Think Outside the Cubicle: From ‘What Now?’ to ‘Why Not?’

by Jackie

“Old enough to be cool, young enough to act a fool” is how my friends and I describe(d) our late 20s. The corny phrase was the best we could do to make sense of the amorphous period between the legal drinking age and the stamp of adulthood: 30. What are you doing after graduation? Is this guy serious? Can I afford to follow my dreams? Watching Shayla Racquel’s web series, “Quarter Century,” reminds us that we’ve all been there.

The budding filmmaker tells our stories through her series, so it was a privilege to have her share her own story with A*cute.

ShaylaRacquel

Filmmaker Shayla Racquel says everyone isn’t going to like what you’re doing, but follow your dreams for YOU.

 

What inspires you?

When I was born, I was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease. Having continuous sickle cell crisis, a stroke at 12 years old, and constant blood transfusions, I could have easily felt sorry for myself and written off my future of excelling and being on my own. Instead, filmmaking became my outlet and I allowed my illness to motivate me to give 110% to anything that I set my mind on.

God, my family, and my friends are also my true motivators, which helps me in turn motivate myself. my family and friends have supported everything I’ve done. Being a very spiritual person, I know that there is no limit to how far you can go with God on your side, and he has continued to bless me throughout this entire venture.

Nevertheless, it is not hard to be motivated and inspired by something that you have a passion for and that is truly in your heart.

When did you first become interested in film?

When I was 12 years old, I had a stroke due to my Sickle Cell disease. Film became my outlet from that particular aspect of my life. As a present to my grandparents during the holidays, I started making videos featuring all the grandchildren in my family. This became a tradition that we still hold today. From there, I made videos throughout high school and college.  Florida A&M University gave me plenty of opportunities to explore and hone my craft. That’s when I decided that I would like to make my filmmaking hobby into a career.

Did anyone ever try to dissuade you from following your passion? 

I had been making videos since I was little, so no one (especially not my family) has ever tried to dissuade me from being a filmmaker. However, when I first came up with the idea of Quarter Century, I pitched it to a number of friends. Most of them loved the idea, but I had a few who didn’t like it at all. When I asked why, I was never given a clear response. Of course it hurts, but that’s life. Everyone isn’t going to like what you are doing. Follow your dreams for YOU. YOU have to be the main reason why you want to do whatever it is you want to do.

If you’re doing it for the money, fame, or because someone else wants you to do it, you are going to get trampled by critiques, dislikes, and downright haters. It’s hard to dust yourself off from that; but, when you are doing it for yourself and not the gratification of others, no matter how much people dislike it, it won’t phase you. As you accomplish your goals you will feel even more complete.

QC

“Quarter Century” follows a relatable cast of characters who are caught in the awkward stage of determining what it means to be “grown.”

How do you balance your day job with filming your web series? Continue reading

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A*cute Review: The Five-Year Engagement

by Jackie

The Five-Year Engagement Hits Theaters April 27.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that there will never be another Wedding Crashers. Ever. Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, and Will Ferrell managed to forge a new form of rom com — one that is low on the rom and heavy on the com. Since then, what-else-could-possibly-go-wrong wedding movies like The Hangover and Bridesmaids have come close to achieving Crashers status by sticking to the formula: buddy comedy in which impossible hijinks ensue when another one bites the dust and decides to get hitched. The Five-Year Engagement starring Emily Blunt (Violet) and co-screenwriter Jason Segel (Tom) wins because it adds one more element to the mix — real-life drama.

The movie starts with a fairy-tale ending, and crams the couple’s five-year journey to their on-again-off-again wedding into two hours. Tom and Violet relocate from sunny San Francisco to frigid Michigan so that Violet can pursue her career in academia. Tom, poised to become head chef of a hot new seafood bar in the Bay Area, delays his dream and works in a sandwich shop while Violet gets closer to achieving her dream, and her boss.

Viewers will appreciate the film’s departure from the typical rom com formula. Tom and Violet become more than just characters with sarcastic one-liners, they slowly morph into a reflection of a real-life couple that struggles with the complexities of two individuals trying desperately to live one life. Things quickly go from “Nothing’s perfect” to “Nothing’s right” and they are left to decide whether the storybook ending they anticipated is worth writing in the first place.

But, “Elmo thinks there is no right cookie. You just have to pick one and take a bite.”  (It’s one of those, you-had-to-be-there moments. And, trust me, you have to be there.)

Monday at the Movies: Crazy, Stupid, Love

by Jackie

I usually approach romantic comedies with an over-dramatic mock-gag gesture that expresses how I feel about the predictability of the unlikely-pairing-turns-perfect-couple-amidst-impossible-obstacles-and-one-liners theme.  (There are a few exceptions — three to be exact — Dirty Dancing, Love and Basketball, and  Love Jones.)  I usually opt for mob movies like The Departed or The Boondock Saints, action films like Face/Off , or coming-of-age comedies like Easy A. I was a bit skeptical when I heard the typical romantic comedy selling point of Crazy, Stupid, Love: “It’s not your typical romantic comedy.” But, I couldn’t resist seeing any movie featuring Emma Stone, the sometimes-scarlet-headed, always hilariously sarcastic lead in today’s version of The Scarlet Letter, Easy A. A creative and unpredictable storyline, witty writing, and spot-0n casting makes Crazy, Stupid, Love anything but your typical romantic comedy.

The movie is completely gag-proof, and actually funny. It digs deeper than the usual one-dimensional portrayals of puppy love and explores the everyday experience we all have and can relate to: friendship. Typically, in RomComs, friendship is the B story, providing comedic elements to move the film along. This movie is truly about the importance of friendship, sans the corny side-kick routines.

I also especially enjoyed the smartly tailored suits worn by Ryan Gosling in the film. I’m a sucker for a pressed and slim-fit button down. (No, no.  I couldn’t leave that detail out.)

Julianne Moore plays a character she's familiar with a la the confused wife in The Kids Are Alright opposite an irresistibly human Steve Carell in Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Emma Stone as Hannah. Hannah's BFF provides a hilariously necessary backdrop to Hannah's all-too-common conflict: head vs. heart.

Ryan Gosling's character, Jacob, falls for the father figure in Cal, played by Steve Carell.

For Colored Girls

by Sherria

This weekend, I am taking my mother and my cousin on a date to see Tyler Perry’s new film, For Colored Girls. While most of Tyler Perry’s previous films are full of comedy, this one isn’t a laughing matter. The movie is based on a play by Ntozake Shange, originally produced in 1975, titled For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. The story is structured into 20 poems dealing with tough issues that women endure such as rape, suicide, and abandonment. Each story highlights a different struggle and at the end all of the women are brought together, based on Tyler Perry’s interview on the Steve Harvey Morning Show.

I am excited to see the performance of the cast of talented women who I have enjoyed watching throughout the years. Although there are a ton of famous African-American actresses in this movie- including Phylicia Rashad, Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Kimberly Elise, and Keri Washington- there are male actors that will make your heart skip a beat. I researched the film roster this morning and ladies, you’ll be happy to know that heartthrobs Hill Harper and Michael Ealy also star in the film.

Tyler Perry’s film is based on legendary stage play, ‘For Colored Cirls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf’

Weekend Film: TAKERS

Yes, Ladies, the movie with all of the hot guys is here! TAKERS is out in theaters now!

DC Theatre Show listings:

Gallery Place :  7:00 pm, 9:50 pm, and 12:30 pm

AMC Loews Theater (Georgetown): 7:oo pm, 9:35 pm, 12:10 pm

Regal Majestic 20 (Silver Spring): 7:20 pm, 8pm, 9pm, 9:50, 10:30 pm, 10:45pm, 11:45 pm, 12:20pm, 1:00pm

Highlights:

Youtube Movie Trailer, click here.

Takers actors take of their shirts, click here.

I’m looking forward to seeing T.I. and Idris Elba. Who do you want to see? Leave a comment.