My Bookshelf

 This is my favorite view every night! 

This is my favorite view every night! 

Earlier this year, I had a custom book shelf made for my room. (Anyone who knows me is rolling their eyes) Though I will be moving this month, my room is currently a small room in an attic apartment with very low ceilings. My bed takes up 50% of the floor space so I had to get creative with storage. I wanted a very slim, bright bookshelf to occupy the small space I had between the bed and the wall so I found a woodworker on Etsy who was able to make one for me. It's my favorite piece of furniture not only because it's the first thing I've bought that I had made, but because it holds my favorite things: my books. 

Below is a snapshot of my current favorites in no particular order:

A must read for anyone in their 20s. My best friend Brit gave me a copy and I passed it along to everyone I knew. All about why your 20s matter in life and how not wake up when your 30 and say wtf? Although I probably still will.

If you are practical and like a little structure this book encourages you to set out on a quest to pursue whatever you want to do. It's all about the joy in the journey not in the destination. 

This beautiful book is an amazing living breathing example of the power of the arts to transform lives. Tolan's fantastic ability to tell this story with such passion, grace, and heart still gives me chills. The story features Ramzi Aburedwan a Palestinian refugee and violinist who founded the music school Al Kamanjadti. Highly recommend. 

Two words: Index Funds. If you are in your 20s and don't know what they are or you haven't already invested in them- buy this book. Now.

Vulnerability is where it's at. All day eryday. Read all her books- they changed my life. 

This book is so beautiful and sweet and I re read it every once and a while and am transported. It's about a rabbit that gets lost. We all get a little lost sometimes. 

This book has so many passages highlighted in it that it's almost easier to read the the stuff that isn't highlighted. I come back to the book monthly for inspiration and comfort. 

Currently reading this and loving it. Her first book: Reality is Broken was mind-blowingly interesting and this is too. Gaming is so cool.

As someone who went to an arts school- and was always involved in different arts organizations and community outreach programs.  I'm always interested in how communities and organizations work together. This book is a fascinating study on how and why things/people/places/exhibits are relevant and what goes wrong when they aren't.   

Read this is french class with Madame Arseneau and it always makes me smile!

A must read for any artist or storyteller that wants to change the world. 

     

 

 

Event: Volunteering at The Compton Jr. Posse!

This past weekend, I decided to volunteer with the Agape International Spiritual Center on their 24th annual Sacred Service Saturday. For one day, hundreds of volunteers group up and visit over 30 service organizations in Los Angeles to work on any and every project needed. Many projects involve gardening, painting, organizing, making cards etc. but the organizations vary in cause There were foodbanks, beach clean up crews, a mentoring group working with incarcerated youth, and many more inspirational NGOs working hard to make a difference. I was assigned to group #19: The Compton Jr. Posse. I hadn’t heard of the organization but I knew it somehow involved horses.

After a early morning breakfast and send off, a group of about 20 of us carpooled down to the Compton Jr. Posse stables. You would never guess that behind these seemingly normal houses on a quiet street in Compton, CA is a full operating riding ring. Founded by Mayisha Akbar, “The Compton Jr. Posse (CJP) was developed to provide inner-city youth with year round after school alternatives to the lure of gang and drug lifestyles. For over 29 years, the Compton Jr. Posse has given inner city kids hope by teaming them with horses. Through these equestrian activities, our youth develop responsibility, discipline and self-esteem. Students learn to set and achieve both academic and career goals. There can be no better investment in their future.” Mayisha, her husband Jody, volunteer coordinator Kim, and Anthony were there to greet us and set us up for a good days work!

Our goal on Saturday was to assist in leveling the stalls for some of the horses. With the help of some heavy machinery (and Sharky, our talented tractor operator!) the team was able to level the stalls and fill them in with new sand. It was a hot day and the entire team pitched in to get the job done. Whether it was shoveling, mucking the stalls, passing out water, or lending a hand, it was a fantastic team effort. I truly felt that for those five hours or so, pure love was flowing from our hearts into our hands as we worked. I left feeling inspired, uplifted, and incredibly grateful for those from the Agape community that showed up to help that day and for the amazing work of the Compton Jr. Posse to provide kids a safe and meaningful way to grow and develop into kind, engaged, and passionate adults.

Looking forward to continuing to volunteer with the Compton Jr. Posse and to next years Sacred Service Saturday!

Event: Creative Visions Sundowner!

On Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending the Creative Visions Foundation Sundowner event at the Dan Eldon Center for Creative Activism in Malibu, CA.  Sundowners are a "Kenyan-borrowed summertime tradition — drinks, music, and phenomenal people gathering to toast to a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean and learn more about creative activism." 

Indeed it was a beautiful sunset. After about 45 min of wandering to room trying not to look awkward, Kathy Eldon the founder of Creative Visions gathered everyone around and gave a wonderful and empowering welcome speech. She described the mission and story behind Creative Visions and charged the audience with going deeper into each and every one of our passions to create and tell stories that will change the world. I also had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with a variety of wonderful artists, storytellers, and kindred souls. Those conversations inspired me, fueled my passion, and reaffirmed that there are so many wonderful humans out there just trying to follow their heart and leave this world better than they found it.

The Sundowner was also celebrating the completion of the film Be Relentless produced by Brad Riley (founder of the amazing organization iEmpathize) and Jessie Marek. The film Be Relentless features Norma Bastidas, "a single mother and fearless survivor of human trafficking, sexual violence, abuse and addiction, who on May 5, 2014,  shattered the Guinness World Record for longest triathlon by running, biking, and swimming 3,762 miles (6,054 km) from Cancún, Mexico to Washington D.C. as her stand against human trafficking. Be Relentless is the binational, bilingual, feature-length documentary that captured every grueling step of Norma’s record-breaking expedition across two countries. Through Norma’s persistence, Be Relentless proves that everyday people can make an extraordinary impact in seemingly unchallengeable issues." 

I had the incredible honor to hear Norma speak about her journey, her passion, and her mission to educate and empower and fight against human trafficking. Not only did her words of survival and change bring me to tears, but her overwhelming strength and grace was palpable. iEmpathize has created The Empower Youth Program for Teens. "The program is a tool that helps those already working with youth to facilitate prevention-focused conversations about empathy and exploitation in their schools and neighborhoods." I can't wait to see the film and encourage all to watch it as well- it is now playing at festivals so be sure to follow iEmpathize on Facebook for the latest screenings and watch the trailer below!

Screening: There Goes The Neighborhood

Tonight I had the privilege of going to a screening of the documentary There Goes The Neighborhood directed by my incredibly talented friend, Angelique Molina. There Goes The Neighborhood (TGTN) intimately follows an extended Black family of View Park, California as they experience demographic changes and reflect on their shifting community.

The film was masterfully directed, beautifully shot, and left me as an audience member filled with empathy, curiosity, and perhaps most importantly, humility. 

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The screening was attended primarily by residents of the View Park and Baldwin Hills communities and following the screening, the Q&A with Director Angelique Molina, Editor Yongle Wang, and featured cast member Adele Cadres turned into a wonderful open discussion for residents to connect, share their stories, and reflect on the film and it's message. As a white, non-resident of View Park, it was a privilege to get to know some of these stories and struggles and to listen and connect with community members. 

Congratulations to Angelique and her entire cast and crew on this amazing film. Check out the trailer below and go see it at the LA Film Festival next week!  

USC Global Scholar Prize Winner!

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What a send off! I am humbled and thrilled to have been chosen by USC as one of ten Global Scholar Prize Winners. USC Global Scholars extend their learning by spending at least ten weeks in other countries around the world. Through my travels to Tanzania to shoot The Pamoja Project and then Beijing as part of the Global Exchange Program, I have met the most incredible people and I am so deeply grateful for those experiences. 

Congratulations to all the 2016-2017 Global Scholars!

 

CON Season 2 Nominated for a Student Emmy Award!

Last year, I had the privilege of joining the incredible CON TV Show team as a producer for season 2. CON is a dramatic TV miniseries that follows two con artists on a college campus. Fearlessly led by showrunners and creators, Amy Suto and Jen Enfield-Kane, this was a USC School of Cinematic Arts first and it was an amazing journey. In March it was announced that CON has been nominated for best scripted drama by the Television Academy. The 38th College Television Awards (Student Emmy Awards) will take place on May 24, 2017. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew! For more info about CON click here!