Where to begin? The past 12 months have been many, life altering things to me.
Have to start with ‘Trojan War’. An idea two years back, many chess moves behind the scenes that don’t need to be aired out (and are truly par for the course if you have any idea how hard it is to get anything made). But, this movie did get made. Especially when I’m personally invested, my number one creative goal is always ‘please the core audience.’ And if it crosses over beyond those people? Great. But if the people you’re trying to entertain aren’t feeling it, you’re screwed.
‘Trojan War’ was well received by the home base; enough people who could care less about USC or college football have liked it for me to consider this film a success. I’ve privately told people that after October, anything else that happened the last eight weeks of the year would be considered a bonus. But success brings opportunities, and the doors are swinging open for me now. If I’m being completely transparent, I ended 2014 with a slight bit of disbelief at seeing the endgame fall into place. I end this year recharged and motivated. If this is the life I want, then I have to take full advantage of it.
Then there’s the more personal side of things. A bit more stressful.
At this point, the majority of my life, I’ve constantly asked myself what is the best way to use my assets to make things easier for the people coming up behind me. This year more than most, I’ve been very appreciative of everyone who reached out and reminded me my single greatest asset is to continue to be myself, and make sure ‘Malik Aziz’ is visible so people can point to me as the example that contradicts what the lynch mob is using to get people riled up. There is no silver lining to any of the scapegoating and harassment I hear about on a daily/hourly basis, but introducing myself as ‘the black Muslim from Kansas’ has made quite a few ears perk up as of late. So it’s very comforting to know I’m not fighting my fight alone. And maybe, it’s also time to tell ‘my story.’
All the professional stuff is fantastic, but the greatest victory of 2015 for me personally has been the vindication in knowing there’s a path for me to finish building everything that I want, without making a ‘point of no return’ compromise to my values or ideals. I’ve paid a heavy price in business and in my personal life for being true to myself. That price most likely has not even be paid in full yet. But, as I’ve heard the young people say, sometimes you have to fuck the humble shit and stick your chest out and say you’re right. And I was right in 2015.
This has been the most obvious year where trying to thank everyone who had an influence on the good things would guarantee I’d leave someone out. So with full sincerity I say I appreciate my people on top of the food chain as much as I appreciate my people still trying to figure out what their purpose in this life is.
2015 was great. On to the next.