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Tuesday, 8 August 2023

A Mother's Love.

Mother in Hawaii

July 4th  of this year, I stayed home and cooked the typical Independence Day food: hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salad, and baked beans. I must say it was delicious. Even though it was a lovely day, and I was enjoying watching  Jamestown on Prime, my heart was heavy. My Mother had been sick since Apri, and she wasn't better. I was sleepy after that big meal, I decided to take a nap. I had a dream about her. 

In the dream, she told me to cook meatloaf for dinner and company was coming over. I told her "It's your turn to cook it. I don't want to." We debated about who should cook it. I imagine had I not woke up, I would have ended up cooking. She loved my meatloaf. When she was in the hospital, I was there with her when they brought in her lunch and it was meatloaf and potatoes. She tried a bite and said, "It's not your meatloaf.." I smiled and encouraged her to eat more.

That July 4th night, while laying in bed , she was on my mind while I tried to read. While reading, my sister Lori messaged me and told me that our brother Mark told her that Mother was no longer responding. I couldn't grasp it. I asked her "As in not talking?" She said, "Yes, she's not responding." I thought, I definitely have to go see her in the morning which I was planning to do. I failed to asleep and my notifications were off. I woked up early and saw a missed phone call from my brother Mark after 1 in the morning. I knew what that call was. He also messaged me with the news. My sweet, beautiful Mother passed away and went to her eternal home in heaven. I broke down and cried. I read the message more than once. I called my sister Kandy and spoke with her. Both of us cried on the phone together. That memory of us talking took me to when I called her to tell her that our Dad had died. We lost both parents in July.

It's been over a month, and I can still have a hard time with her passing. Here's a little bit of what I want to share about my Mother. My Mother was a praying woman who loved God and prayed for all of her 9 children among others everyday I imagine. Even if you don't believe in God or are unsure, you have to admit that someone who prays, speaks blessings or positive words over their love ones is someone who cares deeply for them and loves them. She has them on her mind.

She was an example of not being chained to her pain in the past. She was an overcomer of much and encourager to those who needed it. When I had a certain health issue, I told her I was going to another doctor to for a second opinion. She said, "You're alright. Don't worry about it." I said, "How do you know, it'll be alright ?" She said, "I just do.I have prayed for you about this, and I trust God.". Well, I went to Rome to this other doctor,and he gave me reassuring news that I didn't need to worry about it. Of course I called and told her. Guess what she said? Well, she said, "I told you so."

My Mother loved to read especially books about Amish community and enjoyed going on rides in the country. She enjoyed traveling and visited her children when they lived in other countries. She was very involved in at her church, Greater Christ Temple, which she was a member since 1979. She was involved in the community by volunteering with Hospice as well as at the hospital. She was loved by so many: her children, granchildren, great-grandchildren, her siblings, church family, friends and her best friend Effie Watters.

We are at Greater Christ Temple for service in 2022.

A few years ago, we were talking about my sadness of not being a mother. She said, 'There's women who have given birth and don't have a Mother's heart. You have a Mother's heart. You care for people and love them " That has stayed with me on days that I've needed it. 

Sometimes when she called to talk, she could hear my dogs barking in the background. She knew if it was Jasmine or Simon. She would joked and say, "Jasmine really likes to talk." She defintely was a lot more vocal than Simon. When sweet Jasmine crossed the rainbow bridge back in 2020, she was so sweet, and told me she was so sorry for my loss.

When I would go to Rome and visit her, she always said, "Call me when you get home. I want to know you're home safe.' For the most part, I called her and told when I arrived home. If I didn't she would call me, and say, "I'm just checking on you." 

I miss her calling. I miss picking up the phone just to hear her voice and her asking what I'm having for lunch. I miss her laughter and sometimes being silly with me. I've listened to her voicemails so much in July. .A few nights after her passing, I listened to so many of the voicemails she left me. I cried hard and so many memoories flooded me. I found one where she wished me a Happy Birthday. My Mother loved me, and I'm thaankful I'm her daughter. I'm thankful I knew a Mother's love. Many don't know that. Many crave it. I am better because of her love.

On the day we had her Celebration of Life at Christ Temple, there were so many people there. She would have loved the service. That evenging, I went to dinner with my sister Lori. We went to Harvest Moon Cafe in downtown Rome. We both ordered meatloaf, and I'm pretty sure Mother would have loved it.

If you have your Mother, hug her and call her. Tell her you love her. You can never replace a Mother's love , so cherish your Mother as long as you have her. I will always and forever miss and love my Mother...Gwen Bennett. 

"A Mother's arms are more comforting than anyone else's." Princess Diana. 

Sunday, 31 October 2021


My latest chat is with Judy Beasley who has been involved with local theatre in Dalton for several years now as a director, actor, and producer. She brings zest, passion, and dedication to each performance and production. We talk about the exciting show All Together Now! that will be on stage November 12 and 13 in Dalton. It's a global event celebrating local theatre and fundraiser. Money raised on these two nights will benefit our two local theatres: Dalton Little Theatre and Artistic Civic Theatre.

Introducing Judy...

What do you love about your life right now?

Pretty much everything. Knowing the end of my time on earth is getting shorter and shorter is a bummer.

You’re one of the producers for All Together Now! which will be on stage at Hammond Creek Middle School in Dalton on Nov 12 and 13. How did you learn about this global event?

Sometime during the early summer months, I overheard someone mention an MTI event being offered to local theatres as a fundraiser. I found the information on the Music Theatre International website and immediately thought it would be a fantastic opportunity for our two community theatres to join together to produce a celebration of local theatre.

What do you want our community and surrounding communities to know about All Together Now?

My hope is that everyone involved in this celebration will take time to consider the value of theatre to a community.....economically, educationally, socially, and culturally.

Have there been challenges in organizing this event?

Yes! Way too many to enumerate. It is the most complex and frustrating event I have ever tried to put together, but my belief in the benefits of the project has kept me fueled. When I was at my lowest energy, Ted Long (ATN director) and Vicki Featherstone (DLT counterpart ) lifted me up.

What have been the joys?

Getting glimpses of rehearsals with adults and youth singing and dancing together and creating something lovely to see and hear. Witnessing the generosity of volunteers ….their time, their talents....to share their love for live performance.

How many are in the production and who is directing?

There are 36 performers. Ted Long, Heidi Long, and Mary McLawhorne are directors. Ashlyn Barnett and Ariana Avila are choreographers. Joe Ross is the technical director.

Who has been your biggest supporter in producing this?

As the title indicates, it has been an ALL TOGETHER NOW effort.

                                                          Picture credit from DLT website

I want my readers to know a little more about you, so we’re going to switch gears and chat about some other things. What have you enjoyed about being involved in community theatre?

The community it creates is at the top of the list of things I value about community theatre. As an actor, it is a great joy to work together with a wide range of personalities and talents toward a common goal of telling a story well for an audience. As a director, seeing my actors bloom and shine is a total joy. Any role I play in any production onstage, backstage, as a director or as an audience member brings me joy.

I imagine you missed it during the pandemic as much as I have. Are you planning on acting in any upcoming productions yourself in near future?

My immediate plans are to see All TOGETHER NOW to its completion and to direct Silent Night, The (Mostly True) Story of the World's Most Beloved Carol for the Artistic Civic Theatre's holiday show. One of the lessons of the pandemic is that planning ahead/worrying ahead is a wasted effort.

Tell me three fun facts about you.

> My daughter and her family are my heart; my favorite and most admired people in my life.
> A past sport I enjoyed was drag racing my Mustang...legitimate racing, not street racing!
> I was an educator who loved her career for over 30 years.

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what message would you want to convey to millions, what would it say and why? 

Be Kind to all God's Creatures.

All of us have had failures where we learn from them and at times we don’t’. Do you have a “favorite failure”?

All my failures have taught me lessons and continue to do so. One truth I have embraced through failed relationships is that I am responsible for my own happiness and that I can not make someone else happy.

In one word describe yourself


Thank you for reading my interview with Judy. Please show up and support this incredible production by attending and sharing this chat. Here's the link: tickets 

Saturday, 28 August 2021

My Chat with Stephen McClellan...Author and Advocate

Stephen McClellan is a multi-genre author, advocate, and educator who gives back to the world in more ways than one. With his talent as a writer, he has created worlds to escape in, starting with his first book To Dance He's been writing off and on his entire life, and through his writing, he's been able to give back, which he shares with me in this chat. His Instagram posts are inspiring as well as educational. 

I believe that he wants people to know through his writing that there is hope and that people can survive their pain and learn to live in spite of their fears. Through his own words in our previous interview, he wants people to know that they have value. Read our chat and learn more about this incredible young man who is an example of love in a world that often feels unloved. 

Introducing Stephen...

What do you love about your life right now?

 I think one aspect of love is tied to gratefulness. And I have an endless list of things to be grateful for. But on a very basic level, one thing I love about my life is that God’s already qualified me and equipped me with what I need to become the person I was created to be. I don’t have to wait for that. It’s something I can wake up and pursue in the present. To have the opportunity to enter each day with that kind of expectation and anticipation is a privilege in itself. I’m fortunate and blessed, grateful, that I can wake up and pursue this life in all its beauty.

 You have three books on publication through Amazon and other sites as well. Who was your biggest inspiration to become an author?

 I can’t pinpoint one specific person or thing that inspired me, one “lightbulb” moment after reading someone’s work or encountering a certain experience. Rather, it most likely would be a number of people or things who consciously or subconsciously inspired me along the way. Like my mom, who was a writer herself and instilled in me the importance of reading. My father, who was a pastor and empowered me with his words. Authors I read throughout my life who were beautiful storytellers—Stephen King and John Green. Men of faith, like Erwin McManus wrote books that challenged me to pursue a higher vision. Experiences in life like attending school at a military academy and living overseas in Southeast Asia for two years. My faith journey, all-encompassing. All of those things inspired me and continue to inspire the perspective I develop of the world.


Was there a particular event like maybe the pandemic that inspired you to write The Space Between Fire and Ashes, or did that play a part at all in your inspiration to write it?

I wrote TSBFAA from 2018 to 2019. The original idea was actually birthed on a trip I took to Pigeon Forge, TN one weekend. While driving out of the town, I looked off to my right and saw what looked like an abandoned bungee jumping bridge off in the distance. It jutted out from a cliff or rock face, and something about it felt eerie to me. A thought struck, “That looks like a place where someone might go to jump to their death. Like a place known around town as the place to go if you wanted to disappear.” Then as soon as that thought had appeared, a new one manifested: “But what if more than one person was thinking the same thing and they ran into each other while trying to take their life? That’d be awkward.” And so, the idea for the book was born. 


As I mentioned to you on IG, I think The Space Between Fire and Ashes has the potential to become a film. Your description and plot info on IG was what got me thinking: film. I know the book was just released, but has that thought crossed your mind since publication?

 Without a doubt. I’ve always loved movies, always envisioned certain aspects of my life as a movie in real-time, so when I’m envisioning and writing a story my mind naturally gravitates to what that story would look like on the big screen. I can definitely see TSBFAA as a film (and the potential to be a pretty good one I think), so that would be the ultimate vision turned reality.


You have a generous heart in giving back to charities from the royalties from your books. Is there one you’ll be giving to with The Space Between Fire and Ashes?

 Yes! All the royalties from TSBFAA will be reinvested to support The Jason Foundation, Inc. Based out of Tennessee, this organization aims to form a triangle of prevention by equipping students, parents, and teachers with the tools and resources needed to identify and assist individuals battling the “silent epidemic” of youth suicide here in the United States.


 Is there anyone in particular who inspired you to give back from your royalties?

 In general, you could say the concept of reinvesting my royalties into different local or global humanitarian efforts was born from doing some extensive self-reflection over the question, “What will you do with what you’ve been blessed with?” How to take your talents, passions, gifts, and abilities and, as John Maxwell so beautifully states, “reinvest them into areas where eternal factors are involved.” Now, the decision to reinvest the royalties of TSBFAA into JFI was inspired by an individual named Brooklyn, whose story I’ll be sharing more about moving forward with the book release.


Indie Writing Wisdom is a book you’re a contributing author to along with ten other writers. What can readers and writers expect from this one?

 IWW is an all-encompassing instruction manual for individuals wanting to write and publish a book. It covers topics from motivation to character development, to plot structure, to marketing tips, to publishing advice. I highly encourage anyone who is just starting out their writing journey to look into it!


With successes, there were failures before it. We all have failures. Some we learned from, some we didn’t. Do you have a “favorite failure?”

 For the risk of being boring, I can’t think of one in particular. Being a perfectionist by nature, I honestly hate failure ha-ha. I recognize the importance of it and the inevitability that we will all fail, but I can’t stand it. Offering myself grace is something I still struggle with. With that being said, perhaps some of my most important failures aren’t correlated with writing but with the people, I care about. Failures connected to the people we love are the most significant, and therefore, have the potential to teach us the greatest lessons about life.


If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what message would you want to convey to millions? What would it say, and why?

 Every new school year, I post one phrase in my classroom that I want my students to remember. This year, it’s “You belong here.” So, I guess that’s what I would put on a billboard. You belong here. On this earth, in this room, as a human being—your life has value. I think the message of purpose lies at the core of who we all are, what we want to know, what we desire. It’s important that no person questions their worth, so that’s why I would make sure is affirmed in their mind.


In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

 My wife, Megan, and I will have been married five years this October, so I’ll apply that question to what I’ve learned since I got married. And I would have to say that one of the most important mindsets I’ve had to maintain is learning to live sacrificially. It’s something I’m still striving to achieve but that I’ve found it to be one of the most important aspects of marriage as well as how human beings should love each other in general.


Describe yourself in one word.


You can purchase his latest book on Amazon. Follow Stephen on his social media:




 Thank you for reading my interviews!




Thursday, 19 August 2021

My chat with Grace Aki...Podcaster and Playwright


My first interview of the year is with a beautiful, talented, young lady with who I've had the privilege of knowing and being friends for several years. Grace was born in the South in the sweet and charming town of Dalton, Georgia which is known to be the Carpet Capitol of the World. She started living a creative life at the tender age of three when she started dancing. From dancing to being an award-winning mime to choreographing for theatre company as well as acting in local plays, she then moved to the Big Apple where she's graced stages as a comedian and started her journey as a podcaster and playwright for her one-woman show To Free A Mockingbird. We chat briefly about what she loves about her life now, her podcast, and her upcoming performance in Atlanta on August 28.

Introducing Grace

What do you love about your life right now? 

I really love my freedom. I’ve never been more wholly myself. I never knew what self-love meant. I thought it was just something influencers said to sell me hyaluronic acid. I’m working hard in fields that I really enjoy, like social content and theatre, so that I can afford to pursue all of my dreams. 

You’re an actor, podcaster, comedian, writer, and artist. If you could only choose one, which one would that be?

Artist, it encompasses all of my other titles and there’s no limit to what I can draw, design, paint or create. 

Who has been your biggest inspiration with all of your creativity from your writing, acting, and podcasting? 

I would have to say currently it’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) & Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You) both playwrights have written incredible solo pieces that eventually had their work produced for tv. As storytellers, they are the women paving the way for other people like me. Not only do they write, but they also get to direct and perform their own work, that’s the dream. 

You’ll be performing your one-woman show To Free a Mockingbird in Atlanta on August 28th. How excited are you to get back to the theatre and performing? 

I’m actually extremely nervous. I haven’t performed in almost two years. The week before New York shut down, I performed the show for a small house at The Kraine Theatre. But because of some incidents in my life, the global pandemic, and so much more, I’m noticing a lot of anxiety and vocal trauma. I hope the audience is there with me, trusting that it’ll all be okay. 

For those who have not seen your show, what can they expect? 

A stand-up show with a heart, 70 minutes of me yacking and hopefully, you leave laughing and smiling. 

Not everyone has the guts to get up on stage, especially by themselves, and perform like you’re doing with your show. Tell me about the joys and challenges. 

The joy is that it’s all on me! The challenge is that it’s all on me. I don’t have a scene partner so if I get lost or if I improvise something I get the freedom to do so. It’s both exciting and nerve-wracking. To quote Little Red from Into the Woods “Excited AND Scared”. 

Everyone needs to listen to your podcast Tell Me On a Sunday. Your sense of humor and heart show up in each episode. How do you decide who is going to be on the show and how do you prepare for them?

A lot of times I look for people in my life who I don’t feel have been asked the right questions in interviews - because it really is a storytelling show, I want people to feel free to tell the stories that I’ve heard them tell before, just to a more broad audience. Actors and creatives often get asked on podcasts “what is your new show coming up” but I’d rather ask “okay can you tell the story of why you have that gremlins doll in your house”. Life is more fun when you take the time to get to know the oddities in people. 

Alright, you’ve got to share with me some info on your merchandise and your Etsy store. What kind of sketches can someone hire you for commission? 

Thank you! I really got into going back to my roots for sketching, painting, etc during the pandemic and it provided a great opportunity for income for me especially being displaced and jobless. I’m so happy it has become part of my weekly routine to do commissioned pieces of film scenes, people’s pets, couples portraits, etc. 

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what message would you want to convey to millions, what would it say and why?

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories.”Anne Lamott

All of us have had failures where we learn from them and at times we don’t’.  Do you have a “favorite failure”? 

My marriage. I’m glad it failed and I’m glad I’m better now. 

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life? 

Learning the power and responsibility of utilizing the word “no.” For a long time, I was taught that it was rude, disrespectful, or unacceptable to say no. Especially as southern women, we’re taught that all the time. I now encourage myself and others to utilize “no” and saving some space for myself. My art and my heart are better for it. 

In one word describe yourself. 


You definitely should make plans to see her show on Saturday, August 28 at 7:30 in Atlanta. Here's the link. There will also be a virtual show on September 11.

Follow Grace on Twitter Instagram Podcast

I've seen Grace perform To Free A Mockingbird, and here's my review. By the way, I loved it!

Check out her website where you can see more information on upcoming shows and here's her etsy shop where she shares her merchandise and where you can commission work from her.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Interview with Stephen McClellan...Author, World Traveler, and Educator

   My latest interview is with Stephen McClellan who is an author, husband, teacher, and crusader for ending human trafficking. I had the pleasure of meeting him over a year ago at Barnes and Noble where he was doing a book signing for his book To Dance in Chattanooga. The book title captured my attention, and I was in the area shopping and introduced myself. I started following him on Instagram and have been inspired by what he shares. 
   In our interview, he talks about his obsession with reading. He shares with me the challenges and joys of writing and how long he's been a writer. His love for all of humanity shines through.

Introducing Stephen...

What do you love about your life right now?

When I think about what I love, I think about what I’m grateful for. Sometimes I’ll reflect on how God has blessed me far beyond what I deserve, and I’ll think, “You own a house, you have a secure job, you have a beautiful wife, you have a loving family, you have supportive friends, and you have a dream in your heart. You couldn’t be in a better position to pursue your vision and reach your greatest potential. So, go do it.” That’s what I love about life the most right now—the opportunity to pursue who I am and who I was created to be.

In your brief introduction on your website you share this, “I may not know you (yet), but I already know this about you-you matter. Your life has meaning and value and purpose and worth. So just know that I think you belong and that you are already accepted here.” Just from reading that alone informs me that you are a caring guy who loves others for just who they are. Where did you learn this compassion? Did it happen over time or have you always been this way?

I have been blessed with extremely good role models throughout my life (most notably my family) who have influenced me to have a heart for people. I think if you are raised to love Jesus, then loving people is a byproduct of that faith. As I have grown older and pursed my own personal growth concerning my identity, however, I have found that one of my purposes on this earth is to instill value into people; to show them that their lives have meaning, purpose, and worth. Loving people is a mindset I constantly strive to maintain and improve every day.

How long have you’ve been writing? 

I have been writing on and off my entire life, although I didn’t grow serious with the craft until seven years ago when I was 25 years old.

Your first book To Dance debuted in December 2018. Was there a particular writer or book that inspired you to write?

I actually don’t remember anyone particular writer or book that inspired me to pick up the craft, but there were a couple noteworthy things that happened that influenced my journey. When I was in high school, I read Stephen King’s From a Buick Eight and that launched my obsession for not only reading his novels but for reading in general. Then, I went on a class trip to England and Scotland my senior year of college. This trip renewed my passion for writing and served as a catalyst for setting practical goals to begin taking writing more seriously.

Pic from Stephen McClellan Facebook Page

What are the joys of writing?

Someone once asked me how I knew I wanted to write, and I responded, “I can’t not write.” Meaning, I felt compelled, driven, destined to do it. So I definitely find joy in creating worlds that once only existed in my mind, the art of character and plot development, and instilling value and purpose through the themes of my books; but for me, one of the greatest joys of writing is the sense that I am fulfilling my calling and doing what I am supposed to be doing with what God has given me.

 Tell me about the challenges of being a writer and publishing your books.
I personally struggle with perfectionism and the tendency to make every scene vital in conveying a particular emotion (as if they were all dramatic parts of a movie where the music is playing and the actors are giving an inspiring speech). Sometimes, the most powerful writing is the most subtle, simple, and straightforward, which is something I need to zero in on. Also, I find it difficult at times to take the idea in my mind and convey it onto paper. This is probably one of the most obvious issue that authors struggle with, but it seems like ideas always sound better in my head than when I put them onto paper.

Publishing wise, I think earning representation by an agent and breaking into the bigger publishing houses is the biggest challenge. Besides being a good writer, there are so many things that need to fall into place for you in order to achieve that milestone.

Is there particular software you use?

I started using Scrivener two years ago, and I haven’t looked back since.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be an author and what advice do you wish you knew before you started?

At its core, I believe you have to establish your conviction for writing—meaning, why you do what you do. If you have established a deeper purpose in why you believe in what you are doing, then not only will it add value and significance to your work, but you will be able to fall back on that when things grow frustrating or discouraging along the way.

One thing I would have done differently before I published my debut novel would be to make sure that the book was in the best shape possible before I sought a publisher. (To a certain extent, you may never reach this point, but you can still take several measures to make sure that, in your own power, your manuscript is in the best position possible to move forward.)

With each book you write and publish, you take the royalties you earned from them to fund local and global humanitarian projects and bring awareness to the causes. Which one are you helping with from the sales of your books right now?

The royalties from my debut novel, To Dance, are being reinvested into an organization called Compassion First. Based out of Indonesia, their goal is to eradicate sex trafficking in Southeast Asia. My royalties from my debut children’s picture book, The Bat and the Mule, will be reinvested into the Ovi Healthcare organization. They have several hospitals in Kenya and Bangladesh, and they take orphans off the street who are dying of life-threatening illnesses and diseases and nurse them back to health. Both of these organizations do beautiful work, and it’s an absolute pleasure to partner with them!

"What I love about life right now-the opportunity to pursue who I am and who I was created to be." Stephen

Is there one book that has made a big impact on your life and why? If you have more than one, please share.
One of the most impactful books I have ever read is called Wide Awake by Erwin McManus. The book focuses on how to awaken the inner hero in you and pursue your highest potential. It helped me refine my vision and expand my ability to pursue who I am and why I was created.

I know from reading your posts and stories on Instagram that you’re passionate about ending human trafficking/sex trafficking and raising awareness about it, what started that journey for you?

At the time I learned of Compassion First, I was praying about where to reinvest the royalties of To Dance. The stories of the organization resonated with my soul, and I knew that it was no accident they had been placed in my path. One of my passions is instilling value and purpose into people, particularly youth, so partnering with CF to help raise awareness and bring an end to slavery fell directly in line with who I am and what I am about.

Why do you think it still goes in our world today?

At the core, I believe we live in a fallen world where imperfect people hurt other people. But on a more practical level, it’s straightforward—people starve for money and power (both of which can be extremely destructive in the wrong hands).

How can others help end it? Sharing posts about the subject or donating money?

Those are both great options! As we have seen from everything happening recently in the U.S., social media can be a powerful weapon to raise awareness and end corruption when used properly. You can donate money to help fund missions, contact organizations about how to do your own fundraiser, share posts on all social media platforms, and even contact your state and local government officials to encourage their involvement in stopping corruption.

In your brief intro on your site, you talked about your passions: writing, traveling, and loving people and pursuing the person you were created to be. We’ve talked about your writing some. Where are some cool places you’ve traveled, and do you have a favorite? Also, I saw in a post that you used to teach in Indonesia, please share a little about your experience.

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to several countries in Europe, South Africa, Iceland, and of course, Southeast Asia. My trip to South Africa was centered around serving the poverty-stricken in Cape Town and Worcester, so that trip will always hold a special place in my heart, although I would have to say that visiting Thailand was probably one of my favorite experiences overall.
I taught at a private school in Indonesia for two years called Cahaya Bangsa Classical School. The school was 95% Chinese-Indonesia, with the other five percent made up of Native Indonesian and Korean. While there, I taught World History, Old Testament, and Biblical Worldview to 7th, 9th, 10th, and 11th grades. I still consider those two years two of the most impactful years of my life.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would that be?

My hope would be for people to focus on significant problems and reinvest their resources into loving people within those areas rather than hating people outside of those areas. It’s absolutely staggering how quickly the world could improve if people actually joined forces to focus on problems that mattered.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave?

I value significance over success, so as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, I want to know that even one life breathed easier because I existed. Being a person of faith, I think you accomplish that by loving others as Jesus loved them and reinvesting the talents, gifts, and abilities that God has blessed you with into impacting others for the greater good. 

Tell me three fun facts about you.

-One of my favorite vacation spots is to rent a cabin in the mountains.
-I am crazy about mint chocolate chip ice cream and Hawaiian pizza.
-I love Alabama football.

Describe yourself in one word.


Who are your biggest supporters?

I feel humbled because there are so many people who have been influential in my journey, but top of that list are my wife (and family), a group of roughly five families that are our best friends, and my Instagram writing community.

Stephen and his lovely wife Megan

I share motivational quotes with my readers, is there one that you can share? It can be your own created quote or from someone else.

I love the quote by Howard Thurman — “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Please follow Stephen on his social media! 

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Interview with Anis Makojia...Pursuing his dream in City of Angels.

My latest chat is with Anis Maknojia, actor, visionary, and creative from Texas and living life and pursuing his dreams in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. We talk about his transition from Lone-Star State to the City of Angels and his film Artifice. He also shares how he prepared for his role as Tony in the film.

Introducing Anis...

What do you love about your life right now?

 The freedom to pursue my passion and hobby as a business.

Alright, when I first talked to you on the phone the other week, I immediately knew from you saying ma’am that you were not from LA. When you made the decision to leave your home state of Texas was it easy was it to make the move and were there any challenges?

It wasn’t easy but I do adapt quickly to my surroundings and situations, but with the support from My parents and close friends back in Texas, I've been able to overcome a lot of the struggles I felt in transitioning from Texas to LA.
Just the fact of trying to adjust to an unknown place, with unknown people and uncertainty in the mind of where I’m headed was my biggest struggle.

Is there any advice you wished you knew before you moved out to LA to pursue your dreams in the entertainment industry?

After moving hereI quickly figured out it’s a big world out here and full of lots of talent which makes it highly competitive. But actually, I don’t see others around me as competition, more as an actual learning experience. I’ve found way to work alongside fellow peers and continuously to do so with more talented people in the industry.

You’re in the film Artifice, directed by Frederick Nah IVin the leading role as Tony, who is torn between a life in organized crime and the life he wants. Tell me a little more about the character Tony, and what does he want?

Tony is a guy that has made mistakes and done his fair share of criminal work for most part of his early adulthood leading into his mid-30s.
But the life of crime he was living didn’t feel right and felt things are starting to make sense in his life and wanted to live the life of crime behind. As fate would have it, a chain of unforeseeable events brought the dream of a better life crashing down into the ground and he ultimately felt it was his responsibility to make it right again. if he could, that is.

You had mention to me that the film was your idea and story. You’re visionary and creative behind it, what was your inspiration behind the film? 

My main inspirations came from my writing. I love to tell a good story. I think of creating a film as a canvas, upon which I paint my inspiration and my visions of a great story for the audience to enjoy and to be entertained by.

How did you prepare for the role of Tony?

I did have to prepare for it, being it was my first film, so I wanted to do it right. And with the help of Aaron Domingueza close friend of Frederick, he coached me into playing the role of Tony really well, actually better than expected.

 Was there a particular actor or film that inspired you to act?
Not really, the genre of action crime drama is large out there but I drew my inspiration from a lot of other films such as John Wick, Jason Borne, and actor Liam Neeson from their movies, etc. These characters helped me define Tony even more. 

What do you enjoy about acting and the challenges?

I just love being in the moment, and as an actor you’re able to let the moment take you away so you can give the best performance ever. I guess the thrill of it is what I enjoy, the personality and the characters that I play.

You’ve started your own film company Land Ahoy! Films and Artifice is the first one in association with Phoenix 4 Productions to be produced. What’s it like to see something that you visualize and then see it on screen?

It’s feels absolutely amazing, it’s a feeling like no other. Truly an experience of its own and can’t be substituted or replaced by anything else that you can experience in life. 

What’s next for Land Ahoy! Films?

 Currently as of this interview, I’m in post-production with another short film which I did with Frederick called With Interest, which is due to be out spring 2020. It's a short crime action-comedy that was written by myself and directed by Aaron Dominguez and produced by Frederick Tabiyus. It’s another Land Ahoy! and Phoenix 4 Production.

Keanu Reeves said, “Art is about trying to find the good in people and making the world a more compassionate place.” Do you agree and is that what you want to do with the art you make?

I totally agree with Mr. Reeves, the world is a big place but through compassion and kindness towards others it makes thworld feel a little smaller and brings us closer as a human race regardless of the race, sex, and even age, no matter where you’re in this world. 

How do you visualize your future within the next year?

I definitely want to do a feature film of my own and be part of a big production as a lead talent. 

Tell me three fun facts about you.

Humorous (sometimes dark humor), spontaneous, and out for the next adventure.

Describe yourself in one word.


I enjoy sharing quotes with my readers. Do you have one you can share that motivates you and inspires you?

 Don’t just think you can, know you can and you will see the difference that mindset can make physically and mentally.” Anis Maknojia.

Thank you for reading!
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Land Ahoy!Films

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