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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Why Can't We All Win?

In my humble opinion, to win in life means to have the ultimate freedom of humanity. This is something that is not open to all humans. Not all humans are allowed to make mistakes, fall short of expectations, disgrace the public, and are forgiven with their shortcomings completely forgotten. Such is a blissful dream placed in an unattainable bubble that floats peacefully through the sky, often out of reach for most women and even further out of reach for most minority women. 

As an actress who spent a sizable chunk of my youth trying to cultivate a career in Hollywood, I learned early on, that acting and entertainment is a game that must be played very carefully. The films,  and shows must be good and audience must love you. There is simply no room for mediocrity, especially if you are unattractive or a minority. So when I discovered a woman named Shonda Rimes who just happened to have written a show that had a black female lead (only the second in primetime history next to Diahann Carol), I said, "I NEED TO SEE THIS SHOW!" 

And see, I did. I watched the complete season of Scandal (unfortunately work would not allow me to keep up), Shonda Rimes's, chaotic, fast paced politico drama about a woman who "fixes" scandals before they arrive to the news scene. Since the show is based on a real life woman named Olivia Pope who just happens to be black, it was only fitting the character on the show be black as well. 

America, for the most part, responded brilliantly. The show has top ratings, is constantly nominated for awards, and the actors/actresses have all received recognition for their efforts and contributions. That isn't to say, the show created by the talented and gifted Ms. Shonda Rimes, have not been met with some "Hollywood" angst. With Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal all being ratings gold, one would expect more to come…..and they would be right!

Shonda Rimes unveiled her next fast rapidly moving, drama this past Thursday right after Scandal. Due to the main character alone (no offense to Shonda), I was immediately interested. Viola Davis, both regal and charming, graces the screen so effortlessly in the show How to Get Away With Murder. She is the quintessential, "pit bull in a skirt" that is necessary of a lawyer regardless of gender. Most of the critics agreed, the show was intriguing, well acted, and definitely one to watch for the fall, but one naysayer has ruined all the impressive word of mouth with a borderline, racist rebuttal to the "glowing reports."

When I read, New York Times Writer Alessandra Stanley's depressing, depiction of Shonda Rimes and her creation, I bulked at the thought. In Alessandra's own words "When Shonda Rimes writes her autobiography, it should be called "How to Get Away With Being An Angry Black Woman." 

She completely reduces, a talented woman's entire career to the age old, "angry black woman" rant by saying that most all of her shows feature a intimidating black woman as a lead. 

She claims that Viola Davis is a decent actress who's "sub par" beauty should be rewarded because "it is not the Hollywood standard of beauty instead of basking in the glow of a truly talented woman who just happens to be a lawyer and professor at a major university. It got me to thinking back to a time where an acting teacher of mine said "Unfortunately, in this world, there is not always room for all of us." I hated hearing it and now it was coming back to haunt me yet again.

I just want to know, why can't everyone win? Why can't a black woman write a television show about another black woman who is in a male dominated career field, dominates said career field, is married, financially well, and pretty much not every stereotype the world thrives off? Why must dim-witted, narrow-minded journalists like Ms. Stanley write such filth in order to take away the glory of something beautiful. Viola Davis and Shonda Rimes are huge assets to Hollywood and despite what naysayers may feel, their fans and many heavyweights in Hollywood love and admire them.  

I hate to bring race into everything, but I most certainly feel race was the main factor in the recent disparaging blogs and reports about Ms. Rimes and co. I have a strong belief that if the female lead of How to Get Away with Murder was white, she would be a  no nonsense, kick ass heroine, but because she is black, she is a problem and because her writer is black there is an even bigger problem: they are both angry. Will she continue to write shows that dazzle audiences and transcend stereotypes? Yes! Will she continue to hire actresses of all colors that are perfect for the roles created? Yes!

Why should she change her formula if it works for her? Millions of viewers every year agree that Shonda is doing something right. Until Ms. Stanley and other equally dim witted, journalists (sadly) from People Magazine write the same reviews for the writers and creators of Two and a Half Men, Two Broke Girls, Parenthood, or The Big Bang Theory generalizing every stereotype about the female leads in those shows,   I will continue to advocate for Ms. Rimes. 

It is truly a myth, not all black are angry and not all white women are nice. People are people and everyone should be allotted the opportunity to show you who they are. You, Ms. Stanley, have proven yourself to be a total ass with no journalistic integrity or ability and because both Ms. Rimes and Ms. Davis are classier than you'll ever be, they have simply chosen to ignore your little rant and let the ratings shut you up. And based on the reviews, they are truly winning. Now who is mad? Certainly not those two black women! 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fortune Cookies

As much as I love many things Asian (food, culture, countries,), I truly love fortune cookies. I know it sounds silly, but I am a firm believer that fortunes do come true. I have been blessed enough to have many great fortunes come from my cookies, but some are truly unforgettable. After a stressful week of changes, months of feeling lost and confused, and many life decisions hanging in the balance, I needed a sign. I needed assurance as to what direction my life would be headed and how I could get there, so I went to Pei Wei for some Pad Thai. There is nothing better than Thai food to make my life improve. It is that good! 

As I opened my fortune, I saw some stellar gems "Your finances will soon take a turn to significant improvements." And who could forget "You will soon get something special because of your charm." I instantly loved them both because they reaffirmed my beliefs in fortune cookies. I feel this was an indication of exactly what God needed me to know and see. He needed me to connect with my happy place (Thai food) to see that many incredible things were just around the corner. The best fortune cookie, however, was just around the corner. 

On Thursday aka, my second Asian food day (Chinese), I got my third, fantastic fortune stating "Doors will be opening for you in many areas of your life." This particular fortune made me squeal out loud so much that my server Pak came rushing by to check on me. After I affirmed several times that I was ok, I was left alone to ponder this fabulous find. How is it that in the recent months where everything in my life seemed to shift upside down, I found something that left me so optimistic that none of that even matter? Fortune cookies. Something little, manmade, and divinely tasty can lift spirits and change lives indefinitely!

Maybe it's because I eat lots of Asian fare. Maybe it's because I love sweets or maybe it's because I have a propensity for happy thoughts, but I believe each and every fortune I receive from my cookies is coming true. I blame the delicious intoxication
of Thai food and if I am lucky with my recent finds, they will come true and make 2014 the most memorable year yet. In the meanwhile, more Pad Thai please! 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

To Do…..

       Top Ten Things on My Current To Do List

  1. Complete my academic certificate in Entrepreneurship: I am going back to school to decide what to go back to school for(masters degree). In the meanwhile, this certificate will help me ponder...
  2. Create a new life style blog- I want a blog that pertains to life styles and life style choices. Would you read it?
  3. Finish my television show- I came up with the concept 2 and half years ago. Now it is time to capitalize on my idea because it's brilliant! 
  4. Continue writing my book-I must accomplish this. I am not a girl that sleeps well when my tasks are not complete. 
  5. Self publish my book-how cool would it be to say you self published a book that went number one? How much cooler would it be to say that your book was adapted into a film that i am set to star in?. I think it should happen…soon!
  6. Go vegan…ish- the goal to become vegan is seemingly tough, but I will not let it fade into the abyss. I believe a primarily vegan diet…with moments of meat esque things (dairy) would be best. 
  7. Travel more- with 3 trips planned this year alone, I need to start hitting new continents and countries. It is not optional, it is a must!
  8. Travel write- this is a hobby I love and desperately need to get back into. It's time!
  9. Start a book club- I want to speak with other art intellectuals who feel just as passionately about a page turner as I do. 
  10. Figure out what this love thing is all about- to be continued….

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Fault in Our Illusions

I must confess, I have never in my 27 years of life been able to go to the movies by myself. I have long associated seeing a movie with people: girlfriend dates, date nights, etc. I guess I missed the memo where I could go to more than a restaurant and grocery store alone. Well, I finally broke my cycle: on June 9th, through much neck pain and back strain, I went to my very first movie solo. I decided if I was going to go for the plunge, I might as well go all the way. I went to see a new release with rave reviews. The adaptation of John Green's book The Fault in Our Stars. 

I had no idea what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. The film, which needs no real plot description, was incredible. Two star crossed, cancer patients going through different paths in life find love in a hopeless place (thanks Rihanna). What is so amazing about the film is that this movie was humorous . It made cancer more livable and gentle. It made cancer more understanding and riveting. Most of all, it made cancer more real. 

No other movie, besides Joseph Gordon Levitt's 50/50,  touched home (cancer wise) like this movie. A young girl who had no intention of connecting with anyone in particular at her cancer support group, found an unlikely soul that shakes her beliefs to the core and changes her life. Powerful performances were given by both young thespians Ms. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Egort. Critics adorned this film with more than favorable reviews and deemed it a "Must See" of 2014. I completely concur. 

After all the unbearable bawling, painfully awesome laughter, and the snot oozing down my nose, I got to thinking, why can't real life, love stories be like movies? Love concurs all, pain is bearable with a friend, and everything works out for the best. I guess that is why I really love the movies. I love the delusions of grandeur I receive when I pay my $7.00 to see a piece of art that touches my spirit. I guess I have never been able to truly enjoy the films when I went on a date night or friend date. I was too busy obsessing over stupid things all while, barely absorbing the beauty of the film. 

I get it now. After 27 years of never going to the movies solo, I have gotten the greatest gift ever from this particular experience in June of 2014. I have accepted the fault in my illusion. A film, no matter how wondrous, is just a film. A small break from the craziness of the reality in our lives, but a truly magnificent film keeps the illusion and perfectness of believing and dreaming real for us dreamers who need hope when things seem hopeless. After all, if you want the rainbow, you must deal with the rain. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Checking it Twice!

Last year, I got into a major, emotional funk. I decided to remove myself by dedicating my time to greater causes and things that could improve my life. I decided to make a list, a list of 10 things I wish to do or complete before 30. On top of that list was further my education. This is huge as I am  at that proverbial fork in the road where one must choose going forward or staying still and regretting it. I am on the precipice, but it appears I will simply go forward. I have decided to pursue a master degree as a part of my list.

I personally do not believe degrees change you, bring in, substantially more income per career choice, nor make you "better than the next person." I have always looked at education as a personal thing and a decision a person should make based solely on how they feel and why. Well, my feet are firmly planted and I am looking into masters of fine arts, communications, and a few other choices. I believe the greatest thing a person can do is keep learning because it keeps the mind fresh.

Also on my list of "10 Things to do Before 30," travel to 5 continents. I have been to a few, but that is simply not enough. I am currently trying to create a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina for my birthday. God willing, I can make this trip as it is one I have been contemplating for years now!

The biggest reality check I have assessed lately is that I am not an owner. People who own things have certain, financial benefits and power that relieve of having the misfortune of being turned down for a loan. I hate the feeling of knowing I am not capable of certain things because of my "history." It is time that I improve this area of my life. On my list for 30: own something or buy something to eventually own. First up, a condo!

Something happens, a switch comes on when you hit your late 20's. It makes you realize that your time should not be used idolly. That you should squeeze every moment out of every minute and make it count for something good. I know I cannot do this in every facet of my life, but I am going to work damn hard to make sure it happens.

Amongst the other things on my list: taking a hot air balloon ride, learning another language, and finding true love to start a family with (if it is meant to be). Much of those can be accomplished rather easily, the others will take some prayer and time. My biggest challenge is becoming a vegan and giving up dairy products. I plan to start Monday, June 2nd, 2014. No matter what happens, I need to focus on this reality as I have to improve in order to live well and accomplish the ten things on my list. With a strong unit of friends and family and GOD, this list will be accomplish much sooner. GOD SPEED!

Life is about a journey and no one ever said it would be easy. In the words of the late and most respected poet laureate, Maya Angelou, "Life is a bitch. You have go out and kick ass!" Well said, my queen, well said!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter Harvest: the renaissance version

Is it truly possible to have it all? A successful business? Great friends? Close family? A man to share it with and eventually a family? I say…..ABSOLUTELY!!!

I most certainly do not believe in the myth that a person, more specifically a woman, has to choose which lot she is going to pick in life. I am a firm believer that the possibilities are endless and a woman should absolutely be allowed to have her pick of the litter, so I am getting started early.

I have decided to take the plunge and start my own business. I want to be a woman who makes no apologies for the things she does or wants in life. I want to be a woman who goes in a store, finds something she likes, and just buys it! Just like that, no questions asked and no doubts. I know it is not going to be easy, but I am a firm believer it is possible.

So many women have fought so diligently in the past for future women (my current generation and on) to have the right to not only choose, but go after what we wanted in life. I would be a fool to not go for what I want. Even if I don't succeed, I can still go for what I want in life. I am passionate enough to go for it. I believe it is my right! Hell, I believe it is my birth right!

As an up and coming entrepreneur, I have to make some sacrifices. This will include, little to no social interaction, long nights, many trips around my state and elsewhere, and uncomfortable transitions. I need to get to a point where I can make a life that I am happy to respond to and say is mine. No more putting all my eggs in one basket just to be disappointed anymore. Time to shake things up. I am the Easter Bunny this year and it is time to plant those eggs….who knows….maybe one egg will have a million dollars in it. There is only one way to find out...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring Follies Part Deux

Every Spring I feel refreshed, renewed, and excited about a new season. This Spring is no different. Here are some things I am crazy about in Spring of 2014:

  • Sarah Jessica Parker's New Shoe Collection- I have always been an avid lover of SJP from her Carrie days to her old films like Hocus Pocus. The fact that the most fashionable and fabulous woman has a shoe line makes me sort of flat line.....and come back to life to browse and buy!

  • Kelis's Cooking Show and Sauce Line- What do you do when you're a badass singer with a funky sense of style? YOU CREATE A LINE OF SAUCES!  I've  loved her music for years, I loved her cooking show (hopefully it becomes a series), and I am totally here for her sauce line! Bring on the Feast!

  • Tomato Sauce- ever since I hit up the Market Mobile Pantry, a mobile sort of grocery store that provides a host of goodies for $10.00, I have been creating some of the best marinara ever! I get so many tomatoes, I might as well create the zestiest, tastiest, and fabulous marinara sauce in the world. WHY NOT?

  • Business ventures- I have been steadily trying to venture into the business world, but my fear of transition has stifled my progress. Well, those days are over. Now I am merging my love of weight loss(and fierceness) with business and I plan on making LOADS OF MONEY!

  • My Jobs- I never thought in 1 million years, that I, Oriel Martin, would enjoy teaching. My personality and life force is that of a spicier and creative type, so to teach just never registered with me. Thank God those days are over. Teaching and mentoring means to pour into others what I wish for them to be. The thought is humbling and the experience has slowly, but surely changed my life. I am grateful and terrified yet I want more...

  • Traveling-nothing new here folks, I just live for a journey and since my Jamaica trip was so brief, it is time for yet another amazing trip filled with shenanigans and lots of pictures. Argentina, hello my love...

  • Pretty Dresses- some things never change. I will never be a girl who does not rock a dress. Long sleeved, short sleeved, turtleneck, backless, thigh length, floor length, it simply does not matter: I LOVE EM! However, there is something particularly alluring about a backless, floral frock (yes I am talking to you my new, Diva boutique love of my life). Spring is here!

  • Sports Events- I have never been a "sporty" girl though I admire and love the hard work athletes put forth in their work. I have long since, stopped participating in sports yet lately, I have been to baseball games and basketball games. For me, this is a stretch! Who knows, maybe I will be on the 40 yard line watching some touchdowns take place...WHOA Nelly! Maybe a nice game at home should be my start for the upcoming football season. 

  • Poundcake- it is decadent, slightly underwhelming, and calorie filled cake that is a staple down south. Poundcake always reminds me of my sultry southern days as a youngster. My friend Gwen has been serving up the poundcake goodness lately and I cannot say no. Damn those cupcakes!

  • Holistic Health- my recent diagnosis of health concerns in the last few years has made me a far more focused and proactive person when it comes to my health. I am trying everything from Monolaurin (raw coconut tablets), Daily vitamins for skin and hair, acupuncture, and oxygen therapy. I refuse to go down without a fight. I must have a super body. 

  • Jazzhole-This band is not new by any stretch of the imagination and yet I crave their music! I love the acid jazz world and I am here for this type of slow and seductive sense of beautiful melodies and harmony. Sometimes, I truly adore Pandora! 

  • My New Radio Show- Life is about action. I must be active in life to be successful. This radio show is going to be different from the previous one because I will have a little assistance...stay tuned....