When I watched the premiere episode of "Being Mary Jane", I was already excited because it was about a black woman who I could relate to. Well, not financially, not physically but gosh darnit..we both had ambition and a love for the emotionally unavailable Brotha! It premiered in 2013 during the time of so much black girl magic on television, "Scandal" and "How to Get Away With Murder" I felt I had a bevy of television that spoke to me. While I had seen several films with Gabrielle Union, I wasn't particularly a fan, even though I would argue she is an underrated comedian. In Deliver Us from Eva, a typical rom-com but her monologue in the kitchen of the restaurant during a health code visit I thought was real comedic brilliance. For me "Being Mary Jane" was a game changer and Gabrielle became my show heroine. This post is basically my love letter to Mari Brock Akil and the wonderfulness that was "Being Mary Jane" from 2013-2016. Once the show changed producers, it lost some of that magic for me. There are few shows where I find I almost living vicariously through the characters, with Mary Jane I related to the contradictions in her life. The challenge of having a family that has dysfunction and love which is the reality for most . It is the human complexity of Pauletta ( the character's name) that I appreciate the most. A mixture of confidence, sexual prowess, insecurity and substance dependency. What I valued about Mari Brock Akil is that she didn't offer us a "perfect person" but an actual woman. It was her frailties along with her ambition, that as a grown black woman I could identify and truly appreciate. In a just world, Being Mary Jane would have received more critical attention , politically and culturally I thought it was one of the best in that period. The issues that were woven in between, the suicide of successful blk men, the Psychology Today article re: the Ugly Blk Women, the discovery of love letters between slaves, the proliferation of fatherless blk children, addiction, the challenge of motherhood and career, mass incarceration,cultural identity and on and on. You had a show with 2 women of color as leads who were defined and not defined by their identity. SNC producer Kyra was a fascinating character, a fiercely ambitious woman, loyal to the work with SNC, a dedicated mother, a conflicted Latina and a sexually positive person. The scene where she had a breakdown about brownies for her children's class was real and vulnerable. The character of Marc, his coming out scene with his parents was so black but universal in it's unfolding. The complication of Niecy her rudderless niece, her agonizing lack of personal responsibility and the truth of who she is, would frustrate because of just the realness of it. I was blown away by Loretta Devine, who knew! That was the most interesting role I ever seen Devine play, the contradictions and specificity was exciting to watch. For me personally, when the Akil's left, that mixture of drama and political astuteness left with them. I was much less interested in the romance and rivalry that seem to seep in. The focus on male characters that came to forefront. This is my THANK YOU to the Akil's and specifically Mari Brock Akil for creating the #theblackgirlmagic that was "Being Mary Jane" #gabrielleunion #maribrockakil #saleemakil #bet #blackgirlmagic #television #womenwriters #stories #cable #grownandsexy #love #richardroundtree #blacktelevision
I was traveling last year from November 2017-May 2018 on the Dinosaur Time Trek. Since it was a non-union tour my job duty among setting up and breaking down was the laundry. I have been fortunate for the last several years to live in an apartment building with laundry, so the last time I needed to step into a public washing place was 2009. I have been blissfully unaware of that world until December of 2017. What I have found is that laundromats are a incredible view of our nation. Laundromats cut across race, gender and sexual orientation. Class is different as for people who don't need to wash their own clothes, or a own a washer dryer don't have to know this life, per se. In each town I have experienced different scenarios, in D.C. it was like any hair salon on 125th st, there were mainly men selling everything they could whether, it was beauty products, undergarments, small electronics or my favorite. Yes, someone sold bacon in the bag and he only had 3 left by the time he got to us. In Pittsburgh, I suspected I was in a meth lab for the floor was uneven with the floor coming apart, it was completely empty when I entered and it was unclean. I felt too uncomfortable to sit down and at one moment I got into a mini argument with a male washer. I have found that Yelp is not reliable as for every laundry I have searched on that website. It is better to go the laundrymat before 3pm and bring cash. Pods work in every machine so far I have been too and always look for an attendant before washing. In Pittsburgh I lost some quarters in a dryer and there was no one there to help me. Laundry prices range from some of the cheapest in Concord NC and some of the most expensive in Cleveland. The experience of being in laundromats have made me appreciate how each is reflective of the socio-economic realities of their respective communities. The better maintained, usually the healthier the community. I am also surprised by the small wonders you may see, I remember being in one laundromat where a very young, black father listened to 70's soul with his infant who was wrapped within an inch of their life. Clearly, he led a peaceful home because that child was as content as possible. He presented as a single parent with a solid routine. There was a mother who had several children, who appeared to have different fathers . Her children, ranged in ages but all seemed school age but for some reason were not in school that day. They seemed restless and she looked completely overwhelmed. While sitting there I felt I could write the rest of the story and really hoping I was incorrect in my assessment. One of the most unique laundromats was in Minneapolis where I encountered my first hipster laundromat. Complete with self-important attendants with t-shirts with flippant political statements. It was one of the cleanest and well maintained places I visited while on tour. My last city was Columbus and while I was happy to never have to wash for this tour again, it was slightly bittersweet. I will miss being in so many different communities, experiencing a slice of life that you can only get at the local laundromat.
In the last year we have seen the demise of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey,Bill Cosby, Charlie Rose, Matt Laurer,possibly Morgan Freeman, the chick from Smallville, and now it's Roseanne Barr. Several of these people were involved in criminal behavior and this result was inevitable. Some are accused of being sexual inpropiety, human trafficking, sexual assault, and others of engaging in racist behavior in the media. The #timesup for men's behavior around sexual impropriety is long overdue, I don't know a woman who has not experienced some level of sexual misconduct from the mild to the extreme, including myself. This is a floodgate that has literally been bursting at the seams and is now coming through in a torrent and we have yet to see it subside anytime soon.
I am glad there is now a nationwide dialogue about accountability, it is necessary and I look forward to when this conversation includes personal and public interactions with each other and our relationship with the environment. What am I concern with is, are we holding performers to a higher standard, than others includin elected officials and the media? Kevin Spacey performs as President of the United States on the show "House of Cards" he is accused of sexual misconduct in his real life with young men and is fired from the show. That is absolutely an appropriate response, in real life we have 45 occupying the seat in the White House, there are currently 23 women who have come forward accusing him of sexual misconduct. He has not been suffered one consequence, he hasn't been investigated, he hasn't been barred from certain activities involving women, he isn't referred to as a sex offender. We have Bill Cosby, he has been accused by 18 women of rape and was recently charged. He is facing a jail sentence, as a result of own conduct, his show has been pulled from every television outlet. While 45 continues to enjoy all the luxuries as before including making money from his businesses while in office.
Roseanne Barr wrote a tweet about Valerie Jarrett former Senior Advisor to my Pres. B calling her a mixture of the 'Islamic Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes". Her show was promptly cancelled by ABC, she has been dropped by her agency, her show pulled from Viacom and dropped by each television outlet. In 2014, Burnett and Downey produced a film of the Bible where Satan looked nearly identical to (then) President Obama. The scene was cut, there was very little controversy afterwoods and the film was released . There have been more than 5 Republicans who have described Michelle Obama as a primate including Mayor Charles Wasko, who was asked to step down but refused. Pamela Taylor was removed from her post but then was reinstated. Bill Hannity, Rush Limbaugh,and many others referred to President Obama as Jihad, to a p*ssy, to a terrorist, stupid, nazi and everything in between with no repercussions. The only person to actually be held accountable...another performer Rodner Figuero from Univision who referred to Michelle Obama as "from the Planet of the Apes". He should have been fired but several Republicans including Mitch McConnell has disrespected the name of my Pres. B while in office and again no repercussions.
While the move to hold accountability is important, when you hold a position of prestige especially if you are fortunate enough to have a successful television named after-yourself!!! you need to honor that position with much more self control. At the same time, performers are just that performers. We do not in any way have affect on the quality of lives. We do not determine legislation, we don't control the media, we are not lawyers, counselors or any of the above. Performers do affect the social conversation and can have the power to move a political agenda forward. Performer especially well paid ones and/or powerful must be held accountable for their behavior. Thier career and possible the careers of many others are dependent on holding a sense of decorum with their brand. We have to also be aware of those limitations and hold our highest sense of outrage to the people who's words and comments actually affect lives, countries and nations. We can't hold the tweet of a comedian and the supposed leader of the free world in the same contention. #saveamerica #roseannebarr #abccancellation #roseanneshow #roseanne #obamas #whitehouse #45istrash #45 #republicans #gop #michelleobama
An Actor/Director sharing her thoughts on creativity in this crazy metropolis, New Yawk Citay.