“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.
In 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.
“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
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
“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.
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.
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
WOW! It has been waaaaay to long since I wrote something here. I feel like I should get back into this blog because I feel so grateful for everything in my life I could burst. This post will be short but I just wanted to share that I have become eligible for the SAG-AFTRA union.
My fellow actors know how huge this is!!! I am so excited about this monumental step in my career as an actor. What this means is I have the opportunity to now compete for larger roles in television and film. This could potentially put me directly in the forefront of your favorite show instead of always scoping for me in the background. LOL
Now if I could just find the $3000 to join. Let me know if you want to give to the “Let’s get Michael into the Union fund” but seriously.
Since January I have made the decision to focus on my acting career and things have been taking off amazingly. Now I am ready to compete in the global industry of my peers. I am blessed with incredible opportunities. I will share more later but I have an audition to get to! Much love.