Creativity is the foundation for everything I do.
Born and raised in Queens, New York, and with deep Harlem roots, I grew up surrounded by gifted family and friends whose creativity was a constant source of joy. I listened to my Grandmother’s stories of Chicago, where my Grandfather led a popular jazz band. I languished in her tales of Harlem, where she came as a young widow and took part in its “Renaissance”. I was inspired by my father’s paintings, my uncle’s photography and my sister’s flawless soprano, which filled the house. Yes, I wanted to become a creator of art, like everyone around me. So, inspired by their generous spirits and talents, I pursued my own artistic fulfillment and embarked on a journey that has been full of surprises and unexpected rewards.
My post-college years were spent leading my own band, as well as backing and recording with amazing talents such as Jazz wonder-woman Phyllis Hyman and dance diva, Taana Gardner (yes, the classic keyboard riff on Heartbeat is me). New York’s clubs were jumping and we played Trudy Heller’s, The Paradise Garage, The Bitter End, Harlem World and The Palladium, as world class DJ’s Ron Hardy, Jellybean Benitez and the godfather of NYC DJ’s, Larry Levan, mixed the records we were making at West End and Profile Records. It was the beginning of house music and the scene was powered by an abundance of creative individuals and artists. Although music had been my life since childhood, I felt the need to stretch in new directions.
I found my true voice as a filmmaker, writer & director; directing over 40 music videos for hip-hop innovators such as Kwame, Breeze LA Posse and Roxanne Shante, and Grammy winning recording artist including Al Jarreau and R. Kelly, garnering Best Music Video nominations along the way. Writing and directing the award winning short film, Max’s Summer Vacation, staring screen legend Brock Peters, was a pivotal moment in my creative journey, for hearing my words come from Brock’s mouth was magical. I knew instantly, that writing would play a huge role in my life from that point on.
Assignments followed for, among others; Disney, Nickelodeon, Simon and Schuster, Warner Bros. (films), MTV Films, A & E Biography, as well as Movies of the Week and feature films, including “Honey” starring Jessica Alba and Mekhi Phifer. My desire to work across mediums led me back to my early love of photography and resulted in several exhibits of my work.
Several years ago my life’s experience took on new relevance as I sought a deeper understanding of the creative process. I began a course of study to identify effective approaches to creativity; it’s benefits and the vital role it plays in our lives and personal well-being. This has led to some unexpected rewards, including induction into the National Communication Association’s Honor Society, Lambda Pi Eta. I am also an affiliated member of the American Psychological Association’s Division of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts.
I got the opportunity to put my theories to practice while volunteering with at risk teens in Los Angeles. Many of them, from LA’s toughest neighborhoods, had daily encounters with violence and abuse, yet they had no way to express their feelings about what was happening in their lives. Their creativity had been stifled, and worst of all, they could not imagine themselves as anything other than the sum totals of their dire circumstances. I believed that only by accessing their creative-selves would they be able to envision a brighter future, and then be able to transcend what is, for what could be.
In the months that followed, and in the safe environment we created together, I guided them through writing exercises designed to “open them up” and help them see the world, and themselves, in different terms. It wasn’t brain surgery or mystical… although the end results were indeed, magical. Creativity requires nurturing and support, and that’s what they got.
The work was difficult and raw emotions bubbled to the surface often as their stories reflected their negative perceptions of themselves, and the negative ways they believed others perceived them. Their tales were heart wrenching but liberating as secrets and untold truth’s filled their papers. “Being heard” was a rare experience, but over time they wrote fearlessly and their creativity blossomed as they began to see themselves, not as the broken kids others saw them as, but as healthy young people with dreams and aspirations. Their problem solving and critical thinking skills were improving but most importantly, they were learning to imagine a new reality because their creativity had been unleashed.
This was a life-changing event for me and I have continued to connect creativities benefits and applications to business, education and our daily lives, where thinking outside the box is essential to our success.
Today, in addition to current film projects in development (fingers crossed), I contribute to academic publications and the on-line magazine Western Civilization and lecture on cinema, screenwriting and the creative process.
I hope you find Write 2 Live informative and inspiring as we discuss a variety of topics including culture, politics, wellness and the arts, and deepen our understanding of the creative processes and ourselves through the exchange of provocative ideas and knowledge.
Thanks for joining me,
Creativity is the foundation for everything I do.
Write 2 Live