I was watching an old Twilight Zone the other nite on the Sci-fi Channel. I have always thought that Rod Serling was way ahead of his time. The subjects he dealt with were so spiritual and humanely based, I wonder if the television studios really knew what they were airing. The story of the episode was about a woman trying to catch up with her younger self to warn her against marrying the wrong man. Of course, it was impossible and the underlying message is you can not focus on the past, that is done but to deal with the present. Stewing in old resentments, will do just that just make you old, angry and bitter. The writing was fantastic and so were the performances, the real irony though was seeing the focus on the female character. The prescence of women stories have been dwindling for years in Hollywood, this is not news but it is sad reality in the wake of our "Modern Society". A show that is nearly 50 years old, featured a strong female lead as did many movies between 1940- 1980's roughly. Movies like, Mildred Pierce, Bringing Up Baby, Girl Friday, Stella Dallas, he Good Earth, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Funny Girl, Lady Sings the Blues, Sounder, West Side Story, Imitation of Life, Cabin in the Sky, Claudine, An Unmarried Woman, My Turn, Turning Point, For the Love of Ivy, Frances, All About Eve, Suzie Wong and so many others, is a distant memory. Rarely is a woman noted for her performances these days, the way that an actress recieves recognition is either; how well she is battling the aging process or how many men she has devoured. For all the talk about being progressive around the issues of women, I would argue we are at one of the worst periods on the screen,and I am not completely sure how we got here. Where was the wrong turn, at one time Julia Roberts was one of the most powerful voices in Hollywood, she still has clout but her movie opened behind an adventure movie with all male cast, with no real apparent story besides behind former action stars. Usually, it is the cautinonary tale of women when they turn ..da..da..da..dum..a certain age( the horror) but the truth is it doesnt matter if you are 21 or 80, no one is ruling the silver screen at this moment. I would argue that the strongest female box office star is Meryl Streep, who never is in the tabloids and is of a mature age. She is an anomaly in this business, for many if you want a role you need to create a scandal. One of the biggest female names is Kim Khardasian who claim to notoriety is her sex tape with her-then partner Ray J. Lindsay Lohan hasnt had a successful movie in years and Angelina is more known for her affair now relationship with Brad Pitt as for any of her work. I assume like all things the pendulumn must swing back, but one wonders when this will happen. What is the solution, for women to create thier work but without clout, your work will not get green lit or you can get pushed aside like Nzingha Stewart with ..."Colored Girls". I believe for actresses, we have to go ol'school and begin to support each other, whether in marketing, attendance or just good wishes. We cant play the angry competition game because we all lose and you never know, that female your "hatin" could be the next Sapphire, Nora Ephron, Kasi Lemmons or Darnell Martin.
I suspect a good friend of mine, who has been wonderful and supportive of me in the most wonderous of ways, is jealous of my creativity. It is one of those things that at first you think is in your head, you try to ignore it , trying very hard not to confront what is really apparent. I think for many it has to be a really uncomfortable situation, I know it is for me. It made me think of the masters, Jack Lemmon, Stevie Wonder, Meryl Streep, Michael Jackson, Prince Donny Hathaway, Alfred Hitchcock, Frida Khalo among so many others, what they must have experienced. When someone expresses what you want to express or is able to tap into thier vulnerablilty that creates a reaction in others, it has to make some people a little envious. I know as an actor who can carry a tune, when I see or hear extraordinary singers, I return to the little girl who had a mic in her hand, copying Natalie Cole in her hair brush. I would have given anything to sound like her, a voice so pure and easy. I completely am in awe of dancers and the command they have over thier bodies, to move with just a thought or an impulse and no concern with resistance real or imagined. But the feeling of jealousy, is unlike awe there is a resentment, an anger a feeling of unfairness. As an artist, it is a double edged sword, most create work for other's acknowledgement or appreciation but if that emotion also creates feelings of jealousy than the flow of love and good feeling becomes stagnant. It can't breathe and there is an akwardness that lingers in the air. I think there are some who really get off on others jealousy, makes them feel superior but for them, I think there is a deeper feelings of inadequacy they have not dealt with, my opinion not based on any actual evidence. I think for others, or at least for me there is some element of a "wow" factor to have created something, that is worthy of someone's jealousy. Artistry does have elements of vanity but even deeper you want to be loved and appreciated for your contributions. You can't be a successful artist without people who understand what you create, even if it;s only immediate family and the grocer on the corner. Feelings of jealousy are common and easily understood, you would have to be an incredibly actualized person to not feel it and I know for myself I have not reached those heights. I feel the challenge is how do you let those feelings create a catalyst for creation and not internal inertia. The really accomplished artists do, and I think that she be the moniker for all of us. Dont let good jealousy go to waste, use it it to propel you and let it be a signifier of what you are capable of.
An Actor/Director sharing her thoughts on creativity in this crazy metropolis, New Yawk Citay.