Being who I want to be, living how I want to live in this crazy town called Hollywood.

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LA Fashion Week

“Fashion is the science of appearances, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.” – Edwin Hubbel Chapin

With the arrival of fall comes the celebration of creativity and boldness in the fashion world.  FASHION WEEK involves some of my most favorite events of the year. I absolutely love seeing what some of the hottest designers have cooked up for those of us hungry for whats next in fashion.  While LA Fashion week is not seen as important as NYFW or Paris Fashion week, the glamour is still present. 12143181_10101453137503053_2678951006071468309_n Because of my busy schedule I was not able to attend many of the fashion shows and events throughout the week but Saturday night I was finally able to catch a few shows.

For anyone who knows how chaotic a red carpet can be, fashion week carpets take the cake.  Between the media hungry artists and undiscovered designers seeking to showcase their designs for the photographers, it was like a zoo.  Of course when I walked the carpet everyone was mistaking me for Common (which I am not sure what to do with).  After the seemingly endless camera flashes(which I love, I’m a narcissist) I made my way to the fashion gala.

The music, the lights, the beautiful people, the clothes…I am obsessed with it all and I don’t care who knows it.

My favorite part of Fashion week is seeing all the bold designs and color schemes on the runway and in the crowd.  I am inspired to find my own personal fashion statements when I see others being true to themselves with their fashion.  It is not for the faint of heart that’s for sure.  Fashion favors the bold.I intend to be one of the most courageous and help others find their fashion courage as well.  I am extremely inspired right now. I think I will go shopping. Wonder what outfit I will find today. 12096099_10101452754490613_2721710535571061361_n

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What does your ENSEMBLE say about you?

“Style is the perfection of a point of view.” -Richard Eberhart

I had an interesting experience yesterday that solidified for me the belief that people treat you differently when you look like money.  I purchased my first custom design ensemble from LA designers Cosmo and Nathalia (they have a shop located on Melrose Ave and are amazing.) I felt like Kanye West as the stylist referred to me as her client and focused all her attention on me. Working with different styles and fabrics to find out what worked best for me.  It was a lot of fun and I will definitely be returning. I left feeling like a superstar with a new ensemble that I couldn’t wait to wear out.

Sometimes you just need to shop

Sometimes you just need to shop.

Yesterday I decided I wanted to go shopping in Beverly Hills and debut my new digs.  At each store the employees would swarm me under the impression there was a nice commission in their future.  I would look around to see if there were other customers and the stores were always full.  Why were they focused on selling to me? After talking with some of the salespeople they would inquire about my clothing. “Where did you get your shirt? I love your sweater, can you tell me who designed it?” One salesperson kept bringing me pieces to my fitting room that I didn’t ask for and finally said “I just got excited because you look so fashionable and I wanted to dress you.” That’s when I realized it was my outfit that was getting their attention. Either they thought I had a lot of money, which i don’t yet, or they loved my fashion sense and wanted to be a part of my fashion point of view.

Later that evening I went to dinner at this bistro on Sunset Blvd and sat outside. A Star Tour Bus pulls up and stops in the street. The tour guide informs his passengers that the rapper Common was to their right, directing their attention to me.  Cameras flashed and girls screeched in excitement. I just waved and let them go on their way. I have been told I look like Common a few times but never I never stopped a Star Tour Bus. I can’t help but believe that once again my ensemble set them off.

The point of me sharing this experience is this…you ARE how you dress. Just like it is said that who your friends are represents who you are viewed as.  Your clothes are your closest friend.  At first glance how do you recognize a Doctor ? Probably the white coat. A fireman? The fireman’s uniform. I have friends who can pinpoint a music producer by how expensive his shoes and jewelry are.  Just the same, if you put time, money, and effort into your personal wardrobe the nonverbal communication between you and the rest of the world drastically changes.  A well tailored suit says this man is serious about his endeavors. A custom designed ensemble says this guy takes pride in his appearance and his business.  The right outfit can express that you are a man of means or a man of high taste. Tom Ford says “Dressing well is a form of good manners.” So what does your wardrobe say about you?  If you don’t like what it says then change the conversation.  Personally I like for my clothes to say, “Strong. Confident. Unique. This man is well on his way to greatness.” But that’s my journey. What’s yours?

Come and Listen to What He’s done

“Come and listen. Come and listen to what He’s done. He has done for me. He has done for you. He has done for us.” -David Crowder

I woke up this morning with this song in my head and heart. I think I might have been humming it in my sleep.  After my morning workout I spent some time being quiet and trying to meditate but I just kept hearing these lyrics in my head.  So I decided to listen to the song on my phone and my entire soul exploded with gratitude to God.  YES he has done great things for me and you and us! Even in our trying times PRAISE GOD FOR HE IS GOOD!  I think why I am so grateful this morning is because in a moment my entire purpose aligned with my entire being.

I dont mean to sound preachy or anything. I have just been reminded what the overarching theme of my life is.  The reason I am fighting so hard to make something of myself in this industry. The reason I pursue my passion. The reason for my music. Even the reason for my blog is this…I want my life to say “COME AND LISTEN TO WHAT HE”S DONE. PRAISE GOD FOR HE IS GOOD.”

I’m not forcing my beliefs or berating anyone with a bible.That is NOT my purpose or intent.  My pursuits say Come AND LISTEN. My accomplishements say COME AND LISTEN. My failures say COME AND LISTEN. My boldness says HE IS GOOD.  My demeanor, my growth, my ambitions say COME AND LISTEN TO WHAT HE’S DONE.

This is my life…COME AND LISTEN TO WHAT HE”S DONE. HE HAS DONE FOR ME. HE HAS DONE FOR YOU. HE HAS DONE FOR US.

Viola Davis-Being Black in Hollywood

“The Only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.  You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” -Viola Davis

First I want to congratulate all the winners and nominees of the 2015 Emmy Awards.  It is an amazing accomplishment for any actor to be nominated for such a prestigious award.

I don’t have much of an opinion about most of tonight’s pomp and circumstance. I am simply excited awards season is here.  For me, awards season in the entertainment industry serves to renew a hopeful excitement in my heart that it is NOT impossible to achieve ones dreams.  During awards season I am reminded that these men and women are my peers in the craft of acting and performance.  During Awards season I am inspired to work hard and give myself totally to my craft.  Often times, however, during awards season I am also reminded that this Hollywood industry doesn’t have a whole lot of room for a guy like me.  The reality of the scarcity of roles for black men and women in entertainment has never been a secret.  There are lots of reasons given as to why but very few solutions.

winner1In my career pursuits I often feel like I am caged in this world that says I lack value because of my race. Forced to sit in the shadows until we become useful. I am kept out and told to go away because my skin doesn’t sell as well as my white peers.  “Maybe you should try working with Tyler Perry because you know you are handsome…for a black guy.”  Perhaps I am a lunatic for even trying to be an actor if the opportunities are so few and far between. Truth is this is something I HAVE to do but that’s a completely different blog post. Despite all of this I remain hopeful and tonight is further proof that things are changing.

Viola Davis became the first Black woman to win an Emmy for best leading actress in a drama.  In the 66 year history of the Emmy’s Viola is the first.  Her acceptance speech was riveting and was very reminiscent of Halle Berry’s Oscar speech.  I love that she shared this win with her peers in the like Taraji P Henson, Halle Berry, Regina King, and Gabrielle Union.  I believe that every time there is a win like this it is proof that the industry is beginning to see our worth.  Everytime an Uzo Aduba wins an Emmy our voices become louder. The cage we have been put in for far to long is being torn down and I am more excited this award season that I have ever been.  Even if I never win an Emmy or an Oscar, the fact that someone like me could be a recipient is enough to reignite the fire in me to knock down doors and be the best damn actor I can be.  So I celebrate with these women tonight because their wins are my wins.

A proud black actor. A proud black man.

We Burned the boats

“Burn the boats!” -Hernan Cortez

The idea of burning the boats was a strategic military tactic used by the likes of Cortez and Alexander the Great before him. This removed the option of retreat and left their men with only the options of victory or defeat.  With an escape plan out of the question these men committed themselves fully to the goal of victory.  This “burn the boat” tactic produced some of the most remarkable victories in history. Against all odds, victory is sure

"The Journey's the thing." -The Odyssey

“The Journey’s the thing.” -The Odyssey

4 years ago today my best friend Justin and I arrived in Hollywood full of dreams and aspirations.  Knowing how daunting a task tackling the entertainment industry would be and how lofty a goal our successes were, we made a resolution.  We were here to stay. No matter how difficult or bleak it looks, there was no retreat.  We burned our boats that day.  Defeat is not an option. Over the past 4 years there have been miraculous victories and terrifying defeats but we are still here. We are still hopeful.  When I look back on how excited I was when we arrived I have realized I am more excited now than I was then.  This is because I can look back and clearly see how far we have come. I am proud of the strides I have made both as and actor and as a resident of Los Angeles.  I have learned a lot and grown in amazing and unexpected ways.  So while the goals are still lofty and to some impractical, I am closer than I was when I arrived and assured I am exactly where I belong.

This life is a journey and I am thoroughly enjoying this odyssey   God has and continues to go before me and there is profound peace in that. I am excited about what the next 4 years have in store.

“The journey’s the thing.” -Homer’s The Odyssey

Naked and Unashamed – Being nude on film

“Art can never exists without naked beauty displayed.”-William Blake

Growing up I was pretty vocal about my desire to be in entertainment. I wanted to be an actor and a singer…I wanted to do it all.  I would frequently get asked the question, “Would you ever do nudity?” With a self righteous indignation, my answer was always be a resounding “NO!” As a child I thought it was the worst possible thing an actor could do. I had a lot of hang ups human expression back then but as I got older I found myself becoming increasingly comfortable with who I was both internally and externally.  I still couldn’t see myself being naked on film.

“Art can never exist without naked beauty displayed.” -William Blake

About 2 weeks ago I was given the opportunity to appear completely naked on an episode of a new HBO series.  Without hesitation I accepted the job.  Now I would like to say it had nothing to do with the money but, in truth, the money was really good.  However, the biggest reason I said yes was because I realized in that moment that I strongly desired to present my naked self for the sake of art. I have gone streaking and skinny dipping back in high school and college but it was usually under the guise of camaraderie or drunken fun. In recent months I have begun to see myself as ART, not perfectly sculpted or flawless but ART nonetheless and I wanted the opportunity to express this perspective.

I spent most of the night before the shoot unable to sleep. Apprehension and excitement riddled my body. I had a very early call time and when I arrived on set I was quickly given a robe and all my clothing removed. I was whisked away to the makeup trailer where 4 other naked bodies were being oiled and airbrushed.  My makeup artist was a middle aged Hispanic woman who proceeded to disrobe me like she had done it a million times.  Awkward conversation ensued. “You do a lot of nude modeling? Because you should.” As she vigorously rubbed some kind of makeup on my ass and thighs. She moved things around to give my entire body an even skin tone. The whole time I was thinking “what have I gotten myself into.”  After the initial discomfort I realized I wasn’t all that uncomfortable.  In fact I was invigorated.  By shooting time all of my apprehension had dissipated.

“Being naked approaches being revolutionary.” -John Updike

I sat in a chair and in front of me were the camera crew, director and AD, and the lighting guys. The Director yells “DISROBE and ACTION!” The camera pans to me as I sat there in all my naked glory.  I have never felt that kind of liberation in my life.  It took all of me not to laugh because I just felt so free.  Before I knew it the first take was done.  After that I spent the next 6 hours doing different scenes with different angles and lenses.  I was having the time of my life.

Now I am not saying we should run around butt naked in the streets. I do, however, believe our bodies should be celebrated and our nakedness expressed as the art it is.  After all we are the Creator’s workmanship.  At the end of the day, this life is about loving yourself and being comfortable enough to express yourself, flaws and all. I look forward to the next time I get to be naked on film.

“To see you naked is to recall the Earth.” -Frederico Garcia Lorca

Sweatpants are a sign of defeat

“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.”-Karl Lagerfeld

If sweatpants are a sign of defeat then style, true style, is a sign that there is some fight left in you.  When I say style I don’t mean fashion trends or our boring attempts to blend into the masses.  No, when I say style I echo Orson Welles definition of the word “Style is knowing who you are, what you want, and not giving a damn.”  IMG_20150913_205941

As far back as I can remember I have been fascinated by a wardrobe’s ability to express who we are without saying a word.  In elementary school we wore uniforms and I spent more time than I am willing to admit tucking my shirt in my pants, making sure my tie lined up with my belt buckle, and shining the nickles in my loafers (maybe I was a bit OCD).  But I knew in a world that aggressively attempts to force conformity, my clothes could say what perhaps I was to afraid to say.  Now that I am older I have grown undeniably comfortable in my own skin which has allowed me to explore my personal style.  On my journey I have been misunderstood, ridiculed, excluded, and mistreated in an attempt to put me in a manageable box. Peers, friends, and family have all sought to define and control my thoughts, actions, and dress at one time or another. But when I put on an ensemble that is inextricably Mykell, I feel like I can take on the world.

My point is this; When you feel bullied by the world or beat down by your circumstance. When your self esteem is low and you feel silenced by the people around you, brush your hair (if you have any) and put on your most favorite ensemble…the clothes that say exactly what you wish you could, and go out. Go to the grocery store. Go to the bank. Go wherever the world is and stand tall.  Let your style say what you cannot.  It may not fix your problems but you will look good on this ride we call life. It’s definitely a confidence builder.

If you are extra daring once you find your style, get a photographer and do a kickass photo shoot.  Any photographer worth their weight will make you feel like the most important, most uniquely beautiful person on the planet.  At the end of the day have fun being YOU.