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