Monday, September 28, 2009

auditions and callbacks and go-sees, oh my!

sorry i haven't written anything in a minute. things have been a bit hectic, in a good way.

i got a call on friday for a commercial audition on saturday, and then i got a call on sunday that i got a callback for this morning. so it's been a weekend of blowing my hair out, basically. that's the good news: i didn't wear a wig. i was totally naturally all afroed out -- and i got a callback. still shaking my head and going wow over that one. maybe things are changing.

as far as i can tell -- and yes, of course there are exceptions to this all the way across the board, but this seems to be the invisible rule that gets reinforced with most casting choices -- the black women that get cast in commercials are usually natural, with unprocessed "ethnic" hair and a minimal amount of makeup -- whether they lean toward that neutered mammy stereotype or not. they represent the wife, the young mom, even grandma: women of color who populate your everyday world. the black woman that gets cast in movies are usually the fantasy, so they've got the perms, the weaves, the make-up, they're usually a size 4/6 and all that rot. i know that when my agent leaves me a message that says, they want everyday people, that means a minimal amount of makeup and no wig -- or if it is a wig, it should look as natural as possible.

unbelievable, how little acting ability has to do with getting considered for something like this. you could get the once over and get typed out just like that, on looks alone. or height. or whatever else someone is seeing that they don't like. i think that getting callbacks is terrific. it means that i'm close.

bizarrely enough, the commercial -- a christmas spot for wal-mart -- shoots all day tomorrow. can you say fast turnaround?

in the meantime, i got called in to audition for another commercial tomorrow morning -- for applebees. thank God i'm losing weight -- can get back into my audition clothes. for this, i'm probably going to buy a bright red baby t on the way home, so i can look like i'm wide awake when i'm on camera tomorrow.

let the games begin.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

my box has red roses in it

shockingly, i have nothing to report.

oh, wait a minute. yes i do!

i haven't paid the mechanical license fee for the standards to harry fox agency, i haven't even thought about the artwork, i've got quite a few pounds to go before i'll feel ready to stand in front of any camera but thankfully i think i've found a publicist and a radio promoter.

i have a commercial audition tomorrow morning. it's a national commercial. and no, i'm not going to straighten my hair. i just don't fracking feel like it. why? because i'm tired. because i'm cranky. because i worked all day today and i'm going to work all day for the foreseeable future, and so when i get home, there's no time to play in my hair. there's time to eat dinner, inhale a klondike bar and hit the sack so i can do it again the next day. because aunt flo just fell off the roof. because i'm not in the fracking mood. yeah, so -- anybody and everybody that doesn't like the way my hair looks tomorrow can suck it.

i'm gigging my butt off, to pay for the jazz album's mastering session that must happen within the next two weeks, to stay on track for the release date in march - daddy's birthday.
there's that little show i'm doing at joe's pub for the aussie artist richard bell on 11/3
and duane park
and rodeo bar
maybe dutch kills
and that wedding reception at grand central station this weekend.

jc hopkins and i play the newly mixed unmastered jazz album for garry velletri at our publishing company bug music next week. i just love garry's ears. i think he's one of the only people that "gets" me and my sound and he always makes really great suggestions with whatever i throw up in the air, so this should be a fun meeting and very very interesting. i know he's more than curious about this little project and it seriously doesn't sound like anything that's out there. (thank Jesus.)

here's the kicker, for real: i've lost more weight. i mean, raggedy ann is sitting on the sofa right next to me reading this as i type, she knows i'm 15 pounds lighter in spite of the water weight gain. you know what? to hell with the water weight gain. (miss ann told me to say that.)

yes, that's right.

i'm in the red sea.
i'm dropping an egg.
i'm entertaining the general.
i've got red sails in the sunset.
i'm chasing the cotton mouse.
i'm riding the cotton pony.
i'm surfing the crimson tide.
my hammock is swinging.
i have a visitor from redbank.
the tide is high.
the infantry has landed.
my granny's here.
i'm percolating.
looks like a wet weekend.
no gym this week.
i'm off duty.
i'm indisposed.
i've been hit.
the cherry is in the sherry.
i'm observing the holy week.
my box has red roses in it.

there, i said it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


now that the jazz cd is almost finished, i'm already hard at work on the next album in my head. i honestly can't help myself. maybe that's why i'm usually steady at it, making lists and drawing things and jotting down ideas. there are about three different projects popping off in me all the time, at least. there's music, always music - and all the stuff that goes with it, like guitar/piano/theory/voice lessons. there's a really good book in me, somewhere.   i think i  started looking for it sometime last year.  and yep, i'm still working on the book and lyrics to the jazz burlesque musical that i mentioned awhile back. the treatment/synopsis is done and i'm just about finished with the polishing and the spit shining of the first act. yikes.  if i ever get any real money to produce the things i'm dreaming of, i'm going to be in big trouble.

for awhile, i thought about not doing a country record, and then one day i thought why not? and i seriously couldn't think of a good reason.  and then ideas came at me like schrapnel and everything started happening. and then i ran out of money.

maybe the black country record is a love letter to the south. i do so miss austin, texas. or at least the austin i knew when i was an undergrad there.  i miss breakfast tacos! and i miss charleston, sc too. but that's going to be a different country album. that one is brighter, it's country gospel, that one happens later.

i can hear the songs in their fullness - what they sound like all finished, who's playing on them, what i want my voice to do.  it's like my head is a radio and the sounds are happening all the time.  it's really fresh and uncomplicated. and thankfully, it's halfway there - the black country sessions. i suppose it's the kind of stuff you're most likely to hear on boot liquor radio. i'm still trying to find the right way to phrase the title but thankfully, the songs are wandering towards me slowly, slowly - belligerent, unrepentant, melancholic.  it hasn't been a struggle to remember how miserable i was when i was living through these lyrics - though now that i'm this happy and there's this much joy in my life, it honestly feels like it happened to someone else.

i"ve recorded half of it already. whenever the spirit moves me, i'm sifting through lyrics and melodies with my bare hands. every so often, i wallow in it, but since that's the kind of thing that's apt to make me weepy in all the wrong ways, i tend to avoid long jagged songwriting sessions with this stuff, especially when the place is quiet and i'm alone in bed.

mostly it's songs about me getting my heart ripped to shreds by what was ostensibly the very epitome of what could only be described as a really nice guy.  it's really super catchy happy sounding sing along stuff. i can't wait for you to hear it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Scholarships for College

Even if you do not have a college-aged child at home, please share this with someone who does, and to anyone and everyone that comes to mind. Though there are a number of companies and organizations that have donated money for scholarships to African Americans, a great deal of the money is being returned because of a lack of interest or awareness.

Take the initiative to get your children involved. Money shouldn't be returned to donating companies because we fail to apply for it. We must get the word out that money is available. If you are a college student or getting ready to become one, you probably already know how useful additional money can be.


2) Student Inventors Scholarships

3) Student Video Scholarships /vidcon2k.html

4) Coca-Cola Two Year College Scholarships

5) Holocaust Remembrance Scholarships

6) Ayn Rand Essay Scholarships

7) Brand Essay Competition

8) Gates Millennlum=2 0Scholarships (major)

9) Xerox Scholarships for Students

10) Sports Scholarships and Internships

11) National Assoc. of Black Journalists Scholarships (NABJ)

12) Saul T. Wilson Scholarships (Veterinary)

13) Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund

14) FinAid: The Smart Students Guide to Financial Aid scholarships)

15) Presidential Freedom Scholarships

16) Microsoft Scholarship Program

17) WiredScholar Free Scholarship

18) Hope Scholarships &Lifetime Credits

19) William Randolph Hearst Endowed Scholarship for Minority

20) Multiple List of Minority Scholarships

21) Guaranteed Scholarships

22) BOEING scholarships (some HBCU connects)

23) Easley National Scholarship Program

24) Maryland Artists Scholarships

26) Jacki Tuckfield Memorial Graduate Business Scholarship (for AA students in South
Florida )

27) Historically Black College & University Scholarships

28) Actuarial Scholarships for Minority Students

29) International Students Scholarships &Aid Help

30) College Board Scholarship Search

31) Burger King Scholarship=2 0Program

32) Siemens Westinghouse Competition http://www.siemens-foundationorg/

33) GE and LuLac Scholarship Funds

34) CollegeNet's Scholarship Database

35) Union Sponsored Scholarships and Aid http://www.aflcioorg/scholarships/scholar.htm

36) Federal Scholarships &Aid Gateways 25 Scholarship Gateways from Black Excel

37) Scholarship &Financial Aid Help

38) Scholarship Links (Ed Finance Group)

39) FAFSA On The Web (Your Key Aid Form &Info)

40) Aid &Resources For Re-Entry Students

41) Scholarships and Fellowships

42) Scholarships for Study in Paralegal Studies

43) HBCU Packard Sit Abroad Scholarships (for study around the world)

44) Scholarship and Fellowship Opportunities

45) INROADS internships

46) ACT-SO bEURo Olympics of the Mind Scholarships

47) Black Alliance for Educational Options Scholarships

48) ScienceNet Scholarship Listing

49) Graduate Fellowships For Minorities Nationwide


51) The Roothbert Scholarship Fund

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Don't Eat The Yellow Snow

more old kudzu from a few years ago that i'm rethinking/reconfiguring. enjoy.

Just when I thought we were in the clear, I woke up to a near blizzard a few days ago. It was the worst storm the city had ever seen since white folks started keeping records of such things. I stared out my kitchen window, transfixed. Even though I was watching it happen, it was still hard to believe. Fluffy stuff was billowing through the air in millions of tiny delicate specks that eventually landed gently somewhere below me, with no end in sight. The day before, it was a filthy cityscape. Now everything was covered with sugar. It was ethereal. The white sheen of the snow against the pale sky made it all gleam and resonate with a purity that was supposed to be everything that the city was not. And yet, somehow whenever it snowed hard enough to bury everything in a blinding whiteness, I felt that I had discovered the essence of this place.

I had to go outside to be a part of it.

Of course, it's always a bad idea to go outside and play in the snow when you're unemployed because you could catch a horrible cold or the flu or something that's just as insidious. I have health coverage, though, so I didn't care. Still, being sick can be pricey. I decided to walk up the block to Broadway to see what was going on and then come straight back to my place. It was only a block but it was a long walk because no one had shoveled the sidewalks. I had to struggle past snowdrifts that were once parked cars and bags of garbage. When I got there I couldn't believe what I saw: nothing. I mean, nothing. There was no action anywhere. No traffic. No crackheads wandering around, like lost children. Not one bodega doing business. Even the mailman didn't make his rounds--and according to his company's little slogan, that's not an option. It wasn’t even that cold.

You know what made it really bizarre? It was deathly quiet.

I stood out there for awhile, all by myself, taking it all in. I knew it wouldn't last. In a few days, there would be an unholy stench from the curb because of the garbage. The fluffiness in the street that resembled huge mounds of marshmallow crème would turn into brown slush because of the cars and the exhaust and the foot traffic. There would be patches of yellow snow everywhere. And then everything would look filthier than it did before the blizzard. But for the moment everything is pure and clean and bright and real. For the moment I imagine that this is what it feels like to be trapped inside an Elsworth Kelly. For the moment all the flowing bits slow down around me, like a Peckinpaw killing spree. For the moment, I'm not in New York City. I’m not anywhere at all.

Thursday, September 03, 2009're not going to believe this one, but...

i got it.

i auditioned for a soap opera - on camera work right here in new york city - and i got it. it's a small role, and i'm over the moon. i'm not playing a crackhead or a drug addict or a single mom or a neutered mammy or any other modern day black female stereotype of any kind that you could possibly think of. ooh, and here's the kicker: i didn't straighten my hair or wear a wig at the audition. (ha!)

needless to say, i'll be using this money to pay for the recording sessions that are happening later this month.

on camera work. a nice payday. and later, residuals. ah, yes. this is how it gets done when you bankroll your projects yourself, kids. and if you work it in a particular way, this is how you make it happen.

i shoot early next week. and yep, i'll take lots of pictures.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

My Right Guard Rite of Passage

This is a little something that resurfaced from my old "Kudzu" blog, and that I'm rethinking for later publication. Enjoy!


When I was little, I knew that I wanted to be just like the men in my life: strong, independent, fearless. It was as though I was surrounded by the kind of potentates who knew to expect certain things from the world because of their gender. I didn't know exactly what those things were, but I expected them, too. I watched my brothers mature, carrying the aura of this masculine influence like an invisible cloak, and I awaited my turn eagerly in spite of the way that I was treated: they wouldn't take me hunting or fishing; I wasn't included on car repair forums or home improvement expeditions to buy things like dry wall; I wasn't allowed to fistfight in the backyard like they did. I had baby-faced cousins in their late teens so I knew that it would be years before I would be able to shave. Deodorant, it seemed, would have to be the great equalizer. Secretly, Right Guard would be my rite of passage.

I was too young to know what Right Guard was used for, but evidently it was an important manly tool like lots of other things that I saw in the bathroom: Magic Shaving Cream, the powder that my father mixed with water like an alchemist; Dax hair pomade, so different from the Sulfur 8 on the female side of the cabinet; and of course Hai Karate. (What single swinging guy in the 70's could leave the house without putting on some of that stuff?) To me, Right Guard was different. It was something that real men used religiously because it was the only thing that could quell the kind of bodily stench that emanates from the arrogance and surety of sheer masculinity.

The enormous bronze aluminum can with its authoritative black lettering proved itself to be a feast for my kiddy senses. It always felt like a cylindrical brick in my arms when I'd attempt to examine it. You'd have to be a real man just to pick this up, I must've thought. Audibly, it was constantly doing things to let you know that it was there. It sounded like a gigantic can of Redi-Whip whenever anyone used it, hissing its way onto each hairy armpit like some newfangled call of the wild. The smell was overwhelmingly musky - a cologne, aftershave and deodorant in one - and it lingered in the air like smog, creating a white puff when it was emitted, leaving a chalky residue on skin and clothes. A little gift and a happy reminder to let you know that Right Guard was on guard, and in control.

And then there were the other noises it would make, from the loud pop that happened when the oversized cap was removed to the thunk of its weight as it was placed on the bathroom counter. Solid. Durable. Practical. Even the name inferred a special brand of reliability and strength reserved for the strong willed iconoclast that was prepared to machete their way through the wilderness of life, whether it was a day of fly fishing or a corporate take-over. A world away from the flowery-scented pastel-labeled and curiously silent roll-on my mother used. The marketing pundits didn't have to tell me twice. I could walk into our bathroom, observe this ritualistic display of personal hygiene and know that I was a real man.

Then puberty struck.

Somewhere in the flow of blood, somewhere on my flat chest, somewhere in my inability to be what everyone seemed to think of feminine or even pretty, somewhere in my refusal to define my self-worth solely by my looks, somewhere in the lack of attraction the opposite sex had for me, somewhere in the midst of all of that I knew that although I was turning into a woman, on the inside I would always be a man. I would be smart and strong and independent, and I would never apologize for it.

I don't use Right Guard, by the way. It's an icon of my 70's childhood, like the navy blue maxi-coat I outgrew when I was eight. But that big brass can is a powerful symbol for me of all those who, without realizing it, taught me how to be a man on my own terms when I was a little girl.