She wasn’t the warmest person I’ve ever met. But she had every right not to be. “Can I gamble!” I remember hearing her say to a small group of film enthusiasts who had approached her at the slot machine that she was perched over with a single drink and thin-lit cigarette. She spoke with frustration and assertiveness, her classic voice you’ve heard in countless mega-black films throughout pop culture. Waiting to Exhale, Dreamgirls, The Preacher’s Wife, etc
The southern twang mixed with a faint high pitch as if she’s out of breath at the very moment she willed her last sentence. She didn’t have to take a photo but she did. She obliged those who asked and she did so with a smile. But after that snap it was a clear “get on up out of her and let me enjoy my life.
I felt for her and yet at the same time…after an hour or so she was still there and I made sure to get my photo lol! I was a kid, my first time in Vegas. Don’t judge me too harshly lol.
There’s always this false perception that when you stumble into a celebrity or find yourself in the same event/room as a celeb that you expect them to be this jolly ol saint nick type of personality and the harsh reality is that very rarely is that the case. And it isn’t because they are mean natured individuals…maybe for some but more likely than not it’s because they’ve lived a majority of their life under constant pressure to be kind and be available for photos. Enough is enough and that can have a tool on anyone’s psyche!
And with that I encourage you to indulge yourself in one of the most exhilarating and earnest moments of my young filmmaking career. A story I never intended to share and yet here we are and here you are about to read the true tale of Hollywood elite being humbled and a true master craftsman getting recognition despite perhaps lacking the level of fame of her opponent.
-CEO & President, Ralph A. World outlines the prelude to the infamous night an entire crowd was left speechless, and a Best Actress was crowned.
Circa’ Las Vegas- LV Black Film festival, a star-studded event to say the least. Held in a grand casino resort with high chandeliers that dropped from sky high ceiling to just a few feet out of reach of a normal human’s wingspan. I remember thinking this was the perfect venue to lick my wounds and console myself once I reached the inevitable point of the festival when the award ceremony commenced, and I heard all the names that didn’t start with a Ralph or Boston get called out to receive their awards.
I was nominated and as always, the humble side of me, the true side of me was happy for just that. But the other side the showman in me the voice deep in my soul screamed out I want more than that. I deserve more than that!
The 4-day event was filled with networking events and red-carpet photographers galore. Almost instantly I was surprised and even shocked at how many people recognized me and knew of my film Boston to Philly. Usually at festivals you need to remind people you’re even a filmmaker or that you have a film screening unless you’re one of the high-level celebs like say a…Loretta Divine. But at every turn and every event at the festival there were people, and staff that would emphatically yell out “Yo Boston! ” or “Boston where’s Philly!” every time I entered the scene. Us black folk get so turnt and loud…I love it lol!
Grandma’s House starring Lorette Divine, Coco Jones, Paige Hurd, Flex Alexander! I mean this film was stacked with some of the best emerging talent on the scene. And it was equally balanced with classic veteran actors that draw a crowd. Grandma’s House was nominated for a series of categories and was easily the betting favorite to bring home the top earner awards like Best Film, Best Actor/Best Actress. The famous people always get the most love I knew that then and I still know that now. I saw that film’s name on the nominee list and always a few a lines below it in the same category was Boston to Philly. I was just happy to be there and get some free food, I reminded myself after seeing that …
A bitter taste;
I approached Loretta cautiously, like a puppy unsure if it’s safe to leave his crate after chewing yet another pair of tennis shoes. I knew she was “testy.” I kindly, softly asked for a photo and she gave me the biggest roll of her eyes I had ever seen. There was no crowd, no commotion from nearby gamblers. It was a quiet corner; I had hawked it for at least 3 mins and no one approached her… I thought I was safe, but her wraith came none the less.
“I get it, and I am sorry to bother you but I’m a filmmaker and my film is tomorrow’s feature screening. I love your work and it would make my whole trip if we can get this photo.” I’ve been told I could charm my way out of the green mile if ever I was to find myself in such an unlucky predicament. Of Course the person who to do me this was also the person who gave me detention for starting a water gun fight in a class trip to ATL. That’s another story for another time but needless to say I got the photo!
“Alright now get the hell out of here!” That was the moment. The extra bit of spice that made the dish too harsh on the tastebuds. It wasn’t the meanest thing I ever heard but it just left a bit of a chill on very warm day in Nevada. It stung, it broke skin and I remembered it. But I got over it.
Admittingly, after a few steps I paid it no real mind as I was eager to post the photo and show off my new “friend.” Sup Instagram check out ya boy over here styling and profiling on the strip. #Carpe diem
The next time I saw Loretta was that evening when she stood up to her adoring fans after the screening of Grandma’s House. It was a good movie-I enjoyed it. But I remember thinking how she was exactly how she always is. Same voice and mannerisms, same type of role same flow and wardrobe etc. We watched Loretta be Loretta and no one else can be her better. She matched expectations. After the Q & A everyone rushed to get her photo, I rushed to avoid eye contact case she threw her shoe at me or yelled at me to go back in my crate!
The first clue:
Our crowd was massive! I couldn’t believe it! Boston to Philly an indie film shot across the country drew a sold-out crowd in Las Vegas! The crowd was energetic and lively interacting with the dialogue and the scenes play by play. It was filled with fancy dressed men and always something I appreciate very attractive women. It was also something else I appreciated… a lot bigger than Grandmas House crowd.
A small victory given I prob wouldn’t have any more wins coming my way closer we get to the award ceremony.