Magic Mike vs. Magic Mike XXL

via starcasm.net

Well well well, here you are trying to get the tea on recently released, Magic Mike XXL. Is it better than the debut film? Where is “The Kid” and Matthew McConaughey? Is there more or less dancing and how does Jada Pinkett Smith play into all of this? Well I’ve got all the answers below.

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That Time My Film Screened in NYC at a Premiere Hosted by Issa Rae

As a 17-year-old high school student, I never thought that anything I wrote would go “big time”—at least not for a few more years. From a young age, my parents and teachers always told me that I could achieve anything I wanted to if I put my mind to it. But who knew an idea that I had about a story would blossom into what I called “Veracity” and have an amazing organization like Scenarios USA believe in it enough to bring it to life.?

The awe that I felt when “Veracity” was chosen as the Chicago winner of the REAL DEAL about Place and Power contest (and that I still feel now) was at an all-time high at the Scenarios World Premiere and Celebration last week at the Angelika Film Center in New York City.

Initially, I was very excited for the attendees to see my film and I was even more excited to see the two other Scenarios films written by Skyler Edge and Lani Pringle. But as more guests arrived, my nerves began to build. Many of these nerves grew from my admiration of Issa Rae, who hosted the evening, and Franchesca Ramsey and Michaela Angela Davis, who were there as Scenarios Influencers.

Issa Rae with winning writersIssa Rae with winning writers (l-r) Skyler Edge, Janaya Greene, Lani Pringle

Out of all of the shows that I watch on Youtube, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” is my all time favorite. I never thought of myself as acutely “different” from my peers until my sophomore year in high school when a guy in my class pointed out how “weird” I was for freely wearing an afro and dressing in clothes that weren’t “in” or even mildly considered as designer.

Though I did not let that remark define me, it was one of the first times that I truly realized that I didn’t fit in with one crowd, and I embraced it. This was not always easy, as it always feels harder to stay true to yourself than to follow the crowd to gain more popularity points. This is why Issa Rae’s “Awkward Black Girl” was so pivotal to my understanding of being who you are because, well, being yourself is the most essential way of happiness.

Michaela Angela Davis has been a tireless advocate for more representation of young women of color in the media, which is everything that I hope to accomplish in my career.

With all of this in mind, knowing that I would meet Issa Rae soon made me excited and all the more nervous. But when I met Issa, all my nerves withered away as she was very down to earth and maybe even as nervous as me to present for Scenarios. Meeting Franchesca Ramsey and Michaela Angela Davis were also very significant moments for me. I’ve watched Franchesca Ramsey’s Youtube videos on activism and allyship countless times. Michaela Angela Davis has been a tireless advocate for more representation of young women of color in the media, which is everything that I hope to accomplish in my career. Meeting these three exquisite women meant a great deal to me, and it meant even more that for the first time something I accomplished could influence them as their work has always influenced me as an African American woman.

Michaela Angela Davis, Janaya, and Franchesca RamseyJanaya Greene with Scenarios Influencers Michaela Angela Davis (l) and Franchesca Ramsey (r)

My remaining nervousness came from being unsure of how the attendees would receive “Veracity” — Scenarios USA, director Seith Mann, and myself worked very hard on making the film as outstanding as possible.  But when my lead character Olivia appeared on the screen, my worries transformed to enthusiasm and it was as if I was viewing “Veracity” for the first time all over again.

To hear that something I wrote brought people to tears, reminded others of what high school was like for them, and made even more people empathetic to those around them, touched me in a way that I will never fully be able to explain.

The most gratifying part of the entire Premiere and World Celebration was the feedback that I received. To hear that something I wrote brought people to tears, reminded others of what high school was like for them, and made even more people empathetic to those around them, touched me in a way that I will never fully be able to explain. I am eternally grateful to Scenarios USA for making “Veracity” possible. I now know that anything really is possible as long as you believe in what you’re working towards, and have a remarkable group of people backing you up.

This piece was originally posted on scenariosusa.org.

Veracity

Saying these past two weeks have been the most hectic weeks of my life, would be an understatement. But despite the busyness, it has been wonderful. This past weekend Veracity, a short story that I wrote, was filmed and directed by Seith Mann (The Wire, Grey’s Anatomy, Walking Dead) and boy was the experience amazing.

When I wrote Veracity my senior year of high school, I did not expect it to be turned into a short film. When my film study teacher, Mr. Hazzard, introduced my class and I to Scenarios USA Real Deal Competition I did not doubt my writing skills, but I certainly did not foresee the winner of the writing competition being me.

Naturally, I give 110% to nearly everything I do. So when I decided upon a topic for my story, I dug deep into things in my surroundings that bothered me. Like the conventional use of offensive slang towards the LGBTQ community, and the ongoing and (in my opinion) pointless debates about if people being gay is “right” or “wrong”. The way I saw it (and still see it), how other people live their lives has absolutely nothing to do with me and I’m not above anyone to tell them who to love. So I saw fit to write about a girl named Olivia, an African-American girl, who is outed by her peers and deals with many harsh reactions from friends and disapproving family members.

Today, I am proud to say that Veracity will premiere in New York City this May, as well as on Showtime in the summer. I just want to give a special thanks to everyone that believed in Veracity, through the many drafts and changes, and helped bring it to life. Without you, I wouldn’t be the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life.

Special Thank Yous:

Scenarios USA

Producer- Rob York

Director- Seith Mann

Director of Photography- Tommy Maddox-Upshaw

The Entire Film Crew

Actresses and Actors

(Kiki Layne, Shea Glover, Christina Harper, Denzel Irby, Dominica Strong, Aubrey Marquez, Tai Davis, and all of the wonderful extras!)

Chicago Youth Media Corps

Affinity95

Center on Halsted

Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health

Free Spirit Media

I don’t have all of your names, but I promise I’d type them all if I could. I’m eternally grateful for your time, hardwork, and patience!

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