Monday, April 29, 2013

The Campaign

This morning I woke up early and the first thought I had was my about my indiegogo campaign and suddenly I had a panic attack. Why weren’t more people donating was I too fat and was I too ethnic or smug and whoo woo ish…you know nothing is more annoying than an actor being spiritual. Then something fascinating entered my thinking and I said all of it is true and none of it is true and most of the negative thinking is not my business…and no matter what, the amount I raise is the perfect amount end of story. The rest is mental chatter designed to slow my groove down to a crawl and nothing is more painful than letting untruths hurt me. It is competitive urges that haunt me. I compete with whom??? A star from a decade long hit TV series? Really I have languished in obscurity for decades since what “Commando” and I expect to compete? What crazy pills have I been taking? Seriously, there is a cloud that haunts my ambition and my BFF thinks I am wrong but I suspect I am not and that is the race card…I get choked up when I read about how television has never had a black women protagonist star in a series almost ever…okay it has been 25 years before Kerry Washington met Shonda Rhimes and they collaborated on Scandal. I of course go straight to the she’s gorgeous and about 22 years younger and what else??? Oh Shonda has never been a fan…LOL. Oh I digress but those statistics SUCK! How in gawds name am I going to pull off a show about a country Celebrant? Not to mention me as star and created by? Crazy, and no matter how much I admire Lena Dunham the genius behind “Girls” she has Judd and I don’t. The Judd is the man and not to be too racial but let me…THE JEWISH MAN behind the show. If you want success you better get one. Well maybe they don’t all have to be Jewish and many are not but they are white men 99 % of TV writers working in Hollywood. As of this moment I don’t have that…I have fabulous local support and some not so local support but seriously I think secretly or maybe not so secretly my friends feel sorry for me and my ambitions. I suspect they chuckle behind my back and say poor RD she thinks people will care? I think this because it is true…most of us have these “frenemies” in our intimate circle. These so called pals that claim allegiance and really are not friends and don’t want to see us succeed. We cannot live without them it is the dance called life but we can know them, we can guard against the not so helpful negative input they generously heap on us at our most fragile. In our family too that green monster resides. I remember one of the first foundational things I learned after half a decade of deep therapy was that I cannot expect to twirl in the center of my life and expect everyone to find me adorable. It was a childish response and so “stop it”. I called it then the Madonna syndrome where it seemed to surprise her as she first burst onto the scene that not everyone liked her, trusted her, or even wanted to be her friend. It is the aura of success that cuts the unsuccessful to the quick and the successful wonder sometimes aloud why they don’t have more adoring friends. At that time I could sense in Madonna’s eyes sadness. So here I am with my palm out to the world asking strangers to support my dreams. I am asking complete strangers and acquaintances to reach into their pockets and give me their hard earned cash so that I may live my dream. What a big ask…what you ask do they get in return? Well my show is about a woman on the path of life trying to find God. Simple and you ask “why should I care?” I say you shouldn’t unless you want to come along with me on this journey as she (struggles, maybe fails and sometimes succeeds) in a 55 minute frame work. I personally love watching shows where deep issues are addressed and it is done in a clever way where I don’t feel it coming it just descends in an “aha” moment. Don’t give me a dime if it hurts or if you feel less than and shame on me for expecting people to tolerate my twirl and or maybe my physical form offends “gawd only knows” or whatever…I have to stand in the only truth that seems to be up today which is “Life is exactly what it should be right now, no story”. Just simple, we stand, sit and lie horizontal…Thank you Byron Katie. Everything else is a made up story designed to hurt. We have enough of that already. Thank you family of friends who have given to the campaign…I treasure you and love you deeply. The others, I get it and I love you too. xo


Elizabeth Phaire said...

It’s brave of you to undertake this project given the industry challenges you face. I understand how the concept of a Celebrant has touched you emotionally, spiritually, and artistically. In my experience it is deeply meaningful and fulfilling work. I’m a Master Life Cycle Celebrant®, and I officiate personalized ceremonies for rites of passage such as weddings, funerals, baby blessings, house blessings and all types of milestones. You might be interested in my website: , and the Celebrant Foundation & Institute: where I’m a faculty member.

How did you learn about Celebrants? Have you attended any ceremonies lead by one? The Celebrant Foundation & Institute and Life-Cycle Celebrant® community works to educate the public about our existence and the services that we offer, which an increasing number of people need and don’t know where to turn. Your show has the potential to help make our presence widely known and to demonstrate what we do. So it’s really important to us that it portrays us accurately. For example, we would NEVER administer the lethal drug in assisted suicide, that’s not our job. We would work collaboratively with the family and the person choosing to die to create a personalized ceremony that honors the person’s life, acknowledges this momentous transition, and offers comfort to all. A more accurate portrayal of a Celebrant would also make a richer script and storyline.

Let’s talk further, the Celebrant Foundation would be happy to speak with you, and feel free to contact me.

Best wishes to you and your project!

Elizabeth Phaire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rae Dawn Chong said...

Thank you for your advice and guidance...I know it is illegal and I chose as writer to take creative freedom with that choice. It striking a fine balance in drama because too many words or explanation can kill a 'moment" visually so we take liberty without explaining every bit of minutia. having said that I appreciate your concern and i intend to do a great job showing what a Celebrant can and would do as she the individual character moves through life. Is every doctor or EMt or Lawyer exactly portrayed on television? NO. Still I do appreciate the input always. Have you ever written drama or fiction?

Rae Dawn Chong said...

I ask if you have ever created written fiction because it is a WORLD of difference from REALITY and there are things we have to do to move a moment and trust me a writer tries hard to stay on course...but sometimes we have to take liberties. I like to think my heart is in the right place. Always...choosing to show someone making a catastrophic choice was clearly a liberty but one I can live with since it is a series and I can revisit the consequences and I won't win over everyone.

Elizabeth Phaire said...

You are welcome and thank you for your response. I have a background in acting, creative writing, and videography so I do know that fine balance between words and action to tell a story. Visual storytelling is powerful when done well. The old adage never goes out of style: "Show, Don't Tell!", something I advise my students when they're learning to write ceremonies. As an artist I totally understand your taking creative license and interpreting the role to fit your vision.

Of course dramatic roles are often not based in reality. But Doctors, EMT’s, and lawyers are known, mainstream roles in society, whereas Celebrants are not well known. I tell someone I’m a Celebrant and they’re like “A what?” And then I explain what I do and they get it and are intrigued. Not knowing what a Celebrant is, the public couldn't differentiate the fiction from the reality. So that’s where I was coming from regarding the Celebrant administering an assisted suicide drug, especially it being the pilot for the show. I only saw only a couple of clips; in the full episode does the Celebrant facilitate a simple ceremony or ritual with the family prior to the death scenes?

In another way the lines between reality and fiction do blur, because ceremony and theater are related. As you probably know, theater has roots in ceremony and ritual. In ancient times ceremonies and rituals were enacted for spiritual or mythological purposes; and evolved over time into entertainment. I think that people hunger for spiritual, psychological, and emotional nourishment through our modern day films and shows, because that's the higher function they’re meant to fulfill.

It’s wonderful to see people responding enthusiastically to your project, they love the concept of the Celebrant! The Celebrant Foundation & Institute, to which I’m a faculty member and advisor, would be delighted to make a conference call with you, with the aim to support your vision and work on this important film. CF&I has relationships with many like-minded people, organizations and media who would be happy to see your project come to fruition. If you’re interested let’s make a date to talk.