Sunday, September 1, 2013

An Actor's Library - I'LL CALL IT LIKE I SEE IT (A Lesbian Speaks Out)

I met Sheila Morris and her lovely partner Teresa at a mutual friend’s home in Palm Springs several years ago. I could tell from her accent that she was from the south, and from her conversations about politics, I thought she was a Senator. I’ve been calling her that ever since even though I now I know she has a background in accounting.

Ms. Morris writes the same way she speaks - good naturedly, with humor and with an accent. An accent on truth, family and good old Southern charm.

This book is a collection of essays (sprinkled with Sheila’s daddy's sayings) of things that are important to her: family, sports, social injustice and yes, politics. Being a city girl myself, I enjoyed reading about huge houses, tall trees and lots of land. I could almost smell the plum jelly cooking on the stove.

I particularly enjoyed the interaction with the owner & the waitress who worked at a Texas roadhouse named Holder’s.

The most touching moments for me were The Dementia Dialogues since I am currently caring for my mother who has mild to moderate cognitive impairment and I Have A Son where this lesbian author shares the unconditional love she received from her father.

I have not seen Sheila Morris since the day we met, but we have kept in touch over the years. After reading her book, I see that I was right, she will always be the “Senator” to me.

For more about Sheila Morris, her books and her blog, visit

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ask A Stage Goddess - INTRO

Welcome to Ask A Stage Goddess. This will be a Q & A series for anyone pursuing a career in the entertainment industry as an actor, comic, writer or solo show performer.
You can leave your comments or questions below the video or here on the blog,
on Facebook at Carlease's Bits n Pieces
on twitter @CarleaseBurke

Director/Editor: Bernie Espinosa 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Journey of A Thousand Miles......

.....begins with one step.  

In my quest for a healthier lifestyle and increased self-care, I joined a group called Kitchen Divas which is a part of an organization called Black Women for Wellness. I stumbled onto their event page on facebook and discovered  that one of the members, Lula Carter, is an avid walker. She has a ton of photos of many 5Ks and seemed to be the go to person for more info on Kitchen Divas. I decided to go to a meeting and pick her brain!

So far, I've been to four Kitchen Diva demonstrations but it was at the very first one that Lula told me about a woman named Yolanda Holder who is in The Guinness Book of World Records for power walking the most marathons in one year, not once but twice. She broke her own record the second time! I looked up this woman online a day or two later and became quite intrigued with her story. I sent her a message on facebook and to my surprise she responded! This was just days before the Boston Marathon and she was going to be one of the walkers there. She was at mile 20 when the bombs went off. At the same time, her battery went dead on her phone so you can imagine how her fans, friends and family must have felt when they couldn't reach her.

She's back home now, safe and more determined than ever to keep walking. We continued to connect and I told her of my desire to get fit, lose some weight and be healthy. Next thing I knew, she offered to help me reach these goals by training me to walk my first marathon. That's not quite what I had in mind but I immediately accepted. Maybe Yolanda was the angel I'd been praying for.

Yesterday we met for my first day of training. I told her about my knee issues so we walked on a grassy island near my home. I knew she would be wearing a cute little walking outfit, so I went out and bought one for myself. I couldn't wait to meet her and ask her my one burning question, "Why is there a hole in the cuff of this sleeve for my thumb?" Imagine my disappointment when she said, "I have no idea" and kept walking. We chatted, got to know each other a bit better and took a few pictures. Yolanda showed me some power walking moves and 3.8 miles later, we were done.

Now I have an assignment: to walk every single day until we meet again next week. I promised and I will do it. So my take-away is this, it's OK to take a Tylenol after a long walk if your body is hurting and get a cute new outfit by Wednesday.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I dedicate this post to fellow actor and one of my closest friends Clyde Talley who passed away in 1999. He too was an actor and we loved to cook and share recipes. We got especially creative in between jobs when we didn't have a lot of money. This dish is very economical and easy to prepare. It's ideal for artists or anyone on a budget.

I keep this picture of Clyde on my refrigerator with this old school phone magnet we both had.

I miss him every day and he loved this soup. I make it often and it's been requested so much that I give jars of it to friends and business associates for Christmas. Not only is it beautiful but in the words of CT, "Mmmmm, delicious and healthy!"

Creamy Carrot Yam Soup

1 TBS. extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 medium onion, cut into big chunks
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large yam or sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. salt or to taste
Chopped fresh parsley or green onion tops for garnish (optional) 

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and cook, stirring often, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add remaining vegetables, bay leaves, salt and enough water to just cover vegetables. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the carrots are soft, about 30 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

Transfrer mixture to food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Adjust salt if necessary, and ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with parsley or green onions if desired.

Bon appetite!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Among The Stars - JENNIFER LOPEZ

It has always been my dream to be in a hit movie, be escorted to the premiere with my manager and walk the red carpet. On April 21, 2010 that dream came true. What was once a fantasy is now a memory. Allow me to share this reality with you. The movie I am talking about is The Back-up Plan starring Jennifer Lopez. I play Tabitha, one of the women in a support group that J-Lo's character joins. Now I don't have a lot of dialogue, but I do get some great screen time. Nonetheless my manager, the amazing Todd Justice, allowed me to enjoy every minute of my 15 minutes of fame. Not only was he the most handsome man at the event, he is so comfortable in his skin and knows this business so well, that there was never an uncomfortable moment the whole night. When we arrived we were immediately greeted by Maggie Schmidt, Senior VP of Publicity, for CBS Films who immediately made sure that I was escorted down the red carpet. "Carlease, Carlease, turn to the left, over here, put your hands down...." shouts and camera flashes all over the place. Wow, all I could think about was my face hurting from holding that smile for so long. Step and repeat, step and repeat. (As you can see, I didn't quite know how to pose for the camera yet!)

I actually did a couple of interviews as well. I learned to look on the floor in front of the press people to know who you're talking to (or who you don't want to talk to). All of a sudden one of the press people asks me to stand in one spot..."This one is for Shelley" she says. What? My publicist friend Shelley Ginsburg gives me a shout out from the red carpet and she wasn't even there! We took a picture on an iphone and sent it to her immediately. It took a few minutes, but with the red carpet behind us, Todd and I went inside grabbed some popcorn and sat down in the lobby to watch the "other" stars arrive. All of a sudden the lobby was packed and we were asked to take our seats. More mingling with the casting directors David Rubin & Richard Hicks and with Cesar Millan, "The Dog Whisperer" who sat behind us. He is so funny, he shouts out his own name when he appears on screen.
I loved hanging out with Todd on our "first date", getting a new perspective on the business from his point of view. I am so blessed to have him on my team. We hardly ever get a chance to be in each other’s presence for any length of time.

We went to the after party at the W and made our rounds congratulating director, Alan Poul, the producers, fellow cast members, writer Kate Angelo, etc. At one point I saw this beautiful woman waving at me and realized it was J-Lo! I went over to say hi....she looked stunning. Of course she was holding court, but I got a chance to congratulate her and tell her how I enjoyed working with her. She told me that she actually fought to keep some more of our scenes in. Wow. I think Todd got a kick out of me introducing him to her as if he didn't know who she was!
It was a night I will never forget and I'm still dreaming of more red carpet moments to come. Someone asked me in an interview recently to give them one word to describe Jennifer Lopez. I'll give you two and let you pick. Focused. Flawless.


Monday, March 18, 2013

An Actor's Library - TRUE LIES

It is so refreshing to read a novel not only about my old stompin’ grounds but written by someone I know. Margaret Johnson-Hodge was a dear friend of an ex-boyfriend of mine who passed away several years ago. They used to take dance class together and if I remember correctly she could do some awesome splits! So it was no surprise to see Alvin Ailey mentioned in this book.

The story takes place in Queens, New York where I grew up and turning the pages of TRUE LIES was like turning the corner onto memory lane. Margaret’s descriptions of the neighborhoods are so vivid. Basement apartments, backyard birthday barbeques and the courthouse on Sutphin Blvd. in Jamaica came to life for me once again.

Her characters are people I know and grew up with: neighbors, classmates, family members. This is a story of baby mama drama with just enough twists & turns to leave the reader anxious to discover the outcome. It is a story of how truth and lies co-exist in matters of the heart. 
The main characters are Dajah, Rick, Gina and Kanisha, three adults whose life decisions are guided by the welfare of a child. I won’t give the story away. I’ll leave that to Margaret. It’s a good read that I highly recommend. I hope someone adapts it for the big screen and when that happens, call my manager and get me in for the part of Gina’s mother, Doreen Alexander. That woman is a trip! Better yet, just call me and offer me the role. I guarantee you, I’ll accept.

Congratulations Margaret. I am so proud of you and so happy this book literally fell into my hands when I was staying at a little B&B in Chelsea. Perusing the shelves for something to read I came across a novel, TRUE LIES with your name as the author and had to do a double take. So now that it’s been read and reviewed by me, it will be waiting for your autograph the next time we meet.

For more novels by Margaret Johnson-Hodge, check out her webpage Tell her I sent you!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Will Walk For Charity

As some of you know, I am an avid learner. I probably attend more classes, workshops, conferences and webinars than anyone you know. Well, this week is no different. I am currently enrolled in a class on called How To Write Blog Posts That Build Community. Our teacher is Jennifer Barbour and one of our assignments is to visit the blog posts of our fellow students. There are 62 of us, so it's difficult to get to everyone's but I knew I had to visit our teacher's blog so that I could pick up tips from the cream of the crop! I was quite surprised when in addition to discovering what an amazing blog site looks like, I found myself intrigued by one of her Philanthropy Friday posts about an iPhone app for Charity Miles. It tracks your miles for walking, running or cycling and converts them into money to help several charities that they sponsor. Something about fitness for charity speaks to my heart.

 In 1995, I rode my bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles for the California AIDS Ride. I did it for my friend Charlie Hall who was in the hospital dying of AIDS at the time.

In 2006, I walked a 1/2 marathon in Kona, Hawaii for the American Stroke Association when I learned that my cousin Winston had had a stroke. I was 3,000 miles away and unable to help him directly.

In 2011, I walked a 5K for the Alzheimer's Association while witnessing the early stages of cognitive impairment in my mother.

I am not an athlete and have always had a problem maintaining any sort of regimen when it comes to exercising on my own but I worked hard and completed these three amazing feats. At this time in my life, I could certainly benefit from losing a few pounds and improving my health. Ordinarily, I find it hard to get motivated or stick with any sort of work out program on a consistent basis, but today I enthusiastically downloaded the app and took off on a walk. I logged in 1.959 miles for Habitat for Humanity. I can do this! I'm already plotting out my route for tomorrow. And once I get my bike all ready for a ride, watch out!!

I rode for Charlie. I walked for Winston and my Mom. And now in addition to working out for the people helped by Charity Miles, I will walk and ride for me.

Thank you Jennifer.
Follow her on twitter @anotherjen