Gina Parris is determined to become a Hollywood star.
But while she continues to seek that breakout role that will make her a household name, she is already making her mark as a producer.
Parris’s debut film,' A Twist of Life', was accepted into the Equality International Film Festival and Indie Night Film Festival and shown at Warner Brothers.
Indie Night is a festival founded by Dave Brown attended by celebrities and casting directors. Parris’ film was screened in TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood which is a historic theatre on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a former venue for three Academy Awards.
The short was actually Parris’ thesis for her Master’s degree in Film and was inspired by Vera Bhajan, the young lady with no arms who shot to national attention when she excelled at the SEA exam and is now an Attorney.
“I wanted to do my film on somebody who is disabled. The main character is Avyanna Wolfe who does everything with her feet, she has some misfortune and ends up on street. It couldn’t be more than ten minutes so I couldn’t show everything so I want to do a feature,” said Parris in an interview from Los Angeles.
The film, directed by Shashank Varma, is a story that shows regardless of how challenged you are you could overcome anything if you persevere said Parris.
In the movie, Wolfe is a talented, differently abled person, who suffers from low self- esteem and because of that, she tolerates Mercy's abuse. However, she does not let her unhappy experiences eclipse her love for drawing with her feet. Through Andrew Knight's encouragement, Wolfe finds the strength to stand up for herself.
After a nerve wrecking ordeal and with the help of the prostitute Bri, Wolfe finally takes the step to break free from her mental jail and embrace whatever help Andrew wants to give her. She leaves Mercy's house to begin a new life.
“In the short film you not only see the woman’s physical struggle you see that she is challenged in her way of thinking and you see her journey in overcoming that,” explained Parris who also holds a Master’s in Counselling.
“When I went to the panel to defend the movie I went over the 30 minutes I was given. They drilled me. I find disabled people are overlooked, they are underestimated. To prepare for thesis you had to develop the script and I remember looking at the Elephant Man and My Left Foot and I was blown away by how talented these challenged people were and in Vera’s case still is.
The film featured four actors: Parris, who played the main protagonist, Natalie Whittle as Mercy, Mc Entire Chloe Paige Flowers as Brie and Parris’ friend Gerry Bednob, a Trinidadian actor known for his roles in '40-Year-Old Virgin' and 'Encino Man'.
“I knew Gerry for some years. The person I wanted to do his role as Andrew couldn’t so I called Gerry and I was so lucky he had time the day I needed him for and he said to send the script. I felt so honoured. He is the only male in the short,” she said.
Trinidadian artist Rebecca Foster did the drawings for the film.
Parris has plans to turn the short into a full-fledged film and plans to do some more filming in Trinidad and is looking for investors or funding to make that a reality.
The film was released by her own entertainment company Gina Parris Entertainment.
Parris plans to do more projects but her real love is acting.
“My main goal is acting, my main joy. I just do producing because it gets my story out but I love acting and writing. I want to excel as an actress. Being out here you have to be able to create your own content. You look at those famous stars and you realise a lot of them producing and acting or directing, they’re always doing something beyond acting. I want to continue doing all of them,” she said.
Her projects so far include 'BRAND', a web series created by Andrew Preston in which she plays Sasha, a series for Beverly Hills Hair Free, a series she co-produced called 'Gangsters', created by Freddie Basnight and Tiffany Lewis and the sizzle reel for a mystery- comedy named 'Housewives-R-Us' created and produced by Folake Kehinde.
“A documentary was done on me in the USA entitled 'The Honest Honestest truth: Gina Parris is extraordinary'. The show was created by Folake Kehinde. People enjoyed it and were inspired by it. One viewer after seeing it asked if he could help me find funding for my TV series 'The Honest Honestest Truth' which aired in Trinidad,” she said.
Parris is also in a web series named 'Amazing Soul Food' which introduces food from other countries on Youtube.
She also does voice-overs and is expected to voice Foxy the cat, a mafia boss for Las Vegas Animal World created by Rosa Falu- Carrion. She said the script got selected for the Oaxaxa Film Fest Official selection where it won best focus and perspective as well as Best Global Script.
She will be acting as a pirate in 'Paranormal Monster’s Society', a series which will show on Amazon and created by Alonso Dominguez aka Al Domino who is also the person that did the prosthetic hands for the main protagonist in her movie, 'A Twist of Life'.
She also has the opportunity to be an Executive Producer for a friend’s big-budget movie which began as a successful mini-series.
“No I can’t afford to give the money but if I get investors for the project I will get executive producer credit so again if anyone out there is interested in investing and want more information please contact me,” she appealed.
Parris honed her acting chops back home in T&T where she did comedy with Learie Joseph and appeared in 'A Story about Wendy', produced by Sean Hodgkinson.
“I acted in church and other small things and when I was young I would write monologues and poems. The turning point for me was when I was 23 years old working in T&TEC and I had a friend interested in poetry and he told me about a show he was going to have and I said if he could do it I could do it too. I am very persistent. I reached out to Errol Fabien for advice and he put me on to people and Learie Joseph taught me comedy acting and I was in Yangatang tent for Carnival,” she said.
Reflecting on everything she has accomplished in just over a year, Parris said it wasn’t all peaches and cream but she is persistent and willing to network her way into the bright lights.
Source: The Loop, Jan. 8, 2018
My name is Phool.
A single flower.
I have 100 years.
Dey ask me how ah feel bout plenty people coming to see me on meh bott-day (November 25th 1917) as if I not accustom having meh house full ah people.
Meh Nana was Mahadeo Sadhu. He was a big man. He come from Punjab and today still in St Mary's in ah lil mandir he de bill, it ha de sword and Granth Sahab. Meh Nana was a Sikh and he never eat meat in he life.
Meh fadda name was Ganesha and he too born in India, in Mathura an come as a lil baby wid he sister and married meh modda Soogie. Nana de bill ah house fuh dem rite next to he own in Moruga dey. Ah was bout three years wen meh mother passed away. I din no she but ah always say is better a child doh born at all dan ha to live without mother.
Ah long for ah modder til de day I get meh own chirren. Me and dem chirren puppa wok we liver string out to mine we twelve chirren. An we had was to mind next chirren to but ah never mind dat. Ah never want no child to ketch ass like me and meh sister Jassodra. We ah play we suffer nah.
Boh meh Nana was a good man and he try he best to keep we safe.
He was a strict vegetarian and every night de people was toh come to read and sing Ramayan by we house. I had was to keep the place clean. Ah sweep, den ah lepay the place and pick flowers to char-ha-way. Ah never get ah minute to rest.
Daytime come and ah had was to go wid de wokman dem in the forest. Wen night come we gone back to bun coal.
Alyuh chirren today cyar imagine dem kinda life. Wen de night get cole and jumbie bud bawling an wen yuh jes jes kech a sleep ah explosion make yuh jump up high. We had was to run quick quick and tro tree branch and dutt to cover the pit back.
Ah had was to lef de blazing fire toh run and full buket by buket ah water from de ravine toh put out de fire. Den wen de log and dem bunn out, it tun to coal. Long time was coal dey using for everythin.
Dem men and dem was to bag up de coal and tote it by the roadside and fo-day morning wen de donkey cart passing dey use to carry the coal to sell in Princes Town. In dem dase dey used to call the place the Mission.
Meh sister Jassod, she two years bigger dan me. She get married and gone to live in Debe. I tell Nana doh look fuh no boy fuh me. Nana de well like me and meh sister, eh. Well one day, Sadakalli, ah ole Muslim man come and ask Nana fuh me to married. Meh chirren puppa de see me wen he de come by eh sister. She de name Dollia and she de living rite over de road by we house.
Meh fadda-in la de come from Juanpur and he was ah sadhu too. So we marrid and ah gone to live in dis same house wey ah living now.
(120 Mandingo Road in Princes Town).
Nana de buy ah blue dress fuh me to marrid. It had rhinestone and ah had it put away till meh big daughter dem wear it out. Ah come here in ah car. Dat time din ha plenty car and ting. It de have only one. Bhownath Maharaj was to drive it and so he de like meh chirren father.
Yuh shudda see dis place wen ah marrid and come here. Ah had three bredda-in-law and dem boys aint know bout cleaning and ting boh wot break meh heart was how wen ah cook dey was toh come and sit rong meh and ah had was to feed dem.
Ah start to wok and in no time at all, dis place turn like a lil heven.
Dem boys din ha modder jes like me an dem treat me like a modder.
Ah had was to care fuh dem wen dey get de typhoid fever. Oh God, dat was a time in meh life, eh.
Ah had was to kerry meh two chirren by Nana an walk from St Mary's to de hospital in de Mission an sometime ah kech de bus toh come back. Ah use toh leave a bottle ah porrige fuh de small child and beg meh bougie to feed de chile boh wen ah reach back big night the bottle de rite wey ah leff it and meh chirren starvin.
Den wen the chirren puppa start to get better he bredda one by one take in. He de feelin better wen one ah he bredda dead and wen he hear dat he get a relapse. Two ah de breddas dead. De chirren fadda and me son come out de hospital and ah take care ah dem while ah mind de cattle and plant all rong de house and see bout de cane land to.
If yuh de see dem boy dem wen dey come out de hospital eh. Dem was looking jes like walking skeleton. I had was to mine dem till dey ga back strong.
Too much trouble in dem days.
In meh lil piece ah house, ah keep it clean and me too, was a strict vegetarian. Ah never go near meat or fish or eggs self and all meh family know this and respect me for it. The chirren fadda stop all eh meat eating and drinking rum and he too tun sadhu long long time before he pass away.
We was to wok hard. We had cattle, cane and lagoon to plant rice. De chirren fadder never siddon like some odder man. He gone forest and cut tree and build de biggest house in we village and we was to have people come and stay wid we. Is how we live long time an how ah grow up wid meh Nana.
Takechand Baba was the chirren fadda godfadda. He was toh come and stay here. And wen he come all the people all aroung was to leave dey wok and come. Dey go siddon like a bhagwat and talk hole hole day and night till Baba go. He was to live Los Lomas.
Ah de make meh house jes like Nana had he house; a place wey sadhus, pundits and other people from India and odder far far place was to come.
We arganize Ramayan jag. We was de foss people to ha jag down here eh, an dat was long, long time since de chirren little and some ah dem ah born yet.
Ah teach meh chirren how to live and by God grace all ah dem dey awrite.
Nowadays, ah does need halp to walk. Ah get sick. Wen ah walk ah lil bit so ah does blow. Ah ha toh ha de inhaler all de time. Ah miss having ah house full ah people and ah does wait fuh meh chirren to come one by one to see me. Ah still love meh flowers too bad. Ah used to buy plants and meh yard was full ah all kin ah flowers boh we bill up ah shed rong de mandir and de plants doh come so good any more. Ah doh go St Mary's any more. Ah doh like to see dat place at all at all.
Wey ah need in meh life now. Like God forget meh. In meh dream, ah don gone Ayodha an in de forest to see Sewarie. Hanooman carry meh and ah see de hole woll. Now ah dey. Ah never hot no body feelin and if by chance ah do it ah does pray God fuh forgiveness.
God bless all ah alyou who does come to see me. If ah was well ah wodda cook some good food for alyou. Boh meh son Karan and Jassod daughter Tara and dem well cook so alyou come and enjoy alyou self.
Dis is life.
Source: Virtual Museum of T&T
What she means to me : Ariti Jankie
Ma has been a picture of serenity in my mind, living a clean life with a sense of purity and dignity.
Mahadeo Sadhu may have been an ordinary man but not to Ma. He was royalty and she walked in his footsteps giving her children a sense of pride in their heritage.
My father never raised his voice at her and in my perfect childhood I never heard them quarrel.
The other children, grandchildren and great grand have their own thoughts of Ma and come November 25th when she becomes a Centurion Sadhvi, they would be here to speak words of thankfulness to her as Jairaj Singh takes the lead in a concert held in her honour.
(Sadhvi is a woman who has renounced worldy possessions and chose to focus on spirituality. The name for a man who has chosen this life is called a sadhu.) Compiled by Ariti Jankie Jagirdar.
As a child growing up in the early 1960s I vividly remembered the fake snow covered Christmas Tree my father made. Just a coffee branch covered with cotton wool. An activity that included everyone in the family . Decorations were expensive so my father being a creative man would use pine cone ornaments or handcrafted minature toys which he carved himself out of pieces of wood , my mother would have us cover match boxes using red crepe paper tied with thread and hung from the branches. Paper garlands were made from red and green crepe paper. Christmas wreath was made from vines , shaped into an open circular frame and covered with moss collected from the cocoa trees growing behind our house. All siblings looked forward to going to the cocoa field to collect moss for our Chritmas Holly. Christmas held its own magic. Each child in family got only one toy each year. So we cherished what we got and was happy.
Christmas eve the smell of home made bread , and black fruit cake baking in the aluminum oven placed on the stove filled the air. Ham was brought from the village shop This was eaten with bread on Christmas morning.
(Source: Patricia Bissessarsingh - Virtual Museum of Trinidad and Tobago)
Traditions have changed over the years but memories of Christmas of long ago remain etched in my memory. What do you remember about Christmas when you were a child? Tell us about your memories in the comments below.
When NASA’s Langley Research Center built its newest, state-of-the-art research facility in Hampton, Va., it was only right that they named it after Katherine Johnson, the NASA engineer and subject of the book and Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures.
“You want my honest answer? I think they’re crazy,” the 99-year-old math genius said when she heard about the naming of the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility. The building was dedicated on Sept. 22 in a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and students from Black Girls Code and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.
The $23 million, 37,000-square-foot data center is named after Johnson, who broke the glass ceiling for black women in the space program. In 2015 Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work as a trailblazer in the space program.
When NASA began calculating their orbital missions using electronic computers in 1962, astronauts were wary of the technology. To make sure he would be safe, John Glenn instructed scientists to “get the girl,” referring to his trust in the hand calculations by Johnson, NASA’s “human computer.”
Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of the book that inspired the movie, was the keynote speaker at the event. “Telling your story has been an honor,” she said. “Your work changed our history and your history has changed our future.”
Read more at NASA.gov.
Trinidad born Noel Smith is the grandfather and hero of Sloane Stephens, the 24 years old who defeated Venus Williams in the US Open Semi Final to gain a spot in Saturday’s All American Final against Madison Keys.
Smith, who turns 92 years old today, was born in Trinidad as one of 13 children and earned a scholarship to Howard University where he studied Medicine and set his family on course to a better life.
“My hero is my grandpa because he’s the best person who ever lived on this planet. I love him so much and he taught me everything that I know."
"He taught me how to read, how to garden, how to plant, how to cook, how to make bread, the colors of the rainbow, everything."
“Every Sunday we FaceTime on his iPhone 6 Plus. Our talks aren’t about tennis, but he told me that I need to keep my racquet parallel to the net at all times."
Sloane was born in Plantations, Florida to Sybil Smith who became the first African-American female to Sloane Stephens' epic comeback is complete.
Stephens, who has jumped more than 900 spots in the world rankings in a month, is now a grand slam champion, winning the US Open 6-3, 6-0 against No. 15 seed and fellow American Madison Keys at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York.be named First Team All American in Division 1 history.
Her father was professional football player, John Stephens who was killed in a car accident in 2009
Check out this video of her chatting with her grandpa. Click here
Source: CNN and 96.1 WEFM
NASA mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the Apollo 11 mission .Katherine Johnson (born Aug. 26, 1918)
Johnson was a physicist, space scientist and mathematician who played a major part in the early days of the space program. Johnson attended West Virginia State University, and in 1934 she earned a bachelor’s in French and mathematics. Her mentor was Dr. W.W. Schiefflin Claytor, the third African-American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics. Claytor created a special course focusing on analytic geometry just for Johnson. In 1940, she attended West Virginia University to further her studies.
She dealt with the early application of digital electronic computers at NASA. Johnson was known for her mathematical accuracy in computerized celestial navigation. She was responsible for calculating the trajectory for the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon. Essentially, she was a human computer.
A Trinidadian woman was among the honourees at this year’s edition of BET’s Black Girls Rock.
Natalie Wilson and her sister-in-law Derrica Wilson were among the list of honourees on August 22 which included stars such as Issa Rae of the hit HBO series Insecure, Beyonce’s sister Solange, US Congresswoman Maxine Waters and singer Roberta Flack.
Wilson and her sister-in-law were honoured as Community Change Agents for the work they do to find missing people in minority communities.
The women are founders of the Black and Missing Foundation Inc, a non-profit organisation based in Washington DC.
The Foundation was established in 2008 to bring awareness to missing people of colour, to assist families in finding their loved ones and to change the way missing minorities are treated in the media.
Speaking to Loop on Thursday, Wilson, who was born in Princes Town and left Trinidad at the age of nine, said they were inspired to start the Foundation when a young lady by the name of Tamika Huston went missing in 2004 from Derrica’s hometown of South Carolina.
“Her family struggled to get media coverage when she went missing and a year later Natalee Holloway went missing and her face and name dominated the news. We realised that 30 percent of people missing were of colour and we said why do we need to sit and wait for someone to do something about it, so we joined forces. Derrica is in law enforcement and I am in media relations,” she said.
Wilson said since they started the Foundation, the number of people of colour missing has risen to 40 percent. She said many families do not know what to do when their family goes missing so BAMFI’s role has been to work with families, help them to file police reports upon which any assistance is based, assist families to get media coverage and educate families about personal safety.
Asked what factors are influencing the increase in missing people of colour, Wilson cited mental health problems and online predators, among others.
“Mental health is a serious issue in our community, we are missing because of domestic violence, sex trafficking seniors wandering away because of dementia. Recently we had a case of a 70-year-old man, Maurice Taitt, from Trinidad, who has dementia, came up for a family reunion and walked away from son’s home. No one has seen him since.
“We know that Alzheimers is a problem but in the minority community, seniors play an important role and there is a sense of guilt to send them away so we take care of them ourselves. In our community we have an issue asking for help cause we are innately wired to do it ourselves,” she said.
The increasing use of sexual predators’ use of social media to groom young girls and boys is a big contributing factor.
“The predators have become savvy and they are connecting to young people online. There was a young girl from Baltimore who met a guy online and he picked her up at school and took her to DC where she was sex trafficked for six days. Fortunately, an Uber driver saw her poster on our site and we contacted the FBI and they rescued her.
“We use social media to bring awareness to the missing and they use social media to groom them. What we say to parents all the time is that if your child is on social media you need to monitor what they are doing and educate them to let them know the dangers. We encourage them to create fictitious accounts and engage with their children, befriend them and see what information they will give up,” she said.
To date, BAMFI has assisted in finding 200 people, not all of whom were found alive.
BAMFI offers its services at no cost and relies on funding from donors and fundraisers. The Foundation hosts a walk/run drive which this year raised US $20,000. While there is a small team, the Foundation relies on volunteers as well.
Asked about the challenges they face, Wilson said changing the mindset of the community on issues such as sex trafficking is one of the biggest obstacles.
“In our community, we do not believe in sex trafficking in our backyard. People don’t believe it is happening to them and people aren’t paying attention until it becomes personal. Even with law enforcement, they need to be retrained. The police aren’t rated on the number of missing people found so it is not taken seriously. Missing children are classified as runaways but they aren’t always runaways and if they are what are they running away from and to?” she questioned.
Improving media coverage, the lack of which, she acknowledged, is driven by race, is another one.
“We have to change laws, we have to more vigilant and hold elected leaders accountable to help our communities.”
Speaking about the honour bestowed on them at this year’s Black Girls Rock, Wilson said it was an amazing experience. Beverly Bond, creator of the show which is aimed at honouring the contributions of Black women, has been a friend to their organisation, she revealed.
“We are grateful that it was presented on a national scale so people who didn’t know are now aware. We have seen an uptick in our social media platforms, more sharing of our missing people. We want Black and Missing to be a household name so when someone goes missing we are one of the organisations on the list."
Wilson said they have been strategising on plans to expand their offices to the cities that have high numbers of missing people, among them Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago.
Trinidad and Tobago is also on her list. Although she hasn’t been home in recent years, Wilson tries to keep abreast of news here and is aware of an increase in missing people especially young girls.
Wilson listens to Machel Montano’s “Happiest Man Alive” to pick her up when she’s down. The song, she said, makes her feel connected to the land of her birth and gives her strength to go on.
“Trinidad is who I am,” she said. (Source: The Loop)
A new personal assistant selected by the Queen is set to become the first black equerry in British history.
Ghanaian-born Major Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah has been chosen for the role, one of the most important positions in the royal household.
The 38-year-old Afghanistan veteran, known as TA among friends, will start this year, according to The Sunday Times.
His role as equerry is to support the monarch at official engagements such as regional visits and audiences at Buckingham Palace.
The Queen's Equerry is an officer from one of the armed services, who takes on the role for three years.
Major Twumasi-Ankrah moved to the UK from Ghana with his parents in 1982 and studied at Queen Mary University of London and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.
He became the first black British Army Officer to be commissioned into the Household Cavalry, and acted as escort commander for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.
The timing of his appointment is significant as the Duke of Edinburgh is to retire from his duties later this year.
Twumasi-Ankrah is likely to become the most visible man by the Queen’s side.
Source: Evening Standard
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