Category: Art

Art related posts

How To Enhance Your Directing Process


Every film director is different. Especially when it concerns style, experience, execution, preferences and so on. After directing my own short film, these are a few things that helped my process.

1 Block your scenes through the viewfinder

The simple way to define blocking is, the movements of characters in relation to the movement of the camera (the audience’s point of view).  Of course, there are more than a few ways to block a scene. Depending on the director, a few lines of action and dialogue in a script could translate on screen as a comedy, drama, romantic comedy or a suspense scene. By this fact, blocking also involves the performance and not just the movement. Now for the tip: always block your scenes through the viewfinder when possible. (Obviously if you’re shooting on a DSLR you’d have to turn the camera off to view your shot through the viewfinder). Doing this forces you to think more consciously about the 3 dimensional space you’re dealing with as well as gauging the distance between the camera and the performer. Whereas blocking using the flat, two dimensional monitor doesn’t give you an accurate idea of spacing.


2 Use prime lenses

Why? For starters they’re sharper, more affordable, more portable (all relative by the way). But using lenses with a fixed focal length allows you to think more actively about how you shoot a scene. Because there’s no quick and easy way to get a closeup on an actor or to fit more in the frame, you’re forced to physically move the camera, which in turn affects the process of the actor, for better or worse. But overall it does let you think more creatively about getting a shot as opposed to just zooming in or out.


3 Know every process

Terry Gilliam once told Quentin Tarantino that <paraphrased; as a director, it’s not your job to know how to operate a camera, or move lights around to get a certain effect, or how to record sound or any of that. As a director,  your job is to have a vision. And then it’s your job to be able to articulate that vision to the talented people around you who can use their skill to help you achieve that vision.” For me, this is a more than perfect description of what a film director is. BUT, put plainly, you do give yourself a huge advantage when you have a working -not perfect- knowledge of what each process in filmmaking entails. You don’t need to be a DP for 3 years to know what a DP does but it’s good to be an instant expert on all processes so that 1) you know when your crew is lying to you that something can’t be done (lol) and 2) in the case of many independent filmmakers getting started, you’ll need to teach your crew how to do their jobs effectively, so the more you know the better.


4 Get to know who you’re working with

This could easily be overlooked but I think it’s highly important that you actually take time to find out what kind of personality types you’ll be spending your time with on a particular project. If they’re unlikeable, or worse yet, not knowledgeable enough then what could be a simple, fun project could end up dragging on and becoming a gloom. On the other hand, persons who are just as passionate and on a similar wavelength can be more fun and make you a better filmmaker overall.



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Choosing ‘Art’ For A Living

Theatre production; Adaptation of Elena Garro’s ‘El Encanto, Tendajon Mixto’ – Mexican Embassy’s 10th anniversary celebration.

Theatre is a gem of an artform. Anyone who has seen a staged play live knows it can be likened to magic.

Kentillia Louis is an Artistic director, lecturer, manager and curriculum officer advocating for and enriching Arts and Culture in Saint Lucia. She has worked as the Artistic Director for the Walcott School’s Festival and as Director of Requiem for a Badjohn, a play staged for the first time in Saint Lucia earlier this year. She also manages the Youth Studying Performing Arts and Culture (YouthSPAC) organization, and works as a part-time lecturer at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College and University of West Indies open campus, among several others gigs.

We were fortunate to have the opportunity in May of this year to pose a few questions to Kentillia on her experiences working as an Artist on a small, Caribbean island.

Q: Can you highlight the aspects of this profession you enjoy?

K: One of the things that I enjoy about being an artist in the Caribbean is that because of, I suppose, size there’s a camaraderie between us all. It doesn’t matter if it’s in Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, everybody’s always willing to lend a helping hand. Always willing to try and see how they can collaborate or assist, because as much as we think we’re different, we all have similar issues.

Another thing is we have a rich culture. We have so many cultural forms that provide for the arts. We have material to create plays, to create performance styles, to use in so many different ways as stimuli for dance, drama anything. To find inspiration for anything that I do, it’s very easy, I just have to close the books, close the laptop and go out there and just observe my people, listen to the radio, listen to the music, watch the dancing and within there, something always comes up.

The good thing about our cultural forms is that it’s participatory. I mean you can go to the La Rose festival and you are not just be a spectator on the outside. Those different groupings are always very willing to include you, listen to what you have to say. So I really have enjoyed that, his is what gives me my identity and my unique approach. I’ve been able to really make sure i’m well grounded in it, in everything that I do to use it as my base.

Q: Can you highlight the challenges?

K: Always training-training and space. There are never enough spaces for training or opportunities for training – long term training I should say. There are always persons who approach me to join the group but i’m very particular about numbers. That’s why I have not increased the size past a certain point because we have a lot of young persons in Saint Lucia who are very, very talented, but they just have the raw material. What if we invested in them and helped them with the training and the exposure. As well as training them for showcasing opportunities because you can train, but you have to be trained to perform and be showcased.

We forget that not everybody starts off at the top, nobody did. Everybody had to build their way there and we have to, as a nation support them. That’s one of the major challenges, so sensitizing our public to the importance of supporting their own, even those up and coming, support them, because they will be the next big thing and it will be nice if you could be part of that experience with them.

Space has always been a problem- performance spaces. I mean right now we only have the National Cultural Center which is extremely limited and expensive. So persons who are building should put an auditorium. That’s what a lot of organizations do, and they will rent it out at a reasonable price. We can take that into consideration here. People think there are not a lot of groups but there are a lot of groups out there. They just don’t have the opportunity to perform in a proper performance space. That’s one of the major issues that we have right now.

I think as much as people understand the performing arts and culture, there is also not a respect for it and that’s one of the things I’d like to see change. That’s where your identity comes from, that’s where your sense of you comes from. We go to all of those platforms to balance our selves out when we feel angry, sad, and so forth. They’re crucial to us and our development as a person, as a society. And the respect that art should be given,it’s not being given right now. We do it as a by the way thing, we do it only as something we can use to maybe enhance the tourism product. But it’s more than that. Every society you find persons really holding on to their arts and culture because that’s where you find a sense of pride, you find reflections of yourself, that’s one of the things that we don’t have here.

Requiem For a Badjohn was staged at the National Cultural Center, Castries Saint Lucia in April of 2017

Q: You seem to have a passion for the performing arts as do many, but people often forego theirs after leaving Secondary School. As someone who continues to do work in this field, what other options can those with similar interests consider outside of school?

K: There are a lot of opportunities. I think though, when people think of the performing arts they only think of the performance aspect of it. To go out there and really survive in the arts you need to have more than one skill, for example I direct, I teach, I do production managemnet and I do stage management. So, you do more than one thing, it’s the same way everywhere else. You have to pay your dues. There’s also the amount of work you are going to have to do for free because you have to get your practical in as well as you building your name and your reputation. I see a lot of young persons going around saying “not for exposure” (referring to the ‘exposure not currency’ local campaign) and so forth, but I think we miss the point because I see every body jumping on that band wagon, but we have to be very careful… first of all if you’re an amateur you’re an amateur let me be very clear about that. You chose to be an amateur, you chose not to go an train yourself, you chose not to certify yourself, you chose not to do that, therefore if that’s the level you are going to hold yourself at, you’re going to be treated at that level. If you want to be a professional then invest in it, invest in it and pay for your training. There are a lot of clubs and certification courses you can do here, do them, pay the money and do it. And then start to build your credit within it, so then yes you can then look at a business or someone, a client and tell them this is my worth. That’s what needs to happen and once you have that skill you will get a job.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about Youth Studying Performing Arts and Culture?

K: The first group of students were students from secondary school and they were interested in continuing to look into the field as their employment, as their profession. And so, I continued with them, to train them in the various artforms, make sure to provide them with

various opportunities. Not only do you get training but you get real life opportunities to use your training whether it be in dance, drama, music and so on. And a lot of the work that we do has a cultural heritage component to it.

It is for the youth, the age range is about 14-25. So it really is for young people and their wants and needs really pushes everything that we do within those fields. We also do stage management, production management, we teach various parts of the different artforms and how to use performance to help bring about some kind of change or awareness.

Kentillia (upper middle) addressing four young performers during ‘ 2017’ rehearsals

Q: Do you and the group’s members share a vision when it comes to the future of Saint Lucia’s Art and Cultural industries? 

K: Yes, it’s about producing the next set of artists and producers, stage management and so forth. We want to make sure we have a world class arts and cultural industry in Saint Lucia that someone won’t come and say “well that’s how they do it in Saint Lucia apart from the rest of the world”. No it has to be on par – whether it is you’re in Trinidad, Jamaica, New York, London, everything must be on par, that is what we are working towards, so that that way too, you have more opportunities, more changes, more chances of persons getting big not only here but going international and being able to make their name and to develop.

And, What kind of work do we plan to do in the future? Same like we’ve always done. Right now we just came from two major projects so  we’re on a break because one of the things I encourage is that my group members also do their individual projects and have their individual activities, because I also want to train them to have leadership qualities and take the initiative. A lot of them do individual work at carnival time, so usually we don’t do anything as a group during this time. But as soon as that’s done we do social events, we start training again and then we get ready for activities later on in the year and next year. So we are hoping to do a play or a short film towards the end of the year.

Q: Are there any current or upcoming projects from yourself or the organizations you work with that you would like people to know about?

K: At this point in time, I think we have found the fruits of our labour, it’s actually starting to show right now. There are lots of performance based youth groups around the island. From Youth on Fire in Anse La Raye, to Kiddie crew. So I’m just happy that all of those organizations are working. And what people fail to realize is that we are not in competition with each other. There’s this misconception that we are, but we all work together, we help each other because we realize that we are trying for the same thing and there’s not going to be a situation where there is too many of us. It’s all of us coming together to help to build Culture and Arts in Saint Lucia as well as to provide a medium for young persons.

There’s a lot going on when you look at carnival bands, when you look at Kiddie’s carnival bands coming on, a lot of people who have created the bands are persons who went through some sort of training as performers, in Theatre Arts, music stage management, stage production and so forth. A lot of those persons who have bands now will tell you its in those kind of groupings they got their start. I think a lot of those young persons are becoming their own entrepreneurs, I’m very happy to see that.

In terms of me personally, I’ll be working with CVS to ensure that their summer youth platform program comes off and is as educational and entertaining as possible for the participants. And I’m working towards Nobel Laureate week, that’s my next big thing.



‘I Am Here’: An Interview with Keisha Scarville

Keisha Scarville, I Am Here, Salt. 2011. Image courtesy of the artist.

Keisha Scarville is a photo and multimedia artist who alters and reforms the perception of regular items through themes of transformation, migration and displacement. Raised by Guyanese parents, the Brooklyn based artist uses her unconventional art work as a means to express her nationality and homeland, which has allowed her to be exhibited in a wide number of locations, for example, The Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Studio Museum of Harlem. In this brief interview, Scarville discusses her intuitive direction in both art and photography as well the artistic process surrounding them.

There is a lot of depth in you artwork. Do you find yourself using a form of critical theory to express your work? Does it affect your creative process and thinking?

There is no particular critical theory that completely informs my work. My work is influenced by various writers and philosophies. I love the writing of Gaston Bachelard. His book, ‘The Poetics of Space’, has changed the way I approached photographing spaces and landscapes.

Keisha Scarville, Passport Series, 2013. Image courtesy of the artist.

In the Passport series, you have touched on the issues of immigration through the eyes of two generations and through the art of mixed media. How has using this type of medium helped justify your artistic vision?

The series, “Passports” is an ongoing project where I repeatedly reinterpret my father’s earliest passport photo. I am interested in the aesthetics of a passport photo as a signifier but also the guidelines that inform how one positions and presents oneself within the frame. Through an interrogative process, I re-imagine the image of my father as a subject of a nation to forge a dialogue with the image. I use collage, paint, and other materials to transfigure and dislodge the unmoving stoicism of the printed image and create an alternate spatial narrative. In each piece, I respond to the shape shifting effects of immigration and my own personal history. I treat the photograph as a platform on which all these embedded and intertwined histories can be explored and layered.

Keisha Scarville, Passport Series, 2014 and 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

In the I am Here Series, I see that passport photo being represented again along with images of a second person. Can you tell us what this series is all about?

I am interested in the notion of home – how it is conceived, transformed, and lost. As a first generation Guyanese American, I often find myself occupying this hyphenated space where I don’t fully identify with being American nor am I considered Guyanese. I wonder what it means to create a space of belonging. What does it mean to designate a place/space as home? The “I am here” series is a personal journey towards claiming and understanding the conception of a home. In the project I explore how rituals, objects, spaces and the body can be visually excavated as primary sites of belonging. This series preceded the “Passports” project and was the impetus for developing that body of work.

Keisha Scarville, I Am Here, Dad’s passport, 2013. Image courtesy of the artist.

It seems that you are no stranger to photography either. How did you come about learning and developing your skills in photography?

I first learned photography while in high school. It was a transformative experience — holding a camera for the first time and looking at the world around me, deciding what to capture, and then holding those moments in my hands forever. I have been completely obsessed and fascinated by photography from that time. I went on to study photography in undergrad, as well as, focusing on photography and art therapy through graduate level classes.

Keisha Scarville, I Am Here, Bones, 2014. Image courtesy of the artist.

Do you see photography as a way to establish a new perspective in the art of storytelling and capturing moments?

I don’t think of it as new, but an alternative way of conveying narrative. I think people have always used photography to visually communicate stories. Now, more people have access to image-making devices. With the abundance and overwhelming speed at which we can produce images, my concern becomes how we read these images. Like all forms of communication, we need to be able to develop a method to take careful consideration of what images do, how they operate, and how to deconstruct/interpret the narrative.

Keisha Scarville, Mama’s ClothesSeries, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

In an article for Vice Magazine, you spoke about the search of identity through imagery in a collection of photographs called Mama’s Clothes. How did you feel about this art piece and what would you like viewers to take from it?

In the series, “Mama’s Clothes,” I explore the experience of absence and the camera’s role in visualizing what cannot be seen, but felt. I explore the paradox of abundance within absence and the phenomenology of space. In the photographs, I present my body cloaked in my deceased mother’s clothes. I am interested in how the clothing can be transformed into residual, surrogate skin. In the series, I am looking at ways I can facilitate and construct a visual place where I can conjure her presence while using my body as a medium.

Keisha Scarville, Mama’s Clothes Series, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

Also in this same series, the usage of clothing had a strong symbolic meaning. Most of your work weighs heavily on the contextualized meaning placed on everyday objects, which is not as subtle in most cases. Do you think this unique feature differentiates you as an artist?

A great deal of my work focuses on the biological, historical, and symbolic references of objects. I did a two-person exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) entitled, ‘Surrogate Skin: The Biology of Objects’. This project and exhibition allowed me to showcase the elements that inform my art practice.

Keisha Scarville, Mama’s Clothes Series, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

What final thoughts would you like to leave for young artists and photographers alike?

Break the rules, read as much as possible, and remain curious. 




Scarville is currently hosting an exhibition at the Contact Photo Gallery, Toronto, ‘An unassailable and monumental dignity from September 21st– November 18th.

For more information on Keisha Scarville, kindly visit her website

Why I Can’t Get Enough Of Princess Nokia

Up – Princess Nokia in Tomboy video, Bottom – Princess Nokia in Brujas video

With my lil’ titties and my fat belly (x10)” – actual lyrics from Princess Nokia’s single “Tomboy”. The song opens up with a baggy shirt and trouser clad Princess Nokia walking across the screen, flanked by two women.

When I first watched the video and heard that cool voice ejecting itself from my speakers, I knew this discovery would be a problem; I would be obsessing over another Artist yet again for an unforeseeable amount of time.

This was not the beginning however. It started where it remains; with her self awareness, self love and spirituality. It was infact these things that led me to her heterogeneous body of music.

I had stumbled onto a video she had done with Genius; “Princess “Nokia “G.O.A.T.” Official Lyrics & Meaning | Verified”, where she explains the lyrics of the first verse from her song “G.O.A.T”. At that time, she was decked in floral print sitting against Genius’ distinctive pineapple yellow background.

The video begins, a composed, smooth, raspy voice says “I am a gorgeous woman. That’s not me being egotistical or narcissistic, it’s just a fact. I’m a knockout. I have confidence and je ne sais quoi that is, you know, unmistakable and my pheromones and my chemistry and the way I walk, I am divine feminine energy.” My attention is now grabbed and gripped tight. About fifteen more seconds into the video, to debunk the implication that she is the “greatest of all time” she says “in no way am I the best… I ain’t shit…” To her, “G.O.A.T” was simply a double entrendre that she “decided to run with”, as the analogy of a being “eating off the land, using [its] resources” to become “great” is something she identifies with.

I was enamored. “Who is this woman speaking of herself so brashly?” I thought. “Why is she doing it?” Knowing well the repression societies have inflicted on blossoming women, I wondered, “how did she become this?”

She continues. As she raps the lyrics, I notice that her voice crouches in a corner of her throat, a pur turned into an enticing gnarr. When the video ends, my journey through a hypnotic world of roses, mermaids, passion and weed begins.

Interview after Interview I fall deeper in awe as I witness a dancing, uninhibited spirit and I can’t seem to get enough.

Princess Nokia is a woman who has found her voice. She does not push politics but rather, principles. Having had feminism as a major recurring theme in her life, she speaks to everyone, including the neglected female; the excluded, unjustly demonized black and brown women (and men) who often go unheard and unrepresented in feminist movements. Her work and her world act as compassionate spaces for everyone.

She has acquainted herself with purpose and has leaped into action; Once a journalist and photographer, she also hosted the Smart Girl Club podcast where she echoed the importance and fundamental components of self love and self care – encouraging listeners to connect with their spiritual selves.

She has learned of her roots and of her history. A woman who associates herself with the borough of Manhattan, A woman of Harlem. Her inspiration comes from both the lightness and darkness of that world. A girl familiar with the uncensored night scene of an urban neighbourhood. A girl who walked on its streets alone. A woman of Afro Latinx, Afro Caribbean ancestry living in a society dirtied by color-ism, she is in complete love with her Puerto Rican heritage; “I am an Afro-Indegenous woman, I’m Puerto Rican which means I’m triple raced, I’m black, I’m white and I’m native American” she says in one of her interviews, before going on to explain how these roots have shaped her spirituality and her identity.

She has fortified herself away from the possessive grasps of men who want to be held accountable for her success. She produces her music independently and tours the world performing at sold out venues, a rare thing for underground artists.

She has blossomed in her solitude. Outcasted for her frank queerness, her rugged way of existing and her outright eccentricity at a young age, she spent lots of time alone. Now, as a twenty five year old woman, alongside her healthy relationship with nature, (and its generosity towards providing us with life and beauty hacks) retreat is a chief component of her spirituality.

She has stepped into herself as a woman and embraces who she is so audaciously it is delicious to even watch and listen. A woman who was not bred under a glorifying gaze towards her beauty but was stripped of it, having her crown mutilated at a young age for no reason, then to grow into a body that is not conventionally lauded, she now declares her own beauty.

In the span of a few days I have watched and re-watched several of Princess Nokia’s interviews as well as her Fader documentary “Princess Nokia – Destiny”. I cannot cover all that she is in an article but I did want to show my love and appreciation for who she is.

Her confidence, her magic, her full acceptance of self is damn near tangible – it’s contagious. I have felt more beautiful, more a woman, more intelligent more confident in my struggles, triumphs, spirituality and perspectives because of the bravery of this woman. My wish is that girls and women everywhere can hear, see, feel Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, aka Princess Nokia and be moved by her in the same way that I am.


PS I watched this interview and revisited it about 5 times in one weekend:
Princess Nokia at Brown University (click the photo)

Interview w/ Caribbean Filmmaker Pierre Chester

Millennials – Technology – Creativity. Is it me or do these three go hand in hand now?

This is certainly the era of the Iphone, the Android.. of Instagram, YouTube and the like. Consider it .. how many photographers and videographers do you know? It’s cool though, who doesn’t like a fancy photo, or some quick burst of ethereal scenery in motion? How many of us spend an embarrassing number of hours skimming through the portfolios of creative lens maestros? Not to mention we especially love the work of our counterparts who think outside the box and use their gifts to tell unique stories. Pierre Chester is a storyteller/ filmmaker from Saint Lucia.

To read about Pierre’s journey and perspective on Film in the Caribbean, click here.

“Being on set is a great feeling, with everybody coming together and making a script come to life, it’s a rush.” – Pierre Chester


Gilroy H- Choosing Art No Matter What

A dedicated, young, Caribbean Artist. I have known Gilroy for a little over ten years now. Although his persisting passion towards Art was something I came to notice later than sooner, his creativity had always stood out to me. Not long into my brainstorming session – trying to figure out how many interesting, inspiring people I knew to possibly feature – did he occur to me as an obvious choice. Below is a snippet of our interview:

You have been doing this for so many years, what would you say pushes you to continue with your Art so consistently? 

There are actually different reasons for me pushing myself to continue…trying to be an inspiration to others especially those younger than myself to show them that even if it’s difficult and people tell you otherwise that you should always believe in yourself and do what makes you happy, do what makes you feel complete.

For my Family and not just those related by blood but the friends who became family as well. They have been with me throughout this from the beginning. From me as a child drawing on everything in the house to me being stubborn turning down jobs because it had nothing to with Art. To me leaving jobs because I felt limited and stifled as an artist and wanting that freedom to create whenever I felt like it. It’s been tough, really tough. I won’t say there were not times when it felt useless doing this because at the end of the day, bills had to be paid, mouths to feed.

But they’ve always had my back, supporting and encouraging me telling me that a door will open some way somehow…I just had to keep pushing. It’s given me that drive, that mentality to overlook everything. Even after suffering a life changing injury from my previous job which has now put so many limitations on my life, my mobility, what I am able to do and not do now these people still encourage me to focus on my happiness even with these limitations and everything else will just fall into place when you work hard enough for it pray and continue to trust in God.


To read more, click here.



“I Will be The Hero in My Story”

Unwatered Childhood Dreams Part II

Occasionally I have flashbacks of my younger self, sitting on the floor of my childhood home, absentmindedly staring up, out of the window, into a vision my mind projected onto the sky. Between my open thighs would be some emblem of the crafts I loved most; either a notebook with words clumsily strewn together for 1, a poem that would never be published 2, a song I would hope to one day sing 3, words I would hope to one day act / my little silver and blue cd player, open cd cases and cds scattered on the tiles while I prepped for a bedroom concert – a sure way of training for a career that would spring from some hopeful seed / sheets of paper with bad drawings of one of the many things I would “eventually” design.

These flashbacks are always specked with warm, glimmering rays of light, a construct of the magic associated with childhood; innocence, wonder, desire, faith, knowing, but it would all be enveloped in the bittersweet sent of nostalgia.

It was classified as “dreams”. The thing you wished to be most successful at in your current lifetime was your “dream”. Not sure how many others suffered this delusive habit, but as a child my “dreams” were always set as some future occurrence, while my face and body mimicked my then youth. I later learned that something our deepest desires and ‘wildest dreams’ cannot beat is the constant inching hands and ticking of passing time. Envisioning things as happening “sometime in the future” turned my ‘dream catching’ into a cat and mouse game. I did not catch the mouse and my age and appearance overtook that of the girl in my ‘dream’.

Nevertheless, the “glimmer and magic” mentioned above are things I involuntarily associate with my childhood, yet as an adult I still feel their accompanying warmth like an ember continuously lit in my spirit. That constant pull of an unfulfilled ambition – an image I can better describe as the child version of myself tugging at the hem of the skirt or dress shirt of my office outfit each day.

For many “grown ups” with unrequited dreams there is a trail of events in their past where parts of themselves and their dreams died; times where they expressed their desires to a mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, teacher but met ridicule or no offerings of support in return – where they attempted a step forward but failed and lost the courage to try again – where they observed others receive abundant, overt praise and believed that they were not as good – they expected opportunities to present themselves but they never did, so it was taken as an indication that perhaps it was not meant for them… Until they eventually arrived at a place where they saw no point in believing in “a dream”.

Some may claim that there is no longer an ember glowing in a dark corner of their soul reminding them of a desire that once burned. However I also know that there are others who will until the day they die feel that tug from little hands beckoning a quick glance at the thing their soul most desires.


A new feat of my flashbacks though are their proceeding thoughts; what was once a conundrum, that is, regretful feelings of losing faith, settling, resentment towards those who made me feel that it was wrong to want to do things differently are now replaced with the realization that all the things I expected others to express to me, I could express to myself, that as an adult, I can seek, search, grow and learn to reinforce my positive thoughts and beliefs in my capabilities. I have the power (and tools in this information age) to learn the things that were not taught to me, and I can reignite that flame by fueling my spirit and pouring its richness onto my own glowing ember.

Keeping my desire burning is my responsibility. Picking up a pen to write again, stepping behind or infront a camera, using creative skills to manifest new ideas are all things I like to do and want to do and can do. 

Becoming ones own Hero sounds a bit romantic, but it is an expression and declaration of a willingness to go “all in” on a bet on oneself. It is choosing to believe and rely on ones innate and acquired abilities. If there is a deep desire to do something at any point, at that same point there will be the possession of what is needed to take atleast a small step forward in manifesting that desire, and if no possible small steps are available, it might simply mean that the time is not right but it does not mean the time will never come. Moreover, part of ones heroism is to figure out a step. Part of ones heroism is to stop waiting for someone to offer a “go ahead” or a “you are good enough”.

Part of my heroism is accepting that if no one gives me a chance, and I want to do something, I will create my own chance.

A (2017) Take on Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Much of the joy of reading is tied to the exposure one gets to purposeful, reflective stories and delighting in creative story telling. Now twenty-five, I find myself eager to read not only for enjoyment but also to find stories that enrich my spirit and mind as a Caribbean woman moving through the world. (And now that I am looking for any and everything to write about – because I just want to write and write some more… to hopefully one day be great at it) I thought a recent book I read made for a good challenge and topic. Below is a synopsis including my thoughts on a recent read but a 30 year old Toni Morrison classic.

Loaded. Important. Spell binding. Toni Morrison’s Beloved receives no stars from me because it defies the commonness of star ratings and exists outside the classifying lines of “fictional novels”.

Heavy with themes of slavery, race, home, guilt, love, community and identity, Beloved follows the story of Sethe, a mother of four in 1873, who was put in the position of sending her three young children (two boys, and a “crawling baby girl”) off in a wagon in order to have them escape the perils of “Sweet Home” and its slavery. Swollen with her fourth child still in the womb, Sethe later flees “Sweet Home” on her own, to reunite with her children and to live in freedom.

Following a set of events, including delivering Denver, her second daughter and last child in a sinking boat, Sethe eventually makes it to freedom; a two story house referred to as “124” on Bluestone Road in Cincinnati Ohio, inhabited by her mother in law, “Baby Suggs”, and Sethe’s children. In this corner of Cincinnati, the freed lives of blacks are full of tenderness, love, determination, and chants of hope, all the things Sweet Home was not Sethe realizes, but for her the joy of the place is short lived. A disturbing encounter leads Sethe to murder her first daughter in a desperate act of protection, marking the beginning of the demise of the once haven, 124, which later becomes haunted by the baby’s ghost. The house, which was once a hub for the community turns into a place of scorn.

Later, in various forms of abandon Sethe, Denver and Paul D, another sweet home runaway who wanders into the picture at the beginning of the novel become the only three inhabitants of 124, excluding the ghost. Paul D presents to Sethe a new opportunity for something other than the seeming alienation that has eclipsed her life, but this vision is seared when they come home one afternoon and find a young, ailing girl who goes by the name “Beloved” on a stoop infront the house. It is hinted throughout the story that the girl may be the ghost of Sethe’s dead baby in human form. This welcomed intrusion (oxymoron intended) sews, plants and rains uncontrollable things into 124 that leaves its members emotionally hypnotized.

Beloved is an uninhibited peer into America’s history. Stripped of flowering, the language is raw, simple, yet fluid in the way of the most intoxicating poetry. Nonlinear, the events of the novel are revealed as the plot moves back and forth from present to past tense effortlessly.

Additionaly, although Sethe is at the center of the story, the narrative moves freely from 1st to 3rd person between each character. Hence we are made to consider a difficult time and circumstance from various perspectives;

Sethe’s narrative forces us to face the realities of her experiences as a slave woman, the brutality she came under while working for her white slave owners, the traits of which were so dark, she preferred her children dead than to have them live through it. The way the guilt and aftermath of her actions rocked her own-better life at 124 with Baby Suggs, her children and their surrounding community shed light on the relationships and intricacies of Black communities held together by the willingness of its members to create lives worth living in a world designed to stump the very prospect of this out of the picture.

Sethe’s daughter Denver’s narrative invites us into the confines of the life of a first generation “free” African American. Having been with her mother “all her life”, Denver up until the age of 18 comes across a product of a grief stricken but in her own right resilient matriarch and her loyalty, loneliness and will prevail at various stages of the novel.

Paul D, an African American man’s fragmented journey sketches a map of hardship across America’s southeast. Here we have a male perspective, from his life as a boy, his humanistic desires contained to a cottage and field, a young man shackled and buried, then uncertain and lost once he is free, a grown man cold and hard, scouring for things he is not even sure exists.

Baby Suggs, an endeared woman even after facing the brunt of slavery in its varied forms; savage then lenient, folds into herself after witnessing white men with self-rightousness etched into their eyebrows, spread malice through and to the lives of “negroes” like an infection.

Sethe’s “crawling baby” a reminder of the innumerable, unlived, severed African lives. Children who were turned over into unconsciousness by parents who felt the life waiting for them in this world too filled with torture and violence, so death seemed a more desirable alternative.

This was my vain attempt at summarizing a work of Art with complexities that have been analyzed for 30 years now, the resulting variety of ‘conclusions’ conflict in so many ways that an attempt to put a finger on one true meaning would be futile. Nonetheless, Beloved is laden with meaning and story. The events of the plot are precise but it captures the essence of a time when the definitions of life and living were violently distorted. All in all, my rating of Beloved is that Everyone should read this book at-least once in their lifetime.

Women Who Do – In the Era of Internet, TV and Film

If you think that you already have what you need to facilitate the vision you have for your life, perhaps Issa Rae’s story may inspire you.

I write this article post conclusively turning over the yellow paperback cover of Issa Rae’s first published book ‘The Adventures of Awkward Black Girl’. (N.B I’m aware that ‘Issa Rae’ is not her full name however this is the way she refers to herself, hence I will do the same.)

Like many, I first heard of the growing mogul pre “Insecure”, while she was claiming her spot on Social Media, namely Youtube as ‘J’, the “Awkward Black Girl” (ABG), a character so relatable it had spun her into the realms of internet stardom. To avoid being pretentious I cannot say I found the show in 2011 when it was just making its initial rounds on Youtube, on the contrary, I actually heard its title while watching a podcast by Dormtainment in 2015 (a sextet of males who produced comedic youtube content), which featured Rae. There the boys mentioned that her ‘Awkward Black Girl’ series had been one of their inspirations. Ofcourse, I was instantly intrigued by the name of the show alone and grew anxious to search and view it myself.

Although I caught on when the show had already closed with its Season two finale “The Change”, both seasons were pieces of digital content I had consumed during half-day long binges (my binge times would be shorter had they not included snack intermissions). So yes, I highly recommend watching it if you haven’t already. In the event that the year of its debut fools you into thinking the show might be a bit “dated”, worry not, the awkward humor is timeless. Search “Awkward Black Girl” on youtube and get your fix.

What had really fascinated me about Issa Rae was not the laughs she provided, but the realization that after calling on her friends to get on board, she had orchestrated the filming of “The Stop Sign”; the series’ very first installment, herself. When the episode eventually went viral, Rae alongside producer Tracy Oliver created a Kickstarter in order to fund the remainder of the series.
With an evidently low budget, each episode hit comedic marks and quenched a thirst for a unique story my then college self did not even know I had. As a millennial with a heavy grasp and eye on and for the “self making” capabilities of the internet, I was inspired. I felt Rae’s show was the virtual manifestation of ambition and of a persons desire to do their part in actualizing their ‘dreams’. She was doing what she could with what she had and for that reason, although I did not know much about the writer-actress at the time, I could sense she was more than just a here-for-today-gone-by-tomorrow sort of talent.

As these stories tend to go, we often wrongfully fast forward past all the grimey details and valleys to highlight the accomplishments and peaks. However, it is useful to mention that Rae’s triumphs did not actualize overnight. Rather, she spent much of her time at college directing and staging plays as well as taking on co-ordination roles for performance events during and after her school stint. She later moved to New York where she worked for a Theatre with plans of pitching “Dorm Diaries” (a web series she created after college) to producers in the hopes of having it eventually air on television. While in New York, determined to “reform the image of black film” she also founded a non-profit organization “The Black Film Academy”. But after having her apartment robbed and ransacked and subsequently hitting one of life’s lulls Issa returned to Los Angeles. Fortunately though, upon her return she had that golden epiphany; to create content around her identity as an ABG- an “Awkward Black Girl”.

Later, in 2016, five years post ABG, here came that familiar face and name making its rounds on social media again, however this time it was due to claims that her popular internet series had opened up Hollywood’s doors; she was now (then) going to star in her own ABG inspired television series “Insecure”. Once more, I found myself absorbed and interlaced in the galaxy that was Issa Rae’s genius and imagination. I went to youtube and caught up with all the ABG sub content I had missed as well as the press that she had been doing for not just her new series but also what had accumulated from as far back as the days ABG had just gotten its legs. I noted the details of her journey; 1) how she acquired mentors along the way, but not after believing in and laying the foundation for her vision. 2) How she had already proven herself against the qualms of conformist TV producers that her starring in a series would successfully have it garner a dedicated audience, something not every actress can bring to the table. I marvelled at the ‘beginning’ of Rae’s new journey while remembering the shaky DSLR footage of the first Episodes of ABG. 

I continue to observe as Rae pieces together her empire with every new project. In addition to her TV show, she consistently delivers content on Youtube channel “Issa Rae” , which now has a large catalogue of web shows and short films created and produced by content creators from around the world, highlighting stories that some of us may not have otherwise been exposed to. She also host’s an interview series, “A sip with [insert name of accomplished female creator here]” the episodes of which are available on the Issa Rae patreon page. Her book The Adventures of Awkward Black Girl was published in February of 2015 and ofcourse is still available for purchase. As mentioned before, I recently finished this book, which reads as a collection of essays, two days ago. Like most of her work I found it equally hilarious as I did inspiring. Enough so that I felt compelled to chronicle these thoughts with the hopes that others appreciate her genius as much as I do.

Currently, Insecure’s second season is scheduled to come out July 23rd, 2017. If you missed the first season you can check it out on

A Fashion Designer’s Journey; Overcoming Challenges & Hitting Targets

Overcoming Challenges & Hitting Targets

Sometimes, heading down the path to dream actualization means committing to seasons of discomfort and trial.
Sometimes, watching a friend trudge that path is as troubling as going through it yourself.

About eleven/ twelve months ago, Kumi (Kumiko Yamaguchi to the less familiar), decided to take the first step towards making her dreams of becoming a Fashion Designer come true. Months into her journey however, I watched as she, one of the first friends I made while studying abroad in Taiwan, courageously confronted the aftermath of having a key element of her *Plan* fall through the cracks.

Throughout University, Kumi and I bonded over two things; one, despite coming from different parts of the planet (Kumi, Asia, myself, the Caribbean), our mixed heritages were often at the center of our deepest conversations. She would share with me how being the daughter of a Japanese father and Taiwanese mother resulted in her living with “exclusion” as a recurring theme in her life. I never said this to her, but I wondered if that was what fostered the awareness she showed towards others’ identities; something I concluded while observing her appetite for learning about different backgrounds and cultures. A habit that would even translate into her introducing a segment on the school, radio program she hosted where she conducted interviews with members of the student body from various countries, having us share the ins and outs of our cultures with her predominantly Taiwanese listeners.

The second, was on fashion. Though I would not dare claim to be in anyway fashion forward, Kumi always referred to my lax mode of dress as “a mixture of street and hippie fashion”. She, on the other hand candidly affirmed her unique style, the evidence of which was apparent every time she would walk into a classroom.

Her colour combinations screamed non conformant and were hardly subtle; greens, yellows, reds, pinks laced into her hair, looping over and around limbs, draping right down to her toes. She toyed with shapes, a T-shirt never just a T-shirt and never paired with its popular ‘go-to’ counterpart, jeans, instead it was loose fitting trousers and skirts of varying lengths and patterns.

Her style choices were always bold, a contrast I felt to her delicate demeanor. However, per our heart-to-hearts, the depths of which we often found overselves swimming, emersing, exploring, I became and remained aware of the vigour, self-awareness and bravery packed inside her 5’3” frame. “That must be what is at the core of her mixing and matching” I would think about the audacious way she outiftted herself.

Aware of Kumi’s love for fashion and of the openness with which she explores the world’s cultures, I was more excited than surprised when she told me of her post University plans to take Fashion Design courses in South Africa… Months later, I was equally devastated as I was previously excited when she informed me that in that familiar whirlwind which catches us off guard, sweeps us off our feet and into a different direction than what we had envisioned, particularly in the weeks and months after graduation day, her plans had gone awry.

Kumiko would remain in Taiwan, but instead of putting off her decision to pursue fashion design, she enrolled in the ‘Tuiguang Fashion Design 2’ course at Shih Chien University, a worthy substitute as the school is famous for its Fashion Design programs.

Yet, it did not take long for her world to overturn; things were not going as expected, personal plights reared their heads and once again “exclusion” slithered into the picture. Although Taiwanese in her own right with a solid command of Mandarin, Kumi was born and spent just as much of her life in Japan as she did in Taiwan. During classes with unremorseful students whose Chinese Language abilities reflected the fact that not only did they spend their whole lives in Taiwan speaking Mandarin but also that they (unlike Kumi) did not dedicate four years to improving their English, undergoing a degree program in a language other than their mother tongue; Kumi was made to feel like an outcast. She was even subjected to insensitivities from one of the fashion experts conducting her course.

Months into her program it seemed a thick, black fog filled the open spaces of her world and began smothering her. But later, I realized what I thought had been fog was in fact dark clouds of smoke emitting from the fire that was burning inside my resilient friend.

Not only did she complete her program and end of year project; sketching, printing and stitching her pieces herself (a triumph that not all who were on the same journey could claim), but in the end everything came together in wave after wave of success. She created a complete and cohesive collection relevant to her theme “Welcome to My World”; a commentary on the noninclusive standards set by “Barbie” and the world’s acceptance of her features being the default image of ‘beauty’. She also got a diverse group of models to appear photographed in her designs as well as to walk at the school’s popular runway show presentation where she won the prize for “Best Fabric Design”.


I cannot think of a better end to this “first-step” chapter.

From my point of view, Kumi’s journey thus far is a true testiment to the personal and phyisical rewards that one acquires after relying on perseverance, purpose and dedication to a vision to see them through setbacks.

Although I am oceans away I want to lead the toast in congratulating a dear friend for successfully completing her first official collection and stomping over her challenges like a real badass.

Here’s to more!

More triumphs…

More KumiKo collections..

More memories

and More growth!