“42”-Jackie Robinson, American Hero

The film “42” brings to life the story of Jackie Robinson and his journey to become the first African American baseball player breaking the “color line” out in theaters this past Friday.

However, “42” goes beyond baseball to the epicenter of American character in valuing justice, perseverance and freedom shown through Robinson.

Robinson is a hero emerging from a time where history was primed for a stable recognition of humanity.  His heroic status is a double win for sports in athleticism and prejudice as a sociopolitical symbol nodding to both the past and inevitable future.

A quote that remains suspended in my memory is from Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey.  “Like our savior you have to have the guts to not fight back.”

Robinson’s humble yet fighting spirit bursts through the grins injecting humor into tense moments.  His shuffling movement before stealing a base showcases an animal like trickster glint of mischief.  The tender moments with his wife highlights gentleness.  It is this likability that allows the ferociousness of emotion that bellows out of Robinson after an encounter with Ben Chapman to have such an impact on the audience.

The scene with Robinson responding to the stinging taunts in the tunnel is beautifully shot and something to look out for.

It is here that I think Robinson in the movie’s script fulfills the label of hero in recognizing his potential to show courage by not retaliating in violence and owning his character.  He refuses to be victim to circumstance and chooses true freedom.  This hero in the film is not absence of emotion and shows real frustration that does not deny the hurricane of feelings unleashed in a private arena.

Finding the light amongst the dark or the other way around can be a trick for an actor to have in their back pocket.  Like a two sided coin flipping the focus of intensity allows moments of one experience to shine against the backdrop of the contrasting feeling or situation.   The dichotomy offers the audience a hidden richness.  The layering of thoughts makes that one look from pitcher to batter a silent conversation worth watching.

The heroes and villains that are chosen by people can be a reflection of the core beliefs, worldviews, and prejudices.  Heroes give people something to root for, believe in, and use as role models expressing the inner soul’s needs and emotions on a scale that is healthy and relevant.  An American hero can emerge from those that are rooted in history, truth, and real existence and those that come out of entertainment.

This movie “42” is a blend of real existence and entertainment with a hero to root for.  See the legend of Jackie Robinson in theaters now.

News of the praiseworthy movie is traveling fast.  Check out stories put out by Entertainment Weekly and The New Yorker.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”-Mary Anne Radmacher

“The Mission Play”-Respect, Resilience and Resonance

“There’s an energy to places, a resonance. The walls, as they say, have ears.”

-“The Mission Play” 2013, adapted by Jonathan Sailsbury and Nicole Avenia

© Photo by Ron Lim Photography

Originally written in 1911 by John Steven-McGroarty and now adapted for the 21st century, “The Mission Play” tells the tale of the rise of the California mission system charting the relationships between the Franciscan friars, Spanish army and Native American tribes. However, the play is not about clashing communications but connecting community and celebrating culture.

From April 5-April 7 audiences can watch as history unfolds in the re-imagined version of the play at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse. The play was originally performed in 1912-1932 to be seen by over 2.5 million people at the playhouse.

I am honored to play, Sue, one of the four modern teens that break out in a hip-hop dance at the beginning of the play to later be swept back in time to go on a journey to learn about respect, resilience and resonance.
The four teens are additions to the newly adapted version that are present throughout the whole show to help connect the 21st century to the classic tale.
The terms respect, resilience and resonance are applicable both to this play and any actor’s career.

© Photo by Ron Lim Photography

Respect: It is helpful to respect yourself as an actor and the other professionals you get to work with. Respect can translate into learning the “lines” as written, respecting what everyone brings to the table, props, wardrobe or respecting the time you commit to the rehearsal process.
“Mission Play”: The play touches on valuing time whether it be the past (ancestors and own memories), present (change) or future possibilities. Just like respect should be given to every professional working on a show, the teens learn that respect should be given to anyone who may have opposing viewpoints or culture anchors.

Resilience: I recognize that artists face a lot of rejection, possible disappointment or negativity surrounding their craft and lifestyle. It might be helpful to do a litmus test to understand how you personally react to situations and develop a glass half full type attitude. I think it is important to have a full life where acting is not the only you thing you do and to know who truly loves you. What audience do you live to please? I live for an audience of one.
“Mission Play”: Numerous characters remain faithful to their personal mission and vision despite numerous setbacks. The theater itself was built in 1927 to house the production and has remained standing through earthquakes and time. In addition, the show spans about sixty years showing how different groups of people survived.

Resonance: Choose projects that inspire you and that you connect with. Whenever I read scripts I get so excited when I read someone’s life off the page that resonates with me. There is a physical and emotional connection that flips the switch.
“Mission Play”: The theater space is breathtaking and walking into a place with so much history sends ripples of electrifying energy through my system. Certain places evoke different emotions and trigger the five senses into action. I am blessed to go to work and play with my fellow ensemble members here.

© Photo by Ron Lim Photography

Come experience the theater’s rich history and learn along with my character Sue how respect, resilience and resonance can impact history with love and forgiveness. Check-out the radiant theater and see what resonates with you.  Click here to buy tickets.

I look forward to entering tech week for the show and celebrating Easter where history is HIS story! Happy Easter!

“It’s not about being right or wrong-it’s about finding common ground—seeking to see the other person’s point of view, finding peace and seeing God in the very darkest corners and the most shimmering fields.”-Ubaldo, Act Three “Mission Play”

The play features members from the Gaberlino Tongva tribe, Spanish, Chinese and hip-hop dancers and singers that reflect the history of the city of San Gabriel.  Teh’Hoveet! (means “great” in the Gaberlino Tongva language)

“Dancing With the Stars” Premiere

Dancing With the Stars” is back tonight with a brand new set of celebrities paired with pros competing for the mirror-ball trophy on abc at 8 p.m..

I am excited to see a new crop of dance hopefuls enter the ballroom.  It will be fun to look for the new partnering dynamics, the improvement over the season and how each celebrity enjoys the process.

The professional dancers that draw me in are the ones that move with purpose, power and precision.

Purpose: Knowing what story your body is meant to tell in response to moving with a partner and music.

Power: Controlled power and fluidity to create resistance in extensions which can turn a simple walk into a defining movement.

Precision: Hitting or accenting certain moves to create lovely pictures from the relaxed hand to the pointed toe.

Every professional is brilliant with Derek Hough, Mark Ballas and Peta Murgatroyd being standouts for me.  This season I am looking for new pro, Lindsay Arnold and a new troop member, Whitney Carson from “So You Think You Can Dance.”

However, having purpose, power and precision isn’t everything.  The rehearsal footage and interviews show celebrities as real people.  I am looking for passion, personality, and persistence.

Passion: Someone who is willing to invest emotions into dance and is willing to be vulnerable.

Personality: Bringing playfulness to the dance floor with a carefree abandonment that is unique to them.

Persistence: Striving to continue to take constructive criticism and be open to growth.

I am looking out for Zendaya, Dorothy Hamill, Kelli Pickler, Jacoby Jones, and Aly Raisman.

In addition there are the evolving partnerships where I look for physicality, patience, and the process.

Physicality: How two bodies move as one and relate to each other.

Patience: Needed from both pro and celebrity as they grow as a team and in ability.

Process: The journey the two people go on during rehearsal and on taping nights.

Acting can be like ballroom dancing where your “scene partner” is your fellow dancer.  I love to respond off what my fellow actor is giving me in that moment.  The focus is not on you but on the relationship and trust needed to move forward even if it is in an unexpected direction.

Overall, it can be the emotion, the fun, the chemistry and willingness to learn and entertain that people respond to the most.  I think the show excels at showcasing entertainment which trumps technical ability or dance knowledge.

DWTS certainly has created the right formula for magic with professionals moving with power, people (judges and hosts included) with panache and partnerships primed for playful performances.  I am looking forward to all of that tonight.

For great information and videos check out the website Pure dwts. To watch the performances immediately (sometimes even before the show airs California time) check out Rickey.org.

Other things to watch out for this season: The new added dance styles such as contemporary, the costumes, choreography, the theme nights and the results shows performances.

Silence is Golden-“Switched at Birth”

Image: ABC Family

I have heard many times that actors need to listen.  It is something that can be simple but can get over complicated.

ABC Family’s “Switched at Birth” television show proves that you don’t listen just with your ears but with your eyes.  Several characters communicate using sign language and make listening fascinating.

When I watch the show I am compelled to stop multitasking and to focus on watching the relationships and signing on screen.  In some scenes there is no background music to mask the absence of vocalization.
Nevertheless, the show goes beyond being known for having deaf and hearing characters.  The concept of the show having two babies being switched at birth  brings up identity, family nature verses nurture issues.

I have so much respect for the show and actors  who rise to the challenge of playing deaf characters or opposite them.  In many of the episodes actors are communicating with two languages at the same  time.  Katie Leclerc’s deaf accent and how the show is consistent in watching lips to understand are only some highlights to look for.

Last week,  the episode “Uprising” was entirely in ASL with an exception of a few moments at the beginning and end.  Tomorrow, is the mid-season finale on ABC Family 8 p.m..

Overall, in life and on screen the moments where verbally nothing is said can be the most revealing.  It is what not said that can be interesting.  Silence is golden and can reveal beautiful vulnerability.

Marlee Matlin’s character says it is not about hearing loss but hearing gain.  What will you gain by truly listening in your relationships-silence included?

Image: ABC Family

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
Proverbs 18:13 ESV

Tuesday Tunes: Shining Songs and Lyrics

Image: Bible Lock Screens

 

From my experience, it can be easy to fall into the trap of self-doubt or worry before an audition.  I choose to focus on worship over worry.  Instead of practicing lines in the car I trust that I have done my work beforehand and I give all my fear to God.  The playlist of songs reminds me that my identity is not defined on whether I “do well” in the audition.  I can take every opportunity to “SHINE” representing love, joy, peace, patience and kindness to my fellow actors in the waiting room, the casting director and so on.    Matthew 5:16

 

 

 

1. We Are by Kari Jobe
Album: Where I Find You
Released: 1/20/12

2. Shine by Jeremy Camp
Album: Reckless
Released: 2/8/13

 

3. More by Matthew West
Album: Happy
Released: 5/11/04

4. Shine by Sharif Iman

Album: Shine