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TV Review: ‘Black Lightning’- Season One

I have totally fallen in love with a new superhero and his name is Black Lightning, hero of the CW television series of the same name.

My interest in superhero shows began when I learned that  Candice Patton was cast for the role of Iris West,  in  The Flash.  As a person of color, it always warms my heart to see people who look like me on the TV screen. I do believe Hollywood has a long way to go when it comes to casting, more actors of color.  I watched the premiere of The Flashon October 4, 2014,  and quickly became a huge fan of the show.

One aspect of Black Lightning that resonates well with me is the fact that the main character Jefferson Pierce is not just a superhero.  He is, in my opinion, a justice warrior. It is not every day you hear a superhero comfortable quoting Martin Luther King Jr.  He does it in order to advocate for change and demonstrate the need for more equity for all people. I am so happy we have a positive representation in Black Lightning that all young black  youth can easily emulate.

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The showrunners have done an outstanding job balancing a great storyline, and fun entertainment. Another aspect of the show that drew me in is how close the Pierce family is even though the mom and dad are divorced. Jefferson Pierce is very much involved in every aspect of his daughters’ life. The absence of a father in many households can wreak havoc.  All children need both parents to help raise them in order to avoid going down the road of perdition.

The themes covered in Black Lightning make this show unique.   It is not always easy to tackle police brutality, systemic racism, black youth culture, gang violence, and black parenting. If we are to make any type of progress as a society, we must be brave enough to reflect and find ways to handle some tough community issues . These issues will continue to plague us if we sit idle and do nothing. Instead of producing TV shows that lend itself to portraying people of color in a negative light, it is high time we step up our game and provide our youth with something that will help them aspire to a better future. Having immigrated from a third world country I understand fully the value of an education.   Jefferson Pierce is an advocate for education and he makes sure the students under his care learn  why education is important.

I enjoyed watching all ten episodes of season one of Black Lightning .  Show runner Salim Akil once again produced a well-written TV series  loaded with dazzling scenes and sequences.  If you have not seen Black Lightning, I  recommend you take the time to watch it! I am looking forward to season two.  If you are like me and enjoy talking about your favorite  show with other likeminded people, I highly recommend you check out the best Facebook Fan page  moderated by Lance Ausfresser .

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TV Review: ‘Black Lightning’, Produced by Hollywood’s Power Couple, Salim and Mara Brock Akil

Are you a fan of superhero tv shows? If you answered yes, you are in good company. I am a huge fan of  The Flash and Arrow.  This past Tuesday I have added a   new superhero show to my list. The much anticipated  Black Lightning, produced and directed by Hollywood’s power couple Salim and Mara Brock Akil airing  on CW.

Black Lightning is not your typical superhero show,  because the main character is a middle-aged black male. In the season opener titled  ‘The Resurrection,’ we see the superhero defending his two daughters from impending danger.  How often do we see black fathers portrayed in a positive light? Well, in Black Lightning we observe a caring and devoted father who goes to extremes to protect his daughters.  Superhero Jefferson  Pierce played by Cress Williams is not only an authoritative figure in his community, he is well liked, and respected by everyone. He is a positive role model. He works tirelessly as a high school principal making sure every child under his care succeeds.

Black Lightning is unique in that it addresses victimization of black people.  During the episode   Jefferson was unjustly profiled by a white cop; however, Jefferson did not react negatively. He repressed his rage and remained level-headed. One can safely conclude that it is never easy to remain calm when you are being unfairly treated because of the color of your skin. Black Lightning gives the viewer some sharp takes on how race affects our perception of- and access to -justice. Superhero Jefferson’s reaction to his mistreatment by the white cop represents a great example for young black males to emulate.   In today’s society many people of color may encounter the same situation as the character in the show, but keeping your cool will help you stay alive.

Black Lightning addresses current social issues in a  novel way. It does not get better than this. The producers created a masterpiece that entertains while providing valuable insights on how to deal with the current climate of racial issues, gang culture, and other injustices.

I have always admired the Akils for their previous works and the way they can portray real-life situations on screen that is so relatable. Black Lightning is sure to be a hit just like Girlfriends, The Game, and Being Mary Jane. I like the vibe I am getting after watching Black Lightning several times since it aired. The adage: “It takes a village to raise a child” saturated my thinking as I watched the interactions between principal Jefferson with the student body. Whether this was intentional or just part of the writer’s subconscious view of the world, I’m not sure; either way, I find the subtle father image vibe between principal Jefferson and the student body to be quite endearing.

I am beyond elated that the Akils have once again produced another great tv series.  I highly recommend that you add Black Lightning to your must-watch list. The storyline will draw you in.

Interview: Aaron Groben , Author of “My Good Thing”

In my opinion all relationships are an opportunity for individuals to grow and learn about a person with different background and perspective from them. I also believe even though Richard and Mildred Loving made it possible for partners of different racial backgrounds to no longer hide their relationships for fear of legal persecution, we still have stereotypes, and misconceptions that play a major role in how we talk about interracial dating and marriage.

As a Haitian-American woman married to a German man, I know from firsthand experiences how people have preconceived ideas that are not based on logic and truths. The United States has a long way to go in terms of racial discourse, but after reading Aaron’s book, My Good Thing, I was hugely encouraged by his honesty and his genuine love for black women. Aaron has a very unique perspective that is definitely refreshing. The interview below will warm your heart. I encourage you to pick up a copy of My Good Thing. Thank you Aaron for granting me this interview.

Can you tell the readers about yourself?

I am a Christian, a full time Actor / Model, and author of My Good Thing. One night at a Bible Study, during worship, God called me to write. I was unsure if this was the Voice of God so I asked Him to make it clear if this was Him calling me. A man in the row in front of my group turned around and said, “There’s an old African Proverb that says until the lion learns to write, the story will always be told from the hunter’s perspective. We’re the lions.”

I committed to the Lord’s calling for this project in that moment (it’s not only a book but there’s a screenplay as well). After study, another man came to me in the lobby telling me things about writing I did not ask about but which allowed My Good Thing to not only be a script but also the book you’re now aware of. God speaking so clearly is a beautiful thing.

In your book My Good Thing you wrote about an African American girl that you developed strong feelings for, what did your parents and friends think about you falling for her?

My Good Thing is a fictional story but with that said, many of the events that happen are based on real events from my life. And like my character, Arthur, I too exclusively date black women. My parents are actively praying for and cannot wait to meet my Queen. My friends are excited for me to journey through life with the bride of my dreams as well.

What made you decide to write My Good Thing, what do you hope to accomplish by writing the book?

The passion behind the project is to change the conversation. We want the representation of black women in media to be lovely, pure, confident, and amazing (true to life!) instead of more often seeing them sexualized, objectified, or as stereotypes. This is the story of a black woman young girls can aspire to and not only change the conversation but change the trajectory of their ways of viewing themselves. Black women, you are lovely, you are pure, you are worth it.

Do you only date African American women exclusively?

Yes, I exclusively date black women. There is a life that only comes with a black woman and it is the life I am called to. We can all agree there is a difference in black women; a different voice, zeal, passion, love, and splendor. Each has her own uniqueness and intricacies but there is a starting point for me in the beauty of a black woman internally and externally. And then I look forward to exploring all of who my future bride is.

You are an actor in Hollywood, do you think with you being very vocal about your preferences for black women made a huge difference with the types of roles you are cast for?

I hope my being vocal makes a huge difference in casting! I can be the man they think of as husband to a black wife or a man who stands for goodness and truth revolving around women of color and good things in general.

Are you currently dating anyone, if so, how are you navigating around issues that may arise from people that might not approve of your relationship?

There will always be people who might not approve of me for whatever reason. I dont worry about what people think of me. I live my life as I am called to live it. And I will love a woman with absolute abandon. I will love her in such a way the world takes notice and she finds herself blessed.

There are a slew of interracial dating sites; do you think it is a good idea to go on these sites in the hopes of finding the ideal mate?

I dont have a problem with dating sites. The Lord can have you meet who He has for you in anyway He wants.

Some people believe that interracial couples that end up getting married will help eradicate racism; do you believe this to be true, why or why not?

We should always be striving to eradicate racism. Whether it will ever truly be eradicated is another question but we must strive for that. Interracial couples can certainly be an example of a good thing. As a leader, I desire my marriage to be an example of many good things that are needed in this world.

Without giving out the ending of  My Good Thing do you plan to write a sequel?

People have certainly been asking.My_Good_Thing_Cover_for_Kindle

Where can one purchase your book?

My Good Thing is available at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle versions.

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.

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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 .

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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.

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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

GREAT CAUSE!

 

 

 

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HARRIET TUBMAN MY HERO

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.