REINVENTION OF SELF

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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!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sucza6EOIf0&index=19&list=PLdkAF4ZsR07rVLSASZnUyWsCsp3my4W95

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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

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AN AFRICAN CITY- A must watch!

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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!

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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!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg7hUuWKe2U

-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

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THE RACE CONTROVERSY BEHIND BETTY BOOP

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:

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NOT

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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).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPUta9zOriM

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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

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A funk-tastic musical biopic & my love affair with Jill Scott

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Initially this was just meant to be a 2-6 liner Facebook post but alas my fingers doth persist.

I fell in love with Jill Scott and “the funk” after watching  Get on UP, Tate Taylor does a masterful job of directing the cast and I hope Chadwick Boseman is highly credited for his artistic and truthful performance in this chronicle journey of James Brownin next year’s Oscar nominations. This film is not just the kind of film that influences your current playlist but also the kind of movie that allows audiences to fall in love with an iconic figure. The audience gets to travel from his impoverished childhood to his evolution into  the God father of Soul.

Almost two years ago I ventured on my own journey to  New York  to start my acting career, more recently (a month ago) I moved to Harlem. My journey from Muscat to Malaysia to Manhattan’s Harlem is not a very short tale but,  my journey from my new apartment to Magic Johnson Harlem 9 Theatre can be summed up in a couple of words. It all brings me to my destination of the here and now.

The end of the film presents a picture of the Apollo in 2006, celebrating the legendary life of James Brown, I had just walked past that venue before arriving at the theatre and was watching the film a right round the corner from the Apollo, this not only gave me chills but also inspired my inner artist to embrace my surroundings. Which leads me to discuss the importance of artists  “closing the gap”. By this I mean, as an artist sometimes our career needs to be nurtured in certain environments that appreciate, support and value our craft. Having said that, I feel this film may not have been as powerful or potent had the backdrop of my life been different.

Bose Chadwick, who plays James Brown was accompanied by  by  Jill Scott, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis, Lennie James, Dan Aykroyd and Tika Sumpter. Although they all brilliantly contributed to the life of Get On Up, I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by DeeDee Jenkins, played by Jill Scott. I don’t think it was so much her role on screen, but rather her confidence in owning her character’s spirit that in turn allowed her own appeal to blossom. As women  continue to make an impression on the 21st century, I can’t help but notice that sometimes and in many cases we are still limited  and held captive in terms of our “standard of beauty”.

It’s not often that I get to see a curvy black woman embrace her sexuality on screen, and as I turn over a new leaf having recently turned 26, I’m learning to accept myself not only in terms of my body image but also in my professional life, watching Miss Scott that day, I felt, gave me the permission to embrace myself as a curvy black goddess (yess huni! I’m owning it)  performer and content creator – ever since I’ve been posting a number of (soul gratifying yet) unwarranted  posts of Jill Scott on my timeline to prove my absolute adoration of her.

#iloveyouJillScott

If Get on Up did not entirely capture the depth of Brown’s live performances, that’s because a typical Brown concert lasted longer than the actual film and left the audience drenched in sweat. I highly recommend the film and as I afore mentioned, I fell in love with the funk and the amazing Jill Scott . Who knows you just might fall in love with something that Get on Up has to offer ?

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March 2nd 2014. My phone swept across the across the room as I leaped for joy! I smiled. I cried. Tears swept my face as I witnessed Lupita Nyong’o accepting her Oscar. As an African Actress, I’m especially proud.

Her win and her onscreen presence has not only validated my dreams, it’s whispered into my soul that “It is possible for me”, I know this one of my more sentimental posts, but I just had to. As her media presence continues to span across the globe, I know that Lupita’s story, her truth and her presence is demonstrating to the world that the future of our career paths as black actresses doesn’t solely depend on the color of our skin, our careers can be what we make them.

Lupita said once said that when she saw Alek Wek she inadvertently saw a reflection of herself that was undeniably noteworthy and beautiful, and when I see Lupita, I inadvertently see myself shimmering under the same beam of capabilities and opportunity.

Whilst the media celebrates Lupita and heralds her “Hollywood’s next big thing”. I’m confident that the attention has allowed girls and women of color everywhere now have an improved sense of their own worth and beauty (both inherent and externally).
Lupita says it best, check out:

WE are beautiful and we are capable in any profession.

As a young black professional in the field of acting, it’s important for me to see myself in anounding shoes. Its hard to create a blue print to success, or even envision myself as a success without having a role model or image to aspire to. I thank Lupita and all the people behind her success that make it possible for me to add Lupita Nyongo to my list of professionals I aspire to. It encourages me to know that there are black female pioneers in the field of acting such as Lupita, that are yet to emerge.

Thanks in advance for paving the way!

I hope these videos provide that extra bit of zest required to keep on keeping on.

Congratulations Lupita!

Besides Lupita, who is the break through pioneer of your field that made you feel like anything was possible for you?

 

Getting started

Dear Black Actress,

One of the first things you will hear in your career is the stats… statistically about 5-20% of actors are working actors.The stats vary depending on who you are talking to, so basically your career is doomed to fail unless you are exceptionally lucky or blessed. Sucks! Maybe? But once you get started you’ll discover wether you love this craft or not, you’ll discover if your the exponentially blessed or not,  if not- don’t despair you might learn that you have a work ethic that defies logic. Your hard work and persistency may just be enough to withstand the dreaded “stats”.

Although you can skip this step all together, I highly recommend gImageoing to acting classes, not only with this help you hone your craft  but, it will bring you exposure. Not to mention, your resume will look a tad bit better.

The next step is getting off your ass an hitting the audition room lights-camera-action style. No, I joke about the lights camera action stuff but you wont be discovered by sitting on your behind. Get acquainted with internet sites that help you audition and provide you with casting calls. Actors Access and backstage are the top two I would recommend. Perhaps consider getting an agent.

If you are not taking classes or workshops, try invest in a coach, I know we don’t all have the money but, its your career and aren’t you worthy enough to go through some coaching to develop yourself as an actor expanding and identifying your strengths?

Another thing I’m going to have to tell you is you need to go where the work is- close the gap. That doesn’t always mean New York or Los Angeles (but these are definitely the top two places on the globe, just saying..) perhaps a city near you that specializes in the entertainment industry. Before I moved to New York I worked in Malaysia, and you would think, acting work in Malaysia for a black girl?? Nahh!! Oh yes! I was cast in commercials as an extra looking for a more “international” feel and at the peak of my acting career in Malaysia I got to play the lead in a tele-movie that was aired on national TV. Opportunities are out there.

You must be willing to put in the work to not only make it but to survive, I’m sorry honey, but if you thought this industry was easy- think emotionally and physically draining but extremely rewarding and fun (when you forget how exhausted you feel). But if your doing it right, you’ll strike a balance between mind-camera-body-lights-stage-soul and action! It will come to you, once you get the hang of it, and try to remember to embrace the challenge.

If you are not willing to fully commit yourself as an actress just log off, seriously stop reading this blog, unsubscribe and just walk away. I’ve met many actors who are not willing to commit to the craft and sometimes its sad, but not everyone who has a knack for acting is meant to be an actor… and actually scratch what I said earlier, come back, switch on your computer and keep subscribed because you can always act as a hobby too. And when I say commit I DO NOT mean put your life on hold to pursue your career, I just mean put your heart into it, ladies!

Heart in and Ego out. If you’re trippin’ over how you look, or trying to maintain a glamorous  image, then acting just might not be for you.When acting, be willing to let yourself be entirely consumed by the role you are playing. Be your character, and this is partly what I mean by commitment.

See you on set!

Love, Charlie Cakes.

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