Month: March 2014

An Interview With Restaurant Owner and Writer Felix Kawawa

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Felix Kawawa is the owner of The Privilege Restaurant and Bar in Nigeria. He is also an aspiring motivational speaker and writer who penned the article “Beauty Contest for Dead-body for community trumpet Newspapers  ; here is a link to his LinkedIn page:

https://www.linkedin.com/pub/felix-kawawa/54/206/958

Q: What made you want to open a restaurant?

A: I opened a restaurant and bar, because thought I could make a difference in hospitality business. And I myself love eating and drinking out with friends and it fun, and it is actually one I could be self-employed and create avenue for others to feint for themselves.

Q:What makes the Privilege Restaurant and Bar different from other restaurants in Nigeria?
A: Privilege Restaurant and Bar have a scenery environment, with cruising and captivating services from the bartenders which does it goes on notice each passing day. With assorted drinks, sizzling pepper soup and accomplices. It is actually a place close to perfection, & extensive viewing its sunny and breezing afternoon & evenings! What to do?! I know… maybe a getaway, or just have a lazy one at home, or maybe hang out with friends?! Whichever one it is I’m definitely gonna be gettin’ a Privilege Restaurant & Bar today!!!
It’s frisky weekend! What are you lot getting up to?! I’ll be hittin’ the town with friends and as always have I a hot freshly fish Pepper Soap will do!

Q:  What is the oddest request you have ever gotten from a customer?
A: Chinese.

Q:  What made you interested in motivational speaking?
A: My interest aroused from a deep-seated faith in humanity surviving it predicament and obstacles that comes ones way. Love of great speakers in the past, who through great speeches awaken fearlessness and empower others to know their intent and innate ability to undertake tasks which others termed and tagged, “insurmountable”.

Q:What is your core philosophy as a motivational speaker?
A: When people asked me what my philosophy about life, I simply tell them that it is simply, from point of views. It is admiration and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means, to drive home moral and strength of will. Finding out what nature teach us on daily basis, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values based on our cultural upbringing.

Q:  What is “Beauty Contest for Dead-body” about?
A: That article was actually on moral decadence, where young men and women, gradually turned the Binis cultural heritage into a mirage of some sort. A situation where motorcade in burial procession was supposed to be solemn, sober and respectful to deaths, turned into an avenue where youths begin to parade, finery; jewelries, shoes, sunglasses, modern jeans and branded T-shirts all blacks. Boyfriends and girlfriends, kissing and caressing along major streets and lanes, heavily drunk and at most times, smoked marijuana as well, have become sorry-sights every weekends.

Q: What inspired you to write it?
A: To correct the societal ills and point the way forward. Awakening elders to their responsibility, and warned them of impending danger that lark around.

Q: What do you think people misunderstand about Nigeria?
A: The never-say-die spirit, the energy and smartness of the ordinary man on the street, as a result of failure of leadership and bad governance.

Q: Who are some of your writing influences?
A: Denis Robin, Jeffrey Archer, Alan Gold and Harley Chase.

Q: What experiences do you draw from when you write?
A:. Exchange of soul quality, tenacity of purpose and the solitary of keeping ones company.

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Wildfire Media Studios Founder Jeremy Davis

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Jeremy Davis is the founder and director at Wildfire Media Studios, the producer of The Hill and an contributor to the website Church Without Balls; here is a link to the churches website:

 

http://www.churchwithoutballs.com/

 

Q: What made you interested in filmmaking?

A: Stories. I’ve always loved stories. I think books played as important a role in my interest in filmmaking as films did. I can’t think of one specific moment when it hit me, but over a period of time I began to see that large impact stories had on cultural perspective. I always wanted to play a part in God’s plan for the world and I heard God telling me to make films. So in 7th grade I accepted God’s challenge to help make a difference in the world through making films.

 

 

 

 

Q: What is “The Hill” about?

A: I’ll answer each of these questions together. One of my ongoing clients is Chris Downing, founder of D24 Sports. https://www.youtube.com/user/D24Sports He trains top athletes including professional sports stars (NFL, NBA…). I film his intense workouts documentary-style. “The Hill” was one of his brutal workout sessions. It consisted of one football team, several stations, and one long, steep hill. I got my workout that day chasing those guys up and down, up and down. Q: What inspired you to make it?

A: The first part of my inspiration was being hired to film it. From there, inspiration must come from the experience itself. Each of Chris’ workouts is different. On every live shoot I get a sense of the rhythms and movement of the setting and I pace my filming to match. That’s where I draw inspiration. The venue and subject dictates what and how I approach the filming and that in turn shapes how it cuts together. Then I search for music that fits the mood and pacing. Q: What qualities do you think made it an award winner?

A:What sets my approach to these videos apart is that I always focus on telling a story. I don’t have a rigid formula. I don’t show up to live shoots trying to force it to be a certain style. I respond to it as it happens. In the edit I make sure that one element is always there – story. I had an excellent editor for “The Hill”– Jacob Keeton, who read the pacing of the event, helped formulate the story out of the footage and cut it to be one unified whole. That’s one thing that many ‘hype’ workout videos miss – the story. That’s why my videos on Chris’ channel have been growing exponentially in viewership. People get caught up in the story, rather than just the brutality of the workout.

 

Q: What is Church Without Balls?

A: Church Without Balls is a Youtube ministry that deals with the causes of why male participation in the church has been declining for the past 50 years. My Dad, Rev. Dr. Woody Davis (he goes by ‘Coach’ Davis) is the world’s leading researcher into the issue and has been studying the problem for over 25 years. Church Without Balls is designed to educate the Church on how it drives men away, and address what the Church needs to do to fix the issues.

 

Q: It says on the website that you plan to “help churches change their culture so that men and women fit and find their place equally well”: how do you plan to do this?

 

A: The first step is to raise awareness. Many church leaders don’t even realize that less than 40% of their congregation is men and that men’s numbers are shrinking. Others don’t realize that this was not always the case and that back in the 1950’s church participation was roughly 50%-50% between the genders. Our plan for raising awareness is simply to build our viewership of the Youtube videos. We have other elements in the works too – Dad is writing his research book on the subject, and we plan to expand, but for right now it’s the Youtube channel. The next step after building awareness is education. Each of our videos addresses a singular problem that is a small part of a large issue. You see, this is a case of ‘death by a thousand cuts.’ Any one issue seems minor, but put them all together and you have a culture that actively hinders men’s participation in church life. A crucial part of our approach, and one that is missed by many men’s ministries, is that changing church culture in the right way not only engages more men, but it engages more women too. If we were to reach men at the exclusion of women, the church would not be any better off. It isn’t enough just to add men’s programs. We need to change the culture of the Church as a whole so that both men and women can engage equally in all aspects of Church life. Q: What is your strangest on set story?

A: I don’t recall having any truly strange on-set experiences. There have been the typical awkward moments, funny moments, tense moments, all of which are exciting in the moment but loose any extraordinary-ness in the re-telling, at least for those who weren’t there. It’s those situations like getting the 1946 picture car on set and then it won’t start, or the multi-copter team having technical difficulties and crashing three RC aerial camera platforms (thankfully the cameras weren’t damaged), or being back in catacombs that you have to hunch to walk through and to which there was only one exit and smelling smoke (a plastic clip had been put on a light and melted). I have a hundred stories like that but so do most filmmakers. Q: You founded Wildfire Media. What made you want to start your own production company?

A: I never wanted to be a ‘video professional,’ though I have lots of respect for those who are. Video gigs were only a means for paying for my film habit. Since there are no movie-producing companies in my area, I started my own. Last year I met up with a couple of other like-minded fellas – Jacob Keeton and Ryan Galbraith. We decided that it would be in our best interests to pool our resources and start making films together. We founded ARC Film Initiative, launched our Youtube channel, and have been making films since. https://www.youtube.com/user/ARCfilmInitiative I can’t stress enough the importance of finding other people who share a vision to collaborate with. I worked alone making films and doing corporate video for over ten years. Now that I have a team, the productions have increased in size and value a hundred-fold.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Besides work for clients, my Church Without Balls channel, and filmmaker training videos on the ARC channel, I am Writing, Directing, and Producing a feature-length documentary and a short action film. The documentary is called The Legacies of Music and presents the power and importance of music education. Production began with the ARC team last summer and will continue through the next school year. You can check out our progress at www.thelegaciesofmusic.com The action film is called Contract: Redemption. We just started production. Contract: Redemption is a story about the World’s deadliest hit-man who is outmaneuvered by his younger clone. Our hit-man finds himself unable to protect the only two people he has ever cared for. The agency, deeming the hit-man as a threat, sends a never-ending barrage of assassins led by his younger, more agile, clone to eliminate him. Faced with this threat, the hit-man must undertake the most serious mission of his career: to rescue a young girl from the Agency and from a life as a hit-man. Contract: Redemption is a 25-minute short, full of action-packed fights, stunts, and Parkour, all centering around a gripping and emotional story. You can check out the project and get updates at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/contract-redemption or on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ContractRedemption Q: If you could change one think about Hollywood, what would it be?

A: Everybody likes to bash on Hollywood. Any behemoth of an industry like that is going to be fraught with problems. I have my issues, but just like the issues driving men away from church, it is a situation of ‘death by a thousand cuts.’ I have not worked within Hollywood myself and have not yet earned the right or have the knowledge to wisely address its issues. I plan to get there one day. Once I do, I will continue to play my small part in God’s plan for Hollywood and the World and leave the rest to God.

 

 

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Reelblack Producer Michael J. Dennis

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Michael J. Dennis is the producer at Reelblack and the director and cohost ofReelblack Presents which is a monthly a monthly series at International House in Philadelphia, PA; here is a link to the website:

 

http://reelblack.com/wordpress/

 

Q: What are your primary duties at Reelblack Presents?

 

A: Reelblack is unique in that I am both a filmmaker and a film promoter. My mission is to connect quality African-American film with an audience hungry to support them. We do two screenings per month in the Philadelphia market. I also host REELBLACK TV, monthly half-hour (clips stream at http://www.youtube.com/reelblack) that features interviews with filmmakers and musicians. We also feature a membership tier that offers passes to advance movie screenings—often with the filmmakers in attendance. I am working on completing two feature-length documentaries—BLACK FILM NOW is a spinoff of Reelblack TV; LAST NIGH AT THE FIVE SPOT is a concert film centered on the artists of the Black Lily, a weekly showcase for Neo-Soul that ran from 1999-2005 in Philadelphia.

 

Q: What are your standards for including a film in the show?

 

A: We focus on “discoveries and rediscoveries in African-American Film.” We try to offer movies that have not screened publicly in Philadelphia/ are premieres or new to DVD. Occasionally, we will dig in the vaults and show stuff that is classic or hasn’t been seen in a while. We are also a founding partner inAva DuVernay’s AFFRM—the African-American Film Festival Releasing movement (www.affrm.com). We host all the Philly premieres of AFFRM releases.

 

Q: What is the most interesting thing someone has ever done to get into a show?

 

A: Not sure how to answer that one.

 

Q: Who are some of your filmmaking influences?

 

A: Spike Lee, Michael Schultz, Jonathan Demme, Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges.

 

Q: What are some of the challenges you faced in forming Philadelphia Black Film Advisory Committee?

 

A: If pressed, I would say that we have got to find ways for indie filmmakers to monetize their work and have more opportunities to work on the big budget films and TV shows that come to town. I feel really honored that Councilman-At-Large David Oh (and his assistant, Kimberley Richards) reached out to me to be a part of the committee.

 

Q: What are some of the services the Committee offers?

 

A: Our job is to find ways for filmmakers of color to thrive in the City of Philadelphia. Since we started a year ago, we’ve hosted networking events and information sessions that have helped bring our community closer together. Our first event attracted over 300 people. Subsequent events have been equally successful.

 

Q:What is the biggest change you have seen in black films in the last ten years?

 

A: Technology has made it possible to make really good-looking films at a much lower cost. So stories that might not have been told 10 years ago, are getting made. There is a diverse range in the stories being told. Last year there were over 20 movies released by Black filmmakers to theaters. Also, we are not looking to Hollywood for permission to tell our stories. 12 YEARS A SLAVE, LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER, FRUITVALE STATION, BIG WORDS, HOME and THINGS NEVER SAID are examples of films produced outside of the Studio System that expressed the diversity of our experience. In the past, Hollywood studios would jump on a trend and remake the same type of Black film until it was exhausted. Black film is seeing a renaissance that is finally reflecting the broad tapestry of Black Life.

 

Q: Do you think white audiences shy away from films with an all black cast?

 

A: I don’t know if that’s exactly true. While 98% of our membership is African-American, more than half the people that went to see RIDE ALONG and LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER were not Black. Reelblack does not discriminate as far as soliciting members. The white, Asian and Hispanic members simply love films and like to support our efforts. Audiences all want the same thing—to be entertained and told a good story. I think that good black films have the ability to reach wider audiences when marketed properly. Too often, Black films are marketed strictly to Black audiences, even when they might do better with a broader approach. THE INEVITABLE DEFEAT OF MISTER AND PETE is a recent film that might have done better if it didn’t have such a narrow marketing plan. That being said, I think our core audience (the 98%) makes a connection with seeing themselves reflected on the screen. Black film as a genre is important to me, because through storytelling, we come to understand ourselves better. Black stories need to be told and shared with Black audiences. I can only imagine that all-black cast films that don’t connect with white audiences are, through their advertising (and sometimes content), not making a general audience feel welcome to sample them.

 

Q: Do you think Hollywood fairly represents black characters in film?

 

A: For the most part, it’s frustrating to see the majority of Hollywood films have African-Americans in marginalized or supporting roles but it’s a lot better than the 1940s. Will Smith and Denzel Washington are bona-fide A list stars. Since 2004, Blacks are regularly winning Oscars. And Michael B. Jordan is going to play The Human Torch in the Fantastic Four.  The best part of today is that we have the power to reject the status quo. If there are images out there that don’t reflect our truth, we can make new ones that are closer to it.

 

Q: I worked as a background extra in Hollywood a few times and I noticed that many of the calls were predominantly for white people, even in scenes set in LA, why do you think casting directors do this?

 

A: That makes me think of when I was in film school and I would write my scripts without specifying the race of the character in the description. My classmates would automatically assume the character was white until I told them. Some got mad at me for not being more descriptive and saying the characters were African-American, It’s just the nature of America. There are a few people in Hollywood who are into color-blind casting and seek the best actor for the job; most, when asked to read something, assume that unless it specifically specifies a race/gender that the character looks like themselves. In Hollywood, this is still mostly white, male. But things are changing.

 

 

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

 

 

 

 

 

An Interview With Photographer Gigi Ostrowski

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Gigi Ostrowski is a Colorado based nature photographer; here is a link to her blog:

http://1-gigi-ostrowski.artistwebsites.com

 

Q: What made you want to become a photographer?

A: I’ve loved photography since I was 14. However, I got serious about it when I was in my 40’s. I was a social worker for adult protection in Boulder County, Colorado but, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and knew I had to figure out a way to supplement my income and jumped into photography. I crossed my fingers and went for it. My house at that time had flowers, dragonflies and bees that whispered to have their pictures taken. At that time I only had a 10 mp camera, but if you know lighting and angles you can make anything work. I framed pictures and made my own cards, even though I had never done any of that before. I started working festivals every weekend and they took off.

Actually, even now many of my pictures are taken from that little camera, although I have the whole expert set up with a macro lens, but in Colorado you may be driving and suddenly there is something that must have its picture taken and all you have is your small camera. You can never pass up a moment that might not happen again. So you don’t need anything special if you just believe in yourself.

 

Q: Who are some of your influences?

A: Most of my influences have been mentors too. I was fortunate that when I got serious about photography the art community in Colorado welcomed me. Actually, not just welcomed me, but invited me into galleries and shows. Not only photographers, but painters too, and all artists have some specialty to teach you as a beginner. 

So I would have to say Barry Bailey, his photography is incredible and he showed me how to use my camera and even which one to buy. That was a huge asset for me, so this is a nice way to say thank you… thanks Barry!

Daryl Price is an unbelievable artist who is also suffering from a chronic pain disease, but he continues through the pain. He is amazing and gives me hope.  When I have a bad day I think of Daryl and I make it through my day. It may not be the most productive, but I’m able to do a few things and think positive. And despite the fact that people can’t compare pain levels he is such an inspiration to me.

But the person who influenced me the most was Billie Colson, who owns the Independence Gallery in Loveland, Co. She always motivated me to excel at my art. Plus her work is so beautiful you can see angles, light and how it makes a difference in her art. Further, how to use shading to your picture to bring more power to it. She was and is a strong influence in my work.

Through all of these great artists I have been able to ameliorate my photography.

 

Q: What inspires you about Colorado?

A: Being a Colorado native everything inspires me. From 300 days of sunshine to mountains that can touch the stars or the lush golden aspens that sparkle in the sun. The diverse wildlife, Colorado has to offer to be photographed range from elk, big horn sheep, and even bears. They lend individual beauty and strength to the photographs you can acquire here.

The insects; I love the dragonflies of all colors that seem to enjoy dancing in front of me, begging me, teasing me, daring me to take their pictures.

Oh, and the lichen! Few stop to notice and most think of it as simple moss on rocks. However, most lichen is colorful and amazing when blown up. Lichen has been used in dyes and perfumes and has an actual function which I won’t bore you with, but you can look it up on Wikipedia if you have an interest. But once I saw it through my macro lens I was speechless, what colors and shapes I saw.

Colorado has copious amounts of inspiration for me and will perpetually stir my soul. But to be honest, I’ve never found a place that didn’t hold magnificent pictures. No matter where I am, I can find a photograph.

 

Q: What did you photograph in Wales?

Wales was wonderful to be in for 3 months and it might be easier to figure out what I didn’t photograph. I of course found lichen, moss and all the flowers I could imagine there.

However, I found a strange fascination with chimneys as bizarre as it sounds. They were so charming in their different shapes and sizes. I could also find them everywhere, so it didn’t matter where I went. I took pictures of chimneys with laundry in the forefront, flowers in the background. We’ll have to wait and see how they come out after I edit them

But beyond chimneys, my favorite were the beaches, which was different for me. Lighthouses, rock formations, waves, docks and yes… chimneys lol!

I was a tourist too, and took pictures of castles with fog rolling in and all the basics. Pictures are the best memories, always.

Q: What was the most challenging thing you have ever had to photograph?

A: I see it in my mind’s eye right now. My nephew! I like taking pictures of people, but I usually get my best ones when they don’t know it. I do candid photos with people when they are in thought or just being their true selves. But my nephews’ picture was for his second birthday party invitations and the pressure was on and all he wanted to do was cry, rant and rave, of course. We spent hours with toys, bottles and tempted him with anything we could and no way would he smile. Finally, we were all frustrated and decided we’d go with one of them after I looked through them all. I was so disappointed, but as he looked up, in his car seat, it was perfect, no smile, but candid. I got so many compliments on that photo and if people only knew. I never want the challenge of a screaming two year old again!

 

Q: What trends in the art world annoy you?

A: That’s so easy for me, PHOTOSHOP! I will brighten or darken my photos, but for people to say they are photographers, but Photoshop all their photos kill me. It’s one thing if you’re an electric artist, but to say you’re a true, straight on photographer and there is a moon larger than a mountain that is heart shaped in Colorado, not going to happen. But we don’t have limits with photography now with all the programs and I’m not saying we should, but we should be honest about our art, it is representing us. I don’t know how to use all the features and I could have my son teach me, but I like being a photographer right now. Maybe at some point I’ll branch out, but at that point, I’ll also tell my clients that I have.

 

Q: What do you think is key to good nature photography?

 A: The key is literally taking the picture and looking for pictures in everything, even if you don’t think it’s perfect. It might be in the lens, but you can’t see it. Because, nature is already perfect, but we are so busy and want “the perfect shot” that we never take the picture. I spoke with a gentleman getting ready to go on a photographic safari on my way to Amsterdam and he said that he hoped he took a few pictures, but they would have to be perfect. Really? The biggest trip of your life and you might take pictures, wow! I think getting out early with the sunrise and perfect light is a must. Find a picture that will make you proud, something truly unique. If not, try making the angle unique. There are plenty of pictures in nature to take, but knowing the right ones, that is what makes a good nature photographer.

Know that you have a good eye to see something that others may not see. And remember that only you were able to get that picture, because it only happened at that moment in time. Nature rarely repeats itself.

 

Q: How do the experiences you had as a social worker influence you as an artist?

A: It gave me a deeper appreciation for life and nature. Dealing with hoarders, homeless people and people who were so much worse off than yourself make you love all of life so much more. You see people at their lowest and they appreciate the smallest gesture, the little glimmer of hope. Honestly, they always smiled when I gave them one of my picture cards or came into my office and saw my pictures on the walls. That is when you know your art can touch the hearts of others, that is when you know you make a difference.

Further, social work helped me get along with all different types of people and you meet all types in the art world, artist and clients. It also gave me a diversity level like no other, so whether it’s in nature or at a show, I give thanks to all for being there with me.

 

Q: What is unique about your photographs.

A: I wait, wait for a dragonfly to come to me. I hear they don’t do that with everyone, but they do with me, I guess you could say I’m a dragonfly whisperer. It’s actually my nickname, Dragonfli.

Also, I don’t use Photoshop on my photographs, I lighten or darken them. But other than that, what I see, you see. I try to make them as natural as possible. So the vibrant colors I see are the same you see. I love the bright colors of flowers and most people never get as close to them as I do. I get as close as possible to get the maximum color possible.

I’m also a bit strange with my macro photography because I try to think like a tiny person would (ok that sounds crazy lol!). However, I think to myself “what would be pretty if I were tiny” and that is what I look for in the lens.

I remember when I was a kid loving all the miniature flowers in our backyard and my mother would tell me stories about the tiny people who lived there. I think it’s where my love of macro photography came, I still imagine those tiny people climbing all over my lens.

So what makes my photographs unique? How about all the magic that comes to life through my lens.

 Q: If you could meet Diane Arbus or Ansel Adams, who would you pick

A: For me, that comes easy, Ansel Adams. Although Diane Arbus has an amazing body of work, people aren’t my focus.

Ansel Adams was an environmentalist and one of the most famous photographers of nature. His body of work still stands as a testament to what he saw and there wasn’t Photoshop available when he did his photography. He did what I call true nature photography.  His landscape photography is so rich and magnificent, just to look through his lens and watch his process would be an honor.

If I could meet him I would love just to follow and question him one day, a day while he took pictures at Yosemite. To see his technique with lighting, angles, views… everything he did while questioning him the whole time. I know I would be more annoying, but, what a dream come true! 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

 

An Interview With East Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Vice President Edgar Makhshikyan

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Edgar Makhshikyan is a composer, real-estate agent and Vice President of East Hollywood Chamber of Commerce; here is a link to the website:

http://www.visiteasthollywood.net/

A; During my college years I was a Program outreach coordinator.. Under the direction of Executive Directors and Board of Directors I worked with youth from Los Angeles community colleges, universities, and high schools. Encouraging students to participate in community service projects. In 2007, I was hired as the secretary of the Little Armenia Chamber of Commerce. I worked closely with the businesses and community members to strengthen the economic and cultural integration. Directly report to the Executive Board Directors and Board of Directors to undertake different objectives that impact the welfare of the community in East Hollywood.

During the same time, I was hired by the Hollywood Neighborhood Council as an Outreach Committee Board Member. I organized and worked with a multitude of community stake holders in Hollywood. I hosted monthly meetings to voice local concerns. In 2011, Little Armenia Chamber of Commerce changed to East Hollywood Chamber of Commerce where I was elected the Vice President of the EHCC..

Q: What inspired you to start East Hollywood Chamber of Commerce?

 

A: During my college years I was a Program outreach coordinator.. Under the direction of Executive Directors and Board of Directors I worked with youth from Los Angeles community colleges, universities, and high schools. Encouraging students to participate in community service projects. In 2007, I was hired as the secretary of the Little Armenia Chamber of Commerce. I worked closely with the businesses and community members to strengthen the economic and cultural integration. Directly report to the Executive Board Directors and Board of Directors to undertake different objectives that impact the welfare of the community in East Hollywood.

During the same time, I was hired by the Hollywood Neighborhood Council as an Outreach Committee Board Member. I organized and worked with a multitude of community stake holders in Hollywood. I hosted monthly meetings to voice local concerns. In 2011, Little Armenia Chamber of Commerce changed to East Hollywood Chamber of Commerce where I was elected the Vice President of the EHCC.

Q: What was the most challenging thing about stating it?

 

 

 

A:  One of the most challenging things about starting the Chamber was focusing on the small businesses in the neighborhood, recruiting new members, appointing  new  board members and spreading the word about the Chamber. The challenges we confronted gave us the strength to try harder and expand what we had already created- and this in turn will bring joy and success to our community. Our mission includes representing “the strongest brand in the world- HOLLYWOOD”, “Our goal is to promote the individuals as well as enterprise.

 

Q: What sort of day job do you have and how does it help you in running the Chamber of Commerce?

A: I have been working as a part- time Realtor for over 10 years. This ambition started as a hobby and turned into a part-time commitment to help new home buyers and sellers invest in real estate in the community…As a part- time Realtor, I am able to manage my own time, coordinate business events and host local meetings in the neighborhood

 

Q: There has been some controversy in East LA about converting public housing in to private housing. Do you think less public housing will ultimately help or hurt East LA?

 

A:  .A rental assistance demonstration program., Known as RAD, is a mechanism to convert public housing units into public/private developments that in turn provide rental assistance through-term Section 8 subsidy vouchers that are tied o those developments. It would also mean that ownership of some Ann Arbor public housing properties would be transferred to a new entity, in which the AAHC would have only a small ownership stake- likely 1% or less. The arrangement would give AAHC access to private financing to renovate the current public housing properties, using tax credit financing, loans, equity or grants that are not otherwise available to the housing commission. Older run down housing projects have been rehabbed and are a good model for turning around a blighted are by making the homes nicer but still accepting Section 8 and housing assistance. East LA would benefit from affordable housing being stabilized or increased and any good method to arrive at this outcome with improved quality of the units would appropriate. Increasing access to private financing to renovate the current public housing properties, using tax credit financing, loans, equity grants that are not otherwise available to the housing commission is a proven method:  Unfortunately, when the real estate bubble burst and the Real estate market crashed, things have become extremely challenging due to credit crunch. my clientele have decreased due to the decline in market activity.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges of selling real estate in East LA?

A:  Unfortunately, when the real estate bubble burst and the Real estate market crashed, things have become extremely challenging due to credit crunch. my clientele have decreased due to the decline in market activity.

Q:  What are some of the benefits?

A:   .As a professional Realtor, I extend my participation in working with different ethnicity’s to present real estate opportunities in Los Angeles. and of course by bringing new home owners and business owners in our Community.

Q: What kind of music do you compose?

A:  Most of my compositions consist of romantic music. My compositions are primarily done by keyboard. You can always find my music on you tube. Dance with Lily by Edgar, romantic piano-Infinite love, modern tango( coming soon) born again ( coming soon).

 

Q: If you got a recording deal would you continue to sell real estate?

A: … selling real estate is something i really enjoy, if I were to get a record deal, I would still continue selling real estate as a hobby, or investing in real estate for myself.

Q: What is your oddest work story?

A: Nothing stands out specifically …..

Q: If you could change one thing about LA what would it be?

A: I will provide the change Los Angeles needs. I will make our local economy stronger again for business and empower all of us-by creating new jobs that are much needed in our community…..

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

 

An Interview With Comedian/Radio Personality Benjie Wright

 

 

 

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Benjie Wright is a comedian and radio personality on “Brickwall Comedy Show” on KLZS.   He resides in Eugene, OR; here is a link to his website:

 

http://benjiewright.wix.com/benjiewright

 

 

Q: What made you interested in a career in radio?

 

A: I always had a love for radio but it was kind of by accident that I got into the business. I remember when I was in college I was taking a prerequisites class, English Journalism, and we had the GM of the sports station in to talk about radio. I was more concerned why our local sports team was run by idiots and a week later I was interning for the morning show. Walt Shaw was the news director and a fascinating guy. He did news and sports for the station and worked as a review writer for a couple different magazines, writing features on automotive and vacation resorts. He showed me how to get to the meat of the story and for morning radio you have about a minute and a half to do so. I was never the smartest person in class but I was quick witted and by writing and preparing the shows I quickly climbed the ranks from morning show producer to cohost and eventually my own show. The greatest joy was being in touch with pop culture and addressing stories and subjects before anyone else. Eventually advertising took a crash in 2009 and I was let go from the station in a sweep to cut salaries. Being funny was natural, and on more than on occasion when we would had comedians in to promote the comedy club, I was told I should give it a try. So I climbed the steps to the comedy stage and mad a marriage of the two writing styles.

Q: What made you decided to move from Alabama to Oregon?

 

A: Marrying a woman not from Alabama, I met my wife in California where I attended college and convinced her to move to Alabama where I was from. She gave it a great try but really the pace of life was to slow and rural for her. When my comedy career took off and I started touring nationally there really was no reason for us to be based in Alabama anymore. She had family in Oregon and so for as much as she had sacrificed for me in my entertainment career, it was only fitting that I do the same and west we went.

 

Q: What is the biggest difference between audiences in Alabama and audiences in Oregon?

 

A: When I first started doing comedy I was really worried about how I would be received outside of the south but to be honest, there really is no difference in that every audience wants you to make them laugh. You have to find your voice and writing what you know. I try to orchestrate a sense of shared values and prospective with the audience. I like to expose the universal truth that the audience is just now realizing in laughter and connect with them intimately as a performer. I think comedy is no different than any other trade in that you have to learn it. Treat your early years like an apprenticeship, studying the masters, listening not just to their jokes but to how they deliver them. From the way they word it to any physical nuances that add to the delivery. If your smart, crafty, and have a well-structured joke, it doesn’t matter where you are.

 

Q:  How do you deal with an annoying heckler?

Joe Rogan nailed it in the 2007 documentary Heckler, “the number one thing about hecklers is 100% of them are douchebags.” My first reaction is to try to figure out why this douchebag is trying to derail the show. You have to address it immediately and shut them down. Nobody is on the hecklers side but it is very intense for the audience. As a performer it is easier to turn the room against you by attacking. You don’t know who this person is or their relationship to the room, especially in bars. They maybe friends of the owner or booker so by launching right into them, you just guaranteed you’re not coming back. And lot of times in bars, they don’t know the etiquette of comedy. 99% of the time they are drunk and the stupidity of their statement is enough fuel to take ownership and turn a joke out of it. Be prepared, a good comedian is always thinking three steps ahead of the moment. The better you are at improve the easier it is to handle this person. You have to keep the room on your side the whole time, keeping the incident entertaining but embarrassing enough to shut the heckler up. I have a little thing where I lead the room in kicking the heckler out. It’s hard to argue who’s the jerk when the room told you to leave. I find in most cases the comedy venues that have hecklers have a history of not managing their audiences. Still, I find the better you are at stand up, the lease likely you are to be heckled.

 

Q: What’s funny about Eugene?

 

It has to be the old hippie culture. I have never seen a greater group of people who have successfully let themselves go. And good for them, they’ve found themselves which I think more people should take the risk and do. The idea of peace, love and freedom, sounds good till you turn on the news. Eugene has strived to be different fighting the “Establishment” at the same time creating their own established order.

Q: What sort of day jobs have you had and how have they influenced your work?

 

Even from high school, I didn’t really have conventional jobs. While other kids were bagging groceries or working fast food, I pulped wood, roofed houses, and worked on a worm farm. Even after my days in radio while I was trying to get my comedy off the ground, I drove cab. Not the most glamorous of jobs and most of these folks were on the fringe of society. Odd balls that helped shape how I would look at the world. It also taught me to be self-motivated. There were no sick days or vacation time. You showed up, you got paid. The dark side of comedy you don’t see is the endless amount of hours spent self-promoting and seeking out gigs. 90% of comedians don’t have agents, they have bookers that manage regions and it’s a juggling act trying to plot out a tour.

Q: What do you look for in a radio guest?

Somebody that has something to say. The art of interviewing, I think, is the most fascinating of all journalistic feats. It is a three way conversation between two people and the listening audience. The thing that makes a great guest is a prepared host. Do some research and have a general course of the interview and then listening and creating punctuated moments. Subtly coaching your quest to keep the segment on track and interesting to the audience. As with comedy, you have to create a relatability from the start. First between you and your guest and then between your guest and your audience. By creating this intimacy you can ask more pressing or personal questions that otherwise would have guarded responses. The more comfortable you make it by being professional, respectful, and educated the more interesting the interview.

Q: What are some of the challenges of doing a radio comedy show?

 

A: The pace, it’s more forgiving then the stage in that the audience doesn’t have to be laughing like at a comedy club but it does have to be entertaining. Doing the Brickwall Comedy Show with Chris Warren and Alex Elkin, we each go through the daily headlines and trending topics like any news talk show host would do but we go for what makes the story funny or ridiculous. It’s a dance of judgment because you have to push the envelope with comic observations at the same time not chasing off listeners and advertisers. Both are very similar but with radio you really have to keep in mind the community standards.

Q: How realistic is Portlandia? (Why or why not).

A: It’s a satire of Portland, anyone from anywhere can point out the good and the bad of their town, this time someone made a show about it. Being a southerner I’m used to the world views the south so I take the show for what it is, a comedy. I moved to Portland six months before IFC debuted “Portlandia” and my first exposure to the show was the sketch bit, “Dream of the 90’s.” As an outsider new to Portland, I thought it was hilarious because I saw these people everywhere I went. Not saying that everyone is that way but you notice that person everywhere you go. Oregonlive.com had a great interview with Portlandia co-stars and co-creators Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. Brownstein, who was part of a Portland based band Sleater-Kinney said in the article,

 

“Portland does take itself seriously. It’s a very sensitive city. Very self-reflective and it nurtures sensitivity.”

 

Every one of us has a person in our lives that is exactly that way and how many times have you chuckled to yourself how overboard at times that person reacts. The show poke fun at such contemporary rituals of obsessing over TV shows, being overly read, dog parks, and self-righteous. I can’t help but think that if you are offended by the show than you are the target of the show. To quote Bill Murray from Strips, “Lighten up Francis.”

 

Q: If you could interview the ghost of Richard Pryor or the ghost of Lenny Bruce on your show, who would you pick?

A: That’s a hard one because if it wasn’t for Lenny Bruce there wouldn’t have been a Rickard Pryor. Both comedians were renowned for their uncompromising and critical form of comedy addressing politics, religion, sex, race, and vulgarity. Lenny Bruce paved the way for free speech in his landmark trial for obscenity, but to listen to both comedians sets today, Richard Pryor’s comedy still strikes a chord with all audiences.  Jerry Seinfeld called Pryor “The Picasso of our profession,” Bob Newhart has called Pryor “the seminal comedian of the last 50 years,” and to this day Pryor is listed at Number 1 on Comedy Central‘s list of all-time greatest stand-up comedians. You forget Richard Pryor’s body of work as a stand-up comedianactorfilm director, and writer. He won an Emmy in 73, and five Grammy Awards from 74 to 82. In 1974, he also won two American Academy of Humor awards and the Writers Guild of America Award. The first ever Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor was presented to him in 1998. Of course, I would start the interview listing these accolades and the ghost of Richard Pryor would interject, stating that he owes his success to the underground stand-up hero Lenny Bruce. Pryor identified Bruce’s influence as the catalyst for his work. In an interview with WENN in 2004, Pryor gave credit saying, “Lenny changed my life. I never heard anything like him before and I remember thinking, ‘If this is comedy, then what the f*** am I doing?’ It was Lenny Bruce who said comedy wasn’t about telling jokes – it was about telling the truth.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

 

An Interview With Fashion Photographer Brooke Mason

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Brooke Mason is a fashion photographer; here is a link to her website:

http://www.brookemason.com

Q: What made you interested in photography?

A:  I was really passionate about photography when I was 13 years old. Often at lunch time spent in the darkroom. It became my obsession. Later I went on to be a model myself, but never stopped shooting, and being a part of my true love, behind the camera.

Q: Who are some of you influences?

A:  I get a lot of influence from foreign films, including all of the Fellini classics and some amazing French films for my visual inspiration. Of course I adore Helmut Newton and Horst.

Q:  What do you look for in a model?:

A:  The best models have something unique about them, their personality shines through, and they know how to convey the emotion that’s needed for the story the photographer is trying to create. To be a great model, you don’t have to be the skinniest, the tallest or the prettiest. In the end, it’s about being undeniable to the camera.

Q: In what way does your work push boundaries?

A:  I’m always trying to push my own limitations in creating work, creating art. To get past oneself is the hardest accomplishment. I strive to create an emotional reaction in my viewer, especially in my fine art photography. My goal for my art works is to impinge, to get to a deeper place, perhaps even to uncover a feeling you didn’t know you had.

Q: Are fashion models really getting skinnier or are things the same as they have always been?

A:  Plus models in the fashion world have now become more recognized than ever before. Thin models have always been around since the Twiggy era. This is a personal taste based on designer’s choices or marketing. These days there’s really a lot of everything, even including different ethnicities.

Q: What is your strangest work story?

A:  I was on an editorial fashion shoot, and when we unpacked the clothes on set, the pants were missing and we had to shoot the models in their knickers and tops. It actually turned out really creative and fun in the end. But quite a stressful and strange start to the day.

Q: What was the most challenging photo you ever worked on?

A:  The most challenging fashion shoots I’ve had are shooting at the ocean dealing with the waves, the changing of weather, and being waist deep in water trying to make sure the waves don’t splash my camera whilst trying to get the best shot.

Q: What qualities does a good plus sized model have?

A:  The best plus models have the most vivacious personalities, fun, outgoing, expressive and carefree. For any model, great hair, glowing skin, engaging eyes through the lens and real expressions are key!

Q: What camera would you recommend for a novice?

A:  It’s very hard to recommend a camera not knowing the individual and what they’re needing it for. However, I am a Canon girl, and would suggest someone starting out a fun, cute Rebel XTI.

Q: What famous model would you most like to work with?

A:  Without a doubt, my favorite model of all time and my idol as a child is Helena Christensen.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)