Tag Archive: aaron rahsaan thomas


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Soon to be retired Kobe Bryant said something once I liked. Paraphrasing here, ‘Before you get the ring, they’ll say you’re one of the guys who can’t win the ring.  You get one, they say you can’t get two.  And on and on, so the talk never stops.’ So just focus on the work, knowing people will find some reason to criticize you no matter what you do.

This year, more than any since I first moved to L.A., I really fell in love with ‘the Process’ again.  I wake up every morning with a smile on my face like I used to. Having a year plus of meditation under my belt helps.  I think to be truthful getting burned a few times around the block helped as well.  I don’t have ‘plans’ anymore.  To be clear, I have goals and strategies in place to accomplish the goals.  But we know what God does to plans.  So I always give myself enough flexibility to deal with whatever unexpectedly comes.  I’m more relaxed with this mindset and it shows.

‘Trojan War’ is the gift that keeps on giving.  Having some space now since when it came out, I can digest all the different lessons I took from that experience.  My personal biggest takeaway from that project?  If I can contribute to and be a major part of a ‘dream’ project, without crossing a line I don’t feel comfortable crossing, either as a black man, a Muslim or a generally ethical human being?  Why cross the line on projects that are straightforward jobs?  Why cross the line in life? So everything I’m building and everything that’s coming, you can thank Aaron and ESPN for raising the bar and proving I can do it my way.

Some of you ‘Scandal’ fans became familiar with a line a lot of grew up with: ‘You have to work twice as hard to get half of what they have.’  So with my double minority status, does that mean I have to work four times as hard?  Or, actually, to get everything I want and feel I deserve, eight times as hard to really finish the job?

Challenge accepted.

I’ve never really had a ‘perfect example’ of a single person who’s covered all the bases I try to cover in life (racial, spiritual, professional).  It’s been a huge blessing and a huge curse at times to see no one really filling what I feel is ‘my spot’.  What I have embraced the past year, especially in the climate we live in, is the impossible standard I have to hold myself to, to even have a chance.  I make a genuine mistake, it gets used as proof I ‘don’t deserve the opportunity.’  I get approached sideways, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a genuine competitive threat, or an attempt to pull me down and away from my goals, I always have to take the high road.  Even if human nature would make it obvious I’d be more than willing to handle it another way.  Can’t do it.  Nine times out of ten, I’ll have a lot more to lose by getting involved in every minor slight.  For all intents and purposes, it’s been the progressive removal of my ‘off switch’ in service of something bigger than myself.

So, thanks Obama, for giving me an example to shoot for.

Been a great year, but more to come.

Back next week.

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So the sizzle reel for ‘The Get Down’ came out this morning.  On top of looking great on its own merit, my friend Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (director of ‘Trojan War’) happens to be one of the creative people behind the scenes helping to bring this series to light.

So add that to the reasons you should be hyped to see this come out!

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Nope wasn’t in the room Saturday night, I was (literally) down the street.

But thank you internet (and the Academy) for letting us see this.  I’m big on letting people know you appreciate them while they’re here to feel your appreciation.

Your East Coast bias aside Spike, I can personally attest to two of the seeds you helped plant and nourish getting those standardized test scores high enough to grow into a movie producer and a movie director (and a LOT more).

And as you know there are hundreds if not thousands more. So thank you.

First, I could watch this introduction all day…

And then, his actual acceptance speech…

Enjoy!

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No song this weekend. I haven’t made this announcement here yet but…

Our 30 for 30 ‘Trojan War’ is now available on iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix.  For those of you outside the U.S. (or without cable), you can watch our film anytime and nearly anywhere you please.

That’s your weekend homework, enjoy!

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So ‘Trojan War’ is done and a living product now, officially.  It’s been a great ride, a ton of memories I’ll never forget, chief among them the outpouring of support.

I love my people.  In every possible way that statement can be interpreted. Beyond the superficial links between us, that sense of ‘take care of the people who take care of you’ is a common value that binds me and Aaron.  Somewhat ironically, it’s cut both ways the past few weeks.  I’ve pumped up the film and its players every chance I got leading up to the premiere (as most of you saw).

The flip side of that is choosing to be quiet publicly as (in no particular order) Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Quentin Tarantino have…gotten my attention. If any of their news is still relevant next week (likely), we can address it then.  For one, this week has been about having fun and reminiscing about a great time to be a Trojan.  And two; sure nobody is interviewing me or quoting me today.  But I personally saw twice (TWICE!), conversations I’ve had with people on this project, where the context was clear, then the exact same thing is repeated word for word, to a reporter, put (and edited) in print, and turned into something else.  (One of them you can probably guess with little difficulty). So again, even if, in all likelihood me talking anything political would have never been picked up…why take a chance on being an unnecessary distraction?  One thing I must admit I like about being ‘on’ all the time, is that it’s made me fast-forward to acting like ‘the best version of Malik Aziz’ now, instead of waiting on being ‘big-time’ and then trying to clean up my act. More ‘hey Malik is this thoughtful and intellectual and passionate film geek’, less ‘man Malik retweets a lot of those booty clapping videos’ (half joking).

(In terms of the one relevant news item you can connect to the film; what started as a bitter, season ticket holder sniping has turned into ‘Alright, get him out of here, but if he really is drinking his life away, get him help.  We’ll use the rest of this season to figure out who should lead the program.  We’re full strength now.’)

Moving forward, ‘Trojan War’ is the biggest, flashiest project I’ve been a part of.  I’ll always point to it as something I’m proud of.  In terms of my endgame, it’s a door, a gateway, a bridge to tell other stories I’m passionate about.

As much as anything, the personal validation of knowing there’s a way for me to get what I want without making compromises I’m completely uncomfortable with, means as much to me as the professional validation.

So what exactly am I planning next?

Well, I’m not talking about that. Yet…

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Overwhelmed.

Aaron and I have both watched ‘Trojan War’ repeatedly before tonight; there was a ‘USC premiere’ and a ‘Hollywood premiere’ last week, so we both felt good about how the ‘core demographic’ would react.  But still…

This week, and today especially, the sheer number of you who reposted, retweeted, and otherwise spread the word about the film coming on has been completely humbling.  I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’m not even going to try to name names because there were so many it would be a guarantee I would forget someone.

Homies from high school, family of course. Old teachers who pushed me in the right direction. The boys from the college days that swiftly passed.  Acting friends and industry friends, both still trying to break in, and well established.  My people from every day job I’ve ever held down while I pursue my dreams. You know, but you don’t completely realize how many people are cheering for you until something like this goes down, and everyone tells you in their own way how proud they are of you.

I know what I just said about naming names, but I should thank the people whose names and faces you heard and saw who made ‘Trojan War’ what it is: everybody at ESPN for letting us be a part of this, Keyshawn Johnson, Shelley Smith, Dylann Tharp, Joe Perracchio, Mario Diaz, Michael B. Jordan, Matt Leinart, Lendale White, Pete Carroll.  To name a few.

As far as you go Aaron…I’ll let Coach Vermeil take it from here…

Today was a good day.

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(updating Career Bucket List…)

‘Producer on a feature film before I hit 40?’ – Check.

Pull off the rare ‘one for us and one for them’ at the same time? – Check.

Work with a cast member from my all time favorite show The Wire ? – Check.

Work on my favorite current documentary series, 30 for 30? – Check.

Tie together my legacy as a Starkie and a Trojan in a way I could never possibly plan? – Check.

Fight On!

Mike

About that time, gang.

But first, here’s Aaron delivering his Director Statement on ‘Trojan War.’

Fight On!

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:13845718

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The press screening last night was a surreal experience for yours truly.  I’m so used to supporting my friends and their projects, it’s really different when you’re one of the centers of attention.

We seem to have pleased our core demographic.  Next Tuesday we’ll see how the world overall sees it.

Until then, here’s an early review:

http://www.insidesocal.com/tomhoffarth/2015/10/07/first-look-trojan-war-doesnt-make-apologies-for-carroll-era/

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In case you missed it, Aaron gave probably the most in-depth interview he’s ever given publicly to the Daily Trojan.

Check it out!

http://dailytrojan.com/2015/10/05/30-for-30-documents-the-pete-carroll-era/

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