LA: Month II

I’m late. I swear I have started to write this blog at least three times this month already, in my head. Plus, I’ve jotted notes in a sharpie pen on a legal pad at work, like a week ago. Yet, I digress. My two biggest areas of opportunity going into month three are timeliness|time management and securing financial awareness|stability. In fact, it’s sad to say that I kind of stopped using my Erin Condren Life Planner for a bit. I feel awful, but I intend to end the year strong.

Aside from the shame that comes with the dust and blank September pages of my life planner, things continue to go well for me in the city of angels. I finally feel like I am settling into my job. No, it is not on my list of things I love to do, but I am ok with my current situation. Speaking of work, its hard to deal with the amount of money I spend on transportation everyday. I actually enjoy the luxury of riding, instead of driving to work, reading, listening to audio content or sleeping.  Each day, each trip rather, uber/lyft sends a complimentary receipt via email. I have so many that I am haunted. Honestly. There is no way I can continue to ignore the amount of money I spend just getting around here. Think about it; I mean we’re talking at least two trips a day. Hundreds of dollars a month, that all adds up, and I’m sick of it!

I feel like I’m really learning what it means to have a roommate as well. Somedays (a lot of them) it feels like Franceli and I spend more time being roommates than we do being friends. So much so that I have had to find quiet reminders, remnants of a friendship bound along life’s journey. I have always known that I’m a particular person.  A creature based on habit and routine. I am a planny person (despite having neglected my planner this month). I think I live a pretty quiet life. I love my own space and the companionship that comes with the ownership of my own little corner of the world. Don’t get me wrong because it’s not that Franceli and I yield two completely different lifestyles, we just happen to have two different operating systems, ya know? She’s the droid to my iOS device. (lol) In all fairness it is the beauty of our friendship that makes this situation work. And that’s what I am most grateful for.

This month comes with fresh opportunity as well. I am so ecstatic to be a host on Afterbuzz TV. Like, beyond. Currently, I am on the panel of three after shows: This is Us, Inhumans, and 90 Day Fiance. I almost feel as if the whole world it’s opening itself up to me. Lending me her ear to speak the entirety of my vision.  That’s a feeling many of us know to be fleeting, but when it comes it’s for sure something to grasp with the grip of both hands.

I also got the chance to produce a music video that will be released later this month.  (More on this later!) That’s not something I ever imagined being in the position to do. It lets me know that there is a place for me in entertainment bigger than the little I’ve imagined. Especially when it comes to music. Y’all know my first dream was to sing back up for Mariah Carey!

This month was showing of so much. More than anything I know the work that comes with being successful. Strategy is important. Time is of the essence. And, you can’t do shit without money. Thank God for favor because I still got tricks up my sleeves!

 

LA: Month 1

I find myself navigating more and more to the balconies of LA. No matter where you are, you can look and find an apartment adorned with a patio or porch. That’s one thing that reminds me of home. I spent so many of my years on the porch of my great grandmothers’ home. I can recall the changes built around it, when there were two small IMG_7227houses next door, that now rest an empty lot. Before and after the remodel, or before it became the property of my grandmother. Back when my great great grandma chuck was still there, memories of after school pickups, soap opera watching and badminton playing.

It is easy to sit on the porch and be filled with all the warmth of home. But there is also this presence of guilt I feel oh so far away. Before I left home I wanted to be unstoppable. So much so that I prayed that nothing would get in the way of my departure. I remember having dreams that my family would experience a detrimental moment and I prayed that should anything occur, God just let it happen after I’ve left.

There is no preparation for homesickness. It comes unprecedented and you can’t place a barometer around those feelings until you actually feel them. Homesick feels like fear and anxiety. Like a void of emptiness, loneliness.

IMG_0441Soon after I got to LA I learned of the power in that prayer. My great grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer, a great aunt of mine with skin cancer, and my great uncle passed as well. Up until this point I was walking the streets of LA with just the small guilt of being far removed from the everyday life of my immediate family, but this happenstance magnified that experience for me. I didn’t even think there would be a response that would allow me to assuage the entirety of that burden of guilt.

I’m grateful for every aspect of my journey in LA. Primarily because I stand firmly knowing that I made the very best decision for my life. I can hardly believe all the things I have been able to IMG_7746accomplish. Like, I have literally worked in the business (that’s what they call it out here) every week since I’ve landed. I have been a PA on different lots and sets all over Los Angeles. I secured full time employment and I continue to meet incredible, like minded people who are both showing and telling of what feels like the best season of my life. Although I miss home, I no longer walk the streets feeling displaced or burdened. I walk with my chin held high, I’m a king and LA aint got nothing on me.

 

I Live in LA…

I moved to LA just over two weeks ago. It is not a decision that was made lightly, come to think about it, its inception came with the new year. Each month at work we would plan out our calendar, filled with team outings, special events, and days of recognition. Not unlike most, with the New Year came New Year’s Resolutions. So many people have a love/hate relationship with the idea of making resolutions but it is a habit I have come to enjoy and look forward to. On our team, at work, we made vision boards to hang at our desks, this way our days would be led, both consciously and not, with thoughts and images that would propel us into the direction of our dreams and completing our goals. In retrospect, I notice that I have actually been looking at my path every day for seven months before I ever left Virginia. A vision full of quotes of inclusion, countries to visit, and a cut out of the word HOLLYWOOD. Fast forward just a bit, maybe a few months later, and I actually started to have dreams that would push me further. They were reoccurring, maybe two or three dreams that were time sensitive. All centered around me moving to Los Angeles, where an obstacle or some sort of family life almost kept me from leaving. A flight nearly missed, or an opportunity that I wasn’t able to take advantage of, yet in the end, I always made it. These dreams made me believe that I had just a small window of time to plot out and make the move, or I would miss my opportunity and live a life unfulfilled. After that I was certain. I knew that God had something to do with this, like it wasn’t just me wanting to pick up and go somewhere or be famous. I felt and I prayed that I would align myself in God’s will for my life. So, I started to actualize my vision with a plan. I decided that I would give myself to the end of summer ’17 to move to California. I prayed some more, I fasted, and I knew that by August 29, sink or swim and ready or not, I would leave my nest of home and pursue a life of passion.

IMG_2640I moved to LA July 19, a little over a month before my intended plan. The budget that I had been planning to implement, out the window, My savings account, pretty depleted. All I had to really hold onto was the fact that I was working up until that last Friday, that way I was set up to leave with a full paycheck from my employer, as well as one on the way, once I made it to California, a weeks work for that following pay period. Celi ended up presenting an option for a two bedroom in her neighborhood that we had the potential to try and secure for the month of July. Neither of us wanted to pass up on the opportunity and although we didn’t end up going that route, that was my catalyst. It left me with a date I would not be able to walk back out of and as soon as I surrendered to it, everything else fell into place. It’s interesting. I put a ton of energy into feeling like I needed to leave with a certain amount of money,or interviews and jobs lined up; yet, as soon as I trusted myself with the date, all the weary of needing the picture perfect exit plan escaped me. I felt unstoppable and it didn’t matter how much money I had on standby, I was leaving Newport News, Virginia.

There were no tears at the airport that Wednesday morning. My mother waited until we parted ways to have her moment; thankfully so, and I have yet to cry since leaving VA. I never would have imagined things would happen as quickly as they have. As soon as I landed at LAX we literally hit the ground running. These past two weeks have been a bit of a busy blur. I’ve been to Palm Springs, visited a friend from school in San Diego, hiked Runyon Canyon, and met so many people. Literally by the time we got to Sunday I was begging Celi for the weekend to be over. Don’t get me wrong, it was great fun and adventure, the world never stopped, but I felt in my spirit that I needed a moment to sort of be still and plant my feet into the ground of Southern California. I needed my mind and body to recognize the fact that I was 3K miles away from home and on a journey, all on my own.

As fate would allow, I had all of about 2 days or so to come to that realization. By that Wednesday I was at an interview with a temp agency and by Friday I had booked my first industry gig, hired to work as a Production Assistant on the set of a feature film, Jezebel, through Monday. I was floored. Are you kidding me?! Let’s be clear, I was super ecstatic to even have an opportunity of this magnitude. All with little to no experience, and so quickly into my life in LA. I had another interview, (yesterday) which went really well and I can’t wait for everything that’s about to happen. This train is just getting started. I had a production meeting for #TSAP, (The Sunday Afternoon Podcast) coming very soon! Also, August 14, I am hosting a script reading for none other than my best friend, and roommate Franceli Chapman. She wrote a movie y’all so stay tuned for all this greatness.

P.S. I got the job.

#XD30-one-Dear Thirty

Dear Thirty,

Here we are, face to face. In all of my dreams I’d never thought we would meet this way. You have always been seen as something foreign, to me. A year and experience that would both be life altering and staggering. By the time I turned twenty five I had enough foresight to see that fear rested in thirty. I had remnants of the same fright at twenty five then twenty six and twenty eight. Feelings of unworthiness, disappointment, and loneliness.

I was relieved when you brought me something different. I spent a week joking about age and how being a year older, thirty, changed everything for the worse, but in all honesty I feel the opposite. There is power in you. Like, a spark that’s been ignited that in so many ways has been the erasure of anything that may have come before. I feel invincible.

My twenties were all about the idea of finding me. From all of the hair experiences to wearing make up and being gay- navigating gay friends and gay culture in Virginia, to unreal romantic experiences and all the responsibilities that come with learning to be an adult.

I have literally spent thirty years learning to be myself. When you look at it that way it is easy to see how thirty is just the beginning. There was so much time spent pretending to be someone else, living for so many other people, to the point that I am ready to cement myself in you. I know who I am and who I want to be and you, dear thirty, are the catalyst to such a greater experience.

I received an email yesterday confirming that I am an official graduate of Norfolk State University and in that moment I realized just how successful I have become. It took me eleven years to graduate from college. I started in 2006. To see that dream deferred, complete, is enlightening. Also, it is so telling of life’s experiences. You really are the new twenty. You come with a new set of challenges; operating on discipline, facing mortality, and cleaning up all those petty insecurities that still lie within me. However, you are a shield to it all.

You give me the next few years to be free. You are the experience that we all spent all of our lives waiting for, freedom. There is no more noise or cloudiness. I can do whatever I want.

DAY 11: A Song that you NEVER get Tired of

These are harder than I thought they would be! This one is really tough because there are so many songs that I love and they never get old to me. I wanted to go with the first song that comes to my head, but then again, I also want to choose music that will be impactful and make others feel the same.

The first time I heard Mariah Carey I had to have died a little bit. I don’t know why or how I even relate so much to who she is, vocally, but I say it all the time, the first dream I ever had was to sing backup for Mariah Carey. Like, I’m pretty sure I was still high school  trying to actualize this dream! I knew the lyrics, I have the hand gestures down, and back in high school I could easily belt out one of her infamous whistles. You couldn’t tell me nothing!

Anyway, this song always shows up when I shuffle my apple music, each time I scream at the top of my lungs trying to hit the whistle sequence at the end. If I’m good and warm, on a good day, I can hit a few.

Lawrence Sharp, in memory…

The first show I ever did at Norfolk State University was Fences, by August Wilson. That is where I met Lawrence Sharp. From the very beginning, I can remember becoming completely encapsulated by his tender approach. His style, in acting and character was vastly different, so much so that I’ve only seen it, or experienced it with a few people. At NSU it was Lawrence, and then later in Ricky Flowers. Lawrence had enormous intellect and imagination. He was overwhelmingly considerate in his love for developing character, what he needed (his character) to say and to achieve to become actualized.

I was cast as Uncle Gabe, thinking back I notice how green I was and so obsessive with ego. Lawrence was cast in the lead role of Troy. You know, one of the reasons Lawrence became so significant, instrumental even, to me, is because of his “type”. You see, our Director, Dr. Murray, God rest his soul, was the king of double casting. And, that’s the reason I know so much of my early experiences were based in ego, because I was super excited to be one of the only actors, I think me and Anthyla, cast singularly, without a counterpart. But, listen! So, Lawrence was cast opposite Delvin Young. They were so different. Delvin was tall and athletic, handsome and charming; while Lawrence was shorter. His body more stock-ish and his spirit quiet.

When it comes to being double casted it feels like there is so much to overcome, at least there was for us at Norfolk State, under the competition that Doc loved to create. This is a lesson I would learn later, but you are faced with considering the character, the world of the person you are longing to create as an artistic expressionist, then you have to juggle the weight of the character Doc wants you to create, which at times feels like an anchor harnessed and bolted to your chest, thrown into the ocean; and, on top of all of that, you have to deal with your own insecurity, the feelings that come with having to sit and watch someone else creating the same character, and everyone else’s reaction to it. It’s a lot.

Then, there is Lawrence. I never saw him waiver. He was bold in the choices he made and when challenged as Doc’s ubermarionette, (super puppet) Lawrence would stick to his guns. He knew the weight of his own talent, the vision that he carried, and his ability to be greater, against it all. Whether he would perform one night or seven because of it did not matter. Lawrence was an actor. And, bigger than that he was an artist and that boy could paint a picture. It was a privilege to see him on stage because he was transformative. I get chills thinking about an audition piece I saw him do.

Here we are, so many years later. It is almost hard to believe that this was back in 2006. I’ve kept in contact with Lawrence over the years, not nearly as much as I’d liked to or even as much as I should have, in many ways that’s always the lesson of death. Anytime we spoke, mostly through Facebook or email, he was always so encouraging and compassionate. He was a believer in dreams, and if you had a dream and shared it with Lawrence, you know that he would believe in you, and share just a small part of your dream, relentlessly. Finding out about his passing left me stunned. I didn’t expect it, and my immediate reaction was to almost just look past it. By no means was I the closest person in the world to Lawrence, but he was deserving of so much more than just that. I compelled myself to take a moment and to experience this grief, and because we were not “best friends” my human inclination was to question the grief that began to fall upon me. I texted a few NSU Players that day, but Khalid put it to me best. I said, “I’m starting to feel bothered by this and I don’t know why.” With which he replied, “You knew him and you respected him.”

That hit me hard. I feel like if you knew Lawrence then you respected him and as tough as it can be to grieve the loss of those we love, try to hold onto the small part, that little piece of your dream, a goal, or moment that you shared with him, and remember his response to it.

I’m holding onto all the encouragement, belief and wisdom you shared with me Lawrence and I will let that drive me forward and I can’t wait to share in that moment of success with you.

After Sunday: 10/23/16

Sometimes I listen back to the podcast and I cringe. There were so many moments, in this episode, where I felt as if I had no clue how to articulate just exactly what was on my mind. And, I do believe, that’s the beauty of this After Sunday series.

We started this weeks episode with an announcement, that low-key, went seemingly unnoticed. Perhaps it was just that natural, but LUHRAY is the official co-host of The Sunday Afternoon podcast. I’m thrilled for many reasons. Not just because we have known each other for the most of our lives, or because when I first had the idea to go in and start a podcast I wanted to do it with her, but more than anything, because we gel so well together! I believe ours is a relationship that will grow both of us, the show, and our brands, collectively and independently. There is so much work to do, but I truly am excited to move forward into all that is to come.

Also, I wanted to flush out a bit more of the conversation we had about my father and his birthday. You can check out the backstory on our relationship, here. I think that Laure’s advice was deeply insightful, to just be, and invite the man to do things that we can both appreciate, together. I won’t lie, it won’t be the easiest thing in the world, for me. However, it really changes my perspective and takes the pressure off of trying to repair a relationship and just foster a space to build with the man.

In many ways, thats the exact same sentiment we have to take with relationships in general. Getting rid of all the pressure and just learning to be with people and communicating with them. More openly and more honestly. That’s the challenge of adulting. At least as I know it to be.

The idea of support is pertinent to me. When you think about you dreams and your goals there is no way you can consider them coming to fruition without some semblance of support. The topic was liking and lurking. Which one are you? I’ve spent a lot of time considering my vantage point and changing my mindset when it comes to an assessment of social media. It’s hard y’all, because we spend so much time in our own heads consistently evaluating the way in which other people perceive us. I can save you some trouble, it leads to nowhere. Chin up and check out this episode.

https://soundcloud.com/keith-andre-3/liking-or-lurking

We’ll definitely see you Sunday. Oh, and I have a few tricks up my sleeves!