CAAN-LA Black History Panel

7 02 2018

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position
that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he
has overcome while trying to succeed.”
— Booker T. Washington

One of the great privileges of being part of the Columbia College Chicago National Alumni Board is representing the Board at CAAN events. The CAAN-Los Angeles network has been ably built up and guided by Sarah Schroeder, the West Coast Regional Director for Columbia, and her events are always top notch, well represented by our up-and-coming alumni, and well attended.

Yesterday’s Black History Panel featured our Columbia alumni who are also some of the trailblazers and innovators in Black filmmaking and entertainment: Producer-Director-Writer George Tillman, Jr., who has been the creative force behind some of my favorite movies, including the Barbershop films and Men of Honor; Writer-Director-Actor Kenny Young, the genius behind You Can’t Fight Christmas, Chance, and One Week; Producer-Development Executive Crystal Holt, engineer behind Rebel (BET), and The Swap (Disney Channel); Actress Erica Hubbard, who had pivotal roles in Chicago Med, Let’s Stay Together, and Lincoln Heights; Producer Paul Garnes, who gave us Selma, and Queen Sugar; and on-air personality, Grammy-Nominated Music Producer-Songwriter, and co-founder of Da Internz, Marcos “Kosine” Palacios.

The panel was moderated by some really talented and thoughtful Columbia student moderators: Jocelyn Shelton and Marquise Davion.

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Gearing up for our CAAN-LA’s Black History Month Alumni Panel with some fabulous filmmakers and student moderators Marquis Davion and Jocelyn Shelton.

George Tillman, Jr. discussed how he got into film, and how the presence of African-American creators and filmmakers has grown since he first came to Hollywood.

Kosine talked about his journey, encouraged the alumni still pursuing their dreams to simply, “Stay in the game,” and urged that, “Black History Month is a great time for African-Americans to be networking with each other,” and to take advantage of this and motivate each other towards excellence.

As an actress, Erica Hubbard discussed the high bar set by the writing and talent she experienced on the “Lincoln Heights” set, and how it is difficult to accept projects that don’t meet that standard.

If Paul Garnes did nothing else, he helped launch director-producer Ava Duvernay to the world. Paul shared his journey in filmmaking, how he met and got started with Ava, and working on Selma with David Oyelowo, and Oprah, as well as Queen Sugar.

Kenny Young talked affectionately about his mentors and the people who helped steer him in his career. He also talked about making determinations. He said at one point that he didn’t want to work a full-time job ever again, and he hasn’t since then. He has found a way to juggle, struggle, and forge ahead on his drive and talent, while still earning a living in Los Angeles.

Crystal Holt gave, what I felt was the most powerful and practical advice. “Drive is something you cannot teach, and that goes further than talent… You have a goal in mind, and you are working toward that plan for your life. Don’t give up on that.”

She also gave some sage advice on contracts and equal pay: “Trust no one! Be contract literate, and read it from front to back before you sign.”

While this old dog gleaned from their practical wisdom, I also enjoyed hearing about the endeavors and adventures of our young alumni; like the delightful Toy Monique, who works for Will Packer Media in their scripted and unscripted television department. Toy is a recent transplant to L.A., having gone through Columbia’s Semester in L.A. program in 2016. She laid the groundwork back then, and came back to Los Angeles as an employee at the place where she interned! What a smart lady—we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on her, and very happy to stay in contact via Instagram and LinkedIn.

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50 Days to 50 Years: Day 23, Griffith Observatory with the Velas!

9 07 2016

“Beautiful memories are like old friends. They may not always be on your mind, but they are forever in your heart.” — Susan Gale

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Hermione and Samuel Vela are longtime and lifetime friends. Hermione and I met at The Church on the Way back in the mid-90s. While we knew each other, our relationship was mostly seeing each other on Sundays and at college and single’s group activities. I started attending a particular single’s group at the megachurch, and met a unique and stellar young man named Kelly Rivers. He invited me to his “Breakfast Club” early on Thursday mornings, and I discovered that Hermione and several other friends I knew were a part of it. That helped to change the nature of our relationship, and we started building a friendship outside of the group. However, when she asked if I wanted to meet one-on-one for accountability and prayer, well that pretty transformed us individually and corporately.

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Charles Finney said, “Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other’s hearts in prayer.”

He is right. Hermione is a sister of my heart, as well as my family, and much of that is a result of the time we have spent together in prayer. The older I get, the more I understand how rare and how precious this bond is, and I am grateful to have it.

Hermione has seen and prayed me through depression, family reconciliation, loneliness, financial stress, faith struggles—the highs and the lows over two decades. I saw her come together with Samuel, and she and Samuel saw my coming together with Lynn.

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She was there to welcome my sister June and niece Gabi to California, and she was there to support me as June battled illness after illness, left to go back to Chicago, then returned to ultimately pass away. Hermione and Samuel grieved with us when June went to glory, and was there to support us as we navigated that grief.

Through upheavals, moves, and times of inertia we have maintained a quality friendship and a prayer partnership, and I am thankful and blessed that the quality of the friendship gets richer as we advance in years.

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One of the great privileges of lifelong friendship is to see the growth of family and relationships. Over the last several years, Samuel and Hermione have chosen to foster and then adopt two children: Jaxin and Yolanda. They are brother and sister, and as is the plight of many foster children, their lives have not been easy and their hurdles are often high. It takes a special heart to not only welcome these children into your family, but to work and fight to help them leap those hurdles and become who God created them to be; not what hard circumstances deformed them to be. Samuel and Hermione have those beautiful hearts, and I admire and revere them for this.

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Juggling schedules with children takes a certain type of art, but we were able to get together to celebrate their contribution to my 50 Days to 50 Years. We spent the evening at Griffith Observatory for their “Star Party”. Once a month, the observatory encourages amateur astronomers to bring their telescopes, and the staff have their own set up to assist interested parties in seeing constellations, the moon, and even some of the planets.

I brought a picnic of hot dogs, potato salad, vegetarian casserole, tacos, and brownies, and we knoshed, talked and watched all the buzz around the telescopes. We got a few views through telescopes of the moon, but for the most part we just spent time enjoying each other’s company and getting to know Jaxin and Yolanda a bit better.

Griffith Observatory is awesome for 360 degree views of Los Angeles, from Pasadena to the beach. We were able to take in the entire city from sun up to sunset, and enjoy the lights of the city that make Los Angeles look stunning.





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 29, Sunday Worship, Sunday Fun!

4 07 2016

“An authentic life is the most personal form of worship.
Everyday life has become my prayer.”
— Sarah Ban Breathnach

Day 29 began with corporate worship at the Montrose Church. The authenticity of Pastor Dave Roberts, and his exhortation to us to live authentic and relevant lives is part of the reason we are excited to be in service every Sunday. We mostly attend the Pasadena-Bresee campus in the evening, but we change it up when we have an evening engagement or I have to work. So yesterday we attended the 10 am at the Montrose campus and got to see people we normally don’t on Sunday. Lynn ran into Bruce, a fellow he carpooled with to the Men’s Retreat in February, and I ran into Sandy Cortes, from my Women’s Bible Study small group. Sandy was kind enough to help me out with a medical appointment a few weeks back, and she is like my spirit sister; she is a delight to be around and her cooking is awesome.

At Jana’s birthday tea, she was wearing a pair of lady bug earrings—I told her I collect ladybugs! Then today, she was wearing an ebony elephant necklace, and I collect elephants too. Suffice to say we find commonalities we share every time we get to meet.

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Montrose is a lovely community, and they have a Sunday Farmer’s Market and car show; so after service we walked down to Honolulu Avenue and took in the produce, wares, and the classic cars. We returned home after a few hours, and I made cornbread to go with a delicious late lunch of Crockpot Chili. I’m doing as much as possible to not spend too much time in a hot kitchen, and Crockpots help this tremendously. Then we headed over to Memorial Park in La Canada-Flintridge to take in an Eagles cover band called “The Long Run“.

My new friend and social butterfly Jana had expressed interest in this event posted on Facebook, and Lynn and I love the Eagles. There are very few bands I want to see live. While live concerts are awesome, the money and mess that goes along with them is not something we like to subject ourselves to; but it would have been so great to see the Eagles live. Alas, Glenn Frey is no longer with us, so that one will never happen. But a good cover band will do in a pinch!

Lynn and I arrived at the park first, and scoped out some spots for all of us. Jana said her husband Mark would come at least for a little bit, and her daughter Becca was also planning to come. We found great seats just a few paces from the bandstand and straight on where we could see the band. Jana, Mark, and Becca found us, and we settled in and waited for the music to start.

It was a rocky start, though. The sound was not on point, and Gary Grantham, the lead singer who does the Glenn Frey vocals left much to be desired. Jana and I looked at each other, hoping that this wasn’t going to be a total dud. It turned a corner with the other vocalists: Bill Worrell doing the Timothy B. Schmit highs, Chris Sobkowich working a great impression of Joe Walsh, and Chris Varosy doing the Don Henley vocals, keyboards and percussion. That’s when it popped—the band seemed to hit a groove, and so did the audience. When Chris Varosy ended the first half with “Desperado”, the crowd went wild, and rightfully so. He did the song justice.

Mark and Becca left, so during the intermission Jana and I strolled through the park to see if she knew anyone. This area of town was virgin territory for me, so I wasn’t expecting to see anyone I knew. Boy, was I wrong! We spotted Betty Smith, the co-leader of our small group, and her husband, along with two people that I personally knew and Jana didn’t: Denae and Patrick, clients at CorePower, who used to regularly attend my early AM classes in Sherman Oaks! They were delighted to see me, and I them. They lived in the area, and were friends with Betty. We caught up, and I let them know my new teaching schedule and studios. Hopefully I’ll get to see one or both of them again in class soon.

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The rest of the night kicked into high gear when “The Long Run” came back with “Tequila Sunrise”, “Peaceful, Easy Feelin'” and “Hotel California”!

I decided to go “Live” on Facebook as Lynn and I sang along with the band:

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Betty tracked us down and encouraged us to get up to the stage and dance. I told her when my favorite Eagles tune came on, I would dance with her. Wouldn’t you know it, when the electric base line of “Life in the Fast Lane” started, I popped up and joined Betty at the stage. Lynn and Jana followed, and we joined folks up front line dancing, rocking out, and generally having a fantastic time. The band’s encore of “Heartache Tonight” was even better, and had most everyone out of their seats. Normally, we would have gone to Eagle Rock Park and seen their fireworks show by ourselves. While its nice, the communities of La Canada, La Crescenta and Montrose put Eagle Rock to shame—particularly in its friendliness. We have gone to Eagle Rock Park consistently for three or four years, and never met anyone new or felt welcomed by those around us. Thanks to our new friends at Montrose Church, we have been introduced to this warm, friendly enclave where people actually say “Hello” to you in the grocery store. It’s quite a change. We’re so glad we chose this instead, not only for the fun musical experience, but for the community, camaraderie and the unexpected meeting with old friends and new. I could not have planned a more cool evening had I tried.

 

 





CareerCampSCV 2014 is happenin’!

12 07 2014

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Another CareerCampSCV is in full swing! The Girl did a Breakout session on ”Blogging Effectively”, then did a regular session on “Social Media and Your Career”!

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Refueling with some lunch and ready for two afternoon sessions: “10 Things to Do While You’re Looking”, and a repeat of the Blogging breakout session.

Always an awesome time of learning, contributing,  and inspiring!





In My Orbit: Yoga Life

5 05 2014

“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” — BKS Iyengar

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This week, my Yoga class theme will be on endurance. I had a lovely weekend, but also had some really ugly things occur that I had to endure. I am so grateful for my Yoga practice, which allows me to not only put it all into perspective (God is in control), but gives space for cure to occur or endurance to be strengthened.

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In the cure category, I have plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of my foot that connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch. I have no arch–I was born with flat feet, so I’m sure that contributed to development of this common malady. Yoga has not only helped me endure this condition, but it has been a curative aid, alleviating the inflammation and eliminating the pain.

So, what are you enduring that could be cured? Or where do you need more endurance for an incurable situation? If you are in the Los Angeles area, I teach six times this week, and CorePower Yoga–my studio–offers a free week to new students.

Cure or endurance? Perhaps time on the mat could lead you to answers.

Here’s my schedule. CorePower’s global schedule for all studios can be found at the corepoweryoga.com website:

Every Tuesday, 7:30 a.m.: C-2 at CorePower Yoga Sherman Oaks, 13920 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
This Tuesday, May 6 at 4:30 p.m. C-2 at CorePower Yoga Studio City, 3575 Cahuenga Boulevard West, Universal City, CA 90068

Every Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. C-2; and 3:00 p.m. C-1.5. CorePower Yoga Sherman Oaks.

This Friday, May 9 at 4:30 p.m. C-2 at CorePower Yoga Studio City.

I would love to see you on the mat! You can keep abreast of more of my Yoga goings-on at my Soul Flow Yoga Meetup Page.





In My Orbit: Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day, and Happy New Year!

26 12 2013

Electronic Christmas Card 2013

Greetings, fellow turners. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas full of love and good food. I feel a day late and a dollar short over not posting an Advent or a Christmas post, but my sentiments are the same no matter what the time of year–may you be blessed, well, and fulfilling your life’s purpose!

My Washington Times Communities column is humming along swimmingly! I continue to beat the drum on Obamacare, its deficiencies, and its abject failure on delivering little of what it has promised. As a Christmas present(?) to Americans, the Obama administration hacked away at the individual mandate to help out those whose individual policies had been cancelled due to the new Obamacare regulations. Make sense? Didn’t think so, but not much does with this convoluted law. Give it a read: The Obamacare individual mandate death watch.

Over at Examiner.com, the ever-changing world of the film industry continues to stay in focus. I was recently asked by KCET to review a series called Bridge to Iran, and to interview its host Parisa Soultani. I gained insight and an education into a minority group that makes up a huge chunk of the Los Angeles population, yet remains shrouded in mystery. I hope that the review and conversation with Parisa removes a bit of that shroud. Give those a read, if you get a chance: Artist Profile: Parisa Soultani uses media to connect to a higher essence; and, TV Series review: Bridge to Iran spotlights Iranian filmmakers.

My holiday was filled with family concerns and family joys, but I count this as one of the best Christmases we have had in a long time. I pray 2014 brings you renewal and joy to your world.

 

 

 





In My Orbit: Working for the weekend

8 11 2013
Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Girl’s week has been occupied with interviews of fascinating individuals.

Dr. A. David Matian used to be my primary care physician, and he was honored to be interviewed about his philosophy as a medical professional, and how the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare will affect his practice.

Omar Akram is a talented and accomplished New Age musician, who just released a new album called Daytime Dreamer. At his album release party, I got to cover the red carpet and met some accomplished musicians, authors, and fashionistas.

Shyra Sanchez, actress, singer, fitness coach, activist, and humanitarian sat down with me and her publicist at the Mandarette Cafe, and talked about her music, life vision, and why she will always stay connected to a metropolis.

Lance Lindahl and Credere Joseph met me at the Village Bakery and Cafe, and I got to see firsthand how this connected collaboration of old souls, music, and film helped create the delightful comedy, Hay Days.

Omar, Shyra, Lance and Credere will be featured at Examiner.com on my Faith & Community page. Dr. Matian will be profiled on Examiner.com, and some of his quotes may make it into an article on my Washington Times Communities “In My Orbit” column.

Speaking of of the WT Communities column, this week I discuss President Obama’s non-apology Apology.

“In an effort to get ahead of the narrative (too late), Obama did the one thing at which he is proven effective: he decided to talk. Yet this talk which supposedly included an apology did not express any accountability for lying over 29 times, the current mess those lies are producing, nor did he offer any real solutions to fix it.

If you actually listened to the President’s words, he kept emphasizing the “only 5 percent”, or “a small percentage” of the population that are receiving cancellation notices. By his consistent usage of “only” and “small”, Obama delegitimizes the anger and concern of the people whose policies have been cancelled.”

According to Henry Louis Gates, 388,000 Africans actually survived the Middle Passage and arrived in America to be used as slave labor. That’s less than half a million people. Did that make slavery any less heinous because it was such a small number?

Obamacare is fast becoming an albatross around the President’s neck. Give the rest a read over at the WT Communities site.

Hope you have a fun weekend!








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