Dear Black Actress,

Let’s face it, this industry is densely populated and we are going to encounter personalities we like and don’t like so much and we are going to be expected to be professional about it. In this industry you have to learn to become your own emotional support, while you may have friends and family who support you, you will still need to to cultivate a sense of self-reliance in this business.

One of the most poignant lessons I reencountered early last year, while performing an off broadway production is that I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ENERGY I BRING, whether it’s on stage, on set, in an office or any mundane or fabulous thing my life choses to manifest- I am responsible.

Think about it this way from the stage to the audition room to the set to the pavement in the street there is no place or time where you are not responsible for your actions right? We each have a sense of control over what our body does and says, I believe it’s the same with our energy since we produce it.

Early last year while I was performing in a play on opening night I was frantic, I wasn’t as calm as I should have been. On stage I was well versed and dignified in my delivery but back stage I was a hot mess, just trying to make it through the play. Amidst all my anxiety I had a moment to observe a cast member, she was calm collected and paying attention  with a sense of preparedness… the complete opposite of me, she was in that moment the ying to my yang.


I watched her calmly powder her nose and then proceed to help another cast member zip up the back  of her dress with a certain sense of haste but presentness that was almost palpable and lacking in me from where I stood. In that brief moment of observation and amidst the anxiety and worry that I was feeling, I got to experience IT. I got to stand in a space between my anxiety and the next scene. I got to experience being present!

It’s funny, I usually experience being in the moment on stage but that night it happened backstage and I felt almost as if watching someone else being present penetrated my state of being and allowed me to be present too. In that moment of observing and being present, time slowed down and I had no thoughts about my cue or the line I could have delivered better, I stepped out of my “should have” and “hopes” … and then it hit me. Me! I’m responsible. I’m responsible for my energy and my state and in turn it affects my world and the people in it.

In that brief instant I  had such a profound sense of understanding about the responsibility I have over the energy I bring to the world, my world – which includes my work. I understood that I contributed to the atmosphere around me and what I was contributing at the time was anxiety. It dawned on me that I could have been the cast member helping zip up the other cast member’s dress. I could have made a better contribution.

As soon as I realized what energy I could have been providing,I went back into my state of anxiety. It was too late for me to talk myself into a positive and present state of being but I learned the lesson that day which was the truth, for it is my belief that the truth is one of the only constants we have in life because the truth sneaks into every crevice of life wether we chose to recognize it or not, and the truth is: I’m responsible for the energy I put out into my world.

My energy is intangible, a director can call me out on messing up my lines and correct me because we can read and hear the words, but it is difficult to call me out on my energy which is invisible and inaudible. I know that I can not show you my energy but I can let you feel it I you are willing.

I also know that I produce energy so as I grow in ways that are intangible my hope is that my awareness  and resposibility of the energy I contribute develops too.

I’ll see you in the wings.

Lots of LOVE,

Charlie Cakes

#@thecharliecakes #awareness #presentenergy #iamresponsiblefortheenergy #iamresponsiblefortheenergyibringintothisspace #offbroadway #blackactress #charliecackes #charliecakesblackactress #responsibility #awareness #authenticity #supersoulsunday #universalenergy #backstage #goodreadsBeFunky_comedy-tragedy-theatre.jpg

Charlie Cakes

#@thecharliecakes #awareness #presentenergy #iamresponsiblefortheenergy #iamresponsiblefortheenergyibringintothisspace #offbroadway #blackactress #charliecackes #charliecakesblackactress #responsibility #awareness #authenticity #supersoulsunday #universalenergy #backstage #goodreads




Dear Black Actress,

One of the acting principles that I’m sure you are familiar with is that “YOU ARE ENOUGH”. I’ve had the privilege of being taught by some amazing people in the industry who constantly reinforce this message. And as we know the career path we have chosen includes a fair amount of rejection and obstacles. Sometimes instead of acknowledging the rejection we internalize the experience and label ourselves “REJECT”.

The pursuit isn’t easy, not mention the moments when you feel the opposite of what you’ve been taught and start to question if you are enough and the voices in your head start saying “You are NOT that great, you need to be more…”, “your audition was sh** today”, there are other actors who are far more talented than you”, “you really f***ed up on set just now”,“YOURE NOT ENOUGH!”

I don’t mean to go against or contradict  the teachings of “You are enough” because… You ARE enough, but sometimes there are moments when I believe the lies in my head and need access to a higher power, to believe in something outside myself. Call it  Universe, Source, God, Love –   what have you, all I know is I need something outside myself to both keep me grounded and to continue to elevate me, to honor me and to humble me, to keep me from fear and to keep me curious enough to live lovingly both in my career and social life.

Wether you identify with being a spiritual or religious person, I’m sure you can identify with the “maybe I’m not enough” moments in life, so as a spiritual woman of faith and fellow Black Actress I’ve gathered a few videos that I hope will restore, refresh and inspire your faith in yourself.

“A lonely day is God’s way of saying that he wants to spend some quality time with you.” ~Criss Jami

“Now the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” ~Romans 15:13

Stay blessed!

Lots of love,

Charlie Cakes

#faithinhollywood #devonfranklin #charlicakes #blackactress #tanzanianactress #actingforchrist #godinhollywood #keepingyourfaithatwork #blackactressupdate #andrealewis #jadapinkettsmith #octaviaspencer #octaviaspenceroprahinterview #letgoandletgod #actressspirit #faith #sucess #God #devonfranklin

#allthingsthroughjesus #allthingsthroughchrist #crissjami #biblequote #restore #christopherjamesgilbert #diotimabatteryelectricpersonality #venusinarms



Dear Black Actress,

If your week was anything like mine you are probably looking for some great wind-down entertainment or maybe some time to  self-reflect. Seeing as how this webseries that I’m about to introduce you to is very popular you might have already come across it, but if you want both entertainment and self reflection packaged into one look no further than “Black Actress” the web series, featuring  and written by Andrea Lewis.

Black Actress is a mockumentary style series that follows the struggles and pursuits of a young black actress in Hollywood. The series is packed with minor and major “I- so- know-how-you-feel” moments that make you feel like your not alone. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL (but I suppose technically the struggle is real?! meh?… I know I’m not making sense right now, I need some down time.)

Although the narrative is quite engaging and as afore mentioned coloured with real life Black Actress experiences, my FAVOURITE thing about this series is the forewords that come at the beginning of every webisode.

This one is for you Black Actress- Be encouraged!

SPOILER ALERT !!My favorite foreword is by Jenifer Lewis Episode 7 (Just watch until 0.55)

I’ll see you on set!

Lots of love,

Charlie Cakes

#Andrealewis #Jeniferlewis #blackactressupdate #blackactress #blackgirl #acting #africanamericanactress #famousactress #charliecakes #tanzanianactress #charlottemakala #issarae #blackhollywood #africanactress #entertainmentindustryA.Lewis-BlackActress2 Andrea-Lewis-41



Dear Black Actress,

By reading the title of this post you already know what I’m going to write you about

The “casting couch” basically refers to the shady and unethical practice of trading sexual favors for professional advancement.

But first let’s get one thing straight- the casting couch is prevalent in ALL industries.

I often like to say “People are people”, by this I mean no matter what profession, gender or creed a person may be there’s good and bad amongst us all.

In our industry the unethical practice of trading sexual favors for professional advancement, happens to have a title “the casting couch”. It is my belief that as a woman unwanted solicitations for sex or sexual favors are something that we’ve encountered at least once before, however it is also my firm belief that there are more people in this industry that are legitimately interested in creating genuine art and content for audiences rather than those who are looking to take advantage.

Years ago I found myself in a situation on set where I was getting unwanted attention from a very important crew member.He was just touching me more than I felt necessary, and I wanted to dismiss it as part of his “eccentric character” but, I was young and was more afraid to offend anyone than to state that I was feeling uncomfortable. I hadn’t found my voice yet. Luckily someone else on set noticed and talked to me about it. Eventually word got out about how I felt about this crew member’s conduct and the producers who were off- location that day came on to the set and had a talk with me. I’m still not  sure how word got out, but I’m glad it did. I continued to work with this individual until the end of production and they ended up apologizing for their behavior. Writing this now I just wish that I could have spoken up for myself and just said “I’m not comfortable with this” or “You are making me uncomfortable” or maybe even “I know you probably don’t mean anything by it but when you do that, it makes me feel uncomfortable”… I could word it any number of ways now but I wish I had just said something then.

More recently I found myself on a set that I found to be very unprofessional in terms of how the crew were treating the cast, it was a music video. I despised how one of the crew members made sexually explicit comments and sexist remarks. Needless to say I was pissed the f*** off! I’m more pissed off at myself for not saying anything to him while I heard him talk about the girls in front of and too me. (Yes, he thought it appropriate to tell me his thoughts)

I found myself amongst a group of girls bitching about him later that day. None of us spoke up to him.

Even though these two narratives do not specifically explore the casting couch, I do touch on unwanted sexual exploitation that can exists within the industry. I believe that nothing is worth feeling uncomfortable or taken advantage of and as I continue  to navigate my pursuit of success in my career path and work towards establishing  my voice, here is a woman who has found hers and is willing to share her story:

What I take away from this post is to trust my gut and to trust in my ability to turn down a job despite my fears in

order to preserve my self worth. The casting couch doesn’t need to be a part of my success.  As I mentioned

before the number of professionals willing to provide quality entertainment greatly outnumber those who are

willing to take advantage and conduct themselves in a less than professional manner.

Black Actress, if you have ever found yourself in a compromising position, I just want you to know you are not alone.

Lots of love,

Charlie Cakes.

#thandienewton #castingcouch #charliecakes #blackactresscastingcouch #sexualexploitationinhollywood

#thandienewtoncastingcoiuch #hollywoodexploits #sexualharassmentatwork



A NO BULLSH*T APPROACH – ACTING: A pimp n’ ho game

Dear Black Actress,

Like a lot of structures that run the course of time, systems can become outdated, for example, the things we learn in the field that we don’t necessarily learn in acting class, like how to wear something you can unzip or unbutton so you don’t ruin your hair and make up on set! (I learned this the hard way).

Acting school also doesn’t teach you how to asses your self worth while you make decisions that affect both your social and career life. I’m not criticizing the arts educational system but, just pointing out that real life exposure is key to wisdom.

And wisdom is in fact different from knowledge. What’s that old quote? “Knowledge is learned, but wisdom is lived”.

Since I haven’t lived it all, I’ll introduce you to someone who has lived in the industry for a relatively long time, a man who will not sugar coat what to expect but will keep it real. A man who will straight up say things like “Hollywood is a pimp and ho game

And thus,  I shall, via the internet, impart his wisdom unto you.

Black Actress, I present Director and Actor- Bill Duke.

Hope you enjoyed the update.

I got to make my call time!

Lots of love,

Charlie Cakes

#billduke #charliecakes #acting #actingformula #actresscharliecakes #realtalkacting #hollywood #actingwisdom #blackactress #blackactressupdate #charlottemakala #hollywoodisapimp #hollywoodisapimpnhogameBeFunky_bill-duke-01.jpg




Dear Black Actress,

It’s not uncommon to think that the role of diversity in television and film are lacking.  In this case I’m referring to the stereotypical roles often played by black actresses, I find myself questioning if I’m “black” enough, clearly my race is not aesthetically ambiguous, but I question wether I embody the “right” traits that qualify me as fit to be an “on screen black character”.

As you might know already, I’m not American and the American influence I did have growing up was very much limited to the amount of  TV time I got and a summer I spent in North Carolina. Naturally I wonder how I come-off on screen and on stage and if I pass as American enough and secondly if I pass as an African American (specifically African American).

Pre-audition I catch myself thinking things like “well I guess I have to be sassier, they are looking for a black woman after all”, “I gotta use more slang, slur a couple of words on the script and heighten my emotional reactions..”. Essentially, I come up with a “PLAN” on how to prove and establish my “African Americanness”. I get myself all pumped up- in full swing  African-American-mode, then I hear the echo of my mentors and acting coaches (in the same head that counseled and commended my efforts to be “blacker” a minute ago!) instructing me to “honor, respect and protect my acting ability by allowing for the best audition that was possible for myself, respecting self and the art form and to remember to be authentic.” In this case authenticity means dropping the accent (especially seeing as in most cases no accent is required).

Have I booked jobs sans urban accent – yes, I have. So I probably shouldn’t worry about sounding and appearing more black, but I do and to my surprise I’m not the only one!! I know I shouldn’t be thrilled at the expense of other actors’ insecurities, but I am. Well, just to clarify I would describe it as more of a consoled feeling (yes it soothes me to know that in a casting room I’m not the only person thinking- do I sound black enough?! stop judging).

 Keke-Palmer-Broadway-Costumes-5 keke-palmer-yellow-dress


Since the beginning of my career I’ve heard other African American actresses comment on how they need to “black it up” or “tone down their ghetto” and yes as thespians we should tweak ourselves now and then for the sake of a performance, but what does it mean when we as Black Actresses see our own portrayal as one dimensional instead of a full ,multidimensional spectrum of blackness?


To me it means we continue to forge forwards, there are not sufficient diversities of Black Actresses being portrayed. Some of our notions or concepts of “blackness” may be self imposed via media portrayals, however I hope we all come to recognize that there is no one way of being black. I’m by no means a political person, but I’ll quote Obama on this one and refer to a statement he gave to CNN where he described his wife and blackness.

“If you look at Michelle, she grew up South Side. And her mom still lives in a neighborhood where gunshots go off, and it can be rough where Michelle grew up. But she’ll talk proper when she needs to. Now, you also don’t want to get on her wrong side, because she can translate that into a different vernacular. But my point is, is that you don’t have to act a certain way to be authentic.” said Barack Obama.

Even though I feel we are underrepresented, I just want to acknowledge the progress that has been made so far with TV shows such as: Sleepy Hallow(which features Nicole Baherie as the female lead), Scandal (Featuring Kerry Washington), Blackish (featuring Tracee Ellis Ross amongst others) and How to getaway with murder featuring Viola Davis. In theater we see Keke palmer sharing the stage with Sherri Shepard playing the first ever black Cinderella on broadway. So yes, we are making strides, but I’m still not convinced that we are as equally represented.

Since I tend to approach things with a sense of humour, I wanted to share a video in relation to this post.  I’m sure we can all relate?

See you on the red carpet!

Lots of love,

Charlie Cakes.BeFunky_18766_10256ohgijf7369774709_3580127_n.jpg



Dear Black Actress,

I’m hoping you are in the mood for a chuckle today, I STRONGLY suggest you watch this web-series, I am about to introduce you to.

DISCLAIMER!!- I recommend you do not watch this series in a public place or while ingesting anything,  because the kind of insanity and ridiculousness that ensues will have you in shambles.

Think, 22 Jumpstreet meets broad city.

Starring Nicole Byer and Sasheer Zamata who play aloof, brazen yet adorable best friends who pursue sexiness and easy money. These are hugely enjoyable 6 short episodes, between 1-5 minutes long, that refuse to take seriousness seriously, which let’s face it, is exactly what we need as our Black Actress spirit shifts into high gear!

Please welcome onto your screens Nicky and Sheer!


See you on set Black Actress!!

Lots and lots of love,

Charlie Cakes.

#pursuitofsexiness #Nicolebyer #sasheerzamata #ucbcomedy #pursuitofsexinessreview #blackcomedienne #blackactress #blackactressupdate #charliecakes #charliecakesactress #charliecackeswriter #funnywebisode #22jumpstreet #broadcity #blackbroadcity #dearblackactress  #review




Dear Black Actress,

While it may be easy to be disillusioned since the steps to our career sometimes seem to waver, my hope today is to reignite the spark of creativity that flows deep within you.

I hope this post reminds you of the array of characters that exists within you.

To help me demonstrate, is this delectable video of Tony Award-winning monologist, UNICEF ambassador, firebrand and FCC-fighting poet — Sarah Jones. Through character transformation, development and playing with eccentricities Sara has created unique yet simultaneously global characters that represent humanity.

I’m delighted to present this video that brilliantly demonstrates what the combination of creativity, comedy,character, charisma and colour can achieve.

So without further adieu- be tickled, be captivated, be reignited!

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I got to make it to my call time.

See you on set!

Lots of love,

Charlie Cakes.

#black actress #comedy #character #sarajones #tonyawardwinnersarajones #poet #charliecakes #reinventionofselfthroughcharacter #charliecakesactress #charliecakeswriter #blackactress #tedtalk #funnytedtalk #TED #delightfulpresentation #forblackactresses #onstage #possibilities


AN AFRICAN CITY- A must watch!


Dear black actress,

I wanted to introduce you to a web series I find quite captivating and engaging entitled An African City, it features 5 African Actresses who, like me stem from a third generation culture ( third generation culture is in reference to children who were raised in a culture  outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their development years – so basically, if you were an “expat” growing up).

I’m not so sure how I stumbled across the series but I’m thrilled I did, its not a new series in fact, An African city has gained world wide media attention from BBC to CNN. An African City reflects the promise and rise of  entrepreneurship and content creation that exists through out Africa, the series also goes to prove that through this generation’s social media outlets jobs can be created, not to mention  that black acting opportunities can be afforded in the “Motherland”- there is hope yet for third culture African actresses!


Its been described a sex in the city dramedy, set in Accra- Ghana. It’s shot well in a sort of cinema verite style and captivates the color and essence of sub saharan Africa.The series features a cocktail of looks that represent African couture. A multifaceted melange of African print that just might inspire a whole pintrest page. It may not be for everyone but some of the looks put together have inspired my own mental lookbook for an African summer vacca. The colourful fashion coupled with the beats of African Azonto definitely left me in a state of nostalgia homesick over my native country Tanzania.

An African City touches on social issues that exist in Africa  but mainly focuses on the lives of these 5 African single upper class women in their late 20s to early 30’s. The actresses performances are believable in terms of their choices and commitment. On an off note I have to mention that I’m loving how African and black beauty is portrayed in the variation of skin tones and hair styles. I would have liked to see more curvy women too, and although there has been some critique surrounding the narrative and message that this series sends out, the purpose of this post  is not an assessment but an introduction.

I’ve left you a little link to get you started on your scintillating journey to Accra, pack light and enjoy your screen time vacca!

-I’m calling it a night.  I have to make my call time!

See you on set!

Lots of love,

Charlie Cakes.

#Anafricancity #Azonto #Ghana #Africancouture #Leila Djansi #nanamensah #maameyaaboafa #esosaE #mariehumbert #maameadjei #nicoleamarteifio #dicksondzakpasu #charliecakes #tanzanianactress #charlottemakala #tanzanianactresscharliecakes #charliecakesyoutube #charliecakeswriter #charliecakespersonality



Dear Black Actress,

I published a post on my Facebook several weeks ago about this but thought it just might need to be included on to my blog not because I’ve run out of topics but because I just wanted to remind myself and you, my beloved Black actresses that you are and can be an inspiration, simply by being you.

I should also mention that the post that I had initially posted may have been mislabeled.

(The woman pictured in the original Betty Boop post is not Esther Jones or Helen Kane. That picture is actually part of a photo series with Russian model Olya posing as Betty Boop)

This is a picture of the REAL Esther Jones:




Inspiration can be derived from anywhere;  light, dark and all the shades in between in this case Betty Boop may have very well been inspired by the late 1920’s African American  songstress Esther Jones.  Esther Jones’ stage name was “Baby Esther” and she was commonly known for signing in a baby style voice that often in included a “Boop pop a doop” stylistic element which was said to be her trademark.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding the origins of Betty Boop that led to legal proceedings. There was an ongoing 2 year trial between Fleischer Cartoons and Helen Kane another singer who replicated without permission the ‘baby’ singing Style of Miss Jones for  a recording of “I Wanna Be Loved By You.” Ms. Jones’ singing style went on to become the inspiration for Max Fleischer  cartoon character’s voice and singing style of BETTY BOOP.

Helen Kane had sued Fleischer Cartoons for $250,000 for using and exploiting her image. When Max Fleischer had brought up that he had seen Esther Jones performance and three weeks after he had seen Helen Kane’s performance the claim fell apart and the court ruled that Helen Kane wasn’t the creator of the routine.

Here is an old Betty Boop cartoon (start at 4.30) that I dug up for you that portrays Betty Boop in her first cartoon appearances. You might notice her to be a bit more pigmented than her white counter parts (or not).

hqdefault (1)BETTY BAMBOO

It’s still not proven what race Betty Boop actually was, but let’s just keep in mind that inspiration comes in all shades.

Hope you enjoyed today’s post!

It’s time for my curtain call.

Lot’s of love,

Charlie Cakes.

#bettyboopscsandal #bettybooprace #charlicakes #blackactresscharliecakes #actresscharliecakes #charliecakesyoutube #charliecakestanzanianactress