Women in Television: Al Jazeera News Anchor Richelle Carey



I remember flipping through cable network channels some time ago and I came across a station called Al Jazeera.  I remember thinking to myself that “a station like this seems to be bridging the gap between Western and Eastern World relations.”  My curiosity led me to find out more about this network and share it with our Reel Focus readers.  On this blog, I have teamed up with Richelle Carey, News Anchor at Al Jazeera America, who will give us insight into this new television station that launched in 2013. 

MC:  Richelle, Reel Focus thanks you for taking the opportunity to chat with our readers in this blog interview.  First of all, for those who are not aware of what Al Jazeera news is, tell them more about this station and what types of news programs are most popular for this station?

RC:  Thank you for inviting me to participate.  Well, Al Jazeera is an international news network that launched Al Jazeera America a little over a year ago. It was on honor on August 20th 2013 to co-host the first program seen on our air at 3pm ET that day, along with my colleague Antonio Mora. Al Jazeera America offers a variety of programming, including newscasts, documentaries, and news magazine shows. What they all have in common is a seriousness of purpose. There is no fluff. That’s not to say the content is boring – far from it. It is engaging, but it is not entertainment. Viewers deserve better. I’m not the ratings person, I focus on my job. I can say that the bosses tell me the weekend newscasts do well and I’m proud to be part of that team.

MC:  The show title is obviously Arabic.  Explain to readers why is it important to have such a show tying American news to Middle Eastern news?

RC:  Al Jazeera is an intimidating name to some because they don’t know what it means. So, let’s get that out of the way, first. It simply means “the peninsula” or “the island.” Now, it’s never a bad thing to have more voices in news. Because Al Jazeera is such a diverse, global company we have resources in parts of the world, other networks don’t. And even in places where all networks have resources, Al Jazeera America will look for those voices you won’t hear on other networks. So, for example, while all networks will cover what happens in the Middle East, on AJAM you will hear a variety of perspectives from those whose lives are actually affected, perspectives that you likely won’t hear on other networks. 

MC:  Women in Film and Television’s focus is, of course, women in film and television.  Richelle, share with our readers who are interested in anchoring for television why this station could be a good option for advancing their career.

RC:  It starts at the top. Al Jazeera America has several women in strong leadership roles. Our president, Kate O’Brian, and several VPs are women.  Also, one of the company’s first hires was Kim Bondy, the senior executive producer on our flagship show “America Tonight.” Kim is a trailblazer in this business. Seeing the senior leadership of the company take shape said to me…my voice will matter here. I hope it says the same to other women.

MC: Finally, how does Al Jazeera plan to strengthen and encourage viewership in the future, especially among women and young viewers?

RC:  That only comes by doing the work. That’s not empty marketing campaigns with nothing of substance behind them. That’s not pandering to viewers you don’t actually care about or try to understand. At Al Jazeera America, we put voices on TV you don’t see on other networks. Often, that’s women, people of color, and young people who don’t have fancy publicists getting them booked on cable TV all day, but have something dynamic to say.  Those voices, we believe, will bring in viewers. It won’t happen overnight, and ratings are what drives us, but it will happen.


About Richelle Carey

Richelle Carey is an anchor at Al Jazeera America, the new U.S. cable news channel available in Atlanta on Comcast Channel 107, AT&T Channel 1219, DirecTV Channel 347 and Dish Channel 215.  Prior to joining Al Jazeera America, Carey spent seven years as an anchor and correspondent for CNN in Atlanta. 

Prior to CNN, Carey was a weekday morning anchor for KMOV-TV in St. Louis and KVVU-TV in Las Vegas.

Carey is a strong advocate for girls and women and serves as vice president of the board of directors at Men Stopping Violence, an organization whose mission is to end violence against women and girls. She is also a former board member of the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, one of the largest councils in the nation.

Carey attended both Smith College in Massachusetts and Baylor University in Texas. Her many journalism awards include an Emmy for consumer features reporting while in St. Louis and the “Emerging Journalist” award from the Houston Association of Black Journalists. 

Find her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RichelleCarey and learn more about Al Jazeera America at http://america.aljazeera.com/

Photo courtesy of Richelle Carey.


Read more Reel Focus blog articles


Become a member of WIFTA


Become a WIFTA Sponsor


Donate to WIFTA


Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop

Reality Rewind: Married at First Sight

One week they were strangers.  The next week, they were married.  This is the premise of the social experiment of scientifically arranged marriages that is the reality sweetheart, Married at First Sight, for the FYI Network (Formerly Bio Channel).

Now, the experiment is over. Are the relationships over too?

The show followed six people, three couples, who were perfect mates for one another, at least on paper.  A team of relationship experts matched the six singles looking for love. They agreed to marry total strangers and let their lives play out before the cameras.

The couples got hitched, then moved in together and spent several weeks trying to get to know one another and deciding if they wanted to stay married.  Did I mention, each met their supposed “soul mate” for the first time at the altar?

Let’s meet the couples:

Jamie & Doug

Jamie and Doug were the pair who started out as the couple who didn’t really seem to match.  While it was love at first sight for Doug, Jamie was not as easily smitten.  Jamie says her tough upbringing and not knowing her father, saddled her with trust issues which were evident as the relationship progressed. But she eventually let her walls come down and started warming up to Doug. In fact there was one point where she feared she would like him more than he liked her.

Monet & VaughnMonet & Vaughn

Monet and Vaughn had sexual chemistry right away. But it was probably the most tumultuous of all the relationships. Their marriage was riddled with arguments, mixed signals and all kind of communication issues. They fought in nearly every episode and just when you thought they had reached a common ground, one or the other would say the wrong thing and the arguing would resume. They had disagreements about everything from who would cook dinner to whether one of them was “too happy.”

Kortney and Jason seemed smitten with each other right out of the gate.

Kortney & Jason

Kortney and Jason seemed smitten with each other right out of the gate.  The only issue that ever seemed to arise with them was finding time to spend together with their busy schedules.  Also, support from their families was an issue.  Jason’s mom was suffering from cancer which made him hesitant to include her in his marriage too soon.

So how did these extreme love connections turn out?

On last night’s finale, two of the three couples announced they would stay married. Vaughn and Monet chose to go their separate ways.  In her testimonial, Monet accused Vaughn of “not being ready for marriage.”  They were the only couple that appeared to know ahead of time that final day what the other was thinking.

The show has been picked up for a second season. Ratings soared to over 600 thousand during the 5th episode that featured Vaughn offending Monet by asking if “threesomes” were acceptable.



Read more Reel Focus blog articles


Become a member of WIFTA


Become a WIFTA Sponsor


Donate to WIFTA


Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop

Greenwood Avenue: The Decimation of an American Dream

Tulsa Race Riots 1921


The American Dream has worked for many; however, for some – particularly a small community of African Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921 – that dream went up in smoke, literally. I’m referring to the annihilation of a prosperous African American town known as “Black Wall Street.” I won’t spell out the details of this event; instead, I will allow CorShonda “Coco” Springer, accomplished screenwriter and author of the new script Greenwood Avenue, to tell us more about her rendition of the story.

Thank you Coco for taking the time to tell our Reel Focus readers more about this troubling event in American history. What inspired you to make the details of this obscure event known, especially now?

There couldn’t be a better time to tell this story. In my opinion, 5 years ago was not the time. Even 7 years ago was not the time. With Obama being in office and with the success of movies such as The Butler, 12 Years a Slave, and Belle, it is obvious to me that audiences are responding well to historic projects. However, each of the movies mentioned depict African Americans in the same light that we have been accustomed to seeing them on screen – as slaves, as subordinates! They don’t show African Americans as pioneers or as entrepreneurs.

Boardwalk Empire did an amazing job at “introducing” progressive, wealthy African Americans over the past two seasons. Audiences ate it up! I know that audiences want to see more than one portrayal of African American people on television or at the theatres. “Greenwood Avenue” the series is the story of an almost unknown incident; centered upon historic events of 1921. Our projects focus on the famed Black Wall Street of Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Greenwood Avenue” charts the happenings of a thriving all black community in the face of racism, prohibition, oil greed, and corruption – a community that was destroyed, reborn, and then forgotten.

As we approach the 100 year anniversary of the Tulsa race riots, we have the ability with this television project and community campaign to change the face of our community for generations to come. The first time I heard about “Black Wall Street” I was attending college at Ball State University; which is where my creative partner Hadiyah Robinson and I met. We spent hours talking and envisioning this network of black investors that found a way around the racist strongholds of Wall Street to make millions of dollars. It wasn’t until many years later, after hearing countless other ideas of what Black Wall Street was that we started to do some digging and found the amazing story of an all-black town in Oklahoma that boasted millionaires, doctors, and entrepreneurs; that was burned to the ground and then swept under the rug of American History.

Hadiyah and I started to dig deeper. We began researching newspaper articles, watching documentaries, traveling to Tulsa, and in 2010 while sitting in Brooklyn, New York brainstorming; we made the commitment to breathe life into this project. We made the commitment to tell this story to the masses. Already having vowed during college to work together and produce media that matters; this project consumed us. Obsessed with television shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Boardwalk Empire, Spartacus, The Tudors, Game of Thrones; we noticed a very obvious trend: there were rarely any shows on TV with a non-stereotypical, positive, and strong African American presence. We immediately thought of the amazing story of Black Wall Street as the strong African American presence that was missing from Cable TV dramas. And what we envision so special about “Greenwood Avenue” as a series is the varied characters that would be portrayed. From a shoe shine boy and the hustler to a millionaire and a police deputy, ”Greenwood Avenue” embodies the variety of the African American experience that is rarely seen on television today and it’s what we want to see. It is our goal with this series to take this little known historical event and surround it with our characters, storylines and weave them with historical references, conspiracies and truths to honor this town, its legacy, and create ground breaking television that will usher the demand for more shows of the like.

Lastly with “Greenwood Avenue” The Movement we plan to produce a campaign that will lead people into a new way of thinking. This movement will serve as a modern-day push for self-empowerment and self-determination using the thriving Black Wall Street of 1921 to serve as a living testament to what minority entrepreneurs can accomplish today. It is our goal to change people’s mind set one day at a time. We would like to use the power of influence from celebrities, artists, historians, civil rights activists, senators, entrepreneurs and other like-minded individuals to move these projects forward.

Is this a feature or a documentary and if it is a feature, what inspired you to make it a drama instead of a factual documentary?

I have a fully developed feature length movie as well as s fully developed TV series. Both the TV series and movie have signed talent and signed directors – known talent and directors.

The documentary has already been done by others. However, I think all of the attempts at making the documentary dropped the ball. No one focused on the resilience of the human spirit. No one focused on what these people were able to accomplish at a time in history when it was unheard of. Instead, they focused on the riots. I decided to make a television series because I wanted the characters to become characters that you look forward to seeing each week and that you want to go learn more about. Ideally, the series will run for 7 years and people will fall in love with our characters and be “edutained” while watching. The movie is the pre-quel to the TV series. I am actively seeking funding to produce the movie independently.

You compared your film to Rosewood and, as we know, when that movie was released, it stirred a lot of controversy. What type of effect do you think your film will have, especially along racial lines?

Greenwood Avenue will stir many emotions. There are people who will be embarrassed. Some will be angry that we have told the story. Some people will feel vindicated that the story has been brought to the masses. Some people will feel motivated. It will definitely get people talking, both black and white. It will make people re-assess how they view African American people. It will make African American people look at who they really are and who they really can be. I want for every person who views my project to realize their potential and know that they do have worth. I want them to know that they can do whatever they put their minds to.

As they tell us screenwriters, if you are truly a writer and passionate about it, you write and you write and you write some more. In other words, you don’t stop at one success or failure – you keep perfecting your craft. Tell us where do you plan to go after Greenwood Avenue?

I have 7 other film projects ready to go. I have several TV shows ready to go. After Greenwood Avenue the movie, and Greenwood Avenue the TV series, I plan to continue to tell stories that matter. I am going to have to take the Mel Gibson approach I am sure but it will get done.

I am hopeful that I will find funding for “Isis and Osiris”, which is a story concerning the deities of Egyptian mythology Osiris, Isis, Horus, and Set. It is one of the most important and powerful stories in Egyptian mythology during the New Kingdom.

Secondly will be “Nat Turner’s Rebellion”. Nathanial “Nat” Turner (1800-1831) was a black American slave who led the only effective, sustained slave rebellion (August 1831) in U.S. history, spreading terror throughout the white South. This story might really stir a lot of controversy; but, I look forward to telling it.

Corshonda's Photo

Main photo courtesy of Ebony Magazine online at http://yhoo.it/1IYzJZt

Photo of Corshonda Springer courtesy of Corshonda Springer.


Read more Reel Focus blog articles


Become a member of WIFTA


Become a WIFTA Sponsor


Donate to WIFTA


Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop

The Originals – A New Vampire Tale

What can I say, we Americans love a great vampire tale and no matter how many variations there are, we love them all.  From Bram Stoker’s Dracula – which claims to be the tale of the original vampire: Vlad the Impaler – to Eddie Murphy in Vampire in Brooklyn; to Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire; to Aaliyah in Queen of the Damned; to Robert Pattison in Twilight; to the original Count Dracula played by Bela Lugosi – it is a fascination that has invaded pop culture and taken over and is reinvented every generation.  Just when you thought it was over, here comes another tale of gore and bloodlust, this time involving a small family of vampires from New Orleans in a new television show on the CW called, The Originals.   This television show began as a web series spin off to The Vampire Diaries and now will become a part of an American television collage of vampire horror tales.

To tell us more about this latest vampire epic, Lisina Stoneburner, the acting coach for The Originals will be present at a luncheon this Saturday, January 24, 2015 at 1 pm at Asante Restaurant.  She and other key production members will entertain questions about this hit show.  For more details, click on the flyer.


Lisina Stoneburner

“Hi, my name is Lisina Stoneburner and I am an acting coach with the following credits:  The Red Band Society, The Following, Grown-ups 2, Drop Dead Diva, Vampire Diaries and now The Originals.  Come out and have a conversation with me about what I do.”

Bonnie Weis



“Hello, my name is Bonnie Weis and I am a producer with the following credits:  Austin Powers, Wag the Dog, Living Out Loud, Town and Country, and Breakin’ All the Rules, nip/tuck, Running with Scissors, American Horror Story, and now The Originals.  Come out and have a conversation with me about my role in the industry.”



“Hi, Michelle Paradisemy name is Michelle Paradise and I am an actress and a screenwriter with the following credits:  The Ten Rules, Exes & Ohs, Never Rob a Bank with Someone You Love, The Ten Rules, and of course The Originals.  Come on out and I will share with you my industry insight.”




Bill Eigenbrodt

“Hey, my name is Bill Eigenbrodt and I am a production designer with the following credits:  Dawson’s Creek, Gilmore Girls, Joan of Arcadia, Princess Protection Program, Numb3rs, The Defenders and now The Originals.  Come on out and I will share with you my expertise in the industry.”



“Hello, my name is Kurt Jones and I am a cinematographer with a lot of credits but to name a few:  Kurt JonesThe Wood, Prozac Nation, Fast Lane, Cold Case, Wilfred, Crossroads,  and now The Originals.  Come out and I will share with you what I know about the industry from my point of view.”




photo(1)“Hey, my name is Roger Chingirian and I am a photographer/cinematographer with many credits also but you know me best for the following:  The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, Spiderman 3, Hard Candy, The Amazing Race and now The Originals.  Come on out and I will share with you my expertise.”




The Originals WIFTA



Read more Reel Focus blog articles


Become a member of WIFTA


Become a WIFTA Sponsor


Donate to WIFTA


Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop


New York Film Academy – Training the Stars

Al Pacino


Since the advent of film and television, there has been a need to educate film professionals in the trade.  One such school that understands this need and understands the need for affordable film education is New York Film Academy.  In order to tell us more about this unique institution that is located not just in New York but around the globe, I have teamed up with Frank Pasquine, Director of Social Media at New York Film Academy in order to tell us more about this school.  Frank is no stranger to the industry.  He is a freelance writer and  award-winning screenwriter – his work having been featured on ABC’s Good Morning AmericaHuffington PostRotten TomatoesScreenRantPaste Magazine and more. His most recent comedy script, Rusty Trombone, won Best Feature Screenplay at the All Sports LA Film Festival.

Frank congratulations on your most recent award for your screenplay and thank you for joining us.  Tell us about New York Film Academy and what it does for students?

The New York Film Academy is a premier hands-on school that focuses on the visual and performing arts with short-term, long-term and degree programs in filmmaking, acting, screenwriting, producing, animation, game design, musical theatre, cinematography, broadcast journalism, digital editing, photography, graphic design and illustration.   Since its inception in 1992, the New York Film Academy has not only expanded its programs, but also its locations around the world, offering courses in Los Angeles, South Beach, Disney Studios, Sydney, Gold Coast, Abu Dhabi, Florence, Moscow and more.


Is financial aid available to those who qualify?

The New York Film Academy offers FAFSA and a Need Based Tuition Discount to all qualifying students. We also have a financial aid staff to assist students with their potential financial aid availability.  In addition, NYFA is a military-friendly school with many of its programs approved for GI Bill benefits, including the Post – 9/11 GI Bill. Both the New York City and Los Angeles campuses are approved for the training of veterans and eligible persons under the provisions of the GI Bill. Those who are not fully covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill funding will receive a 15% discount on tuition.

Is it possible to take classes online?

The New York Film Academy offers an online course for those interested in learning the craft of screenwriting.  Those interested should refer to the following site:  https://www.nyfa.edu/online-screenwriting/


As you have said, NYFA is located in many places around the world.  Is there a possibility that it can expand into the Atlanta market?

While the New York Film Academy is open to expand its locations domestically and abroad, there are no current plans to open a campus in Atlanta.

Students 1





Students 2






Student 3






For more information about New York Film Academy’s programs and admissions, visit www.nyfa.edu.


Photos courtesy of Frank Pasquine.



Read more Reel Focus blog articles


Become a member of WIFTA


Become a WIFTA Sponsor


Donate to WIFTA


Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop


BAFTA – Acknowledging the Contributions of British in Film and Television

BAFTA Award Image



Hollywood is the most well-known place in the world in which film production takes place but it is not an exclusive destination for film production.  There are many places around the globe where film production are strong and one such place is in the United Kingdom, whose history of cinema is just as strong and vibrant as that of Hollywood.

For those who are wondering about what has been filmed on location in the United Kingdom, let’s look at a few films that have been filmed there:

  1. Harry Potter films
  2. The Da Vinci Code
  3. James Bond films
  4. Pride and Prejudice
  5. Miss Potter
  6. Brief Encounter
  7. Four Weddings and a Funeral
  8. Braveheart
  9. The Queen
  10. The King’s Speech

For those who are wondering about talent that has come from the United Kingdom, let’s look at a few British people who have made a name for themselves in film:

  1. Alfred Hitchcock (director)
  2. Charlie Chaplin (director)
  3. David Lean (director)
  4. Stephen Frears (director)
  5. Ridley Scott (director)
  6. Steve McQueen (director)
  7. Kate Ogborn (producer)
  8. Jeremy Thomas (producer)
  9. Stephen Woolley (producer)
  10. Daniel Day-Lewis (actor)
  11. Michael Caine (actor)
  12. Gary Oldman (actor)
  13. Daniel Craig (actor)
  14. Hugh Grant (actor)
  15. Chiwetel Ejiofor (actor)
  16. Adrian Lester (actor)
  17. Idris Elba (actor)
  18. Angela Lansbury (actress)
  19. Judi Dench (actress)
  20. Helena Bonham Carter (actress)
  21. Sian Phillips (actress)
  22. Thandie Newton (actress)
  23. Catherine Zeta-Jones (actress)
  24. Kate Winslet (actress)
  25. Freema Agyeman (actress)

The U.K. has outstanding talent within its country and no one knows this better than the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public.

BAFTA is an organization developed with the mission of “sharing insights into the crafts of the people who work in film, television and games by staging over 250 public events a year across the UK, the US and beyond.”  In order to fulfill this mission, BAFTA provides its members with many advantages and opportunities to be involved in workshops and events throughout the year but the most important event is the BAFTA awardsBAFTA Award Image Logo which will air on Sunday February 8, 2015 live on BBC from The Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden.  The show will open up with the band “Kasabian” and will be hosted by British comedian and presenter Stephen Fry.  Some of the nominees for the evening are as follows:


  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Birdman
  • The Theory of Everything
  • The Imitation Game
  • Boyhood
  • Whiplash
  • Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Imelda Staunton
  • Amy Adams
  • Mark Ruffalo
  • Steve Carell
  • American Sniper

The awards ceremony will air on television in the United States on your local BBC America Station at 8:00 pm eastern standard time.


For more information about this dynamic organization, visit www.bafta.org.


List of movies filmed on location in Britain courtesy of http://bit.ly/1bCXAcQ

List of directors, actors, producers, etc. courtesy of the following:  http://bit.ly/1sXfjYI , http://imdb.to/1g5YK3k , http://bit.ly/1DcBQ75 , http://made.mn/1LmgOJ9 , http://huff.to/1DcD4PF, http://made.mn/1DcDq98 , http://bit.ly/1BAovGg, and http://bit.ly/1yFet1N.

Images courtesy of www.bafta.org.


Read more Reel Focus blog articles


Become a member of WIFTA


Become a WIFTA Sponsor


Donate to WIFTA


Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop


Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael On Lady Edith’s Emotional Season 5

Photo courtesy of Rosemary Jean-Lewis

Written by Rosemary Jean-Louis, Guest Blogger

Season five of “Downton Abbey” had the melodrama of a telenovela with no character being untouched by conflict and troubles.

But Julian Fellowes heaped the heartache on the Crawley middle sister, Lady Edith.

At the beginning of the season, Lady Edith had taken back her daughter Marigold and hid her away with tenant farmer and adoptive couple the Drewes.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, should have been the tagline for this scheme. Lady Edith planned on checking in on Marigold as much as possible. But Mrs. Drewe, unaware of Marigold’s true identity, made the Crawley sister miserable with each visit. At one point, she denied Lady Edith seeing Marigold during one stopover. By midway through the season, Mrs. Drewe banned Lady Edith from seeing the little girl altogether.

Add the confirmed death of Mr. Gregson, Edith’s lover and Marigold’s father, and what an emotional rollercoaster ride for the character and the actress who plays her.

That would be Laura Carmichael and at the second annual “Downton Abbey” themed weekend at the Sea Island Resort this past January, she shared how she navigated playing so many scenes with such a heightened sense of emotions.

“Really when you’ve got a day which is a lot of your big storyline (days), those are kind of easier. You’re in it,” she explains. “They tend to schedule them together if they can. So they’ll put all of your big scenes in one day which can kind of help the concentration.”

“It’s a performance. So much of what happens to Edith is that she has to show that she’s fine even when she’s not. So it’s my job to always keep it in my mind and be on top of that.”

You can watch Carmichael discuss it in this video snippet of a panel discussion she appeared on during the weekend event alongside Kevin Doyle (Mr. Moseley) and Raquel Cassidy (Baxter) moderated by Jessica Fellowes, niece of Julian and “Downton Abbey” book author.


If you’re suffering from “Downton Abbey” withdrawal, here’s a fix. Visit Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Downton Abbey” store to stock up on t-shirts, mugs and other swag.



Read more Reel Focus blog articles


Become a member of WIFTA


Become a WIFTA Sponsor


Donate to WIFTA


Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop


Tinashe’s World of Acting

Photo courtesy of Tinashe Kajese


Tinashe Kajese is no stranger to the world of acting. She is known for many acting roles on television and on stage.  Born in Zimbabwe, this sensational lady has been embracing the challenges of stage and screen for several years and she is giving back to her local community by helping others to hone their acting skills. For this Reel Focus blog, we will explore Tinashe’s world, both on and off stage.

Tinashe, for those of our readers who are not familiar with who you are in the world of acting and entertainment, tell us the roles that you have played in film and/or on television.

I would say the majority of my television work has been in the form of National Commercials like McDonalds, Homegoods, Hilshire Farms, Ford, and many variations of banks!! People may have also caught a glimpse of me in the HBO show ENLIGHTENED or on CBS’ Cold Case.

What brought you to Atlanta?

My husband, Keith Arthur Bolden, was offered a professor position in the Theater Department at Spelman College just over a year ago. We have a young son and felt like there were so many exciting things happening in Atlanta not just in our industry but also culturally speaking that we decided to make the move and explore our opportunities in this up and coming market. Having lived in NYC and Los Angeles, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that Atlanta was never on our radar in terms of a career move but we have been so blessed personally and professionally I can’t imagine living anywhere else at this time in our lives.

Tell us what Tinashe’s world is like outside of the limelight.

As I mentioned, I have a 2 year old son, so motherhood is the center part of my life. I am also a certified Interior Architect Designer – I had gone back to school for my Masters so that I could fully explore my passion for design. I mostly do commercial design and some residential remodeling. Having this other outlet of artistic expression is so rewarding and I love the process of reconstructing spaces into functional works of art that can remain long after I leave.

Photo courtesy of Tinashe Kajese

Tell our readers more about your acting classes and what you do to develop talent for stage.

Theater is huge part of my background and career. I do believe that craft and talent is developed through practice and ‘exercising’ that muscle of effortless storytelling. Also, knowing how to adapt your performance for different mediums is so critical if you want to be successful in this business. There are so many classes out there that teach actors how to audition but what happens AFTER you book that role and are expected to recreate what you did 3 months ago on tape for casting? I teach a very specific technique on how to break down scripts and create the most dynamic performance which not only makes you a memorable actor but also a marketable one. Being on set can be extremely nerve racking so I give actors tools that take them from the initial audition, thru the table read and into a successful filming experience. See the link below for details.

What can be expected from you in the future?

Photo courtesy of Tinashe Kajese

I have a couple national commercials running for Haverty’s, a furniture store, and some projects lining up in the near future. I just finished a production of DETROIT ’67 at True Colors Theater Company and am now at the Alliance Theater in BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY alongside Atlanta’s fabulous Crystal Fox (April 15th-May 10th). The fact that I am able to still pursue my love for the theater while having the opportunity to do television and film gives me so much excitement about living here in Atlanta and what the future holds!




For more information about Tinashe’s acting classes, email email captivatethecamera@gmail.com

Read more Reel Focus blog articles


Become a member of WIFTA


Become a WIFTA Sponsor


Donate to WIFTA


Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop


The Afterthought – Born Again Virgin Television Show Review

Photo credit - TVOne
Photo credit – TVOne

The Afterthought – Reel Focus blogger’s initial reaction to a new television show, new film release or television show season premiere.


I really like watching some of the shows on TVOne particularly the show Fatal Attraction, which reminds me of the television show on Oxygen called Snapped. I can also catch some of my other favorites such as Unsung, A Different World and Martin Lawrence on this network. While recently watching my favorite shows, I kept seeing promos for a new show called Born Again Virgin. I must say, commercials do have a hypnotizing effect because upon watching the promo initially, I had no intention of watching it. However, a few days prior to the show’s premiere, I couldn’t resist the idea of watching it – at least once.  I also discovered that this is a show filmed in Georgia so I had to show my support for it.


My Synopsis of Episode 1 – “No New Friends”

Although the main character, Jenna (Danielle Nicolet) is practicing celibacy, the show ironically opens up with her dreaming of erotic ecstasy with a man by the name of Donovan (played by singer Tank).  She is awakened by her friend and roommate, Kelly (Meagan Holder) who catches her in the throws of ecstasy with a pillow while she is sleeping.  Jenna is upset with Kelly for interrupting her during her only time that she is allowed to escape from her self-imposed decision to not have sex. The show is primarily about Jenna and her issues with sex but we do also get a glimpse into the lives of her roommates.  Kelly is a successful businesswoman who is great at what she does but continues to suffer from the glass-ceiling effect.  Despite being like “one of the boys” and being just as competitive as men are in business, she is still facing career blockages that men usually don’t face in business.  A new co-worker, Gina (Valerie Payton), who was recently hired at the firm takes interest in being OBF’s (office buddies forever) with Kelly and tries to persuade her to be more feminine and lady-like.  Jenna’s other roommate Tara (Eva Marcille) is also dealing with career issues.  She is an aspiring actress that can’t seem to catch a lucky break.  The class that she attends for improvisation is completely stupid according to her, not to mention creepy. The episode concludes with Jenna hosting at her apartment a session of her virgin-only class that she recently joined.  The teacher of the class, Renee, is played by a familiar face that we have seen here on Reel Focus, Tinashe Kajese (click link to see her article).  Tara and Kelly burst in on the meeting and Tara, who is practicing being more open, reveals to Jenna’s class that she is not a virgin nor is Jenna and that Jenna has been with many men but is now reclaiming her virginity.  This disgusts all members of the class and all of them leave except Angel (Chrystee Pharris) who is a 35 year old virgin that wants to experience sex for the first time and wants Jenna to prepare her to attract a suitor.  Ironically, after helping Angel get fixed up, she loses her virginity to the same man that Jenna secretly craves – Donovan.


My Synopsis of Episode 2 – “Go Hard or Go Home”

In the next episode, we get to see more of Jenna’s profession.  She opens up the episode with the decision to start adding video messages to her blog.  This results in a lot of unrelated video messaging added to her sites from subscribers. Jenna’s roommates are continuing to go through career woes.  Kelly gets her hand on a big contract promoting a video game by Omari Wilkes’, a famous basketball player.  After beating him at his own video game, he decides that he doesn’t want to do business with her firm.  Devastated, Kelly, who is mocked by her co-workers and her boss for allowing such an important contract to slip through her hands, goes to the gym to have a heart-to-heart with Omari to insist to him that she is the right promoter for his new video game.  Luckily, he gives her another chance to represent him. Tara is so determined to get her acting career underway she calls up Lisa Woo, another TVOne star on the show “Hollywood Divas,” to help her get a reality show gig lined up.  Tara takes her phone and video tapes herself doing outlandish things in order to convince Lisa that she can have her own reality show called the “Tara Dome.”  After Lisa sees her video, she tells Tara to give up on the reality show business because it takes away opportunities from current reality stars like herself. The episode ends with Jenna finally receiving a legitimate blog video message from a troubled girl.  She records a message for the teen telling her how to deal with the issue of celibacy.


The Afterthought – My Take on the Show

Just like with any new show, this show has promise and deserves a chance.  The writers seemed to focus on African American women’s issues in a funny way.  One major issue that stood out for me is the issue of being torn between being “lady-like” and a competitive professional business woman.  Two other issues that were raised were the struggles of trying to be an entrepreneur as witnessed in Jenna’s character as a career blogger; and the issue of trying to be successful in the world of acting as witnessed by Tara’s character.  The cinematography was great and of course I was excited to see scenes of Atlanta scattered in between scenes.  Overall, I think the first few episodes introduced the characters well but I am hoping that as we get to know more about the ladies that the plot will thicken and the tension will build each week.


IMDb Show Synopsis

Jenna (Danielle Nicolet), a 34 year-old up-and-coming blogger, decides to become celibate when she finds her body count is starting to trump her age. Using her blog as encouragement for her newly adapted sex diet and also as a sounding board for her girlfriends’ often amusing “sexcapades,” Jenna is determined to make the blog a success and transform her friends in the process.


Show Directors

Russ Par & Rashidi Natara Harper


Show Writers

Glenda Richardson, Aeysha Carr, Valencia Parker, Ranada Shepard, Meg Deloatch






Follow Women in Film and Television Atlanta on Twitter @wiftAtlanta



Read more Reel Focus blog articles


Become a member of WIFTA


Become a WIFTA Sponsor


Donate to WIFTA


Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop

Screenwriter John Rogers Talks About His Latest Action Thriller – The Player on NBC

11/19/2008 - John Rogers - Electric Entertainment Celebrates TNT's "The Librarian 3" and "Leverage" - Arrivals - The Cabana Club - Hollywood, CA. USA - Keywords: John Rogers - False - - Photo Credit: Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos - Contact (1-866-551-7827)


Reel focus readers I have a real treat for you.  A lot of great movies and shows are rolling out this season and I’ve been hot on the trail like a sleuth in a detective tale finding production people who can discuss their films or TV shows.  Ok so I am stretching the truth a little – I’ve been finding writers to discuss their films.  As you know, I’m a writer so I’m partial to other writers because I feel like most writers don’t get the accolades that they rightfully deserve.  So, pardon me if I show a lot of love to writers.

This week I have tracked down screenwriter John Rogers!  He is a powerhouse writer having written for a lot of films and television shows that we love – just check out his IMDb page here.  He has a new show debuting this week and let me tell you, I was floored when I saw Wesley Snipes in the previews.  Yes, Wesley Snipes will be making a comeback on Rogers’ new television show “The Player” on NBC.  I’m excited and can’t wait to see it but in the meantime, Rogers will tell us in his own words more about his career and more about “The Player.”

Tell us more about what television shows or films that you are known best for.

I’ve had a weird combo-burrito of a career, basically hopping from stand-up to TV to film and then back to TV, with a side trip into comic books. I created the animated show THE JACKIE CHAN ADVENTURES, co-created LEVERAGE on TNT which just finished a five year run, developed and ran THE LIBRARIANS on TNT and currently have THE PLAYER premiering on NBC this Thursday. Oh, and I co-wrote the first TRANSFORMERS movie.


You have written for television and film.  Do you like or prefer one medium over the other in order to express your writing creativity?

Given the choice between film and television, I’d always go to TV. You can tell longer form stories, take characters through involved emotional journeys, and you make it. I mean, make it NOW! The fastest I ever got a movie made was three years. Sometimes in television you write pages that are shot the next day.

I also enjoy the writer’s role in TV production. I like working with actors over a longer term, crafting and growing the characters over multiple episodes and seasons. The script is the score. The actors should get to play it in their key.


What is your motivation for creating the new action thriller “The Player” on NBC?

THE PLAYER was born of a conversation between myself and John Fox, an old friend and producer on THE BLACKLIST. He’d had a conversation with a friend who was a gambler, talking about how you wind up chasing the thrill of bigger and bigger bets, weirder bets. It somehow turned to “Would you bet on crime?”, to which the gambler replied “Yeah, sure.”

John brought that idea to me, and together we crafted that world — what it would take to run a system that gambled on crime, who would do it, and what that system would imply about the rest of the world. THE PLAYER is a straight-up action thriller, but we really want to examine the nature of power. How its maintained, controlled, and how it can never really be destroyed. Alex Kane is the one man in the Game we’re all trapped in who knows what’s going on. How he decides to play that game, what it says about us, is the real point of the show.

This is a big come back for actor Wesley Snipes.  Tell us more about why he was chosen to be in this television series.

Mr. Snipes kept coming up in conversation as we talked about the character of Mister Johnson. We wanted a morally ambiguous character, who was a mess of contradictions. Precise but violent. Cool and street but can walk in the corridors of power. Not moral, but deeply ethical. As we talked about he character’s history, we were saying “You know, like those action-hero types of the 90’s. Wesley Snipes.” Finally somebody at Sony said “Hey, you really need someone with the buzz to break us out of the Fall pack, AND we could, ya’ know, just ask Wesley.”

So Bharat Nalluri — the pilot director — and I went to dinner with Mr. Snipes, talked to him about the character and how TV in general works these days, and got him interested. I can’t speak for him, of course, but he said he was fascinated by the idea of building a character over long the term rather than the one-and-done of movies. He’s very new to TV, and really peppered us with questions about every part of the process, that night and over the course of the pilot.

That was really great — so many people come in from the film world and act like hey know how TV works. Mr. Snipes is a lifelong learner, and pulls apart a subject when it interests him. He’s been a great asset on the show, and every request he’s made has been about making the show better, never just about something for himself. It’s a pleasure to be working with him.

And he will knock your socks off. In the pilot, Mr. Johnson is very restrained, as it’s a story told through Alex’s POV. As the series goes on, you see him in action, both in the halls of power and some devastating action and fight scenes. Which, of course, he insists on doing himself. It’s just great.



Follow Women in Film and Television Atlanta on Twitter @wiftAtlanta



Read more Reel Focus blog articles


Become a member of WIFTA


Become a WIFTA Sponsor


Donate to WIFTA


Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop