Movie Review: ‘Illicit’ – American Black Film Festival 2016 Official Selection

I love movies especially those that are not only entertaining, but teach you valuable lessons about life. Illicit, an Official Selection of the 2016 American Black Film Festival, has many hidden lessons about the complexity of living life.


No one is immune from the curve balls that life can sometimes throw at us, but the choices we make in life can certainly reap dire results.
I love the way the writers Corey Grant and Lanett Tachel Proctor reminded the audience marriage is sacred and that any relationships outside of marriage is considered morally not acceptable. I thought it was an ingenious way to bring across that message by juxtaposing pictures of happily married couples in the opening credits of the movie.
The movie chronicles the life of Guy and Sasha Curtis (David Ramsey from CW show Arrow as John Diggle, Showtime TV series Dexter as Anton Briggs, and Mother and Child as Joseph, Shireen Crutchfield an actress known for Love and a Bullet, Hot Boyz, and Judgment Day.)
Like every married couple there are bound to be challenges. Guy and Sasha’s struggles began when Sasha wants to return to modeling, but much to her dismay her husband sees her role as a stay at home mom as more important than her seeking to rekindle her modeling career. Many arguments ensue, and Sasha eventually out of frustration goes behind her husband back by doing a photo shoot with a photographer. McKinley Freeman who played Derek Roman from HBO show Hit the Floor plays Lance the charming, full of sex appeal, photographer. But behind the sex appeal lurks a creepy man who turns out to be a controlling, and manipulative sexual deviant. Sasha ends up having sex with Lance which was a big mistake .

Guy falls prey to female parolee Faren Wilson (Michele Weaver actress from Sister Code, 2Lava 2Lantula, and Switched at Birth) Faren lured Guy down the path of infidelity. The character of Faren makes one think of how one’s life can turn drastically in the wrong direction by making the wrong choice. A Howard University graduate, Faren made the wrong decision by getting into a relationship with an abusive boyfriend. Even though she tried to defend herself from being bludgeoned to death by the abusive boyfriend, she ends up paying the ultimate price by going to prison. Faren is a complex character and one is compelled to feel compassion for her. But, in the end her full intentions are revealed and it will leave you in a state of shock.
I like the way the writers had both the wife and husband seeking sexual relationship outside their marriage. It portrays that both men and women can get tempted down the road of infidelity.
Sasha’s best friend Tai, played by Lanett Tachel Proctor brings some much-needed comedic relief. Tai is a great example of a close friend that fulfills what researchers have concluded: Researchers say friends may exert a healthy influence on mood, self-esteem, and coping in times of difficulty. The study also stipulates having a strong network of friends can help you live longer too. Tai’s character, in my opinion exemplify when you have challenges in life, it is much better to seek sound ways to deal with these challenges. Tai uses her blog therapeutically to manage her frustrations and insecurities. It warmed my heart because in my own life, writing is my number one way to help navigate some of life’s curve balls.
In conclusion, Illicit is masterfully written. This well-paced movie will take the viewer on a thrill ride. More importantly, Illicit will get you talking about how it is never worth it to cheat on your spouse. The consequences of such actions have too many possible devastating outcomes. The ending will surprise the viewer, and I think this is what makes the movie so endearing. Additionally, it is refreshing to view a black movie that is not about slavery. It is certainly a much-needed reprieve to watch a movie of blacks navigating through everyday challenges that does not entail a slave and his or her master.
Illicit can help generate philosophical conversations about not letting bad choices we make in life define who you are and who you can become. We all make decisions that can render us in a state of denial, which can in turn cripple us from moving forward. We can’t change the past, but we can certainly control what the future will look like. It starts by the individual finding the courage to forgive himself/herself, and then making a concerted effort to move forward .

For more information about Illicit visit the website here
You can also read Blogcritics interviews with the writers here and here
Out of 5 stars I rate Illicit a 5!
Illicit is currently available for viewing ON DEMAND on your local cable provider. (Ex: Time Warner, Comcast, Spectrum, AT&T, Dish, & Direct TV to name a few.) Also Amazon, ITunes, Xbox, PlayStation


Interview: Lanett Tachel Proctor, Actress, Producer and Co-Writer of 2016 American Black Film Festival Premiere Film ‘Illicit’

Many people believe that millennials are going to change the world because they have  more sense of purpose and fairness. After all, they were responsible for helping elect America’s first black president. As a mother of three children who are millennials I know from firsthand experience what kind of mindset these young people have, and I am elated and very hopeful that indeed, these young people will help usher in a new America.

I am especially elated with the trend that I am seeing with black actors and directors in Hollywood and the contributions they are making to help eradicate stereotypical biases against people of color. In the last year I have had the opportunity to meet Lanett Tachel Proctor who is both an actress, writer, and producer. In the following interview you can see for yourself how this millennial is helping reshape Hollywood and bringing to the limelight the many hidden talents waiting to be discovered.

Lanett Tachel Proctor at ABFF20 in Miami

What inspired you to become an actress?

My parents told me at a young age that I would be an actress or a lawyer. I was the child who left no one behind. I defended my friends and siblings from time outs, punishments and much more as a young girl. I would recreate the circumstances that ultimately led them to the decisions they’d made (for good or bad). I always felt like if I could challenge someone to walk in another’s shoes, I’d be challenging them to ultimately accept that person and their actions. I’d be challenging people to love and forgive in spite of and because of. Once I realized that as an actress, my sole job was to tell the story of another person’s lived experience, I don’t think I had much of a choice. I started with Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz in sixth grade and I never looked back.

What challenges have you faced being a black female trying to make it in Hollywood?

Being a black female in Hollywood is a burden that I would never trade in. It empowers me. As an African American and as a female, I can be placed in a bit of a bubble. If there is not a role written for a ghetto or funny friend, than I can be quickly overlooked.

Hollywood is always playing catch-up to determine what the new acceptable “black look is on TV.” In a month’s time, I may be told to cut, dye, curl, weave, braid, or wig my hair. The powers that represent us often don’t look like us, so they are trying to monetize our look while we’re just trying to be comfortable in our own skin. Minorities in general are forced to be “more ethnic,” in an effort to advance certain stereotypes that audiences have accepted as gospel.

However, when you know that coming in, it gives you a bit of an edge. You know that Hollywood has NO IDEA what they want, so you might as well make choices for YOU and stand behind your choices until everyone stands behind you.

Can you talk about the projects that you have booked? What was the experience like?

My first project I booked was a TV show entitled Belle’s directed by Ed Weinberger, which had a short run on TVONE. I got to work with some amazing people including Keith David, Elise Neal, Ella Joyce, and so many other talented individuals. I came on the show initially as a consultant. (It was a restaurant-based show and I had managerial experience.) After standing in and filling in as an extra, I was eventually written into the show and did not let that opportunity go to waste.

I then used that platform as well as the relationships I’d made on set (particularly the phenomenal casting director, Phaedra Harris) to navigate my next couple of moves in Hollywood. I’ve since landed several roles on a variety of comedic TV shows including the quirky Sex Sent Me to the ER, Family Time, and more.

In terms of film, I’ve scored a couple of really fun roles so far. My two most recent were from last year’s debut of director Corey Grant, Sister Code, as the comedic character, “Wednesday,” and as the no-nonsense security guard in Charis Orchard’s Love Addict, that won a best new comedy award.

I understand you have co-produced the film Illicit that recently premiered at the prestigious American Black Film Festival; can you talk about that experience?
The production of Illicit was unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of. After working with Corey Grant on Sister Code, I began sending him some scripts (both shorts and feature-length) that I’d written and wanted his feedback. He realized instantly that our writing sensibilities were very similar. We both appreciated dry witty humor, and loved to see a script take turns that the audience can’t predict.

In essence, the formulaic workings of the typical rom-com were not of much interest to either of us. And the frustration about always having to wait for some one else’s “green light,” be it financially or otherwise, was what united us in the idea to write the film Illicit. We acknowledged that we wanted it to be in the vein of Fatal Attraction, but with even more twists and turns and occasionally even a bit of humor.

Once we settled on a draft of the script that we both felt rang true, the next step was producing it. After reaching out to like-minded actors and producers, we assembled our team including but not limited to McKinley Freeman, David Ramsey, Phaedra Harris, and New Breed Entertainment. And the rest was history.

It was my first time producing on a feature-length project and what I really learned was to trust my instincts and my relationships. I’m the oldest of four children. My entire life has been managing, organizing, putting out fires, and assembling best-case scenarios on an extremely limited budget. In essence, I had my whole life to prepare for the role of “producer.”

How does it feel to have a role in a movie you helped produce?

Words cannot describe how I feel about my character “Tai,” that I had the opportunity to bring to life first on paper and then on screen. All actors know that we hate to “act” and we only aspire to be present in the moment for our character. The most challenging part of this experience for me was knowing when to take off the writer/producer hat and put on the actor’s hat, because both of them required a different part of the brain and different energy. Once I found my “sweet spot” and was able to focus on my character, I had SO MUCH FUN bringing her to life. Tai is a handful and is easily relatable. She is the know-it-all who would be so much better off if she would just take her own advice.

Can you explain the benefits of having a film premiere at the American Black Film Festival?

ABFF is such an amazing platform and a unique opportunity to premiere your work in front of people who are genuinely rooting for you and want you to WIN. Jeff Friday and the entire ABFF team have gone above and beyond to create a platform that allows people in the African American community to celebrate and promote the work of up-and-coming minority filmmakers and actors. That ABFF stamp of approval allows the first people to endorse our work to be people that look like us. The co-sign of your community is everything.

I know David Ramsey from the popular TV show Arrow also stars in Illicit. How was it working and filming a movie with him?

David is a phenomenal actor and a true professional. He sets the tone for all the actors around him and is very giving. What I enjoyed the most was watching him in between takes. He can crack a joke, improv a line, and be right back in character for the next take. David was simultaneously filming Arrow while we were in production and somehow managed to be completely off book and in character every day he was on set. He would literally jump on a plane at the end of the day and fly back to shoot more scenes for Arrow. Filming can be exhausting for the entire cast and crew, but when your lead makes it look that effortless, everyone else has no choice than to give 100% every time, every day.

The legendary Vivica A. Fox is also in Illicit; please tell the readers your experience working with her on set.

Vivica A. Fox aka Aunty Viv is a force of nature. She is so seasoned in this game that she could do an entire scene with no words and convey every emotion. Her presence, her humor, and the way she effortlessly slid into character were a testament to why she has navigated the industry so well. I can’t wait to work with her again!

As a very young woman, you are already experiencing great success. What do you hope to accomplish in the next five to ten years?

The funny thing about success is you’re usually the last person to know that you’re considered “successful.” When you’re in this journey, you’re typically thinking about what you need to do next, who to get in front of, what role will be your “breakout,” etc. I’m fortunate to have such amazing friends and family that remind me of how far I’ve come and help to encourage me to stay focused on my next steps. I know that in the next five to ten years, I’d like to act and write in an award-winning TV series, I want to star in an action drama that allows me to do fight choreography (e.g. Salt or Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and I want to be known as the actress that can jump from a heartfelt comedy to a gut-wrenching drama seamlessly. My goal is to keep surprising Hollywood and keep surprising myself.

Do you have any advice for aspiring actors or actresses?

Your biggest asset is your uniqueness. Know who you are before Hollywood tells you who you are. Have a purpose that is bigger than you and have a plan to give back to your community. Also, take time to celebrate each of your successes. It helps you keep things in perspective.
Thank you so much, Lanett, for doing this interview. I am wishing you great success with Illicit and all your future projects.
To learn more about Lanett please go to her website, and find out about her newest film Illicit





12220033_1466036806.4592_funddescriptionLooking for ways to help the less fortunate?  Please consider giving to this great cause.  Click on the link below to check out the fund raiser that will help pay for a roof for a dance school in Haiti. I know a lot of people are hesitant to donate , but  100% of the funds will be used to put a roof at this much needed school of dance in Haiti. Thank you in advance for your support!



HARRIETI can’t tell you how happy I am that Harriet will get this honor.  America is finally waking up and doing something right for a change.  This is a huge victory for African Americans!  African Americans have yet to fully enjoy true freedom , and yet our ancestors  were the ones who worked themselves to death to make America what it is today.

The new show Underground is  bringing to light the history of what slaves endured in order to escape a life of servitude to the greedy, inhumane  whites that kept them enslaved.  Even though Underground is by far my favorite show on television, but I am truly  saddened with the way black people, my ancestors , were treated like animals.

America can NEVER in a trillion years, make true and full  amends for her sins when it comes to slavery!  Putting Harriet Tubman on the twenty dollar bill, is a step in the right direction, but certainly  minuscule .

True change will occur when Americans  make a concerted effort to look at how “white privilege” is perceived and how it has shaped and fueled racism in the United States for far too long. Effective change can only begin with looking at a person of color the same way whites have been looked at for centuries in America. Until we do that, we will continue to have racial inequalities. The task will require deliberate overhaul for any change to take place.

Unfortunately, I am very pessimistic about any genuine change , especially when you have a presidential candidate in Donald Trump making outrageous  statements calling blacks lazy. These types of negative diatribes only take us further away from bringing about racial healing.

In the meantime, I am going to rejoice  in the fact that the  powers to be, felt compelled to throw a few crumbs our way by putting my hero, Harriet Tubman, on the twenty dollar bill.


I believe that the new show UNDERGROUND will help usher a new America. Here’s  why.  We are at a crossroad with an African American president about to leave office.  President Obama has been subjected to  so much scrutiny because of his color, and the racist pundits made it their mission to make him look like he is the worse president ever.

Underground is exposing in a very visual way what  African Americans had to endure in America. The young people who are watching this show( the young helped Obama win the white house)are seeing in a new way what happened to African Americans and I am sure they are shaking their heads.  This show will help them develop a huge amount of respect and understanding for blacks in general.

Feel free to leave your comments about this , thanks!

Interview: Erika M. Szabo, CEO of Golden Box Book Publishing

Please welcome my special guest, novelist Erika M Szabo. She’s here today to talk about her published books and author publishing services.

I understand you are not American — can you explain when you came to the United States, and what country you are from?
Thank you so much for the opportunity to introduce myself to your readers. I’m a writer, Alternative Medicine Practitioner, animal welfare activist and publishing coach. I was born and raised in Hungary and moved to the US twenty-five years ago.
Did you experience any culture shock after you arrived in the United States?
Yes, there were a few customs that were new to me. For example, Halloween in Europe, people honor the dead by adorning the graves of loved ones with flowers, burn candles and pray in the cemetery in the evening. It is a beautiful custom. After I had moved to the US, I spent my first Halloween in NYC. We lived in a sixteen-story building and I learned about the holiday only that people party and kids dress up in adorable costumes and go trick or treating, so I had to buy lots of candy. Well, when I heard the doorbell, I grabbed the bowl filled with candy and opened the door. I almost fainted when I saw a six feet tall gorilla holding a little girl’s hand in a pink tutu yelling, “Trick or treat!”
Can you explain how life in your native country is different to that of the United States?
Besides a few customs, there is not much difference in the daily lives of people. The education system is a little different, though, which is free. Also, the majority of jobs require education such as waiter, store clerk, cook and so on. You can’t just drop in and learn how to serve food on the job; you must attend school in order to be hired by restaurants.
I understand you are an author and now have your own company that helps indie authors become published authors, can you explain what made you decide to become a writer and eventually start your own company?
After I had received a Ph.D. in Alternative Healing, I published two books in Hungary related to Natural Health. Later on, I started writing in English, also medical related books. I always loved fantasy stories, so I let my imagination fly and started writing the Ancestor’s Secrets series. A traditional publisher accepted my books, but after I had learned about how much freedom and control self-publishing provides for authors, I learned as much as I could about the publishing process. I started my company, Golden Box Book Publishing, but I didn’t have the intention of taking advantage of authors who work very hard creating their stories. I planned to pay the highest royalty to the authors. However, soon I changed my approach, and instead of publishing books with my company, I decided to help authors with my Publishing Coach service to create the best eBooks and prints at a very reasonable price. This way I get paid for the work I put into it; I get great satisfaction from helping the authors to make their book the best it could be; and I don’t take away the full control of their books and royalty.
As an author, I fully understand how difficult writing is — do you have any mentors, considering that English is not your native tongue?
When I write, I don’t like to follow guidelines or get confused by the opinion of many. I have two editors that I work with and because they give me building criticism as well. I always consider their suggestions. For me, English was relatively easy to learn because I took four years Latin in Nursing School and learned German when I lived in Austria before I moved to the US.
You write fantasy novels — can you talk about what inspired you to start writing in this genre?
I like the freedom that writing fantasy stories gives me. I can let my imagination fly, incorporate some true facts into the story and wrap it in a package that gives the reader the feeling of entering a world where anything is possible.
Tell us what the revision process is like for you. Do you edit as you write or do you edit later?
I edit and revise as I progress with the story, and when I’m finished and the first edit is done, I revise parts that I’m not satisfied with.
Do you have any short and long-term goals, if so, what are they?
My short-term goal is to publish the second audiobook, and my long-term goal is to translate both books in my fantasy series to Hungarian while I help authors publish their books.
The Ancestors’ Secrets SeriesBook1


Cover Reveal!

I am elated to reveal the cover of my soon to be published book.  This book chronicles the hurdles I had to endure to finally achieve success as a French and Spanish teacher. I hope my story will inspire all future educators from across the globe.

I believe in order to make a change for the better in public education, school districts across the United States should make a concerted effort to hire more educators of color.   I wrote “Saying Yes To My Life’s Calling: Breakthroughs in Becoming an Educator” to inspire all educators, especially African-Americans.