Tag Archive: issa rae


 

jay-z-weight-loss-t

Barry Jenkins’ trailer dropped this week, and I’m about to hop back onto HBO for Issa, and pretty high odds I’ll have some thoughts on Spike’s new movie next Sunday, and Tessa is…Tessa…

So this is as good of a video to start the week as any.

Enjoy!

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dearwhitepeople

For the oldheads among us, the double victory run of the studio system acknowledging that a) there’s an audience for ‘Atlanta’, ‘Insecure’, and ‘Get Out’, and b) not only that, but it’s quality storytelling, continues with the Netflix version of Justin Simien’s ‘Dear White People.’  And I know I’m not the first to say this, but I agree it’s an improvement over the film.  Taking full advantage of the platform, a line of dialogue in the film that serves as backstory is nearly always fleshed out into a half hour episode that gives the audience more empathy for ‘why’ even characters you may not gravitate toward, do the things that they do.

Was the film geek in me biased from episode one with the ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ visual tributes?  Sure, but nods like this are subtle in each episode.  (Quick setup for the completely uninitiated: like the film, the story is set off when a blackface party is thrown by one of the fraternities on a predominantly white campus).  Justin directed a few of the episodes, I noted Tina Mabry’s name in the credits, but if you have to pick one episode, yes, the now Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins ‘Episode V’ is the strongest.

Ten not quite half hours.  I honestly wasn’t planning on getting through the whole season in one weekend, but sometimes the story keeps you that engaged.

Check it out.

 

Malcolm X kidding around with Muhammad Ali, New York, 1963

Another rotation around the sun nearly complete.  I’ve lived long enough to exist in Trump’s America.

Hooray…

Nearly all of us in life, will experience some personal and professional setbacks that screws up our plans.  I’ve lost more than one job, not from being fired but because the company as a whole went bankrupt.  I’ve had my fair share of family drama that crushed my spirit to the point of making me stop living my own life, so to speak.  In that way, I’m not unique in the slightest.

What makes me unique, at least in terms of identity politics, are my racial and religious identities.  In the Q&A I recently participated in, I was asked the question, ‘Do I feel being a Muslim has impacted my career?’  I’m paraphrasing, but my answer was ‘Probably.’

In my 20s, I worked at the Playboy Mansion, and had my own office on the Sony lot.  In the next phase, I’ve gotten to work with Issa Rae and Michael B. Jordan in their ascension, before they showed up on magazine covers.  So let’s be absolutely clear on this: I will never look at my life and say ‘Woe is me.’

But the answer is still ‘Probably’.  I can look back at both my personal life and my professional life, and see I’ve had more than a few opportunities to get to ‘the end.’  But the tradeoff if I would have made different choices had the feeling of crossing a point of no return in my relationships to my black friends.  Or to my Muslim friends.  Or both.

So I’ve sucked it up, and chosen to take the long way to achieve my goals.

I’ve leveled up in the last 365 days.  It didn’t literally take 20 years but it certainly feels that way.  I’ve noticed my mood swings one of three ways.  Most days I’m good; my ambition is more than enough to keep me focused on the next hurdle I aim to climb and what I need to do next.  On the good days, I can take pride in how far I’ve been able to go without destroying what I believe in.  On the bad days, I feel anger and resentment that I have to constantly hold myself and my decision making abilities to this Obama-esque level of near perfection.  My bad decisions aren’t as easily forgotten, my flaws aren’t shrugged off by either majority community that I respect but I’m not going out of my way to placate either.  The Game is the Game, but at this point I can see I will have a chip on my shoulder the rest of my days.  It is what it is.

At the end of the day though, I’ve fought and hustled and worked myself into a position where I get to live my life on my terms.  Not for one second do I take that for granted. Not for one second do I not recognize how rare that feeling is for anyone, let alone someone of my background.

I’m grateful and at peace with how much my life is the anomaly.  My fire still burns strong and I look forward to seeing what else I can achieve with the rest of my days.

Onward.

Obi-wan_kenobi_on_tatooine

Returned to the director’s chair. Made a quality short that will find a new audience every holiday season (like the film its based on, ironically). Wrote my first original pilot. Wrote my first spec based on a TV show I love. Producer on another ‘legacy’ project that’s one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ things I’m thrilled to be a part of. The period of time from the last Ramadan to this one has found me in another peak period. Stability and consistency have arrived.

I’m mastering how to be as efficient as I can, I’ve reverse engineered the remaining details.  It’s happening.  The endgame (which we’ve half jokingly, half seriously called, ‘Muslim Clooney’.) Not as one giant home run swing, but by stringing together all the daily and weekly victories.  Far from over, but constant forward motion.  With a lot of help and support from many of you, I’ve worked myself into a position where I can think but not ‘overthink’, I’ve created a sense of ‘home’ (stability) which makes me more confident in myself and my natural voice.  We still have more fun than we should at times, but I’m reverting back to being more selective about when and where and in front of whom I act like the ‘devil may care goofball who doesn’t take anything too seriously’ and re-establishing my go-to move as being the ‘socially conscious, politically aware artist who prides himself on being a world citizen.’ The consistency.

Part of it I guess was aging into it, but I’m completely comfortable in ‘my spot.’  When I was younger, I’m sure some people thought I’d be some version of DeRay McKessen.  I love and support what that brother is, but I don’t know want his life.  When you hear me hype up Ava DuVernay or Issa Rae, I’m not angling for a gig; their voices and what they represent are important as well.  Even the young brothers who at some point maybe I was ‘suppose to be’, like Justin Simien or Ryan Coogler, I feel no envy.  They’re not telling my specific story or doing what I specifically do. I now live in the moment more than I ever have, but my eyes on the Big Picture; something bigger than I will ever be and something that will be here long after I’m gone.  This may be an easier statement for someone as defiantly individual as I am to say, but I believe it’s true: you will be challenged at every turn, you will have to fight for what you believe in at every step, but, what’s meant for you? No one can take that from you.

So back to this moment. The past couple of weeks I’ve started to strip away the unnecessary things, and this is part of it.  As much as is practically possible in 2015, I’m taking a social media and blogging hiatus for Ramadan (which starts later this week.) As I’ve told the people close to me, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I don’t have to ‘fix’ anything in my life.  I can routinely place my hand on the brass ring, but haven’t quite put my fingers around it. So my goal is making sure I maintain and continue to build upon my (say it with me now) stability and consistency.

I’m off for deep meditation and to protect the Future here in the dry lands.  If it’s meant to be and the time is right (say mid July?), we’ll get back to it.

Take care.

 

issa-rae31

So here’s my ‘pay it forward’ for this week.

The finished piece never went live, but a few of you know I already knocked a huge chip off of my ‘black film geek’ bucket list this year when I auditioned for and was cast in a short by Issa Rae and her production company.  The details of that short I’ll keep close to the vest (since you never know, it may go live at some point and I’ll need to really promote it at that time), but over those couple of days I got to chat with Issa a little bit and (very thankfully because you never know in this town) I wasn’t disappointed.  Very, very cool; very down to earth and funny, and you know, just down.  Like some other people you may know if you’re here reading this space.  So hopefully in due time I’ll get to work with her again, and as I build my thing maybe she’ll be part of my future projects.

For right here and right now though, she’s in fundraising mode, and the least I can do is use whatever cosign abilities with all of you to encourage you to support Issa’s vision and help out if you can.

The link to the Patreon page is here:

http://www.patreon.com/issarae?rf=142213&ty=2

Tomorrow, we get back to the music…