the behind the more beautiful one is considered.
In America having a blessed behind is considered ugly, being overweight. Look at the way people initially laughed at Jennifer Lopez because they said she had a big one. I was appalled at the airbrushing of her pictures to reduce the size of her behind. Funny, nowadays people are buying padded pants to make themselves look like they have big one. Thank you Beyonce? and all the others in the ‘bootylicious’ movement.
Truth said in most African cultures having a flat behind is considered ugly. Being thin is a sign of illness and misery. This brings me to my point today, and that it the film Phat Girlz.
Phat Girlz is a film written and produced by an Ethiopian-American, Nngest Likke. The film is based on her frustrations that she felt in America as a plus-size women. Phat Girlz did not do well at the Box office, and I’m not surprised. America is a society that worships what Hollywood feeds it. It’s image of beauty is a skeletal thin, blonde blue eyed woman. Phat Girlz protagonist is a heavyset black woman…a no no in Hollywood .
In Phat Girlz many Americans are in disbelief that a gorgeous well toned, Dr. Tunde (Jimmy Jean-Louis) can fall in loved with heavyset PHAT sister Jazmin (Mo’nique). Well, of course it’s possible and to him she is the most gorgeous woman on the planet. He was raised in a culture where the ‘Thick Madam’ is Queen. The saying that, “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” rings true here.
Well I have the Phat Girlz DVD, and I have watched everything on it and heard about thetrials and tribulations of making them film. I have to say that I am and will be forever grateful that this film was made. As I have said before it is long overdue. The film will definitely have a cult following. And with the release of the DVD Phat Girlz has moved from the #1 worst movie on the Internet Movie Database to the #7 its rating will probably rise as more people watch it. It’s no secret that there were racist and anti-fat campaigns against the movie which led to low turn out at the movies.
Phat Girlz is not about glorifying being fat, but accepting who you are, living life and yes, Phat peoples dreams can come true too.
Director /Producer Nnegest Likke asks viewers which ending they prefer. I prefer the Extended version ending where Jazimn tells viewers to go be with the one they love. That’s a romantic ending that gets viewers involved.
I look forward to Phat Girlz 2.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Warriors: Spiritually Engaged
The Making of Maangamizi – The Ancient One
What does it take to make a movie in Africa? I guess most people would say cast, crew, equipment, money, patience and tolerance. It also takes resourcefulness, creativity and the blessings of the ancestors.
In 1994 a film crew from Los Angeles set out to make a film in Tanzania, East Africa with minimal budget. Little did they know it would take six years before the film would be completed. Maangamizi the Ancient One has an interesting history behind it. Maangamizi’s screenplay writer and producer, Queenae Taylor Mulvihill has written a book about the Maangamizi experience.
I have to say it’s been a while since I enjoyed reading a book. This past weekend I was fascinated with ‘Warriors: Spiritually Engaged, The Making of Maangamizi-The Ancient One. In fact the book was so good that I skipped TV watching and other household chores just to concentrate on finishing the book.
Maybe it’s because I took part in the film or the fact that I personally know or have met many of the people mentioned in the book. But, I think anyone would be intrigued by the behind the scenes drama that spanned three continents…Africa, North America and Australia. Queenae talks candidly about incidents in her life and an awakening process that happened because of her involvement with the film. She talks about culture shock, love, adultery, death, friendship, disappointment and more. Most importantly she talks of the hold that the film took on all involved.
Maangamizi the Ancient One was Tanzania’s official selection to the 74th Academy Awards in 2002, in the Foreign Language Category. It did not make the top five. But this was a major achievement as it was Tanzania’s first ever submission for the prestigious award.
For more information visit the Gris Gris Films website http://www.grisgrisfilms.com.
Friday, July 28, 2006
THERE'S NO DREAM TOO BIG FOR SOME GIRLS!
Mo'Nique Delivers BIG Laughs In The Outrageous Comedy Bursting Onto DVD August 22, 2006 From Fox Home Entertainment
CENTURY CITY, Calif . – The stars are big and the laughs are bigger in the full-bodied comedy Phat Girlz , on DVD August 22, 2006 from Fox Home Entertainment. Starring funny-lady Mo'Nique ( Soul Plane, “The Parkers”) as Jazmin, an aspiring plus-size fashion designer who struggles to find acceptance, Phat Girlz hilariously shows that size does matter — and big is in! Also starring Kendra C. Johnson (“Bones”), Joyful Drake (Beauty Shop), Godfrey (Soul Plane) and Eric Roberts (“The L Word”), Phat Girlz dishes up plenty of belly laughs as Jazmin and her friends find love and success by maximizing their inner strength and beauty. The Phat Girlz DVD features super-sized bonus material including a never-before-seen version, director and cast commentary, deleted and alternate scenes with optional director's commentary, “Supersize Dreams: A Director's Video Diary,” “The Reel Deal: The Making Of Phat Girlz,” “The Phattest Guy: A Tribute to Producer Bobby Newmyer,” outtakes and a gag reel. The DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $27.98 U.S./$43.48 Canada .
Synopsis:Superstar comedienne Mo'Nique stars as a sassy, plus-sized fashion designer who's tired of taking no for an answer in this hilarious comedy about living life to the fullest. Jazmin Biltmore has big plans for large ladies – she's designed a sexy line of clothes for curvaceous women like herself. But when she can't get funding for her designs or meet a man who appreciates her unique physique, Jazmin's patience starts running thin. That is, until she wins an all-expense-paid trip to a resort in Palm Springs , where she just might just meet the man of her dreams.
DVD Special Features:The Phat Girlz DVD piles on the extras including a never-before-seen version, feature commentary by director Nnegest Likke, Mo'Nique and others, deleted and alternate scenes with optional director's commentary, “Supersize Dreams: Director's Video Diary,” “The Reel Deal: The Making Of Phat Girlz,” “The Phattest Guy: A Tribute to Producer Bobby Newmyer,” outtakes and a gag reel. The DVD will be available in either widescreen (1.85:1) or pan & scan (1.33:1) on a flipper disc with English 5.1 Dolby Surround, as well as French and Spanish Dolby Surround.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
This a shot of all the actors who played Field Hands in Aftershock. The guy hanging is actually Stephen LeClaire, a local musician and also the owner of the ranch where this segment was shot. he gets hanged for killing someone in the film. In real life he's a great guy! Note this was definitely between breaks, we're wearing shoes and smiling!
Aftershock is now listed on imdb.com. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0818080/
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I finally got a taste of A-list Hollywood. I was an extra last week in a scene shot at the popular Silver Spoon restaurant, in Roxbury, Massachusetts for the film Gone Baby Gone. The film is being directed and produced by Hollywood hunk, Ben Affleck in his directorial debut. For those who don’t know, Roxbury is the heart of Boston’s black community. I got a call from CP Casting. The scene would take place in the restaurant and customers were working class people. Specific instructions - don’t wear anything fancy, but take a few extra things just in case they wanted different wardrobe. Okay, I pull out the jeans, tank tap and a shirt over it, and my quiet shoes. I was trying to dress a comfortably as possible because I knew that it would be extremely hot that day.
I arrived at the Silver Slipper promptly at 7:00am as instructed only to be told that Extras were to report to the base camp a few blocks away. It was the old MBTA bus depot. So I walked over there and saw other extras. All the extras were black, I guess to reflect the neighborhood. I checked in, and was told to go to wardrobe for approval. What I was wearing was fine, one lady wearing jeans was told to wear a skirt, another lady was provided a waitress uniform. Some of the guys had to change their shorts or were given shirts from wardrobe. The extras who were pedestrians were immediately bused over to the set. Meanwhile it was early in the morning and I wasn’t sure of when we could eat or refreshments on the set. I asked if we could get some coffee or something to drink from the food table and truck set up in the lot. A crew person took us over and we got some drinks and snacks, then we were walked to the Silver Spoon.
When we got there to our amazement there was no holding area. So first they let us sit in the restaurant while they shot scenes outside. Inside we chatted with some of the crew, and I was chatting with a lighting specialist and I was fascinated by what he was saying about film lighting. Then we had to move outside while they set up the restaurant. They took down some of the photos on the wall and put up some others, all related to Black History. The wall looked great, and colorful, like Black Power wall. I was impressed. First we were hanging around on the sidewalk by the huge mural on the wall. It was interesting to see the curiosity traffic jams. Hey, it’s not everyday that movies gets shot in Roxbury or so many stars are there. And this was something positive not TV cameras covering crime.
We were then instructed to hang out the parking lot area, which had been turned into a multi-purpose area. It was small and crowded with trucks carrying generators and other stuff. So we sat on bumpers, truck steps, the hot ground, curb, whatever, but ended up standing most of the time.
On the set, one extra asked about a toilet. It turned out that the only toilet available was the one in the basement of the restaurant and to get to it, you had to go between set-ups. So people were cautious what they drank, but it was so hot and people were sweating so there was minimal need for bathroom trips. Luckily around 12:00noon two port-o-potties were delivered.
When it came time for our first call to the set we were lined up, and someone assigned us things to do. I got to sit at the counter in front of Ed Harris and John Ashton. My counter partner was an actor called Montez. Me and ‘my friend’ (as we became known during the shoot) were given bowls with Jamaican style peas and rice and bread and little saucers. They gave us drinks filled with plastic ice cubes, so they wouldn’t melt. We were told not to drink it, just pretend. The food was real though, it’s just that it had passed through so many hands. Every time they said “action”, we had to pretend to eat and drink. I tasted some of the beans and rice. They were good. I wouldn’t have minded having some of the curried goat or jerk chicken that was being served.
In the scene, Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan come in and talk to the older detectives. We did many takes, and of course the actors were flubbing their lines. Some of the flubs will probably make great outtakes. Ben Affleck kept coming over to Casey, pulling him aside and speaking to him in a low voice. It looked like he wasn’t pleased with his little bro’s acting, but finally he got it right. When they finished the first part, we had to go out mill around the equipment and wait to be called again. We were called in again and did the same thing, shot from a different angle. Michelle Monaghan talked to us, along with Casey between shots. I was like, wow, I’m talking to Michelle Monaghan! Casey even though he spoke to us seemed scared of us.
Finally we got a lunch break. Lunch was great! We were bused over to 12th Baptist Church on Warren St.. I wonder if Ben and the other crew knew that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Minister at that Church while he was a student at Boston University. We were in an historic venue. We got a hot lunch and got to choose what we wanted. There was Grilled Tilapia, Chicken Parmesan and Italian sausage, not to mention salads, fruits, desserts and other foodstuffs. Ben Affleck sat with his family and friends at a table in a section of the hall with dimmed lights. His wife Jennifer Garner got up came over to the table next to us and was chatting on her cell phone. It sounded like she was making a deal for a movie, or conditions on the future movie set for a film she’d be acting in. It was cool to see the Alias star in the flesh and she smiled at everyone. Soon lunch was over.
Ben and his wife took a photo with a lady from 12th Baptist and signed an autograph for another member. Then they were gone. Before, we went back our staff person told us to make sure we used the bathroom etc. We lined up outside and got bused back to the set. While we were waiting for the van, someone drove by and through a bag of garbage out their car window. The woman who took the photo with Ben ran into the street and picked it up and put in a garbage can.
Back at the set, this time, we had to wait until around 8:00pm to be called. So we just hung around. The sad thing was that there were no chairs, so we stood around. It was steaming hot. Luckily there was a big tube piping cool air, into the restaurant and also to certain areas of the parking. We took turns standing around it to cool off. The crew kept telling us to drink and stay hydrated so that we wouldn’t pass out. Some chairs were removed from the restaurant and some of the guys went to get them so we could sit on them, then some woman on the crew same running after them and told them to put them back. After a couple of hours people got so fed up of standing that they just took the chairs and sat.
So for our final scene, I was sitting at the counter on a stool when Ben Affleck brushed against my back and I almost spilled my fake drink. Well, the space was narrow so anything could happen. I turned and looked and he walked away without saying anything. If it had been elsewhere, I would have expected an, “excuse me.” But hey this was a Hollywood set. So I got back to the business of waiting for the cue and pretending to eat the now cold and dried out food. Someone told me I should hawk my shirt on E-bay! Ben Affleck touched it! LOL! I like my shirt, no way!
Ed Harris is the coolest guy! He came over and greeted all the extras and asked our names. On the set he addressed us by name. We were amazed that he remembered our names. During the day he asked us, how we were doing. What a nice person, I’m a fan not just as an actor but of him as a human being.
Why do I say this, because that whole day and despite seeing Ben Affleck numerous times and being physically close to us, he never spoke to us. He never said, Hello, Good-Bye, or thanks. He never asked any of us extras how we’re doing, told us good job or anything. Truth said, all that was being done by the crew and the assistants. Most of time Ben just sat behind some screen which showed what was being filmed. It was someone else telling people what to do. I guess that’s the Hollywood style of making films. As to conditions, I guess there are trade-offs, I've been on films, which had a great holding area and hardly anything to eat or drink, or worse you have to go and buy your own food. None of the extras went up to him and asked for his autograph or to take a photo with him, maybe we should have. I'm sure we'll see Ben Affleck again, Boston is a small town.
Note this film is Ben Affleck’s directorial debut. I hope it’s a hit at the Box Office and even better would be if it earns some Oscar nods. How cool, would that be to be able to say, “ I was an Extra in an Oscar nominated film!” Remember in filmmaking they may never use the scene. But hey it will be cool to see myself on the big A-list screen even if all you see is my back!
* I took some photos and will post them as soon as they are processed. Sorry none of Ben or Jen.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Me and Tim Weske after shooting our scene.
Tim played Amos Black a mean old bast*d working his farm hands to death! He even killed one guy, for not working hard enough! Sad thing is it's a true story! One of the guys joked lets get together and kill him! After we finished shooting the scene Tim was more than a gentleman and came over and apologized to each of us and gave us a hug, dirty as we were! Of course there are no grudges as we were just acting! Plus it helped knowing before hand what the script was about.
I sure am glad I wasn't living back then! Even though I was just acting, working out in that field had me imagining what the real slaves and ex-slaves endured! God made humans resilient!
The Union soldier guy is one of the actors who came from Los Angeles. I'm not sure what his name is.
Aftershock will be shown on the History Channel. I'll let you know when or you an check the website: http://www.limulusproductions.com
You can read more about the Aftershock filming at http://www.the-valves.net/ Click on 'Steve LeClaire Movie Star'. There are also more great photos.
Friday, June 09, 2006
I just acted in a Documentary film being shot for the History Channel. The name of the film is ‘Aftershock’. It’s about the chaos of the post Civil War period. I’m calling it more of the untold stories of that time. Aftershock is being made by Limulus Productions of Arlington, Massachusetts and directed by David Padrusch.
I landed the part of a lowly field hand …backstory -ex slave still living almost in slavery. In the scene Amos Black played by Tim Weske kills one of the farm hands and then threatens the others. Sadly, it’s a true story.
So I went out Sutton, Massachusetts which is about fifty miles from Boston. I arrived on the set, signed in, and went straight to wardrobe. I was dressed in a long black skirt, apron and man’s shirt! I then headed to make-up and this was no glam job. They actually put dirt make-up on me! I then headed to the set where they were filming which turned out to be a soggy field. Once there actors were assigned various farm implements. I ended up with a pitchfork, which turned out to be quite good for tilling the soggy land. The soil was dark and full of bugs and huge earthworms.
There a huge horse called Barney, he looked like a Clydesdale. He was being controlled by a white guy dressed in period clothing. Yeah we were back in 1866 alright. So the scene was blocked and we started filming. We all had to take off our shoes. The soil was soggy and I’m sure I sank at least six inches in it. Thank God I had put some bug spray on my feet before I went to the set.
David moved us around several times. I had to control my farming skills picked up from my days in Tanzania. We would spend the whole day farming with just a hoe. No tractor, no nothing. So the farming part was quite easy, in fact the other cast were teasing me that I was capable of farming the whole farm.
During one of the takes, something stung my foot and I couldn’t look back till David said, Cut. By then I had to ask for first aid. A paramedic on the set came and assisted me. First he had to wash the mud off with bottled spring water. Then he applied ice to help reduce swelling. Luckily it wasn’t too bad and I was able to continue although as I write this my foot is still irritated.
So we shot and an actor named Claude, kept having to fall after being hit by Amos Black. Amos then shoots him in the chest and the rest of us are so intimidated that we keep on working. I guess you would too if the boss cocked his shotgun at you. Amos shoots, spits, stands over the body like he just killed an animal! I think I turned numb with the thought that this really happened.
After shooting all that we moved to another angle and then Amos Black had to recite his nasty lines which included the n-word! When he was saying that all I could say was thank god we were just acting. But I thought of our ancestors who had to endure that harsh life, in the days of slavery. We were dirty all over and I imagined how awful it must have been back then without modern day conveniences. I felt awful, I felt dirty and filthy! But I kept saying to myself at the end of the day I can go home and soak in the tub, wash my clothes in a washing machine etc. What did those poor people have back then? Human beings are truly resilient.
After we finished shooting that scene we broke for lunch. I swear we did 100 takes. Tim came over and shook hands and hugged everyone one off us and apologized. We told him, that we knew he was just acting and had no grudges. We also told him the line wasn’t really a shock to us because it was used in the auditions. He said, he was wondering why people didn’t look surprised.
I felt terrible and quickly took off my costume I was going to leave until another actor told me we were still needed. So I waited until the next scene and put the dirty costume back on. This time, we got bloodied up because we were massacred. Some of the costumes were borrowed from re-enactors and they had to be careful with them. I had the luck of wearing a costume that could be dirtied and had a lot of fake blood poured on me. For this scene we had to lie on the soggy forest floor. They gave us lots of Bug Spray (OFF could use that for a commercial) and the EMT’s checked for poison ivy. We had to hold our breath and play dead.
After we were done and all the African American actors were released. I changed back to my 2006 clothes and tried to take as much of the dirt make up and fake blood off. One of the actors, Frank Shefton, told me that the other day he did a scene with the fake blood. He didn’t get it all off his face and on the way home he stopped at 7-11 and the clerk almost freaked out! Yeah that fake blood looked real and felt real. In fact, when the same EMT who assisted me earlier saw me with it he gasped.
Overall, what an experience! I’ll inform you when the film will be playing in the History Channel.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
AFTERSHOCK - A Post Civil War Documentary for the History Channel
This film is about the post-civil war period known as 'Reconstruction'. Production started June 1st, in Massachsuetts. I have a role in it. The scene I'm in will film next week. I'll definitely brief you on the shoot.
The script is based on true incidences and its atrocious how blacks were murdered and mistreated. White would hire blacks to work their land then refuse to pay them resultng in some blacks starving to death.
Black men, women and children were murdered for sport! A black woman who spoke up against the Klan was stripped naked and whipped in front of her family, then the Klan whipped her daughters!
It was an awful time for blacks and whites who felt the pain of losing their old way of life because of the Civil War. I think films like Gone With the Wind have shaped a lot of peoples thoughts on Reconstruction. Aftershock will definitely be an eye opener.
Meanwhile here is an article on the interest that the film is generating:
Crackle of rifle fire, smell of gunpowder to fill Air
By Ariel Z. Burch/ Staff Writer Thursday, June 1, 2006
Westford Police Dispatchers may receive a higher number of strange calls the weekend of June 8, but the gunshots, flames and suspicious-looking men in Civil War era-garb will all be part of a History Channel documentary.
"Aftershock," a two-hour special about the post-Civil War South, will be filmed in Sutton and in Westford on town-owned land at the end of Vine Brook Road along Nashoba Pond, also known as Kennedy Pond.
Conservation Commissioner William Turner and the Board of Selectmen have given Producer-Director David Padrusch of Limulus Productions permission to film on Thursday, June 8, Friday, June 9 and Saturday, June 10.
Padrusch said some scenes will be violent and very dramatic due to the nature of the film.
"During a period known as 'Reconstruction,' a time many consider to be one of the darkest in American history, America is supposed to be reuniting, healing its wounds and moving past civil discord. But in the post-Civil War South, one can see snapshots of a larger, more menacing picture. A picture shadowed by insurgency terrorism and chaos as 'free' black men and women remain enslaved by a South that does not completely surrender," Padrusch said.
"The truth about this era is about to become shockingly clear," Padrusch said.
Kate Hollister of the homeowners association on Vine Brook Road said the neighborhood supports the production.
"I have only talked to the women, but they all say it's great and 'can the kids go watch?'" said Hollister.
Residents are welcome to watch filming, Padrusch said, and the Police and Fire Departments will be on hand to maintain order.
There will also be opportunities for extras to appear in the production and members of the Westford Academy Theater Arts program, under the direction of Michael Towers, may also have roles.
"This is a very serious matter that is being handled with the utmost delicateness," Padrusch said.
Padrusch's last film, entitled "Bible Battles," premiered on the History Channel in December, 2005.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Tusamehe in Swahili means ‘forgive us’. After seeing Tusamehe it’s clear that people need forgiveness for many things. This film is not only a tale of morals and awareness but takes an interesting look at the AIDS crisis. Viewers will see that not only is HIV/AIDS a problem in Africa but amongst African immigrants in the USA as well. The film is a slap in the face wake up call to viewers that HIV/AIDS is real and it does not discriminate.
Bilantanya Moses Bakeyemba (played by Fundi Kibwana) is an immigrant from Bongoland (no secret it’s Tanzania) living the American Dream in Minnesota. He has a successful, well paying job, owns a house and two cars and is married to a beautiful woman, Salome, (played by Blandina Donald) from his homeland. We find out that before he got married he had an American girlfriend (played by KariAnn Craig), who is jealous of his marriage to the “African Queen”. She does everything she can to rekindle the relationship and Bilantanya soon falls. Salome finds out and chaos ensues.
But, life goes on for the married couple and Salome tells Bilantanya that she is pregnant. He is even happier when he finds out that the child is a boy. Joy turns to grief when after a pre-natal check-up Salome finds out that she is HIV positive and the baby is at risk of being sick as well. Bilantanya soon falls desperately ill.
Knowing that he is dying, Bilantanya begs for forgiveness from God and at the same time prays to live long enough to see his son. While this is going on a Pharmaceutical Boss seeks religious counseling after he becomes overridden with guilt for not supplying cheaper drugs to Africa and doing more to help the AIDS crisis. Just when you think nothing worse can happen to the couple, Bilantanya dies and that’s not the end of the story.The film has sad and funny moments but the ending of it is very climatic. Another love Triangle is unveiled as we find that Bilantanya’s best friend, Kipara (Robert Kataraia) and Yuni (Emma Kasiga) had an affair but you have to see the film to find out who Kipara slept with!
The cleverly crafted plot takes interesting turns as we find out that no one is really who they seem to be, not even the Pastor (played by Peter Omari). Many Tanzanians will feel that they are looking in the mirror as Kibira captures the negative culture of gossiping, promiscuity, drinking, and risk taking. Hopefully viewers will take a look at themselves and change their ways or realize the effects of their actions.Director, Screenwriter and Producer, Josiah Kibira used actors from Tanzania based in Minnesota for this film, along with a pool of Minnesota actors. They all do an excellent job. Christina Sedlacek also gives a touching performance as a caring visiting nurse and check out my emotional breakdown as Mama Kurusumu.
Tusamehe is Kibira’s second feature film, the first was Bongoland. Both were filmed in Minnesota. The casting in Tusamehe is excellent, and the credit goes to Onesmo Kibira who also played Dennis in the film. Watch for a cameo by Josiah Kibira in the film as well.Congratulations to all who took part in the making of this film. It will be talked about for years to come.
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Tuesday, May 16, 2006
In the Holding area with actors (Megan left and Suzy H right) Look for Suzy H in the films Glory and To Gillian on her 37th Birthday.
My First Commercial
There's always a first for everything. Well, earlier this month I did work in my first commercial. I was hired as a background performer for a TD Banknorth commercial. Hey you have to start somewhere. I'm pretty confident that one day I will be a principal performer. The strange thing was that I almost did not apply for the commercial. I mean I had been turned down so many times before, I said why would this be different. Boston Casting had sent out an e-mail seeking different types of performers. I ignored it, then I happened to look at it again the deadline to apply was 6:00pm that same day. I said what the heck! At 7:00pm I got a call that I got it!. I was jumping for joy! You'd think I hit the lottery.
Anyway in the commerical, I am a nurse. Here I am in my costume...brand new scrubs and light purple clogs! Too bad I didn't get a full photo taken. There were about six other background perfomers some dressed as Doctors and orderlies and patients. The lead actress was flown in from the Big Apple, New York City.
In brief they shot the scene at Symmes Hosptal in Arlington, Massachusetts. This is an abandoned hospital which I heard will be trond down soon to make way for luxury condos. So there was no electricity or running water. They brought in generators and trailers. Bathrooms were on the trailers, not bad. It was a cold day, but we were allowed to stay warm in one of the trailers. They spared no expense on this shoot, it was like a Hollywood film set. What an experience.
Hopefully, I won't get cut out of the final product and get to see myself walking around in the background! And hopefully I'll get more chances to be in commericals and films.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
PHAT GIRLZ - Review
I saw Phat Girlz last Thursday at an advance screening here in Boston. The huge theatre was almost full and they showed it in a huge 50 foot screen. I was surprised at the audience, there were people from all walks of life there. There were white, black, Asian, Hispanic, fat, thin, gay, straight, students, yuppies, older people, fat thin, medium. While were waiting for the film to start I heard many people talking about Mo’nique and her sitcom The Parkers.
Well, I have to say I ENJOYED the film a lot! I have never seen so many big and beautiful women acting in one film. I have also never seen a film where big women were the leads and the theme in a positive way. I laughed at the Fat Jokes and the Thin Jokes were off the hook. I left the screening excited. In my opinion this film is years overdue. The message that one leaves with is that you are who you are, accept it.
So let me tell you a little about the story. Jazmin Biltmore (Mo’nique) and her best friend Stacey, (Kendra C. Johnson) works at Bloomfeld’s Department Store. Jazmin lives with her skinny Cousin, Mia, (Joyful Drake) who thinks she is all that because she is skinny. To maintain her thinness all she eats is carrots and lettuce. Their daily lives seem to be quite boring, Stacey has accepted that she is ugly and will never find love, while all Jazmin wants it to be a Size 5. So much so that she created an effigy of herself wearing a size 5 outfit she purchased. Jazmin guzzles diet pills like candy but they don’t work.
One day she enters a Contest sponsored by a Diet pill company. She wins and the three are off on a dream vacation at a luxury hotel/ spa in Palm Springs. Well they start taking advantage of the amenities, they can’t get a massage because the tables are too thin, Jazmin goes into the spa, and the thin women inside quickly exit not because there’s not enough room but because they disapprove of her size.
Well, the three then head to the swimming pool, where a fine and I mean fine brother, Dr. Tunde (Jimmy Jean-Louis) is busy swimming laps, and stealing glances at the three. Of course skinny Mia, thinks he’s ogling her. Tunde approaches the three and introduces himself and the three find out that he is interested in Jazmin. Jazmin is so shocked that the gorgeous doctor in interested in her she’s speechless. Mia says he must be gay. Two of his Nigerian colleagues come over and soon they are fighting over Stacey. It’s hilarious to hear the Yoruban banter over Mia. They disapprove of her thinness and think she must be sick, they call her a matchstick. The thicker doctor (Dayo Ade) ends up with Mia and he is not happy at all.
The African party/dance that the group goes to is awesome and a highlight of the film. Jazmin finds herself in an environment where she is admired. They play a popular African song, Kasongo, during this scene. The upbeat tune and the mood of the scene is so uplifting. Jazmin and Stacey are both happy, while Mia is unhappy because she is ignored. Dr. Godwin is so embarrassed to be seen with Mia he passes her off as his patient to other Nigerians and flirts with thick Nigerian ladies.
Well, Stacey is finally coaxed out of her shell by Dr. Akibo and then she seems to be trying to make up for all the sex she’s missed out on. At the same time a beautiful woman emerges.
As Jazmin and Tunde’s relationship blooms, so does Jazmin’s confidence. At the same time she is worried that the relationship with Tunde is too good to be true. She doesn't feel that it's possible for a handsome man to love her. In the end her fears overtake her sense of judgement. The relationship comes to a screeching halt when Jazmin embarrasses herself in a fit of jealousy. The three friends quickly return home with Jazmin almost having a nervous breakdown because of the inner grief that’s really killing her. After a few days of self-loathing Jazmin emerges with confidence returns to her job and a lucky break helps her launch her clothing line, Thick Madame. After a year the line is huge success and Jazmin is a major fashion designer. In the end she goes to Nigeria searching for Dr. Tunde to apologize for her actions towards him. The location shots of Lagos are fantastic.
The sad thing is that it took visitors from Africa to pull these beautiful women out of the shells they built around themselves. American society has ingrained in too many women that in order to be beautiful they have to be rail thin which for many is just unnatural. This view has caused too many women to hide in shells, and hang their heads in shame. This film says, get out of your shell, be who you are and realize your potential. People ask how a well chiseled handsome man can fall in love with a fat woman. They forget that love is blind. Believe in yourself.
Overall this is a really good movie. There are some parts where the photography isn’t great and it looks like it was shot with a different type camera or something. But technical flaws aside this was a great film and it’s too bad that investors did not put more in this film.
I would also love to see a real ‘Thick Madame’ line of clothes being sold in stores. The outfits worn in the Fashion Show were absolutely stunning. This film is proof that big ladies can be sexy and gorgeous as well. I am looking forward to PHAT GIRLZ 2, and hopefully I’ll get a part in it.
Friday, March 31, 2006
Why do they Hate 'Phat Girlz' and Mo'nique?
I have a pass to see an Advance Screening of PHAT GIRLZ in Boston on Thursday, April 6th. I am so thrilled and I can’t wait to see it. The trailer looks interesting. A Nigerian guy tells Jazmin Biltmore (Mo’Nique) that she is beautiful and in Africa on a scale of 1-10 she is a 20. Well I’ve lived in Africa and that’s true to some extent. Thinness is a sign of misery and unhappiness.
I’ve been researching the film on the net and read some message boards. Imdb.com is one of them. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0490196/board/threads/ Wow, there is so much hate spewed towards Mo’nique and big people it’s incredible. Sometimes I can’t believe what I’m reading is really there.
I’ve read posts that have called Mo’nique all sorts of horrible names, pig, cow, the b-word and worse. People say don't go to the movies to watch a bunch of fat people and other horrid stuff. I don’t understand what all the hate is for. Is it because Mo’nique is happy with who she is and makes a living off comedy, is a rich black woman and being herself? Only those haters know. I guess they want all big people to crawl under rocks and die or hide in shame.
Then I was shocked to read the Message Board on Fox Searchlight. It was full of Racist Comments about Black people its pathetic. You wouldn't believe that this is 2006.
http://forum.foxsearchlight.com/viewforum.php?f=38 Don't they have moderators?
The haters are also putting down a film which they haven’t even seen. They are saying things like “Mo’nique is encouraging women to be fat”, “Nigerians really hate fat women”, “In Africa Mo’nique is ugly”, “fat people smell and all sorts or nasty things”. Then they even say that all fat people are unhealthy and have diabetes, heart disease and other problems. Black people are fat and lazy and other horrid stuff.
American society has really been poisoned and brainwashed into believing that if you are bigger than a size 4 you don’t deserve to be called human. Well I know plenty of thin health conscious people who have diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Holly Berry fits the Hollywood beauty standard and has diabetes.
Who created this abnormal standard…that a beautiful woman weighs 90 pounds and looks like a 12 year boy. This standard was created by men looking to have control over women. As a result teenagers and adults suffer from eating disorders, and mental issues trying to make themselves look like something that their genes never meant them to be. And why should anyone suffer from malnutrition in America!
Ladies, time has come to rebel against the ‘waif’, ‘sketelal beauty’ look! Thanks Mo’nique for standing up to Hollywood. And thanks Nngest Likke for giving us what promises to be an eyeopening, entertaining film. I know that Mo'nique and the producers will be laughing all the way to the bank.
And to everyone, I have to say one thing. It would be an extremely boring world if everyone were the same shape and size.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
My Experience at FAT Chance Casting Call in New York
Well I went to the New York City Casting Call for Mo’nique’s Fat Chance II. It was an interesting experience. I figured, I'm a plus size woman, I can do that, I've got what it takes, I was soon to find out I didn't!.
So, I took a Greyhound bus from Boston at 12:30am, Monday. We were supposed to arrive in New York at 4:50am, instead I found myself at Mid-Town Terminal at 3:40am! That was the fastest trip by bus that I ever had to New York.
I waited at the station a bit then headed over to the Roseland Ballroom at 239 West 52nd St.. Wow, at 5:00am there was already a long line of big ladies outside and I was told that some had camped out from the night before. I guess we all heard about how people got turned back last year because the hall was too small and women were turned away.
Waiting in line was an experience, it was freezing but the women were very friendly and we did a lot of talking and bonding. Some of the ladies I was with came from Miami, Florida, Chicago, Illinois and Cleveland, Ohio. Camera crews were photographing the lines and we had to cheer every time one went by. There are also plenty of people taking still pics as well. People going by on 52nd St., are surprised to see so many big ladies lined up and they ask what’s going on. A Van goes by with a bunch of black brotha’s. One seems to be trying to flirt with the big lady in front of me, then he holds up a donut that he took a bite out of. The lady shouts, “Give me that donut and I’ll tip your van over as well!” The van is gone. Around 8:30am, staff walk by saying that only women will be allowed inside, strictly no males. Some of the ladies who came with they husbands and boyfriends got mad.
So around 9:30am they started letting us freezing ladies in the hall, 25 at a time. When the line started moving it was every woman for herself. As soon as you entered you took a form with a number, you had to hold the number in front of you and they took your picture then went to sit down. Most of us, headed to the bathroom and to change our clothes and apply make-up. Well I changed my clothes and put on minimal make-up because at this point I was too frozen to care about make-up.
So we’re in the big hall and Mo’nique’s staff are giving Pep Talks. There are refreshments, plenty of Dunkin Donuts. Now you never see refreshments at open casting calls so thanks Mo’nique for being so considerate. A video with a Message from Mo’nique doesn’t play due to technical difficulties. Sharon Quinn last year’s runner up comes in to a loud applause and wishes us luck. Honestly, I thought she should have won rather than Joanna. Sharon walks right by me, and I want to at least get up and shake her hand but my feet are still too frozen. Another contestant, Alicia, from last year comes in and also gives a small pep talk. Wow! What a treat to see the people we saw on TV last year.
Then time for the First Round of judging starts. They call out numbers and you have to line up in order by number. We go in groups of forty. Our group heads to the lower level and we have to line up along a taped line. Then a skinny white guy, asks each of us “If there was one thing that you wanted to tell me about yourself what would it be?” he jots notes after he questions some of us. Well I gave him my answer, “I never watched TV in the 80’s” he moved on without writing anything. By then I figured out the system, if he writes something you’re picked, he doesn’t write anything you’re not picked. I tell the other ladies around me and they don’t believe me. I’ve been to lots of casting calls and I know the chances of getting picked at a ‘Cattle Call’ are slim.
One the other side a very skinny white lady is doing the same. At the end they chose like 10 ladies from our group to come back the next day, I wasn’t one of them. The selected ones got red wristbands. By this time some of the ladies who weren’t selected are heartbroken. One lady near me, starts crying. I try to give her a pep talk but to no avail. She was hurting, I could feel her pain, rejected by society and now rejected at a place where she thought she might find acceptance. Me, I’m pissed that I froze for nothing.
Some of us ‘rejectees’ talk about the judges, their skinniness and whether they were qualified to choose who was fit to go one. Maybe I should have gotten back in line, grabbed another number and hoped to go before another judge. I decide I’ll try again next year, and next year I’ll make sure I’ve got a blanket, winter boots etc..
I go to the ladies room, change my clothes. Before I leave I try to see some of the ladies who I was with who got selected and wish them luck. They are all excited and talking to their families via cell phone. I leave the hall, and walk to Broadway towards the subway. At the corner I see the theater showing the play ‘The Color Purple’, wow!
I take to subway to Canal St. and get on the 2:00pm Fung Wah bus to Boston. And I’m back home at 6:30PM.
Good luck to the contestants and I look forward to seeing the show.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Mo'Niques Fat Chance 2
Mo'Nique is back this year with Mo'Niques Fat Chance Part 2. That's the sequel to the successful Beauty Pageant for Plus size women held on the Oxygen Channel last year.
I loved the show watched it over and over. My favorite contestant was Sharon, the oldest contestant. She lost to Joanna Borghella who is also a beautiful Plus size woman.
For those interested in auditioning check out: http://www.oxygen.com/monique/
Isn't it interesting that if you are over a size 10, you are considered PLUS SIZE! I have seen too many grumpy, cantankerous, starving women trying to stay thin in the name of being acceptable to society. These ladies have big heads and their skin hangs off them. YUK! Skeletal Beauty can't be that healthy because I see a lot of those same skinny thangs suffering heart problems, diabetes and worse malnutrition! Yeah Bulimia and anorexia cause malnutrition. Then we're told we have to be like them in order to get be normal! Skeletal isn't normal.
What gets me is that if I looks at films from the 1930's, 40's, 50' and even sixties you see what now called full size women looking quite happy and being oogled over. they have curves and looked like women. Nowadays they want women to have no hips, and be shaped like a man!
Women's Lib needs to address these issues.
I thank Mo'Nique for being herself and showing that Larger women can be beautiful too. Last year's pageant inspired many and this years will inspire even more.
Once again if you want to attenda an OPEN CASTING CALL visit: