The African American Day Parade, Inc. (AADP), one of the largest and oldest parades of Black American culture, will virtually host the 51st Annual African American Day Parade on Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 12pm. It will be hosted live across Facebook, Youtube, our website homepage, and Scratchvision. The 51st annual parade will honor individuals and organizations that have made key contributions to the African American Community through Business as this year’s parade theme is “A Tribute to Black Business”.
Sponsors of this year’s parade include Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), WBLS, TWU Local 100, Scratchvision, the National Association of Black Accountants, and Mech Multimedia Agency. “We are excited to virtually celebrate Black culture,” exclaims AADP Chairman and Board Certified Chaplain at MSKCC, Yusuf Hasan. “For over 50 years, this parade has served as a vital platform for showcasing our heritage and history from our perspective. We feel it is extremely important to continue in this legacy as it uplifts our people.”
SYNOPSIS: Inspired by the life and work of artist Keith Knight, comedy series, Woke, takes an absurdly irreverent look at identity and culture as it follows Keef, an African-American cartoonist finally on the verge of mainstream success when an unexpected incident changes everything. With a fresh outlook on the world around him, Keef must now navigate the new voices and ideas that confront and challenge him, all without setting aflame everything he’s already built.
Funny, relatable, timely, and entertaining are the words I use to describe the new comedy Woke from Hulu. I had an interest in the concept once I saw the trailer, but after watching a few episodes I can easily say Woke is worth viewing. The series is fitting for people who understand what it means to be woke and for those people who haven’t had their third eye open. Do you ever wonder why some Black people you know don’t understand why Black Lives Matter until they are racially profiled? The series Woke gives perspective on what it may look like and I am glad it exists! Here are a few reasons why!
Acting A Fool
From Lamorne Morris (BLOODSHOT, New Girl, who portrays the blissfully ignorant protagonist, Keef) to the voice-over talents of J.B. Smoove, the series has likable characters. I’m not going to lie, Keef made me call him an asshole like 5 times in my head. Of course, that is until he gets a dose of reality after the police basically assault him. I really like the way Keef is taken from an “it’s not my fight mentality” to “I have a talent and a voice I can use to fight racial injustice”. We’ve seen this narrative too many times with successful Black people. You know… the same Black people that distance themselves from Black culture but want back up when they have been discriminated against.
The topics and concepts within the series are definitely relatable – like people advocating for animal rights more than human rights or white people asking you about Kanye or reparations at a social mixer. All of it made me shake my head but really connected me with Keef. There are some good examples the show uses about securing the bag and remaining true to yourself. The John Legend reference was particularly intriguing and it really made me think, “You know, John Legend might’ve done that!”
We All Have That One Friend
The friends of Keef, Clovis (T.Murph) and Gunther (Blake Anderson), both remind me of the friends that pretty much every Black person has. Clovis is the friend who always has your back, keeps you in check, and does what he can for one night stands. I found the character’s social awareness and psychology of people almost academic yet he is unable to use it to fix his own personal issues.
Gunther is the white friend who is down to support Black people. He had me rolling at the time Keef was being arrested by the police. I like the fact that the writers didn’t have him appropriating Black culture and just made him a cool human being.
Ayana, played by Sasheer Zamata, is the Black editor for the local magazine. She is a good associate and, hopefully, a friend in the series that won’t allow Keef to escape this reality for his own good.
All of these characters are compelling and have very interesting character flaws that I can’t wait to see how they deal with.
Woke, Not For Cartoon Network
Ok, I know shows that consist of animation and live-action can sometimes be a little corny – ok some are corny as hell – but Woke is straight-up hilarious and for adults only. Much kudos to the casting director for choosing Black comedians to voice the animated characters, especially J.B. Smoove voicing the Marker character, who serves as Keef’s conscious. No matter how big the voice-over role, Smoove is always a standout and always funny. Comedy legend Cedric the Entertainer, Sam Richardson, David Keith, Nicole Byer, and veteran Eddie Griffith all made voice-over appearances that had me dying laughing. I am curious to see what other celebrities will appear as guest voiceovers. My hope is Samuel Jackson makes a guest voice cameo.
Given the emotional/mental stress many of us may have during this time of the pandemic and racial injustice, Woke is the perfect series to escape with laughter. I recommend adding Woke to your list of series to watch on Hulu.
Release Sep 7 2020 | Vol24 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of Curves & Serves! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of @ruby_glam (Hair by @hairdoctor_locs, Photo by @PascalChikezie, Wardrobe and Accessories by @udiahgebi and @householdofjewellery1). Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick, organic holistic health detoxes, teas, and supplements from Earth’s Cabinet LLC; our Community Spotlight on Budda by Yvee body butters; our highlighted Hair Feature by Angela Plummer; “Solo Travel: The Adult Gap Year with Stephanie Perry of Vaycarious.com” by dCarrie; “Resolution: Does the Earth Need Surgery?” by Jashua Sa’Ra; “#BlackLoveConvo: Alexis Chikaeze Chats about her Character in Miss Juneteenth” by Dapper Dr. Feel; “Education in the New World Order” by Janelle Naomi; Our Vol 24 contributed photo story, “Curves & Serves;” Fitness Highlight; Vegan Fun with Earth’s Pot’s Mac & Cheese; “Black Honey Toys for All of Your Erotic Needs”; “Forq You Up is Adding Some Flavor to the Spice Game;” Featured Art Piece; Comic Appreciation with “Okemus” by T.J. Sterling; Black Business Highlights; and more!!
Taji Mag is the epitome of ‘Cultural Drip’ – elevating Black brands, narratives, and imagery to new levels of Black Excellence. We embody the traditional and modern royalty of Pan-African people via our quarterly digital and print publication and live events.
#DearSistaGirl; I had a conversation the other day and the subject of self-honesty came up. Being not so honest with ourselves in regards to the relationships we find ourselves struggling in, tends to be overlooked. So let’s unpack this, shall we?
Sis, are you really mad at him, or is he not living up to the fantasy you concocted in your mind about who he is and how he should behave? Can we discuss this fantasy building tendency we have? We need to unpack why we do it and the inevitable emotional fallout it causes. We need to discuss it in order for us to avoid the pitfalls that will always follow.
Oftentimes, we as women tend to tie our self-worth and identities to a relationship. We don’t see ourselves as complete unless we are in a relationship. Many times we see being in a said relationship as a way to validate our existence. Societal pressures play a big part in forming this mindset. Statements like: “What do you mean you don’t have a man yet?”; “Why are you still single”; “No one’s scooped you up yet?”; “Stop being so independent so you can settle down!” Sound familiar? From the time we are young, we begin to dream of the time when we walk down the aisle to get married. We dream up scenarios about the perfect boyfriend. We not only daydream about his looks but we also daydream about how he will treat us, the adventures we’d share, how much money he’d make, and how he will make sure we want for nothing. These teenaged-girl dreams subconsciously follow us into adulthood.
However, what awaits us as we become women are timelines and more intense societal pressures to achieve the perfect career, home, and relationship. We begin to actively seek out ways to accomplish each goal. We have an idea how we’d like our homes to look, so we diligently put our dollars aside and start to look for just the right spot. We decorate it much in the way we had dreamed of. We craft our resumes in such a way that we will land that perfect job so that we can easily finance our lifestyle. We plan everything, every detail of our lives. We even plan our relationships, and this is where we can get stuck if we aren’t careful. We are so accustomed to planning how we want things to be that we forget that we can’t plan how someone else will behave.
When we enter a relationship we have preconceived notions about how things will be. However, we are still influenced by societal pressures for perfection. We expect that our partners will live up to the ideals we’ve had since childhood. We expect that knight in shining armor who will sweep us off our feet. We expect to be showered with gifts and to be spoken to in dulcet tones. We expect that once in a relationship, your partner’s drive and ambition will match or exceed your own. You expect your dreams to come true. But sometimes it’s not that simple. Sometimes we enter into a relationship with someone based on sexual compatibility, yet we failed to date them long enough to discover if they are:
1. Emotionally available 2. Financially stable 3. Emotionally stable 4. Employed/Self-employed 5. Ready to be in a relationship 6. Intellectually compatible 7. Raised on love or survival
We are so excited to be in love that we fail to discover how they show love. They may profess love with their words but not know how to do so with their actions. So here you are arriving home from a stressful day at work expecting your partner to greet you with a hug, a kiss, and soothing words. But what you find is him sitting on the couch playing his game system where he’s been all day. He looks up for a split second and asks, “What are you going to cook, I’m hungry.” This isn’t the first time or even the second and now you’re mad. Sound familiar?
How about this: For his birthday you bought him a gift that he’d been eyeing for quite some time. He was so hyped that he called his boys to brag about you. Months later, your birthday (or any other gift-giving holiday) rolls around and all he gets you is a card. Now you’re mad, hurt, and feel unappreciated. What is the common denominator in each scenario? Lack of clear communication early in the relationship. It’s not him you’re mad at. You’re mad that he’s not living up to all of the preconceived notions you formed years ago? You’re angry because he didn’t abide by the non-existent conversation you should have had from the beginning. Did you fall in love with who he was or did you fall for who you hoped he’d be? Falling in love with an idea or with potential, as opposed to who he really is, can be disastrous.
Let’s be real, having various in-depth conversations during the dating phase is a crucial step that we often miss. We base an entire relationship on sexual compatibility without even once asking important questions. The answers to these questions could very well be deal-breakers, so skipping this step is a huge mistake. So, what can you do if this is the situation you are currently facing? You can rectify it by having a serious heart to heart/face to face conversation with your love interest. Discuss what’s upsetting you. Talk about what you need from them but also be willing to listen to what they need from you. Be patient when having this conversation. Allow it to flow naturally as opposed to you controlling the narrative so it can move in the direction you hope for. If you two can make compromises and work the kinks out of your relationship, then great. If not, respectfully part ways and chalk it up to a lesson learned. And PLEASE learn the lesson! It’s not good to move on to a new relationship holding the same hidden expectations that ended your previous one.
Take your time dating. Date him for several months until you’ve exhausted your list of questions. Date him for several months to observe how he handles stress, his money, and how he treats the women in his life, among others. Find out if he’s kind-hearted and note if he was raised on love rather than survival. If he was raised on survival, chances are he won’t know how to love you properly and his responses to everyday scenarios will be askew. Your love languages matter, Sis!! Go into a relationship fully informed about who he is and what he is about, as opposed to holding on to the fantasy you want him to fulfill. There’s no rush. Societal pressures will be there whether you jump into a relationship or whether you don’t. But which is better? Getting into a relationship that adds to your joy or one that disrupts your peace? I want you to choose joy. Why? Because you deserve it.
SYNOPSIS: In 1937, tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were exterminated by the Dominican army, based on anti-Black hatred fomented by the Dominican government. Fast-forward to 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court stripped the citizenship of anyone with Haitian parents, retroactive to 1929. The ruling rendered more than 200,000 people stateless, without nationality, identity, or a homeland. In this dangerous climate, a young attorney named Rosa Iris mounts a grassroots campaign, challenging electoral corruption and advocating for social justice. Director Michèle Stephenson’s new documentary, Stateless, traces the complex tributaries of history and present-day politics, as state-sanctioned racism seeps into mundane offices, living room meetings, and street protests.
The 2020 Tribeca Film Festival selection, Stateless, is an extremely compelling film that touches on a discrimination narrative I find to be all too familiar. Watching the film, I could not help but feel emotionally drained by the actions of the Dominican Supreme Court’s decision to strip people of their nationality, rights, and life altogether. Given the state the United States has been in concerning immigration politics, I can not help but see a possible future where people in our country will meet the same demise.
“As a child, growing up in a Haitian and Latinx household and diasporic communities in North America, I continued to overhear stories about the history of my birthplace relating to race, color, class, colonialism, and human rights. Those observations formed the basis of how I made sense of the world that surrounded me, especially as those notions collided with the racism, segregation, and discrimination that we faced in our adopted countries. Those experiences fueled my passion to dig deeper into the consequences of our deeply painful common history of slavery and colonialism and how we continue to internalize such self-hatred.” – Michele Stephenson
I was really impressed by the work of young attorney Rosa Iris and her pursuit of justice for those wronged by the system. Her effort to free her people of oppression and discrimination so admirably left me rooting for her the whole documentary. I could see the drive in her eyes and the passion for her work pouring from her heart so badly and her wanting only the best for her people. Stephenson was very fond of Rosa’s efforts stating “I fell in love with Rosa and her vulnerability. She was an all-in collaborator, which you could not ask better for a project. She told me that when you get into a relationship of trust with your collaborator, they end up helping you find the story. They know what you are looking for and it’s that kind of exchange.”
It was heartbreaking to watch the system reject Rosa’s cousin, Teofilo Murat, who was one of the unfortunate stateless people displayed in the film.
“She (Rosa) is the one that told me her cousin, Teofilo Murant, he’s stateless and he’s leaving for Haiti. He was a working-class guy, able to pay his rent, and one day to the next he lost his papers, he lost everything. So, we reached out to him and spent time with him before he moved to Haiti. He said I’m outta here because I’m suffering too much, it’s too dangerous, it’s too precarious and he left for the mountains of Haiti. For me, there’s this flipping the narrative of what Haiti means to folks, there’s this idea that refugees have no place and they are in destitute situations. But for me, Teofilo represents a modern maroon. He’s escaping this oppression to what he perceives as freedom in the mountains of Haiti. You can see in the film that Rosa still has faith in the system when Teofilo does not believe the country has his best interest,” explained Stephenson about the origin of Teofilo’s involvement in the film.
“The question of what citizenship means is shaken up in this beautiful documentary. Also, watching anti-immigration bias alongside garden variety racism spread globally, you realize how timely this film is. I’m proud to work with Michèle and bring this story to the world.” – Jennifer Holness, Producer (Hispaniola Productions)
Gladys, another featured person in the film, is a right-winged Dominican of Haitian descent who has a strong dislike for Haitians. When asked about Gladys, Stephen stated, “A couple of years into the project, I felt very strongly about Gladys. The whole right-wing nationalist in the country was so profound and I felt that being there I couldn’t ignore that narrative, that presence, but also I had to challenge myself as a light-skinned person that could have potential access to that narrative in a more intimate way that others may not be able to. I never really confront Gladys with my own ideology because I wanted to get what I could get. I challenged myself to be uncomfortable to get to the point where I can grab the story that Gladys had to tell because she really wanted to tell her story. I barely had to ask questions because she really wanted to make her point.”
Stephenson said she and producers did a casting and they approached a couple of people, who in her opinion were way too aggressive. She didn’t know if she could spend half a day with them. They were men, they were very aggressive when they talked about Haitians with great disdain. She said “their hatred was virulent, it was like spitting out of their mouths. It’s like here in the U.S., do you want the stereotypical hater to be the one to represent the other side and lose the complexity and the depths of the hatred?”
Stephenson also said that when she met Gladys, she thought to herself, “here is this woman that presents a paradox. She presents a certain way, she presents as Black, and yet the hatred she has is hatred for Haitians.” She went on to explain how her friends and colleagues who watched the film in New York immediately recognized Gladys as an archetype.
Filmmaker Michele Stephenson put together a powerful and enlightening piece, that will challenge you to think about the state the U.S. is in when it comes to immigration laws and the awful conditions that some of the Haitians and Dominicans with Haitians parents are in. The imagery and art used to display the sugar canes are visually pleasing and serve as short intermissions from the harsh realities within the film.
My objective is to connect the film to a network of committed partners in the Caribbean region, Latin America, the U.S., and internationally, to utilize the film as a platform for their work on protecting the rights of migrants, and citizens, and to deepen people’s understanding of the intersection between anti-black racism, migration, and citizenship rights.” – Michele Stephenson
Hopefully, Stateless will be widespread and will inform people about the injustices some of the people in the Dominican Republic are facing. I also hope Michele achieves her goal to involve more people and organizations that can help give these people their rightful lives. This film encourages people to work together in this fight against oppression and discrimination worldwide. May this film tap into the viewers’ cores and enlighten their minds.
Hispaniola Productions and the National Film Board of Canada present
A Rada Film Group and Hungry Eyes Media film
Director: Michèle Stephenson
Producers: Michèle Stephenson, Jennifer Holness, Lea Marin
Screenwriter: Michèle Stephenson
Cinematographers: Alfredo Alcántara, Tito Rodriguez, Naiti Gámez, Nadia Hallgren, Pedro Arnau Bros Santana, Jaime Guerra
Editor: Sophie Farkas-Bolla
Executive Producers: Joe Brewster, Anita Lee, Sudz Sutherland
Cast: Rosa Iris Diendomi-Álvarez, Teofilo Murat, Gladys Feliz
My son’s favorite ancestor is Harriet Tubman. In his school report, he said “she helped get a lot of Black people away from where racist people controlled them to a different place where racist people were not allowed to control them as much. I would protect her if she was alive today because she is important.” I hope I’ve taught my son that Black women are important and worthy of protection. These schools and police departments and jobs don’t value us, but we have Black men who cherish us.
Do Black people get to claim self defense?
When Harriet Tubman had her rifle out ready to shoot any slave catcher that threatened the lives of enslaved Black folks, she would have been acting in self defense if she shot one of them. But apparently, self defense is only reserved for white folks. Remember when Marissa Alexander spent years in prison for protecting herself? As a Black woman who stood her ground, she was treated much more harshly than Trayvon’s Martin’s killer–a racist man who didn’t even get arrested the night he murdered an unarmed child. When white people shoot someone to protect themselves, it’s self defense. When Black folks do the same thing, it’s attempted murder.
We can argue all day about the problems between Black men and women, (as well as our gender nonconforming folks). In this instance, however, it is imperative that we celebrate Black men who stand up for Black women. Kenneth Walker protected a Black woman, but in a world where her killers’ comfort is more valuable than her Black life, Kenneth is seen as a criminal.
When I first wrote about Breonna Taylor, I went through it. Like a lot of other people here in Louisville, we are tired of gentrification and empty promises by government officials. We are sick of (and from) the environmental racism and pollution and food deserts. We are out here working one, two, sometimes three jobs to live despite the fact that, in the majority Black West End of this city, Black life expectancy is 12 years shorter than white folks in the more affluent parts of town.
The charges should be dropped immediately and he deserves reparations for all that he endured. #FreeKenny
Look, Kenneth Walker risked his life to defend himself AND Breonna Taylor. Despite the fact that three white men murdered an unarmed Black woman and have served ZERO time in jail, Kenneth Walker Jr. was arrested by the criminals who murdered his girlfriend.
If you haven’t read up on the situation, here is what happened.
Plainclothes officers burst into the home of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY with a battering ram
Since they did not announce themselves, Kenneth thought they were breaking in and tried to defend himself along with Breonna
#BrettMylesandJon responded by firing 20 rounds into the apartment, 8 of which hit and killed Breonna Taylor.
They found no drugs and no evidence of a crime
They were not wearing body cameras
Thankfully, one of Taji’s heroes Judge Olu Stevens advocated for home incarceration instead of jail time. Of course, the police are big mad.
Since Kenneth’s release home, the case has received national attention. Because of local Black activists like Chanelle Helm of Black Lives Matter Louisville and others, there have been protests and demands. The family and their supporters are asking that all charges get dropped.
After receiving hundreds of calls, emails, and inquiries Commonwealth attorney Thomas Wine recused himself. The case was handed over to Daniel Cameron, the first Black state’s attorney in Kentucky’s history.
Known racist police chief Steve Conrad announced his retirement (not resignation or termination unfortunately) following similar protests and demands. While I am happy that he will no longer be the police chief, I am left with questions. Does he get a severance package? If so, how much of my tax dollars will pay for that? Will Breonna’s murder be anywhere on his record? How much is his pension? Is it worth the effort to hold him accountable after he retires?
The central theme in all this is about our ability (and willingness) to protect Black folks. We have made strides in the original demands. Getting those charges dropped for Kenneth Walker is the next step.
How do we protect these Black men?
Judge Olu Stevens is almost always under attack by the FOP and other #BlueLivesMatter racists. Brother Kenneth’s next court date is June 25th. I pray that we can keep them both safe until then.
“The killing of Breonna Taylor, the filing of criminal charges against her partner Kenneth Walker, and the attacks by the Fraternal Order of Police on Judge Olu Stevens for calling out police misconduct, all reflect a criminal justice system that targets communities of color and the poor,” said Stephen Bartlett of Louisville SURJ. “We cannot sit by and allow this state of affairs to continue.”
I have to be honest, when I first saw the trailer for The Lovebirds I thought, “Oh no, will this be Issa Rae’s fall-off movie, her ‘Will Smith Bomb’ she mentioned in her 2018 GQ article?” That negativity was dissolved by a friend pointing out the hilarious bacon grease scene that did make me chuckle. After watching the film, I found out he was right – the combination gave me a night of favorite scenes and a few scenes that will be re-created on Tik-Tok. I recommend people watch this film and here are the reasons why.
In order to eventually succeed, you have to bomb. That’s what every comedian says—that’s when the fear goes away. And I feel like I’m still fearful because I haven’t publicly bombed yet, in terms of my career. Yeah, Insecure is successful now, but where’s my bomb coming? Where are my Will Smith bombs coming? Where, where is that happening?” –Issa Rae (GQ May, 22nd 2018)
Guilt Free Entertainment
At no time did I feel uncomfortable while watching his film. (You know that feeling where you hear or see racist jokes/stereotypes in a film so offensive you can’t ignore it?) The scenes in the film were so well written and performed I was able to enjoy myself and laugh freely. It was a good feeling and that’s the way it should be. A great example of this was a scene where Issa Rae’s character, Leilani, was explaining to Kumail Nanjiani’s character, Jibran, as they were looking at some f*ck boys (frat boys whom they were sneaking up on), and Kumail’s character had no clue what that was and was very curious to know. He wasn’t making fun of the word, he was making fun of how oblivious a person can be to terminology.
More Than Trailer Clips
Plenty comedies present hilarious trailers before the films are released just for the audience to discover that those were the only funny parts of the film. Then you think to yourself, they wasted all this money on a mess of a movie and wasted your time. Love Birds was hilarious! I found myself Steve Urkel snorting a few times, the level of funny was totally unexpected.
I felt like Issa and Kumail fed off of each other’s performances like the Splash Brothers, Clay Thompson, and Steph Curry when they both get hot in a game.
The Lovebirds Chemistry
Yeah, I didn’t know if the chemistry between Issa and Kumail would be good in The Lovebirds. Don’t ask me why, I just didn’t. They were able to play off of each other very well during both the serious scenes and the funny scenes. They definitely showed that they both have range and adaptability.
One of the funniest scenes is the interrogation. They interrogate one of the frat boys and it kind of reminds me of a buddy cop interrogation scene akin to Bad Boys (Martin Lawrence and Will Smith). When I tell you Kumail ain’t got no sense, y’all I mean it!
Imitating life (Spoiler Alert)
From the beginning of the film, where the couple transitions from the honeymoon stage to the ‘here’s your part of the deposit ‘cause we not going to make it’ stage, I really felt. Unfortunately, my ex and I didn’t make it after being almost killed by a crooked cop, but those moments did spark some memories.
There was also a moment when Leilani was fooled by the happy couple photos another character posted on social media, making her evaluate her own struggling relationship. This is understandable because some of us have been through social media jealously, hell, some are going through it right now.
The film releases this Friday, May 22nd, on Netflix. Make sure to add The Lovebirds to your list of films to stream. I commend Issa Rae for being on this project and making a quality rom-com about an interracial couple. I really hope that The Lovebirds has created an example (not a formula to be consistently repeated) of how diversity in film should look.
A couple (Issa Rae & Kumail Nanjiani) experiences a defining moment in their relationship when they are unintentionally embroiled in a murder mystery. As their journey to clear their names takes them from one extreme – and hilarious – circumstance to the next, they must figure out how they, and their relationship, can survive the night.
Steven St. Pierre is a budding creative/actor I met at last year’s DC Black Film Festival. While interviewing him during my coverage of the film festival, he mentioned how he started film making just recently and that Ava Duvernay had been an inspiration to start on a desirable path towards acting. After the interview, we kept in contact and I watched his progression. Little did I know, he would be achieving a lot more than he could imagine. I had an opportunity to catch up with the rising creative.
Dapper Dr Feel (DDF): How does it feel to have so much success for your short film, Corey?
Steven St. Pierre (SSP): The success has been great! The way I have been perceived for making something great, for myself. Last time we spoke in person, I was halfway into my festival run and we went to places like Canada and DC and I had entered the film Corey in multiple film festivals in the New York area.”
Note: St. Pierre’s short film Corey has won multiple awards that include but are not limited to: Best Short film at the Validate Yourself Film Festival, Wavemaker Award at the Everybody Digital Film Festival Black History Month Edition, Audience Choice award at the Astoria film festival, Best Short Film winner and Grand Prize Winner at the Queens City Film Festival.
DDF: You won big at the Queens City Film Festival, what’s next?
SSP: After I won the grand prize award, I now have the opportunity to have my next short produced from the Queens City Film Festival. The prize is worth $50,000. Taking the passion I had into my own work turned into something I could have never imagined.
DDF: That’s truly a blessing! I remember you telling me about the trials and tribulations you had putting Corey together. Your co-star, Chantal Maurice, put on a great performance, how has her career been since the short film?
SSP: Chantal has since moved to Atlanta P-Valley (Starz), Queen Sugar, Dynasty, and other projects that are coming out later this year. She’s killing the game.
DDF: What women have influenced you?
SSP: My mother and grandmother, the women who raised me in my household. Just seeing their work ethic. My mom worked two jobs, to this day she still works two jobs to help support my grandmother because she is not doing well. Just really seeing all the sacrifices shes made, as an adult, I have developed a deeper appreciation and respect for her.
I have to give a shout to my work mom and my assistant director Catherine, she just retired. Always supported me, always had my back, she was amazing. When you are in the workplace, you always need an ally and she definitely was that for me.
Ava Duvernay has really been an influence on me. I don’t know how many people are aware that before she was a filmmaker, she was a publicist. She was pounding the pavement, making everyone else’s dream come true and she decided, at what some people would think as an older age, to pivot her whole career. I feel like that has been my journey as well.
“I was a film publicist, so I represented a lot of filmmakers and I was always around them. I [started thinking], ‘They’re just regular people, like me, with ideas. I’ve got ideas.’ That’s literally how it started. It was definitely a career change; I didn’t make my first little short until I was 32.” – Ava Duvernay
DDF: You had your biggest role as a co-star on High Maintenance, how was that experience?
SSP: I got that role not too long after I spoke with you in DC, it’s my first major network role. I felt like I finally cracked that code. Going out on auditions is tough, especially being new to the scene, but it’s going on four years now. It brought two passions together because I am playing a basketball player. I played ball growing up, so going into the audition I felt comfortable. I got offered the job via email and was excited! That was the most excited I have been in a long time.
DDF: What are your other goals?
SSP: My ultimate goals are to establish myself in the industry so I can have the visibility to reach people from places in my community. Letting them know they can do anything they are passionate about. Even today, I go to a lot of career days for my friends who are teachers or are a part of programs for children. I think it helps children see someone like me, who is making it, but not a huge celebrity, to let them know goals are attainable. Otherwise, if they see someone who is a huge celebrity they won’t think things are attainable. They can also see the grind I am going through, so when I make it further into my acting career, it will hopefully inspire them.
Steven St. Pierre looks to continue his success as a creative and achieve many of his entertainment goals during his career change. With Ava Duvernay serving as an inspiration, St. Pierre knows that, with hard work and persistence, the sky is the limit.
Follow Steven St. Pierre on social media or check out his web page here.
Say hello to Tiffany Henry! “My goal for the rest of 2020 is to continue To help enhance self-love and confidence. My other main goal for the rest of 2020 is to build a community of women, both single or married. A group where we can work out together, Waist Train together, and have social meetups to just vent on daily activities that happen in our lives that we don’t feel comfortable speaking about with other people. A sisterhood!” She is 30 years old and has lived in NYC her whole life. She decided to relocate to ATL a year ago and is a proud mother to a handsome young boy. She had always been a plus-size woman but was also shapely. When she started her weight loss journey ten years ago, her goal was to have a small waist. After doing her research, she came across waist training. She started shopping for one and once she got it, she loved the outcome! The only inconvenience was that it never covered her lower bottom belly, also known as the FUPA. She then ordered another until she owned at least FIVE waist trainers and still wasn’t satisfied. All she could ever ask herself was “well, what happened to the bigger girls or what happened to the girls with longer torsos? That is when she said enough is enough and started creating her own trainer known as the PleasantlyWaisted Trainer!!
The purpose of PleasantlyWaisted trainers is to teach women that no matter what size or shape, you are to always love yourself. Self-love is the best love. The trainer gives you that extra push to want to lose weight while helping you get to that small waist goal you’re looking to achieve and including healthier eating and daily activity habits. The trainers also give your back support and help you work on your posture. Henry works full time and, when she gets home, she is a full-time mom. She makes sure her son and home are situated. Once that is all taken care of, she is up all night preparing orders to be shipped out the next day. As it’s her passion, she has learned how to juggle it all.
In order to see results, you have to be dedicated. That means eating cleaner, drinking lots of water, and waist training for 6 to 8 hours every day. A lot of people have the misconception that they can just wear their waist trainer from time to time and eat whatever they want. It doesn’t work like that, the trainers are not plastic surgery and you still have to put in the work. If you follow these guidelines, she guarantees you in about two weeks to a month you will start seeing a difference.
I asked Ms. Henry if she can change one thing in our society, what will it be and she answered by saying she wants to see more woman empowerment. She will definitely like to see more women push and encourage each other rather than being in competition with one another and I definitely agree with her.
Kynniah’s Final Thoughts:
Henry was so nice to send me a trainer and when I tell you I love it… I LOVE IT! My first time putting it on, it was very tight but as I kept putting it on it became less tight. I have been working on following a low carb diet and have been doing core workouts. I have to admit I do see a slight change and will be uploading some pictures soon to show you my progress. I definitely recommend all of my ladies, all ages and sizes, invest in getting a PleasantlyWaisted trainer…you will not be disappointed! Go shop for your PleasantlyWaisted trainer on their Website. Follow their page on Instagram.
Morgan Cooper made a huge impression with his trending Fresh Prince of Bel-Air inspired short, Bel-Air, and the filmmaker continues his success. The award-winning filmmaker snagged two awards in the 2020 Tribeca X category of the Tribeca Film Festival. Morgan Cooper won “Best Feature Film” for U Shoot Videos? and “Best Short” for Pay Day, winning in the two out of the three categories of the Tribeca X category. Taji Mag was able to catch up with the multi-award-winning filmmaker to see how his projects came to life.
Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): What moment did you decide you want to make films?
Morgan Cooper (MC): My career started on my 18th birthday. I bought a Cannon P2I DSLR camera at Best Buy and, with that camera, I made a career. I felt like I had something to say through the medium. From that moment on, I just showed up and did the work every day. I took small steps to improve my skillset. Over the years I was able to find my voice.
U Shoot Videos?
U Shoot Videos is a powerful narrative following a filmmaker trying to excel in his career field. Being young, Black, and gifted but denied the opportunity to make commercials due to his lack of experience and no film school, Moji must figure out how to keep his dream alive and hurdle the obstacles in his path.
DDF:U Shoot Videos? provides a narrative some Black creatives can relate to. What has been the most interesting response to your film?
MC: Some of the people that reached out felt it was their story. They felt seen and heard through the film. I can’t think of any better feedback than that. There were people that were thinking about giving up, feeling so alone during their journey in filmmaking, and, after seeing this film, it gives them an extra boost. I was overwhelmed with how positive and how beautiful the feedback was.
DDF: There was a lot of support for the lead character Moji, from characters like Aaron and Moji’s brother. Was that intentional during the course of the film?
MC: The show of support was very important to me. You don’t see Black men supporting each other enough on screen. Everything in the film is based on real reactions that I had during the course of my career. I felt it was my responsibility to show these really honest moments where Black men support each other without any alternative motives. Like Aaron telling Moji “I’m down to help you because I want to learn. I have an interest in what you do and you inspire me.” I am really proud of that moment and I hope to see more support among Black males like that on film in the future.
PayDay is a collaborative project with Color Creative, Synchrony, Gian Spoon agency, and written by actress/comedian Gabrielle Dennis. The short follows Nyssa, a young woman who desires to open her own business but spends money like there is no tomorrow. On her payday, she gets caught in a time loop “Groundhog Day” style and is unable to break it until figures out a way to make better decisions.
DDF: How did you become apart of the PayDay Project and how was it working with Gabrielle Dennis?
MC: Denise from Color Creative reached out to my agent about the PayDay project. It just looked like an interesting and fun piece. I pitched on it and got the job. I locked arms with Color Creative, Giant Spoon, and Synchrony to make the film happen. It was a long two-day shoot but it turned out really nice in the end.
Gabrielle was great to work with. She brought a lot of enthusiasm to the table. She has a brilliant comedic mind. It was very fun being on set and creating space for her, letting her talent really shine. She trusted my vision from the start and throughout the shoot. We gave ourselves space to express the ideas that we both wanted to bring to the project. We were both aligned with the why behind the project and it was just a tremendous project from start to finish.
DDF: How did you become so good at providing the right light for people of color while you shoot?
MC: Perfecting that craft started from who I am, understand my background and culture. As a Black man, I wanted to make sure people of color are captured on film with care. That’s really the root of it. From there it filters into lighting, lens selection, and crafting the scene. Understanding how Black people have been captured on film historically, which hasn’t been great. Over the years I have tested, researched, and studied different techniques to maximize the quality in which our skin is captured. I often think about the actors who are overlooked especially from the city where I am from – Kansas City. With the opportunity for the actors to be on set, they can’t be wondering how they look, they have to just trust your direction. As a director, it’s something I take seriously. I like to make sure I capture actors in an honest way.
DDF: Have you had other filmmakers ask you about lighting while filming actors of color?
MC: I have had other colleagues that have sought out advice on lighting, different fusion techniques, transitions, lenses, etc.
DDF: What director inspires you?
MC: Ernst Dickerson has been one of the biggest inspirations of my career. He’s a former cinematographer who shot films like Do the Right Thing. He’s a brilliant cinematographer who goes into writing and directing. He penned some of my favorite films like Juice. I followed the same trajectory – working as a cinematographer then transitioning into writing and directing. I’m actually getting a chance to speak with him after this interview.
DDF: How does it feel to win Best Short and Best Feature in the Tribeca X?
MC: It feels amazing! I feel very humbled and I am full of gratitude, to be recognized by such a prestigious institution. More than anything, I am so happy for all of my collaborators and I am so thankful to the team for putting together these projects. I can not say enough about the honor.
DDF: What would be your dream project?
MC: I have several dream projects. I can’t really discuss them but I am very excited about the dream projects I will get to bring to life over the next several years. So stay tuned.
DDF: What actor/actress would you like to work with?
MC: I definitely want to work with Mahersla Ali and Janelle Monae. I think they are great actors. When you watch them, you are really transported into the moment they are expressing. I think we would be able to create something special together.
We hope to see more amazing films from the talented filmmaker. Hopefully, one of his dream projects will feature Mahersala Ali and Janelle Monae and will be one that is celebrated as a cult classic. Keep up with Morgan Cooper on Instagram at @cooperfilms.