Since we are now in year fifty-thousand of quarantine, I wanted to address issues many of us have been facing while living with this pandemic. For me, anxiety, depression, fear, have been reoccurring themes. Whether you have been dealing with feelings of depression, anxiety, stress, or fear, know that we will get through this together.
March 2020 and beyond has been rough for all of us. We are losing jobs, loved ones, financial security, facing food insecurities and death on a massive scale. It is scary as hell. Black Lives Matter and racial injustice movements not only in policing, but also our workplaces are at the forefront as well. Reckoning on a major scale is taking place. Caught on video acting racist and ignorant = lose your job, unless you’re a cop.
Constantly being bombarded with videos of racism, including Black/Brown people being beaten, shot etc. is psychologically damaging to watch as a Black person. These videos are visceral and can bring upon a depression so heavy that you have to claw your way out of it. Losing your job can feel devastating. The fear that accompanies it marries with anxiety and can push you over your emotional edge. The stress of quarantine, COVID, and just trying to buy groceries, is an emotional nosedive many of us are collectively experiencing.
Cassia Jones is a writer and actor originally from Los Angeles, California. She began writing as a child and fell in love with acting while watching reruns of: I Love Lucy, The Carol Burnett Show, The Golden Girls, and In Living Color. Comedy soon became her niche, and making her mother laugh became the goal! She has written the nominated webseries, To Live & Date in LA, short film, In This House, and is currently shopping two screenplays and television series. Cassia can be seen in a variety of commercials, independent films, and self produced projects including To Live & Date in LA on youtube, and In This House.
Katie Lee grew up on the go as the child of a military family, but now considers LA to be her home. She has had a love for acting and performing since she was 12 years old and trained formally at the University of Florida where she received her BFA in Theatre Performance. Katie can be seen in a variety of film projects and commercial ads, most recently featured in R&B vocalist, Kehlani’s newest music video “Good Thing”. She is, “So grateful to Cassia for seeing her as Gracie Lynn and for the chance to work with the rest of the talented cast!”
Born and raised in North Carolina, Tiera Dashae moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to pursue a career in acting. Since then she has held supporting roles in independent films and theater. She recently wrote, produced, and played a lead role in The Undergrads web series. Earlier this year she reprised her role of Connie in the MyBigGayItalianWedding stage play. Currently, you can see her play the heartwarming & enduring mother in the short film In This House.
Jason Mimms is from the South Side of Chicago and the creator/star of JU-jU, a new comedy digital series. He is best known for his film and television roles in Laff Tracks, Boy Bye, Her Only Choice, and Hell Date. Jason is also recognized by his most recent theatrical performances with The Robey Theatre Company including, Knock Me A Kiss and The Magnificent Dunbar Hotel.
Cydney Ayrion Gooch was born in Los Angeles, CA. She is a vibrant spirit who has immersed herself in the arts since the age of five. She is best known for her role as Jessica Harris in Hollywood Horrors: The Family Secret. Cydney is a natural performer whose left her mark on the stage, as well as in front of the camera. She has set many goals, and like always is accomplishing them one roll at a time. Cydney has a passion for performing arts, dance and music. In her free time she enjoys traveling, swimming and going to local animal shelters. Her ultimate goal is to perform on Broadway and leave a legacy young girls will want to follow.
Sophia Robertson is a young LA actress, model and musician. She attends the Margie Haber Studio, and enjoys creating all mediums of art, including drawing, writing stories, composing music and her own fashion designs. Sophia also plays violin and piano. She enjoys swimming, and learning Chinese and German.
Jennifer moved out to LA six years ago from Chicago, IL. After a 20 year hair styling career, she is now a Stay at Home Mom while running her own Essential Oils business. She has no acting experience whatsoever and is grateful that she had the opportunity to participate in this film.
Women are apologizers; we apologize all day for being who we are. Most of us don’t even realize when we’re doing it, and we need to stop. The USA Women’s Soccer Team recently came under attack for celebrating their wins and abilities in a way that male athletes do all the time. These women are the best soccer players in the world, and were admonished by talk show hosts, “fans” and the like for relishing in their accomplishments. They didn’t apologize for celebrating themselves, and neither should you. Girl, stop apologizing.
Issa Rae (creator of the viral webseries Awkward Black Girl, subsequent book and hit HBO show Insecure) won the Emerging Entrepreneur Award at the Women in Film 2019 Annual Gala. During her acceptance she gave one of the most hilarious and self-love filled speeches that also wet viral. At this point Issa should just change her last name to Viral, because everything she does goes platinum…no diamond!
While giving her speech Issa stated, “Sometimes I feel as women we tend to downplay ourselves and dim our light, and we’re kinda conditioned socially to be humble. I’m a huge hip-hop fan and none of the artists I listen to are humble.” Of course there is much more to the speech, and I highly suggest you watch it on YouTube because its pure comedy, but the opening lines are what really stand out.
‘She’s Gotta Have It’ was absolutely stunning. I had no idea who Nola Darling was or what I was seeing, but I just knew that it was dope. No, it was more than that, it was beauty transcended past the norms. Each black and white shot was perfectly constructed into this myriad of colors and textures unseen, and I needed to see more. This film originally came into existence in 1986 I was just six years old, so I clearly had some growing up to do before I could take in its audacity, but once I did…my outlook completely changed.
Nola Darling, the films lead, had this big bed with candles lining the headboard dripping down onto its wood frame, creating the effect of luminescent wonder. When does she burn these candles? Only when she’s alone, or only when she is not? Could I do that to my bed? Would my mom be okay with that? “Like, seriously mom, come on, its just a visual representation of my angst…let me do it!” That’s what I would have said, had I ever worked up the courage to ask if I could have a mountain of seductiveness arched atop my beds headboard.
I wanted to be her; she was a juxtaposition of every emotion and desire I needed to express, but couldn’t. I watched the film over and over again until I reached an age where I can fully absorb her feminism. Nola had an around not give a shit what anyone else thinks attitude, I was dying to posses. Nola was a black woman not being portrayed as a crack addict, prostitute, the sassy best friend, or the babysitter. This film starred other black people, but above all Nola was the star, sex symbol, and independent woman all the men around her wanted. This was an anomaly and I was, and still am here for all of it.
Maintaining friendships as an adult has proven to be difficult for me. Mentally cataloging the varied people who have moved in and out of my life during my adulthood is exhausting. At times I struggle to wrap my head around why someone is no longer in my life. I also find myself simultaneously grateful certain people have exited my life. The older I get, the more I realize just how complicated adult friendships can be. So, why are adult friendships so hard?
There have been a myriad of friends who are no longer present in my life. From the girlfriends I partied with, the friends I picked up after a big break-up, and people resurrected from my high school days. Not one single individual from those groups are currently apart of my life, and I don’t miss them…at all.
In elementary school I had one friend, Summer. We spent our weekends together, and would talk on the phone all night after school. As kids, our friendship revolved around each other and was distraction free. Admittedly, New Kids on the Block were a huge second in our lives, but we put our friendship first. In adulthood, those days no longer exist.
Lately, I have been struggling with major feelings of inadequacy. While I always try to remain positive in this space, I wouldn’t be keeping it real if I didn’t put this struggle out there. Have you ever felt like no matter what you do its not enough? That everyone in life is headed into the right direction, but you are veering far from center? Maybe you are experiencing an emotional lack, or grappling with what move to make next in your life.
The onslaught of the feelings of inadequacy washed over me last year and I have yet to fully shake its effects on me. As a thirty something single woman struggling to make it as a writer and actor in a business saturated with…well…writers and actors, for months now I have felt behind on everything. As if my life is not progressing at the speed in which it should. My best friend owns a home, has a life partner, two kids and a dog. My long time male friend is married with a child and just moved into a home. I feel like everyone is moving forward and I am just barely treading water.
I moved back home to help my dad when he fell ill after my mom died, and I feel like he is progressing more than me in life! He has a girlfriend and I promise you also has a more active social life than I do! What the hell am I doing wrong, I constantly ask of myself. At times, I think my effort is pointless. Feeling as though I am screaming into a void, and no one will ever notice.
Here’s what we are not going to do in the New Year: allow toxic people to reside in the mental, physical and emotional sacred spaces of our lives. We are letting them all go. Yes, all of them. They are not going to change, we cannot fix them-nor is it our duty to-and they do not deserve to hold a place in psyche any longer.
Letting go of toxic people can be extremely easy or incredibly hard. I find there are the two extremes and really not much wiggle room in-between them. I am the former. Excluding toxic people from my narrative has become so damn easy the older, wiser, and more impatient to bullshit I become.
This year I dealt with extreme narcissism, sexism, and backstabbing. It was incredible! In this particular situation, I worked with these people and had stay in it until my committed time came to an end. After I separated myself I then became the subject of their attacks. It fazed me for a minute then I realized just how sad, insecure, and hateful they have to feel about themselves and their lives to behave so toxic.
Los Angeles, California is an oasis. From our beaches, to downtown, the snowy mountaintops, and everything in-between we pretty much have it made here. At least that’s how it seems to so many on the outside looking in. As a Los Angeles native I’ve become somewhat of a unicorn around these here parts. Every new person I meet has relocated here chasing the all to familiar dream: FAME. As an actor and writer I understand the desire and incredible pull that Los Angeles has. I mean we are home to Hollywood, Sony, Warner Brothers, and countless other studios. All of the best agents are here from WME to CCA and literally thousands of others.
Los Angeles is shiny, glittery and sparkles at night. The Hollywood sign sits on a mountainside you can see from pretty much every popular hiking trail. It’s elusive, inviting and has an incredible backstory that fills you with hope that maybe one day, no someday you will tell your own unbelievable backstory about how you, “made it.” Driving down the palm tree lined streets of Beverly Hills, Hollywood and the like, you often see the TMZ bus shuttling along tourists with their cell phones and cameras in hand. I swear you can literally see the stars in their eyes. They are so hopeful.
They don’t see the drug addicted and homeless lining downtowns Skid Row, no, they see all of the Instagram worthy pics from their favorite youtube sensation in real life, and think that polished exterior is what LA has to offer. The tour bus doesn’t show them the all of the homeless Angelenos that sleep on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, and the other hopefuls who perform there day and night with a bucket out for tips. They also don’t see the overworked, underpaid, and mostly immigrant nannies who walk around Beverly Hills with little white kids in tow. That’s the thing about LA…its the most beautiful illusion you’ll ever experience. Continue reading →
Emotional Baggage: we all have it and some of us struggle with how to deal with it. When we enter into relationships we want to be able to unpack it all, dump it in our partners lap, and have them find the proverbial matching socks. Emotional fortitude does not come easily and depending on the environment we are raised in, is something many of us may learn as adults, which makes it even harder.
Last week I was in a room with a man and a woman who got into a heated discussion about dating, relationships, and emotional baggage. I sat listening to these two very emotional beings spar with each other. She, defending her beliefs and he determined to prove his exactitude. He used every tactic to sway her, from quoting the Bible to playing upon her emotions as she became more and more defensive. His take, ‘a woman should be a man’s solace. When he comes home from battling the day, he doesn’t want to come home and battle you too.’ Her take, ‘a woman should not be expected to just take/deal with all of your bullshit.’ Continue reading →
After five years of working for my former employer, I finally quit my job. It’s been a while now, and the changes to my mental and emotional health have been remarkable. I wanted to quit my job for years, but didn’t out of crippling fear. Quitting would mean I’d no longer have health benefits, my paycheck, be able to pay rent, car note, cell phone etc. Leaving jobs in the past did not hold the same amount of fear for me as this one did. For some reason I felt as though I would not be okay if I did. The anxiety kept me up at night, distracted me from my daily activities and stressed me to the brink. Fear set up shop, took over, and kept me down…for a while.
We put a lot of stock in our jobs. They mean everything to us and we will sacrifice family time, sick days, vacation hours, and our physical health just to get the job done. How many times have you headed into work sick, missed a familial moment, hospital visit, gone in limping from an injury, or not taken a vacation in years, because of your job?
On top of our mental and emotional health, there’s another important aspect of our lives we will also put on the back burner for our nine-to-five: our dreams. Don’t ever feel as though working a nine-to-five job is a negative because it is not. We have bills that must get paid, kids that need to be fed, and dreams we have to build, which require the money from said nine-to-five to become our reality. When that nine-to-five becomes a mental and emotional crippler, then we have a major problem. And for me it became a serious issue. So severe that I found myself breaking down into tears during the entire hour long drive to work and home almost daily. Something had to change, but yet, I still hadn’t found the strength to leave. Continue reading →
Driving home from Las Vegas one weekend, my mom and dad argued almost the entire time. They weren’t yelling but I knew they were angry. The signs were obvious, as I had learned to recognize them early in my young life. I remember my mom telling my dad to pull the car over immediately. He did. Suddenly, my mom steps out and the money she was holding in her hands went flying everywhere as she threw it in the desert wind. Dad adjusting his cigarette in his mouth before opening the door to finish the argument, and of course, pick up the money.
Arguing was a regular form of communication in my household growing up. My siblings and I were not shunned from the goings on between our parents. There was no taking it to another room, or waiting until the kids were asleep to purge themselves of all the anger coursing through them at any time. No need to whisper when the kids have grown accustomed to the shouts. Continue reading →
“Wow, you got so fat!” are the words my aunt said to me as I walked into my grandmothers house on Thanksgiving, years ago. My then boyfriend and I were in a toxic relationship; he emotionally abusive and me, mentally exhausted. Depression took over, and so I cried, and ate…and cried, and ate. Gaining an extra twenty pounds on my small, five foot two frame. I tried to pretend I was unbothered for the rest of the night, and silently cried while staring out of the window in the car the entire way home. After pulling myself together, and kicking his cheating butt to the curb, I dropped the weight, but the mental toll it took, stuck with me. This is not the first time I’ve struggled with self acceptance, and it definitely wouldn’t be the last. My body and I have had an internal struggle most of our life. My Body…My Words.
As a kid things weren’t much better. “Look at your legs…you have thunder thighs!” Ryan, my fourth grade classmate yelled as we walked on the playground. I wore my new Bongo shorts and matching t-shirt my Mom bought me, and felt ready to conquer the world that morning on the drive to school. Everyone will love my outfit, and this will make them finally love me too was my internal hope. As one of the literal few black students in the entire school being made fun of was a daily part of my routine.
My thick thighs, kinky hair, and brown skin were the subject of many hate campaigns. I tried desperately to fit in and be liked, but I would always be considered an outsider, and my body, skin and hair would never let me in. I began to resent my brown skin, kinky hair, and strong thighs just like they did. For the rest of the year, no matter how hot the weather became, I’d wear my thick black New Kids on the Block jacket to school, and use it to cover my legs anytime I wore
a dress or shorts. Their words stuck.