Fast Forward Friday with Zeva Oelbaum

Letters From Baghdad — London Premieres

For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed award winning filmmaker Zeva Oelbaum. She recently co-directed and produced the NEH supported documentary Letters from Baghdad, which showed theatrically in over 150 theaters in the U.S. and U.K. and premiered on PBS in 2018. The film is voiced and exec. produced by Tilda Swinton. Oelbaum also produced Ahead of Time, a feature length documentary about journalist Ruth Gruber, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before garnering six Best Documentary awards.  Click here to learn more.

Q: What are you currently working on?  Tell us about it.

I’m working with my producing partner  Sabine Krayenbühl, on a documentary film about the visionary artist and performer Loïe Fuller. The film is titled Obsessed with Light.  Fuller was the American creator of modern dance and a trailblazing inventor who became an overnight sensation in Paris in 1892. Electricity was still in its infancy, yet she invented remarkable lighting techniques, taking out numerous patents on these techniques, as well as stage design and costuming, as early as 1893. She even wanted to incorporate fluorescent materials into her costumes and worked with Thomas Edison on this project.  She was close friends with Marie Curie and Auguste Rodin, and her inventions became the foundation of today’s most elaborate multi-media productions. Fuller was one of the most famous performers in the world at the turn of the 20th century and although few people know her name, her legacy is remarkably strong. She has inspired or influenced luminaries including Taylor Swift, Alexander McQueen, and numerous other artists and designers. Both Dior and Valentino have referenced her in their recent collections.

We are thrilled that we just received a media production grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for this film project! We previously received grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and Artemis Rising, so we’re feeling very optimistic about the potential of this project to reach a broad audience.

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

After the distribution of our film about Gertrude Bell, we were looking for another remarkable woman whose name has been forgotten, but whose accomplishments still resonate today. When we looked  deeply into Loïe Fuller, we found an unconventional woman who achieved success on her own terms. She disrupted conventional ideas of femininity and gender identity and had enormous respect for the power of science to transform lives. We feel that her story is surprisingly contemporary.

Q: In this current time of unprecedented change and uncertainty, what do you believe your role is in this moment?

Loïe Fuller was an outlier in many ways and her story is an inspiring one. Bringing an inspiring story to an audience is always gratifying, but during these crazy and uncertain times, inspiring stories are, perhaps, even more valuable.

Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?

I began my career as a still photographer, so I have been most influenced by painters and photographers. So many have influenced my work — from Cy Twombley to Anna Atkins to the incredible photojournalist Robert Capa. A zillion years ago, I was an intern at the International Center of Photography and have immense respect for photojournalists. I was very fortunate that Rizzoli Int. published a monograph of my cyanotypes, which I did as an homage to Anna Atkins. Atkins was the first person to publish a book illustrated by photographs in 1843. Documentary film is actually the perfect union of my love for both photojournalism and fine art.

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist? 

The feeling that I have something potentially meaningful to contribute to the contemporary conversation keeps me motivated. I feel inspired by the subjects of my films and photography projects to get their stories across.  I hate the idea of people (especially women) being forgotten and written out of history.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

Our previous film Letters From Baghdad tells the story of another incredible woman, British explorer and diplomat Gertrude Bell. Bell was sometimes called the female “Lawrence of Arabia” but she was actually much more influential than her colleague T.E. Lawrence, helping to reshape the Middle East after WWI.

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

When we were originally pitching our film on Gertrude Bell, we were told by one British broadcaster “why would we be interested in a film on Gertrude Bell, since she was only a footnote to history?” I’m happy that we proved him wrong. As a result of the press for the film, Gertrude Bell finally has a Blue Plaque installed at her London residence; and her archive at Newcastle University, which we used extensively, is now on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, in recognition of its global significance. It is one of the few archives with this designation in the UK.  Bell has now been profiled in television segments, books and plays and we are very gratified that we have contributed to bringing Gertrude Bell back into the history books.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

Exactly what I am doing.

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

Allowing myself to become discouraged, if I don’t succeed right away. Too many projects are still in my drawers!

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

I never leave my creative self!

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

Being timid about expressing my vision.

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

Too many to choose from.

Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?

I most admire my grandmother who passed away when I was 16 years old. She was the first person in my family to come to this country. She arrived in 1905 from the pogroms in Lithuania with a cousin when she was only 14 years old. They made their way to St. Joseph, Mo. and were soon followed by the rest of their families. My grandmother and grandfather owned several buildings, but my grandfather developed a heart condition, so the upkeep of the buildings fell to my tiny 4’10” grandmother (along with raising 5 children). During the Great Depression, there were frequently men who would get off the train looking for work and my grandmother would always have chores for them, in exchange for a hot meal. She was grateful for their help and never turned anyone away. My grandmother sent both sons to medical school, two daughters to nursing school and one daughter to teachers college. She had grit and determination and was an incredibly generous soul.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

Generosity of spirit.

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

Curious.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

Going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art … I’ve really missed going there this summer. It is deeply spiritual and nourishing to me.

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

Not to be intimidated by people who I think know more about what I am doing than I do

Q: Where would you most like to live?

Lots of places! I like Montclair, NJ ! (where I live now)

Q: What is your idea of success?

To be productive and continually engaged in creative pursuits

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

That my family is healthy and doing well and that I am able to pursue my passions.

 

 

 

Fast Forward Friday with Tracy Brigden

For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed director-writer Tracy Brigden. She  has spent over 30 years in the theatre nurturing, developing, producing and directing new work for the stage. She was Artistic Director of City Theatre in Pittsburgh for 16 years where she produced almost 200 new plays and musicals including world premieres by Keith Reddin, Chistopher Durang, Sharon Washington, Daniel Beaty, Jeffrey Hatcher, Michael Hollinger, Cori Thomas, Adam Rapp and many more.  You can visit her website at www.tracybrigden.com

Q: What are you currently working on? Tell us about it. 

I’m writing a fictional podcast called The Okachokee Sink.  It’s about a tiny, kooky town in the Florida Everglades with only 12 residents. When one of them goes missing, the other 11 become suspects. It’s sort of Sharp Objects  meets Twin Peaks. I hope to record it with my husband, Mike DelGaudio, who is a voice actor, and some pals this summer. I just have to figure out the ending! 

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project? 

I read an article a few years ago about a missing man in a tiny town in the Australian Outback. I filed it away in my “ideas” folder and came back to it recently. I transposed it from the Outback to Florida since recording an audio drama full of Australian accents might prove a bit challenging. And Florida has such great, crazy characters, including descendants of the “carny folks” from the Ringling Brothers days who used to winter in down there. I was interested in making a podcast even before the pandemic! I loved Homecoming and Limetown and wanted to do a serialized drama like that. 

Q: In this current time of unprecedented change and uncertainty, what do you believe your role is in this moment? 

I have been doing quite a lot of reading, reflecting, posting, protesting, donating and other actions towards a more equitable and just world. It’s just my small part, but I think we are all learning that we can feel proud of our work as artists telling stories with important messages of social justice, but it’s just not enough. We have to make change in every way we can – starting with ourselves. The more we can listen and learn and reflect and act personally, the better we will be at getting the important ideas of the moment out into the zeitgeist with our work. 

Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work? 

My late mother, Madeline Tracy Brigden, was an inspiration and a champion for me. She was the fiction editor at Mademoiselle magazine in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and published and worked with many incredible writers of all stripes and genres. She always told me “Do something with your life you would do anyway even if you weren’t being paid for it.” And she led by example as a woman who did not let her gender or having a family keep her from also having a wonderful career. 

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist? 

That spark that keeps showing up that says “That would make a great story!” or “Ooh, I can envision how that story could be told!” 

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about? 

I have a play that I wrote that I’m dying to get out into the world! It’s called Stage Struck and it’s about Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, who worked for the great actor-manager Henry Irving at the Lyceum Theatre in London during the time he was writing his famous novel. The play parallels that story with a downtown theatre troupe in 1980s New York putting on a production of Dracula. The two worlds collide in theatrical ways and reveal that a life in the theatre is both fraught and joyous in any century. 

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision? 

The triumphant opening night of the first production I directed at City Theatre as a newly appointed artistic director in 2001. 

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing? 

Directing a television show or a film that I wrote. 

Q: What has been your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision? 

I have been a theatre person my whole career, and starting down the path of a whole new field takes some doing! 

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self? 

Keep reading, watching, listening and supporting other people’s work. 

Put myself in challenging situations. Recently, I volunteered to be a writer for a local theatre company’s 24-hour play marathon. I stayed up all night on Friday and wrote a play that was performed on Zoom on Saturday night. It had a whole zombie subplot. If it hadn’t been 2 am I probably wouldn’t have been brave enough to write that! 

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be? 

Self-censorship. Feeling that since I haven’t been primarily a writer for my whole career, I’m not allowed or not as talented. 

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

Too hard! I went into the theatre because I love all the arts and theatre combines them all. But, I’ll say: a whole bunch of productions ranging from Dreamgirls to the production of Midsummer I saw at the Bridge Theatre in London last summer – enhanced by the fact that it was my kids’ first Shakespeare, and they laughed their asses off and loved it. I’m also a museum and art junkie and couldn’t begin to pick a favorite painting OR song OR novel OR movie – well maybe The Godfather.  I guess any piece of art that pulls you in and transports you to another place – even for a moment. 

Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead? 

Theatre people – really any artists – who aren’t actually making a financial living at their work but feel so passionately called to the art they must still pursue it every day for their whole lives.

And the Obamas. They were onstage for eight years with an audience of millions and they never missed a line or a cue or a step. They deserve a standing ovation forever. 

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be? 

Being a great friend, step-mom and wife. 

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be? 

Multi-faceted.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure? 

Wine at lunch. 

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say? 

Try to get some work or an observership in film or TV. 

Write. You’re allowed! 

Take more vacations.  

Q: Where would you most like to live? 

Greenwich Village in the 1960s.

Q: What is your idea of success? 

Work you are excited about and getting to be with the people you love. 

Q: What is your idea of happiness? 

A long dinner with friends after a spectacular play. 

Swimming in the ocean.

Wandering around a museum by myself, after a glass of wine at lunch, preferably in a foreign city.

Typing  “The End” as I finish a piece of writing.

Q: Final Thoughts?  

Vote in the fall like your life depends on it, ‘cause it does! 

 

Fast Forward Friday with Donna Kaz

For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed  New York based writer-director-choreographer-activist Donna Kaz. For the past 20 years she has led Guerrilla Girls on Tour with performances that address social issues and prove feminists are funny. Her new eBook, PUSH/PUSHBACK 9 Steps to make a Difference with Activism and Art (because the world’s gone bananas) can be found at ggontour.com and  donnakaz.com,

Q: What are you currently working on?  Tell us about it.

I am a multi-genre writer and I work in nonfiction, poetry, stage and screen. Currently, I’m working on a play set in New York City in 1981 at the beginning of the AIDS crisis.  It is based on my experiences of living through that era and losing so many friends to AIDS, specifically a very close collaborator who directed my first plays. The play is called The Docent, and had a first read with American Renaissance Theatre Company in NYC in February.

I am also still very involved in my work as a member of the activist theater group Guerrilla Girls On Tour.  Usually, at this time, we would be touring to colleges around the country with lectures, workshops and performances but since COVID-19 we have had to pivot to virtual workshops and artist talks. Our third Art of Activism Poster Making Workshop will be offered via Zoom on June 26.

Q: Who are your artistic heroes who have had an impact on you and your work?

My mom was very creative and had an amazing sense of humor. My dad made beautiful things out of wood and I spent a lot of time in his workshop.  I have also been inspired by the work of Yoko Ono, Gloria Steinem, and others who have made it possible for women in theater to have a voice on stage, like Deborah Randall of Venus Theatre and Lisa McNulty of the Women’s Project Theatre.

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?

Realizing that creating art takes many steps, some of them slower than others, and you often have to be patient to allow inspiration to enter.  I have found that making art is a process and that putting time into thinking about an idea is often just as important as executing that idea.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I would like to share some links to some organizations doing important work within the theater community right now like The Broadway Advocacy Coalition, using the arts for social change; Honor Roll, an advocacy group for women playwrights over 40; and Guerrilla Girls On Tour’s Blog featuring womxn artists called  On Being a Womxn Artist.

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision? 

Remember to celebrate your successes, even if they seem small. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Believe in yourself and your ability.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

This is such a great question, especially during this self-quarantine year. If I could, I would be in a crowded theater, either involved in a production or sitting in the audience watching some great new play or musical.

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

Living in a world which oppresses and marginalizes women is the biggest obstacle I can think of. Patriarchy has to go.

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

I read, write, listen to music, cook, and try to connect with nature whenever I can.

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

 I think of my past as something I have worked hard to accept so rather than letting it go I would like to answer this question in a different way. I could never really “let go” of the violence and abuse that is in my past – the trauma of surviving domestic violence and sexual assault.  For me it is more a question of how to accept what happened to me. In order to make peace with my past and move forward I first realized that it was impossible to change what happened. I came to accept the fact that I am who I am because of my past. The way forward for me was to acknowledge what I have gone through and that has made me stronger.

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

I am drawn to activist art and work that inspires change such as the artistic responses to the murder of George Floyd like LA artist Nikkolas Smith’s portrait of Floyd; and Houston street artists Donkeeboy and Donkeymom who painted a powerful mural in Houston’s Third Ward.

Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?

Michelle Obama. I’ve never met her but whenever I see her speak I feel like she’s talking to me.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

Helping to change the face of theater to include the work of more women and artists of color.

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

Feminist.

Q: Where would you most like to live?

Hawaii. It is a beautiful and magical place.

Q: What is your idea of success?

I wrote a lot about this in my memoir UN/MASKED, Memoirs of a Guerrilla Girl On Tour.  This is from the book: “Getting cast in a theater production or a movie or having my play produced does not make me an artist. Art is in me, lives in my soul, the vibration inside fights a way out to make stuff up. Nobody has to buy this stuff, this art, or look at it, or produce it. It is art because I am an artist and I made it up. If it is the truest stuff I can make, it is a success. Not to say that getting money for your art is not okay. It is. But it is no longer the criteria by which I identify myself as an artist. I am success. I am a success. My story is at the end of a pencil poised over an empty page. I picked the pencil up. And wrote.”

Q: Final Thoughts? 

Thank you for this opportunity to connect with other creative people. 

Fast Forward Friday with Rachel Feldman

For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed director-writer-filmmaker-producer Rachel Feldman. This past season she directed multiple episodes of Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, and The Rookie, As well as the pilot and full season of The BaxtersFeldman is the recipient of the Ravenal Grant and an Athena List winner for her feature screenplay Lilly, based on the life of fair pay activist Lilly Ledbetter. To learn more, visit her website.

Q: What are you currently working on?  Tell us about it.

I’m answering these questions in the time of the COVID-19 virus, hunkered down, “safer in place” in LA, wondering how and when our future will return to us.

I’m a mid-career director and screenwriter. I work as a director primarily in one-hour television dramas, and I write pilots and features in a variety of genre.

I work on many things at once, half-baked swirls of imagination juggling in front of me, so that I can grab at any one of them as desired. But the jewel in the crown of my slate is a feature film based on the life of fair pay activist, Lilly Ledbetter, the woman about whom President Obama named his first piece of legislation. I learned about Lilly’s story and optioned her rights, then wrote a screenplay that was an Athena List winner and the recipient of the NYWIFT Ravenal Grant for female filmmakers over 40. It’s been a seven-year journey so far and I’m not stopping until this film is complete. It’s a beautiful and important story and will make a deeply emotional and enlightening movie. 

When I first began shopping the project, the responses were similar, “We can’t make a film with a female protagonist. It’s impossible to make a feminist/political film. We might be interested if we could hire a male director.”  But I’ve stuck with this because Lilly’s story is so important. Her story is my story, and yours. It’s a film for this moment in time and for girls and women around the globe. #IAmALilly

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

Pushing back against the patriarchy is my motivation.  And making a great film. The injustice and inequity women face in every aspect of life must be shouted from the rooftops until things change. Certainly, in the past few years, post #TimesUp and #MeToo, certain aspects of our culture have become more enlightened, but Lilly’s story is the narrative of one woman who made a difference for others. Her life’s arc is brilliantly compelling. I’m a filmmaker because I know in my bones that the best way to make change is through compassion. I’m eager to share this woman’s remarkable journey through cinema, it’s rich dramatic fodder. Think about Norma Rae, Silkwood, Erin Brockovich, The Insider, or Spotlight – these were about important subjects but they were also brilliant movies.

Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?

There are so many. Anyone who has survived injustice moves me. The righteous struggle is a theme about which I’m continually interested. But at heart, I’m a romantic and the daughter of a movie lover whose taste influenced mine.  The golden age of Hollywood, grandiose movie musicals with high production value including sets, costumes, lighting, great acting —these are the elements that get me excited.

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?  

My imagination is always working on many stories simultaneously. I gestate these pods of character, plot, and theme often for long periods of time before they become realized on paper. I liken this process to playing with dolls, a preoccupation that was the genesis for my story making in a primitive form. After a while the plot will focus and I will be compelled to write things down either as an outline or sometimes a first act spills out of me fully formed, and then I stop and have to figure out the rest.  I have always felt that I had a weather vane to the zeitgeist, I feel the collective unconscious often before it comes into social clarity.  But I am also motivated by image. I draw, I shoot pictures, and sometimes the way something looks evokes feelings that will send me flying into a world fully formed with characters and plot.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I have 16 projects in my slate that I’ve built up during the past 20 years in several different genres. The industry at large is not a fan of writers who have different voices. The conventional wisdom is that you should focus on one kind of material and for the most part, I do love a twisted, psychological thriller. But I also write musicals, comedy, and romance.  I wrote a science fiction screenplay more than 30 years ago and just reverse engineered it as a YA novel. I’m looking for a publisher now.

But no matter the genre, girls and women are and have always been my protagonists and promoting a progressive world, filled with challenging convention is a constant.

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

That I’m often ahead of my time with regards to stories that interest me. It’s sometimes a decade or more until the industry begins to make shows from concepts similar to what I had tried to pitch when I was told that no one was interested. 

Also, my imagination is my dearest companion and I’ve been living with her for as long as I can remember. I’m a grounded person, a responsible mother and wife, but the images and ideas in my head are vibrant, palpable, and easy to access when I need them.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

I would be the CEO of a thriving production company with multiple productions going at once in features, television, and branded media. I’d be a media mogul supervising a network of storytelling and storytellers. My company name is Dollface Films. Why? I’m from NYC, doll! Dolls were my first actors. And for me, my love of movies and my love of humans is all about the face. Hello there. 

Q: What have been big your biggest obstacles in achieving your vision?

1-The conventional, copy-cat thinking of an industry/business that considers itself creative.

2-Dysfunction, patriarchal Hollywood.

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

I’m a very playful person and fortunately so are my husband and kids. I sing, dance, make-up voices and bad rhyming schemes, I draw and doodle. I take a long walk every day in a lovely park with large trees and open space. 

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

People pleasing. What a big fat waste of time.

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

I love a great, classic song. The melody, the lyric, the concision of thought and feeling in one lovely and clever bite. Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, The Gershwins, Rodgers and Hammerstein/Hart, you get the idea.

Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?

I’m not good at this kind of question.  My mother was a nut case, difficult and mentally unstable, but she brought me into this world and survived so many of her own demons. I don’t exactly admire her but I’m grateful to and for her. She was my first fan – and also my first troll.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

Being a filmmaker who makes beautiful films that move audiences in profound ways. 

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

Persistent.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

I don’t feel guilty about my pleasures.

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

Stop worrying about what you look like. Okay, you have big thighs and frizzy hair, just wait a few years,hose attributes will be trending!

Q: Where would you most like to live?

Living in a charming village in France by the sea is a nice fantasy.  But my imagination and my ability to sink into story has taken me far and wide.

Q: What is your idea of success?

Not worrying about money. Not having to wait for others to trigger my projects.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

Being with my husband and kids on a tropical isle with live music and fruit drinks. Or being on a smooth-sailing set, making movies and calling “Action!” 

Q: Final Thoughts?

Agents and managers. The gatekeepers of who gets in and who stays out of the creative wheel is a disastrous system. Celebrity is the single most valued commodity in Hollywood, not talent, not skill, not profound, original thinking. After that, sales agents and the perceived value of actors is the next poisonous system that prevents progressive voices and inclusive filmmakers from thriving. 

Fast Forward Friday with Tonya Pinkins

For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed the multi-talented, Tony Award winning actress-writer-director Tonya Pinkins.  She has been nominated for three Tony Awards, winning for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Jelly’s Last Jam, and has won the Obie, Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, AUDLECO, Garland, L.A. Drama Critics Circle, Clarence Derwent, and NAACP Theater Awards.  She is known for her portrayal of Livia Frye on the soap opera All My Children.  She is also the host of the Broadway Podcast Network’s You Can’t Say That! https://broadwaypodcastnetwork.com/podcast/you-cant-say-that/

Q: What are you currently working on?  Tell us about it.

I am working on expressing as much of the radiance of the divine as is destined for me this incarnation. Tangibly that looks like producing, writing, directing and acting in a socio-political horror film about the 2020 election starring Ruben Blades, Cathy Curthy, Kathy Erbe, Luba Mason, Colby Minifie and Jake O’Flaherty called Red Pill. I am also writing my next horror film Match.die, and then I am in edit on a series of 10 minute plays and songs that were produced at the Tank in 2019. They plays are about the ways women oppress one another and each play or song models a way to heal the wound. And then there is my novel The Angry Fat Black Woman Who Devoured The Earth and my travel memoir about walking the 100 mile west highland way in Scotland. It’s called A Woman’s Walk on the West Highland Way and it’s WILD meets 50 Shades of Grey.

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

I am always creating multiple projects simultaneously. It is what I was born to do. I have four children. Egon Weiner said, “The only appropriate response to abuse is creativity,” so the harder life has hit me, the more creative I have become.

Q: Who are your artistic heroes who have had an impact on you and your work?

My artistic heroes include George C Wolfe, Eve Ensler.  Larry Kramer, Jane Fonda, Ivan Van Hove, Sam Mendes, Colmon Domingo, and Lin Manuel Miranda.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I have a spider comedy/horror trilogy called Blaracknophia. Yeah, its about black people’s fear of spiders and people’s fear of black people.

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

I had a moment on the set of Red Pill where I realized that the thing I wanted most, which was to have a team, and the thing I have never wanted, which was to be a leader because I feared leading people astray, were inextricably intertwined. I have really successful colleagues but I had never been able to initiate a project with them. Yet here I was making a movie. I had a team and I was the leader. It was an epiphany. I had to trust that I would not lead them astray.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

I would move from creative expression to creative expression. Write a piece of non-fiction, then a fiction book, Then run off to do a concert, then direct a film, act in a mini-series, write a Broadway show, travel and give away a lot of the wealth I accumulated from the success of my creative endeavors.

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

I know the value of my art and in the time when I came up and the way I was brought up I was allowed to be as smart, talented and ambitious as my heart desired. I had to fit into other people’s ideas of what i was. It has taken me a lifetime to step into what is inside of me and risk expressing it without fear or shame.

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

I would let go of the fear that pride goeth before the fall and have allowed myself to know that I was good rather than having to be faux humble for fear of inviting God’s wrath.

I would also let go of my screen addiction, which has slowed down my progress. I waste so much time mindlessly swiping pages.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

I want to be know for defying every odd and becoming one the of the most successful creative artists in the history of creativity. And that isn’t on a fame scale. It is on an artistic expression scale.

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

Indomitable.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

I am a sugar addict. But food is my sex.

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

I would say: “Stop trying to do it the right way. Do it your way and it will be right for you, which is the best any of us can do.”

Q: Where would you most like to live?

I like mountains over the sea. So Bali or Mexico. But I have not traveled enough to say definitively.

Q: What is your idea of success?

There are many kinds of success.

I am successful at being authentic to my being.

I want to to be successful at magnetizing the resources to create any and everything I can imagine at the highest level possible.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

Happiness is wanting what you have and having what you want. Doing things because you want to, and not doing things because you don’t want to and requiring no more explanation than that. Having the resources to live, travel, meet, and experience everything your heart can imagine. Being able to share your wealth and help others.

Q: Final Thoughts?

I don’t know how much time I have left. I hope I bring into the world all the stories that fill my heart. I hope I have left the world a better place for having been here. I know I have been blessed. I hope I have been a blessing.