10 shows that have inspired me (2nd Edition)

Welcome to the second edition of the television shows that have inspired me; be it story-wise, visually, or overall. While the first list featured a set a older shows that made a difference in my life, this new list focuses on the newer shows and how they have inspired me in any way.

  1. Vikings (History Channel; Starring: Travis Fimmel, Clive Standen, Gustaf Skarsgård, Katheryn Winnick) – I love Vikings, their whole myth and reality of exploration, import, export I think it’s absolutely fascinating and have been reading up on the things Vikings have done since I can remember. One of the reasons why I love them so much: they were the first society that treated women with equality. There were shield maidens who fought side by side with men, and made their own decisions when it came to marriage, divorce, children, etc. So when History Channel decided they were going to make a show based on the lives of Ragnar Lothbrok, Rollo (who ended up being King of Normandy) and Shield Maiden Lagertha, I was thrilled! While some pieces of the show are not entirely accurate, the fact that Lagertha (Winnick) is such a strong and independent character from both Ragnar (Fimmel) and Rollo (Standen) reflects the realities of how women in Viking society were treated – including being able to hold positions on their own.
  2. Bates Motel (A&E Network; Starring: Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Nestor Carbonell) – Let’s face it, for anyone who has seen Psycho the idea of Norman Bates being THAT obsessed with his mother is unnerving. However, I wanted to know, HOW, did he get to be that obsessed with his mother…Bates Motel gives a good look at the origin of Norman Bates, his relationship with his mother and brother and how he came to be, with a mixture of modern and retro looks this series is quite entertaining, unnerving and engaging, and Highmore is the perfect Norman!
  3. Fuller House (Netflix; Starring: Candice Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber) – I cannot make a list of shows without including the sequels to my childhood favorites. When the announcement came that they were going to revamp the series, I was worried, but after watching the first episode of the Netflix hit and laughing my face off, and crying during some episodes and laughing like crazy again – Fuller House is one of my new favorites. One thing that I would like is if they’d stop featuring the old characters (Danny Tanner, Uncle Jesse & Becky and Joey) so that the Fuller clan can shine on their own – because they’re more than capable of doing so.
  4. The Last Kingdom (BBC; Starring: Alexander Dreymon, Ian Hart, David Dawson) – Back to Viking land! This historical fiction drama that focuses on two characters that actually existed (it has been stated that they lived an estimated 200 years from one another in history) Uhtred of Bebbanburg and King Alfred of Wessex tells the story of how the ambition of man can lead to mixed loyalties and what men who have power ultimately want for their country. It’s greatly written, performed and engaging. Uhtred (Dreymon) is a young lord who saw his father killed in battle, was kidnapped by a gang of invading Vikings and raised as one of them, when he’s older he’s forced to flee from the land he grew to call his own and seek refuge in his former homeland where he is now considered and outsider. The story has multiple layers, lots of battle, some witchcraft and a Ragnar – although this one is called Ragnar the Young.
  5. The Get Down (Netflix; Starring: Justice Smith, Shameik Moore, Herizen Guardiola) – What is better than Hip-Hop, 1977 Bronx, Disco and Baz Luhrman put together? Nothing, the answer is nothing. The Get Down is also a historical fiction take on the rise of hip-hop from the poverty stricken South Bronx a-la-Luhrman, the filmmaker who has a passion for music but makes incredible films. The performances are amazing, the young actors cast a spell on you when you see them on screen navigating the realistic sets that resemble that of a broken down Bronx in the mid to late 70’s that brought me back to when I was a baby and my mother would take me down the street to the little shop my Dad set up to sell tostones, pollo frito, bacalaitos and other Puerto Rican favorites. The only thing I can’t get over is the forced Puerto Rican phrases from the actors, but everything else is fantastic.
  6. Chelsea & Chelsea Does… (Netflix; Starring: Chelsea Handler) – I’m a big fan of Handler’s, she tells it to you straight and I think that moving to Netflix from the E! Network is the best thing she could have done to her career. Many thought it was a crazy gamble because not all of us understood how late night and streaming would fit in. Still, it worked. Her transition show Chelsea Does, had her exploring tons of topics: drugs, marriage, children, racism while showcasing a more human, vulnerable Handler that not all of us knew existed. In Chelsea – she continues with the tone set up by her docu-series and talks about things that matter: politics, education, medicine, science, history, money with a dash of celebrity guests and skits. It’s fun to watch as she educates herself through what she’s called the Netflix University. Stream it, you’ll love it too.
  7. Stranger Things (Netflix; Starring: Winona Rider, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp) – Thank you Duffer Brothers for scaring the bejezuz out of me! I haven’t watched anything like this in a very long time. The mystery, the performances, the story, the reveal, it’s all amazing. I couldn’t stop watching it! Set in 1983, the time when kids could ride their bikes home at night after playing Dungeons and Dragons for hours in their BFF’s house and the parents were okay and not accused of child abuse for letting them be independent. When Will Byers (Schnapp) mysteriously disappears one night his friends set out to look for him and find an equally mysterious girl (Brown) close to where Will was last seen. What happens from there is a story of friendship that covers everything from bullying, homophobia, monsters, and a serious case of alternate reality that will make you think twice about your current universe.
  8. Tormenta de Passiones or Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki (WAPA, Kanal D – Turkey; Starring: Ayca Bingol, Yildiz Cagri Aksoy, Aras Bulut Iynemli, Mete Horozoglu) – set from the 1960’s to the 1970’s – this series tells the true story of the Akarsu family, beginning with the events that were to change their family’s story in 1967: their father’s infidelity. The show is filled with riveting performances, two strong matriarchs and situations that are seems too unreal to be true – but isn’t that what life is filled with?
  9. Heartless (Netflix, Kanal 5 – Denmark; Starring: Sebastian Jessen, Julie Zangenberg, Nicolaj Kopernikus) I was intrigued by the description of this show “Two siblings with a deep dark and fatal secret. In order to survive they must suck the energy out of other people” – truth is, they are twins and they are a Succubae and Incubus set of twins who don’t know what they are, and go on a journey to find out why they need to feed off other people. The young actors portraying the (fraternal) twins have a great deal of chemistry and are amazing in each of their performances. The secrets are big and never obvious when they’re revealed, also – there’s tons of gruesome killings and cover ups. The interesting show is filled with magic, and how it can pragmatically work in the real world, tons of death, and tons of Danish sex – which I have to say has proven to be quite sexy from what I’ve seen on their shows…
  10. Queen of the South (USA Networks; Starring: Alice Braga, Veronica Falcón, Peter Gadiot) this much better version of La Reina del Sur follows the story of Teresa Mendoza (Braga) and her rise to power in the drug world. Reluctantly guided by the most badass, take no prisoners, no excuses, no-fucks-given-attitude-having Camila Vargas (Falcón) Teresa tries to do her best to stay alive, but her future self appears in the first episode and quickly guides her to doing much more. Camila is a character to be reckoned with – Falcón plays her with ease, poise and dangerous seduction that makes any person pee a little bit in their pants. She’s cunning and she likes to be underestimated because she will shut you down in two seconds flat. Each episode is full of moments that will make you tighten your grip, scream at the television and sometimes cover your eyes. Falcón, Braga and Justina Machado who plays the always hustling Brenda, shows women will do anything to not only come on top, but survive and protect their family and loved ones – even if it’s in the drug world.

25 Films that have inspired me (2nd Edition)

Welcome to the second edition of the films that have inspired me in some way or other to keep working, living, and strive to be myself – the list comprises of both new and old films and a brief explanation as to why they are so special to me.

  1. Eddie the Eagle (Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman) – Egerton does a fantastic job as the titular character, whose ambitions in becoming an Olympian since childhood are quite contagious and inspiring. Born with a disability, and poor eyesight, Eddie Edwards gets his ambition fueled by magazines, posters and television spots that showcase athletes competing – and from only one person in his life: his mum. Throughout the movie this Eddie has been stonewalled, ruled out, booted out and mocked for wanting to be the person he knows he should be – did all these negative situations stop him? No. He pushed forward and made history and broke records. More of us underdogs should be like Eddie the Eagle, soaring through the sky with our accomplishments even if everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) is standing against us telling us we cannot become the person we know in our hearts we are meant to be.
  2. Hello, My name is Doris (Starring: Sally Field, Max Greenfield) – while the IMDb description of this film is “a self help seminar inspires sixty-something woman to romantically pursue her younger co-worker” Doris is much more than that. Field is the titular character and portrays her to perfection. After losing her mother (whom she spent all her life taking care of) Doris is struggling to find her footing in the world. While she becomes enamored by the younger, and very good looking new co-worker (Greenfield) she’s thrust into the dwellings of young people and how we manage to live our lives in “retro” and modernity, while trying to balance her old friendships and new ones. I smiled through the entire movie and laughed out loud through many other parts of it and cried at others. Anyone who is a caregiver of a parent, a young person who is trying to figure out who they are – or a human in general can relate to different aspects of this movie. It’s beautiful, it’s sweet, it’s daring and there’s an awesome sexy scene involving Field and Greenfield that everyone must see.
  3. Far from the Madding Crowd (Starring: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen) – Mulligan stars in this period film as Bathsheba Everdene, the headstrong and very independent woman who inherits a huge piece of land that is home acres and acres of oak. The film is beautifully shot, the characters are well developed and engaging and there is an independent woman who has made a point of not marrying anyone for the sake of marriage or protection. At some point Everdene says “I have a house, I have land, I have no need for a husband” during the Victorian times that was a radical statement – something that many women feel today, and to see that in a period character (albeit a fictional one) is still inspiring. As the story goes on, we see who she really loves and who she ends up choosing as the perfect man for her and as a business partner.
  4. The Wave or Bølgen (Starring: Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro) – Set in the Norwegian Fjords, this movie is far from the Hollywood productions of what a natural disaster would look like if it came to happen. Still, the effects, the science and the people make it compelling and amazing to watch. Joner plays geologist Kristian Eikjord who figures out the mountain that houses hundreds of people is shifting and tries his best to warn others. Thinking it’s practically impossible for what he predicts will happen, will actually come to pass – they ignore him (typical) but that doesn’t stop him from trying to help them, and to save his family from the effects of the tsunami that will surely pass when the mountain collapses. The performances are great, the actors humanize these characters in a way that Hollywood could never do (i.e. San Andreas was flat with the character performances, 2012 fell short in that aspect as well) which is making strong and relatable characters that the audience can relate to in those circumstances. Not just the “OMG the world is going to end” and add tons of CGI to the film….
  5. Chasing Mavericks (Starring: Jonny Weston, Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue) – as a person who cannot live too far from the ocean, this movie touched me in many ways. The story of Jay Moriarty and his ambition to ride the biggest waves – Mavericks – is moving, endearing, and inspiring. Weston’s portrayal of a young(er) Moriarty is clean, crisp and full of that naiveté that is needed in an actor that is playing a real life character that had that natural ambition and passion for life, for knowledge and especially surfing. Moriarty lived his life with a deep love of the ocean, for his family and for his girl. Although living in a one bedroom apartment off the coast of Santa Cruz, California – he went on to accomplish many things in his short life. A good example that nothing should stand in the way of you achieving your dreams.
  6. Brooklyn (Starring: Soairse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhall Gleeson) – Ronan stars in this period romantic drama as Eillis, a young Irish girl who reluctantly leaves her home town and family behind for a new life in Brooklyn, New York. Eillis’ experiences in New York reminded me of mine in great part. Only I didn’t have a boarding house, or a priest, or a job waiting for me when I moved to New York at 17, I related to her incredible homesickness and how hard it was to integrate into a place where there are so many people, and everything is so different. I have to make a note that Emory Cohen’s portrayal of Tony is absolutely adorable and made me fall in love with him.
  7. The Danish Girl (Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander) – What was it like for the first transgender woman? How did she know she was transgender? This film really shows the struggles of accomplished painter Einar Wegener into becoming Lili Elbe. The love he lost while becoming a she, the loved she gained by exploring her true herself. The love that endured between a marriage as time and one of them changed drastically. Eddie’s performance was so moving, I fell in love with both is Einar and Lili, the struggles in the eyes that only a great actor like he can convey and Alicia was amazing as well. As she interpreted the broken hearted, yet supportive Gerda it reminded me of many people I’ve known throughout my life. This film is about love, about self discovery and about friendship – all of the things that encompass what life is truly about.
  8. 200 Cartas (Starring: Lin Manuel Miranda, Jaime Camil, Dayanara Torres) – Miranda portrays Raul, a Young Newyorican who meets a Puerto Rican who is visiting NYC – he falls in love in that first and only meeting and sets off in an adventure to return to her a necklace she dropped in the club they met. Since he doesn’t have her number, he searches the phone book and ends up finding 200 women with her name (Maria Sanchez) so ends up sending each and every one of them a letter (hence the title of the film) what comes after is a crazy adventure and comedy that showcases the beauty and troubles in the island and the evolution of a man from being “smitten” by a beautiful girl he met once, to being actually in love with a woman who helps him in his journey.
  9. For Keeps? (Starring: Molly Ringwald, Randall Batinkoff) – let’s face it, if you’re over 25 years old, chances are that you’ve seen many a Molly Ringwald film while growing up. This film in particular was a departure of her previous work as the sweet girl next door. This was the first movie I saw that focused on a teenage mother and father. Both characters are struggling to make ends meet, struggling through post partum depression and struggling to evolve from young love to adult love. This was an incredible movie for me to see as a young person. The possibilities of unprotected sex, young parenting and everything that our sexual education (still) doesn’t cover.
  10. Sixteen Candles or 16 Candles (Starring: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling) – John Hughes made some iconic films in the 1980’s, most of them staring Ringwald, and this has to be mentioned in my list. Why? Because for most of my life I felt like Ringwald’s Sam felt on her sixteenth birthday, forgotten for a larger event. Sixteen Candles is a crazy comedy that involves some crazy racists scenarios, but fun in many other aspects. It gives hope to the girls like me, who used to be mostly quiet and crushing on the popular guy. We can all get a guy like Jake to pick us up in his sports car with a birthday cake just for us.
  11. The Iron Giant (Animated – Starring: Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Aniston, Vin Diesel) This animated film was different than anything I’d ever seen before. A war machine falls from the sky, suffers amnesia and befriends a local kid with a weird name (Hogarth). He’s entirely repurposed, basically saying “just because you were a bad person in your past, doesn’t mean you have to always be a bad person” Every time I watch this film I cry, and smile, and laugh out loud – it’s fun, it’s classic and inspiring.
  12. Wild (Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern) – Who doesn’t want to leave their current pain behind by going on a long ass hike? Or sailing across the ocean, or driving cross country? I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want to do any of these things at some point in their lives. I also, still haven’t met anyone who ACTUALLY has done it – so to see a film that is based on real events of a woman who hiked 1, 100 miles down the Pacific Coast Trail to get over losing her mother was inspiring. The cinematography is exquisite and the contrast of what she’s leaving behind to what she’s moving towards works perfectly. Made me want to start planning my own PCT hike (which I have, with an Amazon wish list and all).
  13. Pelo Malo (Samuel Lange Zambrano, Samantha Castillo, Beto Benites) – Zambrano plays Junior, a nine year old boy who is obsessed with straightening his thick curly hair, this obsession leads him conditioning his hair with mayonnaise and combing it excessively. His mother Marta (Castillo), thinks that all this obsession with his hair and dancing and singing might mean that he’s gay. As the film progresses, we see many inappropriate things happen, as well as painful things that many a young artist has experienced in their lives. This film has motivated me to not be as close minded as Marta, or imposing as Junior’s grandmother Carmen (brilliantly played by Nelly Ramos).
  14. Mermaids (Starring: Cher, Bob Hoskins, Winona Ryder, Christina Ricci) – As a child, I was very similar to Ricci’s character Kate Flax in this movie. Always wanting to be in the water, but never cleaning my rocks, or timing my ability to hold my breath in the bathtub (we never had a bathtub, I always left sea rocks where they belonged). Then there was the quirky Charlotte, who was obsessed with Catholicism (and later on Greek Mythology) and reminded me of the year of my life I wanted to be a nun. Then we had the sexy Mrs. Flax, single mother, secure in her own skin and a woman who gives no fucks. Like none…at all. After suffering a heartbreak she relocates herself and her girls to a small town in Massachusetts where so many things happen, when the family seems to break apart, it only gets stronger. I love this film because of all the elements I can relate to: family, obsession with swimming, religion, love (romantic and otherwise) and struggling family to find their own footing.
  15. Como agua para chocolate (Lumi Cavazos, Marco Leonardi, Regina Torné) – I didn’t know the connection of food and sexuality until I saw this film. I had read the book before I saw the film, and was pleased to see that many of the literary aspects were put, exactly as I imagined it, on film. The casting is great, and if anyone deserved a nomination or an award of their portrayal of an unwavering torturous bitch of a mother was Torné. Her Mamá Elena is like the worst mother ever. Denying her younger daughter love, marriage and children for the sake of tradition is unthinkable. The film itself is beautiful, the characters are lovely (Gertrude being my favorite) and the story itself, while tragic has its romanticism. Also, the dishes are really great looking and how the people react to them creates curiosity if it does actually happen in real life.
  16. One night with the King (Starring: Tiffany Dupont, Luke Goss, John Noble) – I’m not really crazy on biblical stories, but this movie has stayed with me since I first saw it. Hadassah (Dupont) has to hide her Jewish identity and customs in order to stay alive, changing her name to Esther (with the excuse that it doesn’t sound so Jewish – which is like very “lol” now) she becomes Esther Queen of Persia, and risks her life to save her people from genocide. Why do I like this film? When you look at the cinematography it would seem like a low budget film – but that never matters when there’s a strong story. A young girl thrust into a destiny she never imagined, she has to have faith to keep going – decide to be safe or to risk her own life for that of others. A King (Xerxes) historically known for his barbaric nature, to be seen in a vulnerable way, to be seen as a man, who is in love with a woman and doesn’t want to make her unhappy – changing his ways. The faith of something bigger than them, bigger than everything, most importantly bigger than the looming evil towards the Jewish people is nothing to be ignored.
  17. Austenland (Starring: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Jennifer Coolidge) – as a Jane Austen Fan I really wish this place actually existed! Austenland is filled with laughs, ridiculous performances and of course, romance. Jane Hayes (Russell) blows her savings to go on a trip to this fictitious theme park and live like Jane Austen’s character. Each travel package has a different character and romantic story to it so it’s great to see Austen’s entire characters take place in one setting, even if it’s absolutely ridiculous. My favorite scene is when Jane is prompted to play the piano – I snort-laughed at it and it’s such a great scene that there is an extended version of it in the final credits. Also Jane’s chemistry with Mr. Nobley (JJ Feild) is palpable. Just shows you that one can have a great time when you blow your savings on something deemed as insignificant to others.
  18. Maria full of Grace (Starring: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Guilied Lopez, Orlando Tobón) – What are you willing to do for a better life? Many Central and Latin Americans resort to the actions of María Álvarez, smuggling drugs to the US and then staying in the mainland to better their lives and that of their children and families. This film was particularly moving, because it really showed the dark side of being a mule. The dehumanization of those who choose to swallow the drugs, and the troubles they have to deal with later on. Why did I like this film? María was head strong, determined to move forward with her life at any cost – even if she risked her own life while trying to make a better one.
  19. Contracorriente or Undertow (Starring: Cristian Mercado, Tatiana Astengo, Manolo Cardona) – This film is supposed to be about a gay man who is torn by his tradition. I truly believe it’s about a bisexual man who finds love in both sexes, but is pressured to be straight, when he loves a man deeper than what he loves his wife. Mercado plays Peruvian fisherman Miguel, a family man who meets outsider Santiago (Cardona) a photographer who settles in the beautiful coast and as their relationship progresses, their love blossoms. But then tragedy strikes and Santiago is ends up dead and haunting Miguel. What happens in this film is hauntingly beautiful. The love people have for one another should not be denied – for any reason, because it will haunt you some day.
  20. Goya’s Ghosts (Starring: Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård) – while I would have preferred for the cast to be entirely Spaniard, I guess that’s never going to happen in a Hollywood production. Still, this film is good. Want to know about the Spanish Inquisition? This will give you a good idea. Want to see what happens when you’re devout to a religion that has imprisoned you, tortured you and kept you locked up for 15 years? Watch this movie. Want to know how a painter influenced the masses on what the Church was doing behind closed doors to the people? Watch this film.
  21. The Fundamentals of Caring (Starring: Craig Roberts, Paul Rudd, Selena Gomez) – Trevor (Roberts) is a paraplegic young man whose mother hires Ben (Rudd) to be his caregiver. Trevor likes to play mean jokes, he likes consistency and he’s incredibly sarcastic. A shell he’s been building ever since his father walked away from being responsible for him in his current state. What Trevor doesn’t expect is Ben, who picks up on his behavior and gives it back. The result is a great film where Rudd shines in his comedic and dramatic skills, and Roberts acting is pristine. I don’t comment so much of Gomez’ character since the film can do without her really, but I love this film. It’s heartwarming, and lets us know that friendship can be found in unexpected places.
  22. No se aceptan devoluciones or Instructions not included (Starring: Eugenio Derbez, Karla Souza, Jessica Lindsey) – I honestly didn’t think this film was going to be any good based on the trailer – which was really shoddy in my opinion. A womanizer has to turn his life around because he gets his daughter dumped on him. I mean, really? But one day I saw it on cable and fell in love with the deeper meaning of this film. A father who changes his life around to ensure his daughter has the best life she can, for as long as she can. It’s tragic, it’s sweet, it’s heartbreaking and heartwarming, and funny in some cases.
  23. Beasts of No Nation (Starring: Abraham Attah, Emmanuel Affadzi, Idris Elba) – I’ve always been against child soldiering. Every chance I get I watch a film that depicts the perils of young boys recruited and forced to be soldiers – losing their innocence, their childhood and subsequently the positivity of what life can be. This film was so jarring to see. Boys as young as eight years old carrying AK47’s and other high powered guns and rifles. Boys being forced to fight for a cause they can’t even comprehend entirely. Boys being violated in so many different ways. Boys not being able to be boys – innocent and free. Attah’s performance as Agu is memorable, he’s so good at depicting the pain and confusion, and Affadzi’s Dike is incredible at portraying pain, and anger. What impacted me most was Elba’s Commandant – his ruthlessness, his cruelty, and the ease as to which he does all the horrible things he does – still it didn’t kill Agu’s spirit and that to me was the most important thing of all.
  24. Superstar (Starring: Molly Shannon, Will Ferrell) – let’s face it; we all had that time during our childhood that we wanted to be superstars in some form. This endearing film about young Mary Katherine Gallagher (Shannon) and her desire to be a superstar dancer like her parents (who died while dancing to a crazy fast song) and her grandmother’s desire to protect her from the dangers of dancing hits home for creatives. While not as drastic, we have parents or parental figures who want to protect us from the possibility of the crippling failure and criticism. I mean, we don’t go around making out with trees, or smelling our fingers after they’ve been stuck in our sweaty armpits because that’s what we do when we’re really really nervous, but we all have our quirks, and this movie is just fun to watch and to see how Mary Katherine Gallager finds her perfect dance partner and becomes a S.U.P.E.R.S.T.A.R!
  25. Penelope (Starring Christina Ricci, James McAvoy) – I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for any movie that has either Ricci or McAvoy…but BOTH? It’s like movie heaven. This sweet movie is a romantic comedy about a family that is cursed – particularly the first born female child of that family after the curse, to have a pig snout for a nose and be so hideous and frightening not even her parents will love her – ironically, the way to break the spell is with the love of a person of noble blood. Penelope (Ricci) hides away from society by force, her parents, well, really it’s her mother – want to hide her from people until the spell is broken. Enter Johnny , who after a barrage of suitors presented is the only one who stays after Penelope reveals herself to them (most of them throwing themselves out windows and breaking down doors to escape her, which really I don’t know why, because Ricci, even with a pig snout is freaking adorable – also let’s make a note that he didn’t see her because he was busy doing something else) but they build a strong bond through conversations about music, books, and playing chess – which she does through a double sided mirror. In the end (spoiler alert) she breaks the spell herself because she finds herself loving who she is and what she looks like and McAvoy is just the most precious, sexy and passionate cherry on top of the cake.

Dudes, I’ve been nominated for an award!

liebster2I’ve been blogging here and there for quite some time – and I’ve never heard of this particular award. While my most recent recognition was being part of the 2015 Selection of the Rincón International Film Festival, I’ve never nominated for an award. So you’d be right to think that I’m more than excited when my nominator Steifannie on left me a comment November 7, 2015 announcing her decision to bestow me such an honor. Naturally at first I thought ‘wait, is there such an award?’ and I proceeded to investigate by way of Google and found it to be a real thing – and if you, like me, don’t know much about the award, here are the details: The Liebster Award is an award given by bloggers to other up-and-coming (and particularly awesome) blogs. It’s a way of connecting and encouraging others to keep going with their online presence, promoting the arts in any way possible. The rules changed from nominating bloggers with or fewer than 3000 followers to currently only being able to nominate bloggers with or fewer than 200.

The rules are quite simple:

  1. THANK THE PERSON WHO NOMINATED YOU AND LINK TO THEIR BLOG ON YOUR LIEBSTER AWARD nomination POST. 
  2. COPY AND PASTE THE LIEBSTER AWARD nomination BADGE INTO YOUR POST. 
  3. ANSWER THE 10 QUESTIONS YOU WERE GIVEN WHEN YOU WERE NOMINATED.
  4. COME UP WITH 10 QUESTIONS YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK OF YOUR  NOMINEES (please look below).
  5. NOMINATE 10 BLOGGERS WHO HAVE 200 or less FOLLOWERS and let them know by COMMENTING ON ONE OF THEIR POSTS, and linking YOUR LIEBSTER AWARD nomination POST, along with A SHORT MESSAGE.

I’ve already completed both Steps 1 & 2, so here is Step 3: The responses to my nominator’s questions:

  1. WHY DID YOU START BLOGGING?

To reach a broader audience with my short films, written stories, etc., as well as to grow my online presence as a filmmaker.

  1. DO YOU KEEP A DIARY, IF SO WHY? IF NOT, WHY NOT?

I wouldn’t call it a diary, I would call it a “story idea notebook” and I write in it quite often with ideas for films, some poems, and some (TV/Web) series ideas.

  1. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THE GROWTH OF YOUTUBE AND YOUTUBERS? 

I think it’s interesting…I like how it gives a platform for people who have dreams of becoming a performer at any capacity. However, with the good there is often a bad, and the dark side of YouTube is quite dark….and unnecessary really.

  1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FILM EVER AND WHY?

I cannot pick just one, but you can certainly read my list of 25 Films that have inspired me (1st edition) to get an idea….

  1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FILM TRAILER AND/OR POSTER AND WHY? IF YOU DON’T HAVE ONE, PICK A TRAILER AND/OR POSTER YOU’VE SEEN RECENTLY THAT YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT!

Here are my favorite movie posters – why? Purely for narcissistic reasons (hint: they are my own movie posters…lol)

Forced into Silence riff pasado poster 2

  1. WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR? 

To just be happy

  1. WHAT IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT YOU’VE EVER GIVEN?

A cabbage patch doll…when I was like 5??

  1. IF YOU COULD DO OR BE ANYTHING, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? (EVEN IF YOU’VE ALREADY ‘GROWN UP’!)

I’m already doing and being it J

  1. WHO WOULD YOU BE IF YOU COULD BE ANY CHARACTER FROM A FILM?

This is a hard question….since I like so many films. I’d be Merida (Brave) Skeeter (The Help) Maleficent, Pocahontas, Samantha Jones (Sex and the City), Lieutenant John J. Dunbar a/k/a Dances with Wolves (Dances with Wolves), Mrs. Boss or Lady Sarah Ashley (Australia), Ms. Gruel (Freedom Writers)….you get the point – the strong, curious, authority-defying, game-changing character in each film.

  1. WHAT IS YOUR TIP FOR SAVING THE WORLD?

I don’t know, try to be good to others, do no harm, plant/save trees…spread the goodness within…

BONUS ANSWER:

Although she didn’t ask this question, I liked it so I’ll answer it:

  1. WHAT ACCOMPLISHMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

There’s really no way to just choose one thing. I have to say that this year has been full of surprises and accomplishments I only dreamt of having a short time ago. I was very proud of myself when I wrote, directed, and (limited) released my first short film – that was something I thought would never happen. Another moment of accomplishment was when I was invited to be a speaker at the La Guardia Community College in New York for my work on (ongoing production) Forced into Silence , being interviewed by the Award-Winning podcaster Dr. Vibe for his aptly named The Dr. Vibe Show. When my first short documentary, Forever Boogies, made the 2015 Official RIFF selection….I could go on forever, so I guess I can say the years 2014, and 2015 I’m most proud of so far

Step 4: Here are my 10 questions for my nominees:

  1. Why made you want to blog?
  2. What do you blog about and why?
  3. Is there any accomplishment that you’re most proud of? What sets it apart from any other accomplishment?
  4. (I think this is a great question) What do you wish you knew more about and why?
  5. What is your favorite film/book/television show and why? (if you have one of each, list all of them)
  6. Is there anything or anyone who inspires you the most, why?
  7. What are your ambitions for the future? Where do you see yourself going? (Be it by blogging, or any aspect of your artistic expression – e.g. writing, film, drawing, etc )
  8. Other than sharing your thoughts with the world, what do you care about the most?
  9. If you could meet any person in the world (past or present – alive or dead) who would it be and what would you ask them?
  10. What do you wish your legacy to be – that thing that people remember when they hear your name?

Although some of these questions might seem challenging, I’ve come to realize that if you ask people challenging questions, it pushes them to think of what they want out of life and how to start making it happen. This is my unique way of helping others realize their potential and their true passion in life.

Step 5 – Part of being nominated for the Liebster Award is to nominate other bloggers, here are my (careful) selection:

  1. SHE SHAPES THE CITY

This relatively new blog shares photos and stories of women who are changing the face of Nairobi – dazzling photos of powerful women that are changing lives in their unique ways can be seen along with a short post about this particular and spectacular woman.

  1. MARK, MD, MPH

Want to know how mental health relates to today’s society? Mark keeps his posts easy to read and relatable to the ongoing challenges of the ever-evolving present day, tackling topics like that of trans-person health care from a parents POV, analyzing pop-culture shows and their relevancy on mental health like Kimmy Schmidt. It’s a great blog that every person should follow to learn more about mental health, an issue that is not often spoken wisely about today.

  1. PRISON PHOTOGRAPHY

A compelling blog that shares the rarely seen drawings of prisoners around the nation, how their mental health is affected by incarceration and the goings on of life behind bars. It features also a healthy dose of essays, and reference papers. It’s moving, it’s daunting, and eye opening. FOLLOW IT!

  1. BIBLIOKLEPT

You obviously like reading if you’re here – so, if you like vintage books, but don’t know where to start, Biblioklept is the perfect place to do so. Concise reviews that accompany vintage book covers give any reader a list to start off their reading at any time of year – not just for the summer.

  1. THE BOOKSHELF OF EMILY J

Another blog for book reviews, but this one also features life lessons, opinion, and literary reviews. It’s easy to navigate, read and will keep you entertained both on and offline (when you read one of the reviewed books of course).

  1. POST SECRET

Want a fun, daring and interactive blog to follow? Post Secret is a way for its audience to share stories without revealing their identities. It’s a great site that will make you shake your head, laugh, and think if you have any secrets worth posting (without the risks of course!) It will also let you in the lives of people – and surely will make you feel less alone with your deep dark stories…

  1. THANK YOU FOR SWALLOWING

Don’t be fooled by the (seemingly offensive) name, this blog is full of poetry penned by people from around the globe on various topics ranging from trans-life, birthing, leaving a job you hate, etc. – great content.

  1. OTHER SASHAS

Sasha Martinez journals online about her reading, more than reviews, she gives an insight to how reading pretty much anything makes her feel and it’s great. She’s fun to read and has a great collection of photos for each post. Go follow, enjoy and try to keep up with such a voracious reader!

  1. THE MONSTERS UN

Want a fun blog where monsters meet at the United Nations? Search no more

  1. SERIAL WORD ABUSER

Reviews of anime, comics, films, campy movies and more can be found on this fun blog. Go follow it and be a witness to the series of abused words.

There’s so much good content out there! It was incredibly hard to make a selection – but this is my final list. I hope they accept the nomination and help promote other amazing blogs that aren’t in or haven’t reached the spotlight.