"None of us suddenly becomes something overnight. The preparations have been in the making for a lifetime.- Gail Goodwin

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind! Daniel turned 6 months old, Stevie graduated from kindergarten, the boys are out of school for summer vacation and I visited New York for almost a week to attend the American Black Film Festival where MUTED had its' world premiere.

MUTED was one of five films selected for the HBO Short Film Competition held annually at ABFF (*To be eligible to submit, your project must have a black writer or director and world premiere status) and what an experience it was! 

It was kicked off by car service picking me up at 4am to take me to the airport and then to the hotel once in New York.

I could get used to this!
We stayed at the gorgeous Gansevoort Hotel on Park Ave. Check out the chic chandeliers!

After briefly settling in our room, we got dressed and took a cab to Bar Americain for our welcome dinner where we got to meet and greet the other short filmmakers, HBO executives and founder of ABFF, Jeff Friday.

Didn't think a NY restaurant could pull off a good shrimp & grits (I have spent quite a few years in Houston afterall) but they nailed it!
The next morning we had an opportunity to get to know some of the programming executives a little better as they had a seating chart designed to sit us next to folks we didn't know while we dined at the hotel's restaurant Asellina for breakfast.

Later that day we attended the filmmaker's reception followed by the opening night film "Think Like A Man Too", which had a lively introduction by the film's producer Will Packer, director Tim Story and lead actor Kevin Hart.

The next day was our big night! We arrived at the SVA Theatre a ball of nerves (What if the audio sounds bad? What if it won't play? What if they don't like it?!?) but also excited to finally see our work on the big screen.

We walked the red carpet (which is harder than it looks when there are a bunch of you!) and took our seats in the theatre. 

With Co-Producer Danette Wilson, Producer Tara Tomicevic, Associate Producer Matthew Owyang & Director Rachel Goldberg

Our film was up first (!) and was followed by an incredible line-up of really well-done, beautiful films including Gabrielle Fulton-Ponder's "Ir/Reconcilable" starring Jasmine Guy, Tiffany Littlejohn's "The Perfect Sacrifice" starring Nakia Secrest, Ya'Ke's "Dawn" starring Mikala Gibson, and Terron "Muthafucca Jones" "When It All Falls Down" starring Branden Wellington and MaameYaa Boafo. 

How did it feel to see my film on the big screen for the first time (and to see myself on the big screen for the first time as well)? AMAZING! There were gasps and tears and audible audience reactions and it was simply wonderful. (It's what I miss the most about doing theatre - connecting with the audience.)

After each film the filmmakers took to the stage to talk briefly with our host, the ever-fabulous Bevy Smith, about what went into the making of the films and to give a little insight into each filmmaker's process.

As I walked down the stage after our mini Q & A, the one and only Alfre Woodard mouthed "Good job!" to me. (ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING ME?!?) I could've passed out with glee right then!

After a glorious screening experience, the rest of the weekend was just gravy. 

Chillin in the lounge
With Rick Moore of NYLA Elise Clothing
True Blood party complete with signature drinks, custom pillows & fake vampire bite tattoos. Nice touch! As a former Special Events Planner you know I LOVED this!

At the "Get On Up" exhibit promoting the new James Brown biopic
We sipped margaritas at Dos Caminos, enjoyed the VIP lounge, attended a panel with actors from Boardwalk Empire, Getting On and True Blood (hello Joe Manganiello!), visited Chandra's dear sweet agent to thank him for all his help, cracked up at the Comedy Wings competition (shout out to Hadiyah Robinson who absolutely killed it and Amberia Allen whose brand of intelligent, witty humor could easily land her on a sitcom very soon), partied hard at the True Blood #LastCall party and finally found ourselves at the Awards Ceremony where they presented the Best Short Film Award to (drumroll please).....

MUTED!!! Yaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy!!!! :-) :-) :-)

Talk about an overwhelming moment! We said our thank-you's:

 and had permanent smiles on our faces for the rest of the night.
With producing partner Tara Tomicevic
With co-producer Danette Wilson & actor Omari Hardwick 
With actor Charles S. Dutton
Afterward we had one final meal with our HBO hosts at the ridiculously divine Buddakan...

I loved the decor in their private room! Made us feel like we were in a golden library.

and then made our way back to the hotel lobby where we chilled with the other filmmakers until around 3am. 

Oh but our night didn't end there. We got invited to a party in Soho so we threw on some jeans and headed back out and danced the morning away! 

Around 4:30 or so we tried to get a cab to go back to the hotel but none wanted to stop (that's really a thing!) so we walked to a diner and had breakfast instead. 

The French Toast was HUGE!
As the sun came up before our eyes we knew we would regret not going to bed in a few hours, but for the moment we were all still floating on cloud 9.

These were our faces when we made it back to the hotel around 6:30am to go to bed!

A few hours later we had to get up and ready because our awesome, amazing friend Leshelle secured two interviews for us at 30 Rock!

We were prepped in a makeup chair and then whisked away to the set of MSNBC's "The Reid Report" where we got to talk to Joy Reid about our film and plans for the future. 

You can view the Reid Report segment here: 

Immediately after we went to another floor in the huge building and sat down with Lilly Workneh of TheGrio where we talked more about the inspiration behind the film and what steps people can take should they feel called to act after viewing. 

You can view theGrio segment here:

With my voice rapidly deteriorating, we made our way back to the hotel to grab our bags and bid adieu. 

It was such a wonderful, fantastic, memorable experience and I am incredibly grateful to have had it.

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