Category Archives: Reviews

An Intimate Discussion with Tamala Baldwin of Curvy Girl’s Rock: The Series

As a writer, I am tasked with articulating the human experience. My characters must resonate with readers by being relatable, honest, and sometimes, outlandish. In 3D, relating to each other can be a bit more precarious.  It is easier to trust the person on the page than the one sitting next to you on the subway. Then, there are people whose radiating presence penetrates the hardened façade of strangers making them feel at ease. Tamala Baldwin is such a light.

Tamala is a renaissance woman for the millennial generation. TV Host, Speaker, Producer, Author, and Businesswoman top the list of her amazing talents. This year, she had added actress to that impressive list. Tamala is staring in the Curvy Girls Rock: The Series, fulfilling a dream which fear had held her back from for many years.

Three years ago, Tamala interviewed me to discuss my debut novel, “Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story”. Who knew three years later, I would be blessed with the opportunity to return the favor. I

  1. What is your gift? Describe your journey identifying, owning, and sharing that gift?

For the longest time, I believed my gift was that of performing.  Though I absolutely LOVE to perform, I learned that my true gift is so much deeper than that. The reason I believe I was born was to share the gift of human sunshine. Sunshine can change anything, transform anything, re-make anything, and cause anything to become as beautiful as nature intended. In this lifetime, I have been able to experience an enchanting union with the radiance of my own soul and I feel positively free, as if nothing could ever stop me because of this sunshine.  My gift is to share these sunbeams to everyone I meet and one of the ways I feel drawn to do that the most, is through storytelling.  We are so blessed to be alive.  We are so fortunate to have the luxury of time to evolve into greater expressions of ourselves through the experience of life. Capturing the human experience in order to help others tap into deeper awareness of their own sunshine . . .  that is my gift.

Coming to this state of awareness has been extremely difficult.  As someone that is so open to the light, navigating the shadow or darkness was definitely part of my journey.  As a child, God shielded me from internalizing what I saw, but that shifted in my 20’s.  It was as if my Creator opened the gates of heaven and I experienced the harshness of life for the first time. It was as if I left home and wandered in the wilderness.  Of course, in my infancy, I thought this was a punishment, because I TRULY never experienced REAL sadness even though I grew up in the hood and saw a lot of things during the 80’s. Yet, I realize that the wilderness is not a punishment.  It is an invitation to become aware or conscious of your divinity, who you are and the paradise that you come from.

This awareness of GOD being closer than breathing is forever expanding, so even though I have this amazing love buzz in the center of my heart, every day I am being purged and cleansed of fear, guilt, doubt… of anything that gets in the way of experiencing more TRUTH.  For example, it was only after the passing of my mother did I realize there was a part of me that was afraid and was still hiding.  We all hide and it is only until we REALIZE and see it for ourselves can we step from behind it and into the light.

  1. What is fear to you? Describe an instance when you have had to overcome fear.

My fear was that I was not the ideal weight to act. The goal of the media is to tell us what to think and somewhere along the line, I told myself that I was too fat (I am a size 12 and sometimes a 10) to pursue acting.  Yet, after experiencing the loss of my mother, it allowed me to release that.  Losing the person that loves me the most in life freed me from the lie that I was telling myself, which at the root, was that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough and so forth.

Let me tell you, releasing that untruth has been so freaking liberating! It was like a weight, I didn’t even know I was carrying, was lifted.

Fear is anything that keeps you from experiencing the Truth.  Fear is a weight that can paralyze you from fulfilling your purpose.  Fear is a deceiver and a lie.  Fear is something that keeps you hostage and dims your light.  Fear is that bad friend that holds you back from doing what God has called you to do and will use any means necessary to manipulate you. The only way I know how to handle fear, is to seek refuge with God, my Creator and the Lover of my Soul.  I don’t address fear.  I don’t ask fear to flee.  I ask God. The reason I was able to release the fear about being too big to pursue acting was because I prayed to God day and night for clarity on my purpose.  After losing my mommy, I was so confused about what I was meant to do with my time here.  Should I go back to working a 9 to 5?  Should I stop performing and teach?  I had no idea what to do especially since I am a caregiver for a mentally ill sibling.  Since I knew I was coming from a place of fear, I asked God, who is my Ultimate Protector, Lover and Best Friend. When I say who God is to me, I mean it with all of my heart.  We go together and so when I go to “him” it is one of the most intimate part of my day.  God loves us so much that there is no need to look at the fear.  Casting our gaze upon LOVE is all we need.

  1. What do you want viewers to take away from Curvy Girls Rock: The Series?

Curvy Girls Rock is the second series I booked since I became awake to this fear that had taken up residence in my mind.  The other series I am also working on is, “Asunder”, which can be found on Amazon Prime in 2018. When I booked,  “Curvy Girls Rock: The Series”, all I could do was smile at the synchronicity since this series stars women that are curvy in size. All I could do was smile at God at this opportunity that was a direct reflection of the fear I had just released.  All of us are born with purpose and to add sunshine.  No matter what is happening around us, what has happened to us, where we went to school, or what we look like – we are here and charged with purpose.  “Curvy Girls Rock”, was a wink from God affirming that truth and we must never believe the lies we tell ourselves.  Rather, to trust the greatness, the love, the sunshine that dwells within us.

Being the light may sound a little cliché but every platitude starts as a commonly accepted truth. Humans radiate light and absorb it.  We need it to live, grow, and thrive. Light requires a fuel source. We call that source God.  When we connect with God intimately, his light flows through us. Thank you Tamala for allowing the light of God to shine through you to us.

You can follow Curvy Girls Rock: The series by subscribing to its Youtube channel of following its Facebook page.

What’s Good On Netflix – Middle of Nowhere – A Film by Ava Duvernay

I am a lover of words – spoken or written verse. All forms tell a story. The art of storytelling is our heritage. In times past, that is how history was transferred from generation to generation. The word becomes immortal.

Middle of Nowhere, a film by Ava Duvernay (of Selma fame), tells the story of Ruby who struggles to hold on to the love she has for her husband Derek who has been sentenced to eight years in prison. Ruby drops out of medical school to passionately stand and fight for her man who seems more resigned to his fate.

Duvernay uses well-crafted dialogue and imagery to tell a beautiful story of love and self-discovery from a black woman’s perspective. The added nuance of Ruby struggling to wrap her hair in a scarf, becoming frustrated with the act, and then tossing it to the side in silent acquiescence – is a black woman’s act. Only a black woman who has performed this hair ritual would have added it to this scene. Its addition lends credence to the character and story.

Four Things I Love:

  1. Honesty – The honest portrayal of the affects the incarceration of black men have on the women left behind. Ruby, her sister Rosie and her mother Ruth are all single women struggling to connect with each other while coping with the harsh reality of the absence of men in each’s lives. This film illustrates the truth of how complicated and powerful the force of love is. It can make you willfully blind and selfless. If that same love is turn inward, it can make you brave.
  2. The cinematography – It is the shot of Ruby’s left hand on a bed after a night with her lover that allows Duvernay to show the story and not tell it. There are multiple scenes where the directing and camera fill in the gap when the words are absent.
  3. David Oyelowo – (also of Selma fame) is wonderful to watch. I kept looking for his British accent to slip through, lol. I think it is his gaze. It commands attention. I was left wanting to see what he would say and do next.
  4. Omari Hardwick – (we are not worthy!) is so flipping gorgeous. He has that, ‘hood dude you cannot help but love even though your momma says he is no good,’ steeze on lock. There is a scene in which he almost cries that had me yelling at the screen, “I’ll wait eight years, baby!” ROTFL. Good looks aside, the brother can emote. Some handsome actors just stand there and flex. I give props to the guy for having genuine skillz.

I look forward to sharing with you other stories from African American women. I promise not to reveal too much, after all, I want you to see the films and support our sisters.

Please check out the Sundance Award winning fill Middle of Nowhere now streaming on Netflix.

Middle of Nowhere – A Film by Ava Duvernay

Allow me to introduce myself, to paraphrase Jay-Z, my name is Felicia Malone. Like Jay, I am a lover of words – spoken or written verse. All forms tell a story. The art of storytelling is our heritage. In times past, that is how history was transferred from generation to generation. The word become immortal.

Middle of Nowhere, a filmby Ava Duvernay (of Selma fame), tells the story of Ruby who struggles to hold on to the love she has for her husband Derek who has been sentenced to eight years in prison. Ruby drops out of medical school to passionately stand and fight for her man who seems more resigned to his fate.

Duvernay uses well-crafted dialogue and imagery to tell a beautiful story of love and self-discovery from a black woman’s perspective. I love the added nuance of Ruby struggling to wrap her hair in a scarf, becoming frustrated with the act, and then tossing it to the side in silent acquiescence. Only a black woman who has performed this hair ritual would have added it to this scene. Its addition lends credence to the character and story.

4 Things Love:

  1. Honesty – The honest portrayal of the affects the incarceration of black men have on the women left behind. Ruby, her sister Rosie and her mother Ruth are all single women struggling to connect with each other while coping with the harsh reality of the absence of men in each’s lives. This film illustrates the truth of how complicated and powerful the force of love is. It can make you willfully blind and selfless. If that same love is turn inward, it can make you brave.
  2. The cinematography – It is the shot of Ruby’s left hand on a bed after a night with her lover that allows Duvernay to show the story and not tell it. There are multiple scenes where the directing and camera fill in the gap when the words are absent.
  3. David Oyelowo – (also of Selma fame) is wonderful to watch. I kept looking for his British accent to slip through, lol. I think it is his gaze. It commands attention. I was left wanting to see what he would say and do next.
  4. Omari Hardwick – (we are not worthy!) is so flipping gorgeous. He has that, ‘hood dude you cannot help but love even though your momma says he is no good,’ steeze on lock. There is a scene in which he almost cries that had me yelling at the screen, “I’ll wait eight years, baby!” ROTFL. Good looks aside, the brother can emote. Some handsome actors just stand there and flex. I give props to the guy for having genuine skillz.

This is my first review. I look forward to sharing with you other stories from African American women. I promise not to reveal too much, after all, I want you to see the films and support our sisters.

Please check out the Sundance Award winning fill Middle of Nowhere now streaming on Netflix. 

I Saw 42 and Loved It.

I must preface this post by disclosing that I am not a huge sports fan so I am definitely not a fan of sports movies. The last movie I saw about sports was Any Given Sunday. I may have fallen asleep in the theatre.

Not this time.

I had the privilege of attending a private screening of 42 this week at the Studio Movie Grill in Dallas. I literally sat with my head in my hands like a kid totally engrossed in this film. The acting is top notch. I and one of the girls with my group kept getting excited when we would recognize an actor. Such is the acting that the actor is eclipsed by the character's presence. It was not until I was home did I google this and realize it is indeed Harrison Ford – nearly recognizable – as GM Branch Rickey.

42

I have a new crush – Chadwick Boseman. He gave Jackie Robinson heart. His character is human and fallible with natural talent and determination. Cliches aside, this is an inspirational movie. I literally want every young man in this country to see this film and become inspired to do more – do better.

42 is a bit sanitized, no doubt to attain the PG-13 rating but there is one intense scene that pretty much sums up the relentless racist abuse Jackie Robinson endured and his humanity – as well as heroism – in opposition to it.

This movie has got everything love/hate, villain/hero, and of course, baseball. I have a new appreciation of the sport. The audience actually applauded at the end. The last time I saw that happen, I was watching The Princess and the Frog with a nearly all-white audience. Mostly children. If we could all see with the eyes of children.

 

Blues for Mr. Charlie – James Baldwin

I was going to go see Think Like A Man when I decided to do something a little more intellectually stimulating. I perused my email for event alerts and check out Art and Seek and find that SMU is performing a James Baldwin play. I recalled reading the play in college so I thought this may be interesting and it is only $13.00.

I was simply blown away. The caliber of production and acting was far above what I have seen in college productions. There were a couple of weak cast members but overall quite professional.

Above the production quality the story drama was shockingly relevant today. Let me backtrack a bit. Blues for Mr Charlie is about the killing of a young, cocky black man who comes back to the south after being "ruined" up North by a white man. The dialogue and character development are so layered. Baldwin gets into the psyche of his characters and the story develops into something more complex than the black versus the white side of things. A picture of Trayvon Martin hauntingly swung from a tree wrapped in newspaper headlines.

I cannot tell you how Think Like A Man ends. I have heard a thing or too about Michael Ealy and a seen with Taraji Henson and chocolate. lol I can tell you that I made the right entertainment choice and left the theater feeling a little more enlightened than when I came.

In and Out Burger – Don’t Believe the Hype?

Just spent like 25 plus minutes in a complicated drive thru waiting on my In and Out Burger experience. I am not one for hype but those endless lines jamming up traffic would indicate that this burger is the closest to heaven a mouth can get, right?

WRONG!

The bun was too chewy. The burger meat was like an old-fashioned burger. That part wasn't bad. The onion was a slice of a raw yellow one not red like most onions on burgers. There was something akin to Big Mac sauce slathered on that aforementioned chewy bun.

No bueno.

I feel as if In and Out owes me gas money for sitting in that line for that incredibly mediocre meal.

Perhaps my expectations were too high. Closest to heaven a mouth can get? Sheesh.

I will thank In and Out Burger for pushing me closer to the meatless Daniel Fast. So, um, thanks for that.

Have you been to Cali, had an In and Out Burger?

What did you experience? I was underwhelmed.

😦

I Finally Saw Takers. Thank God for the Dollar Show – A Review

Ahh so much eye candy, so little text. Where does a girl start?

Michael Ealy. This man deserves to be a leading man in more than Oprah's made-for-tv movie of the week. He severely underused in this heist film.

Speaking of the film (this a review right?) this is your by-the-numbers heist film. I had to mentally divorce myself from the illogical premise of the movie. No group of thieves that sophisticated would have ever taken the job. Everyone agrees to do one last job, though its risky, and it falls apart at the end. Yada, yada, yogi and a picanic basket.

Back to Ealy. This man made me officially jealous of Beyonce when I saw he was her love interest in her Halo video.

Idris Elba – Lordy lordy. A black man with a british accent. Puffy Daddy thought he should play bond. Uhm-no sir and thanks Diddy, sir. Idris Elba is so cool. Even though he played Beyonce's husband in Obsessed. Why does Beyonce get all of the sexy menses? Oh , wait, never mind. lol

Chris Brown – Sorry young ladies. I cannot get past his teeth and neither can his words. Enunciate, my brother, enunciate.

Paul Walker – I love me some Paul Walker. Um, yes, just kinda do. Very leading man.

So has anyone else seen this film? What is your take?

P.S. T.I. is in jail.

 

Just Wright Is Such A Good Movie – A Review

How often is the full-figured beauty the romantic lead? How often does she get the handsome guy? Never!!

Come on, you know how it goes. The exponentially shallow, unlikable BUT pretty and skinny lead falls for guy, some misunderstanding happens and later on they work it out and fall in love. Where is the more intelligent, fun, sophisticated and wise full-figured friend? On the sidelines, cheering her skinny friend on. Oh, and if the big girl gets some love, it's with Mr. Boogie Wolf or Sir Snaggle Tooth himself.

Not in Just Wright.

Common2

Common is the man. I mean his deliver of his lines is so smooth. It reminded me of Denzel Washington's portrayal of Bleek Gilliam in Mo' Better Blues. And no, I am not exaggerating. I think it's the MC in him.  If a single movie can transform a man into Denzel Washington material, Just Wright just did it.

I never thought of Common as a sex symbol. I think it was the hazy glow created by all of his high yellowness. lol. I know that's wrong but Morris Chestnut and all of his chocolatey greatness makes it hard for men of Common's hue to get their respective sexy on but by Jove, I've think he's got it!

Latifah

Queen Latifah is a star – pure and simple. She radiates on screen. She has a quiet confidence that announces, yes, the Queen has arrived, whenever the camera is on her.

For example, she shares the screen with the incredibly beautiful Paula Patton. When they are in the same screen shot, Queen Latifah garners your attention. I don't know how she does it but I want to learn.

I won't ruin the ending for you but let's just say the audience applauded!! (This was in the multi-cultural bougie part of town, too!! lol)

Just Wright

Go see it and leave a comment!

P.S. There are a lot of great cameos, including my latest obsession, Laz Alonso.

Thanks!

John Legend – Everybody Knows

I was never a big fan of John Legend's music, although I am a fan of his voice. I think it has something to do with the fact that he says a lot of "oh's" in his songs. LOL. Am I petty? Yes, maybe, but he does. LOL

I heard this song online and I fell in love with it. This song made me give Mr. Legend a second listen. He really does make really good music. Oh's, oh and oh's aside.