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Saturday, 14 September 2019

Fall In Love with Local ...Dalton Places!

This is my first post in a series about local restaurants and what's special about them. I thought I would start with one of my favorite places. In late March, I started eating breakfast on Saturdays with a couple of my friends at Native Kitchen. I failed in love with the location, the food, and the incredibly friendly and excellent customer service. My personal favorite breakfast is a classic breakfast plate which is: two eggs, toast, and bacon with a cup of coffee. That sets me up for my workday. They serve that all day. They had fried green tomatoes in the summer and they were some of the best I've ever had.

Classic eggs and bacon breakfast 

Mocha Latte ...my personal fav!

Native Kitchen also has this lovely space which is open and you don't feel crowded and it's relaxing. I also go there and write sometimes or read. To me, it's just a wonderful place to be with friends or family or by yourself to recharge for the day. Then to make this place even better and special, they've started making oatmeal pies. Needless to say, I had to get my hands on one. What I love about the ones they make is that they are gluten-free and vegan and most importantly delicious.

Let me tell you, I'm falling for these gluten-free tasty pies!. You have got to go to Native Kitchen and buy one for yourself and before you know you it, you will fall in love with them too. There's a fresh batch every Friday morning and they sell out quick. They also have cheesecake and I'm going have to try that next, but my waist is begging me not to though.

Don't they look delicious? Oh, there's flourless brownies too!

Wes...one of the young men that work here makes the best mocha latte and super friendly!

To sum up this short and sweet article: Fall in love with local! I told you what I love about Native Kitchen and what makes it special: location, breakfast, service, and well, oatmeal pies. You may have already discovered this place and love it. My suggestion to you if you haven't had a chance or don't know about this local restaurant, go and see what makes Native Kitchen so special to you.

They're open Tuesdays-Saturdays from 7AM-9PM, and they are located at 825 Chattanooga Avenue located in the Mill at Crown Garden in Dalton, Georgia.

I bought one yesterday and took it home and finished up some writing on my site!

Follow them on social media:


Thursday, 5 September 2019

Interview with Melanie Victor of California...Podcaster of The Actors Lounge

Photo by Lance Carr

My latest chat is with Melanie Victor of California. She's a podcaster and her show consists of interviews. She has interviewed over 100 individuals in the entertainment industry, and she just recently celebrated a year of podcasting. I came across one of her podcasts because she had interviewed one of my friends who is an actor as well as a director. I was impressed with how casual and fun her show was. I was inspired as well because coming across her show has inspired me to look into doing this in the near future.

Learn more about Melanie and find out her who her biggest supporter is and if she has a favorite interview.

Introducing Melanie... 

What do you love about your life right now?

My husband and I are able to pursue our passions and dreams all while raising our 1-year-old son Jaiden. It’s exciting to have him on this journey with us. He keeps us very busy, so we definitely have to be strategic and work together to get things done. Although this journey can be challenging at times, it’s definitely been worth it and I know eventually things will pan out the way we desire.

You’ve been a podcaster for a little over a year, was there an individual or was there a show that inspired you to be a podcaster?

My husband was the one to encourage me to start a podcast. I was terrified, but he believed in me so much that he actually started reaching out to actors and setting up interviews for me. So at that point, I had no excuse; I had to show up. Looking back, I’m so grateful to him for giving me that push I needed.

What have been the joys and challenges of starting it?

Some of the joys of the podcast have been getting the opportunity to talk with and hear so many different actors stories. I also have enjoyed watching the podcast grow and connecting with so many people that have been encouraged and inspired by The Actors Lounge.
A big challenge was just doing it and knowing that I was good enough to host my own show and interview all of these actors. That was big in my mind but once I started to own it and gave myself permission, my confidence and courage grew.

Was there a class you took to learn how to do a podcast?

No, I didn’t take any classes. My husband has taught me everything I know about successfully running my own podcast.

Do you mainly interview actors and are you planning to interview others in the entertainment industry?

I mostly interview actors, but I also have interviewed directors, casting directors, producers, etc. My focus is the actor’s story and acting business so I’m open to interviewing anyone in the field that can speak to the business or offer a different perspective for my listeners.
How many actors have you interviewed so far?
So far, I’ve interviewed over 100 actors and counting. So much more to come!

Do you have a favorite interview? And I imagine that you have more than one for different reasons, am I right?

I’ve taken something away from every interview I’ve done so far. I really appreciate hearing the stories about the actors who wanted to quit or give up but didn’t. They were so close to throwing in the towel but they got that opportunity or finally booked that first costar or dream role. I enjoy hearing about the challenging times because they have managed to maintain and keep going. That gives me a lot of hope in my own pursuit, and I know it helps a lot of people.

So, how do you go about preparing for the interview and what does that entail?

So for each guest, I have them send me their bio and I like to watch any past interviews they may have done. I also like to watch at least one of their shows or movies, so I’m familiar with their work. I come up with 10 questions for each guest as a guideline, but I like to allow the conversation to naturally flow. My interviews are very relaxed, casual, and free-flowing.

What do you want potential interviewees to know about your podcast?

That there are no right or wrong answers to the questions I ask. This is just a space for actors to freely share their stories and experiences. The Actors Lounge is a great resource for the acting community, and by coming on the show, you have an opportunity to help and inspire a lot of other actors. So many actors that have been on the show have told me how much they enjoyed the interview because it gave them the space to reflect on and appreciate how far they have actually come on their journey as an actor. It’s a gift to me, but it's also a gift to the interviewee.

You’ve done some acting, what do you enjoy about it?

I enjoy being able to tell a different story from my own and being able to walk in someone else’s shoes. I find acting to be very freeing.

Photo by Lance Carr

Besides your acting and podcasting, you’re also a print model, is there one you prefer over the other?

Anytime I get to act in front of the camera or work on a print shoot, I’m grateful. I really just enjoy having the chance to do what I love. I don’t take any of it for granted.

Wearing your different hats as an actor, podcaster, model, Mom, and wife, what has been the most rewarding for you and why?

Well, I wouldn’t say one has been more rewarding over the other but having my own podcast is the most surprising because I never thought I’d have my own. It was always something I’d seen other people do, but I never imagined myself having my own show. That alone is rewarding because it has shown me that I am capable of so much.

There’s a quote I came across recently that says, “Some people are artists. Some, themselves are art.” What are your thoughts on that and are you the artist or the art?

I’d say I see myself as the art because I ultimately want my life and story to be an inspiration. People use art to be inspired and I want to inspire people.

Who are your biggest supporters?

Hands down my biggest supporter is my husband, he really keeps me going and holds me accountable on a daily basis.  

Tell me three fun facts about you.

1. I have my Masters in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. I had plans to become a therapist. After finishing school, I had a change of heart and decided to pursue acting.
2. I love to collect notebooks and journals. I enjoy writing down my goals and thoughts. I have so many notebooks, used and unused. There is something about a pretty notebook that I can’t resist.
3. I’ve been a vegetarian for 7 years now. 

“It’s amazing what you can get if you quietly, clearly, and authoritatively demand it.” The quote is by Meryl Streep. Do you agree with her? 

Yes, I agree with this quote. I believe you can demand things with a certain amount of class and a knowingness based on who you are and how you carry yourself. You don’t always have to make a lot of noise or fuss in order to get things done or make a change. True confidence doesn’t have to be loud. Also, setting your intention is powerful because it keeps you focused on the goal at hand. That is where clarity comes into play.

I share motivational quotes with my readers, do you have a go-to saying or quotes that uplifts or inspires you during a difficult time?

Pray or worry, don’t do both.

Describe yourself in one word.


Photo by Lance Carr

Follow Melanie on Instagram and check out her podcast! Links are below.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

"To Free a Mockingbird" ...My thoughts on the show.

“There’s no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.” Unknown

Grace Aki is a storyteller and one you don't want to miss next time she's in Atlanta performing her show To Free A Mockingbird. The above quote says it all. I was inspired among other things. My review is a little overdue but my thoughts are the same as the day I saw her show. So let me tell a little more about it...

I smiled, I laughed, I cried, and I reminisced. I attended Grace Aki’s To Free a Mockingbird show back in June at the Atlanta Fringe Festival. I’ve known her a few years and seen her performed in a few shows in Georgia and have always admired her talent of singing, dancing, and acting. She’s quite funny too! This show was different from the ones I’ve seen her in before because she wrote it, and it was a solo show. I didn’t quite know what to expect but I was anticipating a show that tugged at my heart and tickled my funny bone and she delivered.

I smiled …because I got to see Grace perform in a show and not just any show, but her show. She wrote it directly from her heart. It was a dramedy which is by far one of my favorite genres.  As usual, she had her incredible and fun energy while performing, and she came on the stage to some music from a famous film based in the South. An author was talked about in the show along with with bits and pieces of her parents' lives and a brick. The brick piece, well, you really had to be there to understand.

I laughed… so hard until I snorted…out loud. Yes, I snort…laughter that is. Grace has this knack of storytelling where she weaves in sad moments of her life with bits of humor. To me, that’s a gift to be able to do that and from what I can gather is that she has learned to cling to hope and love in spite of the dark moments. I laughed also because she has some of the best facial expressions by far!  There’s a story in them!  If you didn’t see her show, go follow her on Instagram, and you won’t be disappointed.

Grace Aki Pic credit by Mindy Tucker

I cried…because the way she shared about her father. The man who encouraged her dream of acting by showing all kinds of films when she was a little girl. Later in her life, she discovers a painful truth about him. I also cried in how she spoke lovingly of her spouse Damon and how they met.

With  Jennifer Jones

I reminisced…after the show. It was the ending of the show that really hit me hard...that caused me to reminisced and well cry too. On my way back home with my friend Jennifer, we talked about how much we enjoyed her show.  We also talked about our dads too. Her show sparked a conversation that for me can be hard to talk about but at the same time healing each time I share. At the time I’m writing this, I am crying and wishing I had a different story that I could share about my dad.

The show may not be exactly as she wanted it or perfect, but it didn’t have to be. “Perfection is shallow, unreal, and fatally unrealistic,” quote by Anne Lamott. I love that artists like Grace are willing to bear their heart and soul to an audience and share. It takes courage to do that and not know what the reaction will be from the audience. In sharing her stories, she’s able to liberate some of the pain and be relatable to others.  I was touched in a range of emotions from attending. It was an hour of storytelling with heart and soul poured into it with wit, fabulous sense of humor, and vulnerability.

"Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage" quote by Brene Brown. In my opinion, Grace showed up courageously. I look forward to seeing her perform again.

After the show with Grace

Follow Grace on social media: 

Thursday, 15 August 2019

My Chat with Ava Black-Author of "The Bug Jar"

My latest interview is with Ava Black, author of The Bug Jar.  It's a psychological thriller and can be purchased on Amazon. She's been writing for ten years which she says there's a lot to love and hate about writing. Find out why she says that by and which authors inspired her to write. 

Ava autographing her book.

What do you love about your life right now?

Right now I love that readers have changed writing’s landscape by becoming more willing to buy, read, and review independently/self-published books. This changed my life. In the past ten years, more independent presses have opened and succeeded, while there are more best-selling authors are abandoning larger systems to self-publish. This move towards indie presses and self-publishing helps writers maintain more creative control, story rights, and profits. Overall, traditional publishing still dominates the industry, but I love that this shift allows marginalized voices to be heard and non-formulaic stories to be told. It’s great to see that readers support this change. Because they have, I’ve been able to tell a non-traditional tale about a mentally ill mistress, who readers don’t really like, but for some reason love. Thank you, readers! I love that!

How long have you been writing and what do you love about it?

For ten long, tedious, painful years, I’ve been writing. Joking! But not really. There is a lot to love and a lot to hate about writing. Most writers say they love getting lost in the story and spending time with their characters. It’s a world you can control (sometimes). It’s an escape. It can also be an emotional purge and a way to voice thoughts and ideas that may not be appropriate to speak. I love the release writing brings. But I don’t like how obsessive I become when writing. Many of my writer friends experience the same challenge. Often, when the chapter is going well, and the story starts to flow, we’d rather keep writing than eat, sleep, work, or take the kids to practice. There’s something about unraveling a scene in a rhythmic way that makes writing addictive. That addictive quality is great for the book and self-fulfillment, but agonizing when literary agents reject the novel. It makes you fear that it will never be read. That you’re a failure, that you’re less-than, as a writer. Rejection is a whole other topic that I could write about for days.  

Was there a particular book or author that inspired you to write?

Chelsea Cain and Jennifer Hillier are incredible authors. The way they weave plot threads together forces readers to fully engage in the narrative and never skip pages. I admire these writers so much that I sent them fan mail, and to my surprise, they responded. Their responses were incredibly warm and generous. When I told them I was a writer who was struggling to get published, they immediately became candid about their struggles to be published or maintain their sales. To have authors, who perform at their levels, talk so openly about struggling, made me realize that we’re all in the same boat. It also made me realize that I was like them because what drives us is our love of writing. Knowing that I felt the same way about writing as top-tier writers did, made me think that I had what it took to be one.  

Tell me about your book, The Bug Jar, and what were the challenges and joys of writing it?

The Bug Jar is a psychological thriller which blends my friend’s personal experience with bipolar disorder and a fictional murder. In the novel, the heroine, the bipolar mistress of a Chicago mayoral candidate, is accused of killing his child. She remembers that she was at his home on the night of the murder, but because of a misdiagnosis, and the effects of inappropriately prescribed medications, can’t remember what she was doing there or why she went. She investigates and finds evidence which suggests the murder was a cover-up manufactured by an unlikely suspect to evade a political scandal, but also uncovers evidence which indicates her absolute guilt. She struggles with herself, and the detectives tailing her, to reveal the truth about her involvement until she is institutionalized and meets….oops! No spoilers!

One of the biggest challenges I faced in penning this novel was maintaining the anonymity and integrity of my friend. She is an educated professional, working in a high-stress industry, and does not disclose her illness. I didn’t want to portray mental illness as something wild and scary. It is a real challenge faced by millions of Americans who risk their jobs, incomes, and families if they reveal too much to the wrong person. That being said, I did want to showcase the silent screams so many release. I wanted them to be accurate and truthful. My friend was incredible in helping me find that voice, but I struggled to hear it because sometimes is ugly, painful, and disturbing in ways that nobody talks about. Writing pieces of her truth, while preserving her dignity, and the dignity of anyone with a mental disorder is incredibly difficult because so much shame and humiliation surround it.

How long did it take for you to complete the book?

Generally, it takes nine to twelve months to write a manuscript which is fast considering I work full time and raise two sons. But I become pretty obsessed with whatever I’m writing, which helps it along. The querying process, however, is a bit different. When a writer finishes a manuscript, they pen query letters to literary agents asking the agent to represent the manuscript. If an agent agrees to represent the work, they begin the task of pitching and selling the manuscript to publishers (Big 5 publishers don’t accept manuscripts which are represented by literary agents). The process of securing a literary agent can take months or years. Currently, there are four books on my backlist that are unpublished because agents aren’t interested. Most of the feedback agents gave included something along the lines of “… a page-turner, but not for a mass-market audience.” “… read it in three days, but it is too fringe for a commercial audience.” “Not commercial enough.” After about a year or one hundred rejection letters, I usually give up on querying a novel. But with The Bug Jar, I’d conducted so many interviews with so many subject-matter experts, spent so much time researching, and so much time driving around the setting (Chicago) collecting sensory details, that I couldn’t let it go. I’d just put too much work into it. After the hundredth rejection letter, instead of tucking it under the bed and forgetting about it, I decided to self-publish.  

Where can your book be purchased and what formats?

The Bug Jar can be purchased through Amazon or Barnes & Noble in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats. It is also available at independent booksellers throughout the Midwest.

Are you working on another book?

I’m always working on another book! My next novel is about a terminally ill, female villain who blackmails a friend into killing her before the illness does. If the friend fails, the villain will reveal a secret that destroys both of their lives. The inspiration for this book was my terminally ill cousin who died of ALS. I ran the plot idea by her and she loved it.

Ava with Micki Colgan. It was her first sale!

Stephen King is quoted as saying, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”  Do you agree and why?

Agree! A writer can learn so much from reading. Grammar, formatting, punctuation, and other skills can be acquired by studying well-written works. It’s great to have unique ideas for plot and characters, but unless the story is told in a way that captivates readers, not just the person writing it, all is lost. Also, I just have to say here, when someone says, “I don’t have time to write,” I cringe. I think about my writer friends, most of whom work full-time and have kids, who write every day. They write for twenty minutes at lunch. They write for thirty minutes before bed. They get up an hour early to write. There is always time to write. The writer just has to decide whether or not writing is important enough to them to do it.

What’s been on your reading list for the summer?

This summer I’ve read My Darkest Prayer by S.A. Cosby, a talented new voice in crime fiction. Shawn Cosby (S.A. Cosby) struggled for years to have his work read, but was recently nominated for an Anthony award and secured representation by a well-known New York literary agent. I’m so excited for him! He is truly talented. I’m very much looking forward to his upcoming releases. Likewise, anything by the fabulous Renee James is on my reading list. Renee is a tremendously talented author who writes the Bobbi Logan series, the first of which was Transition to Murder which profiles a Chicago hairdresser who finds herself investigating the brutal murder of her client, a transgender woman.

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” Quote by Anne Frank. Does writing do that for you?

Never! Writing actually brings a lot of these feelings to the surface, which is good because you can use them to develop richer characters with emotional depth. Also, my courage is never reborn when writing. Writing makes me question my sentence structure, grammar, concept, theme, character arcs and generally confuses the hell out of me. But if you feel moved or intrigued when you reread the pages, you know you’ve got something good, unless you show it to the world and readers hate it. Writing isn’t great for confidence unless you feel secure in what you’re writtenand I don’t know that any writer ever does.  

Any advice that you can offer to writers who desire to be an author but has allowed fear to stop them?

Fear inhibits your writing’s greatness. When fear causes you to hesitate, you begin to self-edit and whitewash your narrative/dialog because you’re scared people will harshly judge it. That hesitation creates a bland, voiceless character that people will find unreadable. If you feel like you have something that needs to be said or a story that needs to be told, tell it as if you’re talking to your best friend. Uncensored. Unedited. Write it as if nobody will ever read it. Bring that honesty into the novel and let your characters develop without judgment. Let them do what they’d do naturally. Let them lead the way. Once you’re a few chapters into the manuscript, your characters will start taking over and their authentic voices will emerge. You’ll realize that maybe you aren’t in control of the monster you created, but that’s the fun part of it. Don’t let your writing be about you, let it be about something that is greater than you. Once you’ve actually finished the novel, go back into it and edit it in a way that makes it appealing to readers, and the market, if your goal is sales. But during a first draft, the most important thing you can do is realize that you need to get it done. So do it. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t be harsh on yourself. Just write. Eventually, you’ll go back and edit, many times, which will bring your work to a good place that you won’t fear. Save the fear for your release day! Now THAT is scary!

Is there any advice you wish you were given before you started writing?

Years ago, I befriended an up-and-coming Hollywood scriptwriter. We’d chat off-and-on about writing and our struggles to have our works recognized. Over the years, he went on to secure incredible representation and now writes major motion pictures with A-list actors. A while ago, I was approached to write a script for a short, non-Hollywood, indie film, and consulted my Hollywood friend regarding the contract. I told him I was excited about this opportunity because it was a phenomenal validation of my skills. He said that was bullshit. He went on to explain that the best writing he’d ever done was when he helped a terminally-ill woman write her memoir about living with cancer. He stated that the discussions he had with her, and the product they turned out, which remains unpublished, was the best work he had ever done. That really gave me pause. I couldn’t believe a piece of writing that powerful was never published, but he said that publication often has nothing to do with talent, and more to do with money.  Yes, your novel may be the most poignant, impactful piece of literature ever penned, or the most fun and entertaining, but if the system believes it won’t make them enough money, it goes in the recycle bin. Know that you will get rejected. A lot. And it has nothing to do with your skill or dedication. To date, I have over four hundred rejection letters on four novels, and am still unrepresented, but The Bug Jar (a self-published book), has readers on four continents, thirty-four Amazon reviews, forty Net Galley reviews, praise from multiple award-winning authors, award-winning journalists, award-winning bloggers, appeared on multiple blogs in the US and UK, was named a Top Ten Book Of The Year on multiple blogs, and toured about seven bookstores in three states. So writers, know that the worth in your writing has nothing to do with publication contracts or agent approval, but comes from your own sense of accomplishment and the reaction of the readers. Don’t be afraid to say what you want to say or tell the story you want to tell. Tell it and know that you succeeded because you wrote.  

Tell me three fun facts about you.

Fun facts? Um….let’s see. I don’t know that these are fun, but they’re interesting. Maybe.
I can milk a cow.
I can change a tire.
I talk my way out of at least three speeding tickets a year (delete that fact if any of your readers are state troopers!).

I share motivational quotes with my readers, do you have a quote or saying that has inspired or encouraged you during a difficult time or to keep you motivated to go for your dreams?

Honestly, I hate motivational quotes. I think they’re useless. I think the best motivation is listening to how you feel. Take stock of what your internal voice is telling you. Listen to yourself. Not others. When I first started writing, I didn’t tell anyone for a year. Eventually, I had to because I needed critique partners, beta readers, and editors, but getting very quiet and listening to that small voice inside you will always lead you down the right path.  Honor yourself.

Describe yourself in one word.


Click here to check out her book

Follow Ava on social media!


Amazon Profile




Monday, 1 July 2019

Interview with Barrington Marson

My latest interview is up with Barrington Marson of Atlanta and originally from Queens, New York. He's a writer and film director as well owns a film company. He was inspired by George Lucas, John Singleton, among others to direct films. Learn more about Barrington and find out three fun facts about him as well his latest film project.

What do you love about your life right now?
The fact that I can wake up and live out my dreams and inspire people. It’s a beautiful thing! 

Was there any particular film or director that inspired you to write and direct films?

The directors that have inspired me are Akiro Kurosawa, Christopher Nolan, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, John Singleton, Spike Lee, Alfred Hitchcock, and Peter Jackson.
Films that have inspired me are Star Wars, Batman (1989), Lord of the Rings, 12 Angry Men, Dreams by Akiro Kurosawa, E.T., Forest Gump, Godfather 1 & 2, Indiana Jones, and Aliens.

Your company, Barrington Marson Films LLC, has been a company since 2007, what have been some of the struggles creating your film company?

For me, it is getting the finances to tell my stories. Which tends to be most filmmakers hurdles, but I realize when you don’t have the budget write what you can afford in meaning use the resources around you that are free. Get creative as possible, but no matter what keep moving forward! 

What are the joys of being the founder and creator of your film company? 

My joy is to create an opportunity for people to learn and grow working with my company.  

Tell me about your film project and also long did it take for you to write the script?

Abiding has been a story of mine for over 2 years. We are still in production for the film but this being my first feature film, it has been a great learning experience.  
It took about 5-6 months, but I would go and make adjustments throughout because I’m just picky when it comes to my screenplay. 

Where do you go to write your scripts? Is there a particular spot or time of day that is most beneficial to write?

Honestly, whenever I have free time, I’ll work on my script even while I’m at my 9-5, at home, etc. or whenever an idea comes I’ll write. I try to let it happen naturally. 

From what I see from the trailers for Abiding, is that it’s an action pack film with a diverse cast. What’s the movie about?  

The Abiding is a crime thriller about Arthur Fisher, a hitman for the mob, whose family has been made to pay dear prices for his choice profession-the death of his wife and addiction of his only son to cocaine being consequences of Arthur’s career choice. These, however, is nothing compared to what’s coming, as a killer from Arthur’s past is on a determined mission to kill him and everyone close to him. The estranged Fisher family must come together or risk extermination. 
The movie will focus on Arthur and his children and the conflict they go through. 

There’s a quote by Spike Lee, which he states, “Making films has got to be one of the hardest endeavors known to humankind.” Do you agree?

It can be frustrating at times when you don’t have the resources you need and finances,
but I try to make the best of it with having a great script, great cast, and crew. I always
believe hard times have not come to stay but they come to pass. A great quote from Les

Tell me three fun facts about you.
  1. I love spending time with my wife and family.
  2. I enjoy going to movie theaters.
  3. I’m a perfectionist in life. 

Any advice you would like to share with individuals who are wanting to work in the film industry? Is there any advice that you wish you knew about before you started?

Don’t get caught up on how much money you can make but focus on your dreams and your craft. If you do great work, the money will come, and you won’t have to chase it down. 

I share quotes with my readers to inspire and motivate them. Do you have one you can share that uplifts you or motivates you?

“Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit. " Les Brown

In one word describe yourself.


Click here for the official trailer to his film Abiding.

Follow Barrington on social media:

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Interview with writer and performer -Grace Aki

Grace Aki, lovely lady with southern charm is leading her dream in New York City with her solo show To Free A Mockingbird. She's been gracing the stage since she was five and has performed in numerous productions with her many gifted talents of acting, storytelling, painting, singing, dancing as well as set designs. She shares some fun facts with me as well as what inspired her to write her show among other juicy tidbits and where you can see her perform live.

What do you love about your life right now?

I love that regardless of how tough life can be, I love that I don’t let it affect my productivity!  I have a great living space, a tolerable cat, and a decent husband.

On a scale of 1-10 (10 being super excited), how excited are you about your upcoming solo performance in New York with your first performance of To Free A Mockingbird?

Well my NY show is actually a workshop. Basically, I’ve invited a ton of people to view the production before it is finalized (kind of like a dress rehearsal.) In the workshop process, you can ask the audience what they remembered or forgot about during the show.  Things that help the writer/director what to keep or discard in the show. This is how changes occur in the developmental process.  Basically, I’m very excited, I’d say I’m at a 12.

Tell me what inspired you to write your show To Free A Mockingbird?

I’ve gotten really inspired by comedians that have turned to storytelling instead of a traditional hour-long stand up special. I have a lot of stories inside me, just bursting to get out ya know? In particular, a roommate of mine when living in the Bronx, Joe, heard me tell a story one late night and convinced me to turn it into a one-woman show...and here we are!

To my understanding, this is going to be a standup performance with storytelling, as a dramedy. What have been the challenges and joys of writing a work directly from your heart?

It’s very scary to perform as yourself, you can’t hide behind a character when the character is you.  The joy, however, is working with people that you feel artistically challenged and elevated by. My director, producers, etc. are a dream and I feel so lucky to have them working with material so close to my heart.

Was there a particular comedian or actor who had the most impact on your writing your solo show?

I think about Mike Birbiglia (Broadway’s The New One) and Hasan Minhaj’s (NETFLIX: Homecoming King) were huge inspirations for me. They were so crafty at blending their tone and execution with humor and drama. I highly recommend their work! The director of Mike Birbiglia’s show, Seth Barrish worked with me on the original workshops of my piece.

What’s your writing process? Do you have a particular place or cut on some music to get the thoughts flowing?

My director, Kate, always says to create a playlist that inspires you and your show. However, my writing process doesn’t involve a lot of writing. I’ve done a lot of transposing from voice recordings. I’m not an organic writer. I have taken recordings from rehearsals and performances and decide what works and what doesn’t.

There’s a quote by George Bernard Shaw that says, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” What are your thoughts on his quote?

I’ll say this, I’ve never had a year where I said, “I did exactly what I did last year.” I believe you should constantly be learning, creating, doing, volunteering. Nobody is ever too young or too old to be trying and perfecting something. I’d say I reinvent myself every year.

Your performances are going to be in New York and Atlanta and possibly Chattanooga as well? Any other cities that you’re planning to perform in?

I may have a show in the DC area in September, stay tuned!
I’ll perform wherever people will have me… seriously.

Are you currently working on any other projects?

I am trying to finish out the year having published the script for this show. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made in just a year.

Where do you see yourself in a year?

I hope to be illustrating more and completing my first DIY guide, more information on that later.

Tell me three fun facts about you. Something that maybe your hubby, Damon, doesn’t even know.
  1. Nobody loves cheese more than me. Nobody. Fight me.
  2. I love all forms of trivia... like honestly. trivia on apps, at bars, whatever. Even if I don’t win, I like learning what the right answers were.
  3. I’m an extroverted introvert. I happily enjoy the solitude of watercolor painting at home, a tea and my cat & Damon by my side.
In one word describe yourself.

To Free a Mockingbird
Director: Kate Robards
Written and Performed by: Grace Aki
Wardrobe Consultant: Damian Dominguez
Producers: Double Back Bone Productions + Damon J Gillespie

For tickets to her show at the Atlanta Fringe click here

Keep up to date on her show and fun Instagram Posts with incredible pics and laugh out loud tweets by following her on her social media:

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