My first podcast – Lottie the Body

It took a year for me to finally put it together. Frankly, I wish I had the equipment on hand to give it better sound quality but given that I could not access either Parkdale Centre of Innovation or Toronto Public Library, I made do.

My thanks to Chicava Honeychild for granting me the interview.

Lottie “The Body”, d. March 2020.

Doing my homework

So Netflix has been hassling me for weeks now since I cancelled my subscription. Truth to be told I don’t need Netflix considering I have a Toronto Public Library card and internet access at home. With the former I have access to Kanopy.

With the latter I have TVOntario, NFB, CBC Gem, and even fun stuff like ShoutFactoryTV (where I can watch episodes of The Saint).

But when I am not watching The Saint, I am watching documentaries. For a while I though I wanted to be front of camera. I never was interested in being behind the camera. The truth is, I want to be the one who comes up with the idea and builds the team for the production for documentaries and scripted shows (tv magazines like CBS’ Sunday Morning and Germany’s Deutsche Welle, and BBC of course)

I like good edutainment, shows that inform and entertain. Tools that teachers and families can use, especially in times like this.

Black Ballroom Dancers

Before we start, I don’t mean the Ballroom scene in the LGBTQ+ community that originated in Harlem.

I mean ballroom dancing: the waltz, the quickstep, the cha cha, the rumba.

[photo by James Barnor. Mr. Aryeetey and partner. G.C Amateur Ballroom Championship, 1949-1950, Accra]

I have long done research on Black people doing dances that are not seen as traditional to our community: ballet, burlesque, even irish dance (before there was Morgan Bullock, the was Keltic Dreams).

But now it is time for something new. And something old for me as I started doing ballroom dance in the mid 1990s. Now I am interested in place black dancers (eg. Norton and Margot, Britt Stewart, Oti Mabuse, Johannes Radebe) have played in the discipline.

Britt Stewart on being 1st Black female pro on “DWTS”

Amplifying my Brand

Over the past 2 months I took a workshop, Amplifying my Brand, at Workman Arts run by Allie Wood (a doll, is Allie). Allie is a designer who owns Amplify Collective.

I took the course thinking that I would brand myself as being front of camera. While admittedly, I am a media ‘ho it occurred to me that I don’t want to be Oprah or Gail King or even Brian Linehan or Jeanie Becker. The true is, it is was never them who fascinated me. It was their researchers who aways impressed me. They were the ones doing the real work.

My dream job would be to be a Qi elf (British panel show). Or to work for Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr on Finding Your Roots. I want to ask the questions and find out the answers.

My next task is to go over my notes from Alle’s class so that I can re-brand myself.

My career as a historian and researcher?

I should start by saying that I have been a researcher for a long time. From Blacks in the Early modern period to Black dancers, I have done it all. I like to keep lists of all sorts, mainly on Black subjects but not always (lately I have had an interest in women in Renaissance Portugal, in line with my heritage).

But after years of playing it safe (read: doing administrative jobs) I want to do something else. A friend of mine, a musician and all around music tech guy, posted on Facebook recently “Hey, what’s your trade/skillset? Wondering for the future – let’s build our own networks up in employment and resource.”

I replied, “I’ll put myself forward as a researcher for media content for film and television, radio and podcasts. I can also do research for projects and grants.”

Someone else responded, “This is totally cool and IMO totally necessary! 😁 You probably make the difference between a good and great piece!”

I soooooo needed to hear that.

As it is, I let two opportunities go because I was working a day job. I won’t be doing that again.

It is time to stop playing it safe.

Next Steps

So my temp contract ended today. Instead of feeling a sense of panic of being unemployed yet again, I am in a better mood. Perhaps it is due to the weather.

After getting my mother’s groceries, I went home and immediately updated my resumé. Then I updated my LinkedIn page. Then I did a shout out to my friends on Facebook and LinkedIn.

After that? Well, I am going to check up on my mother (who, as I type, is one her way back from her first vaccine shot). Then I am going to enjoy the spring air before I get back to real living by trying to figure out what sort of work I want to do next.

Taxing 2020

I know I should have gone out in the spring sunshine but I opted to do my taxes instead. CERB and miscalculations on my part I still am likely not to owe as much as I thought I did. Thank goodness.

One of the things I noted as I went through my receipts was how much I did in 2020 despite Covid. I did research for a play, an ad for Church & Wellesley’s BIA, and interviews for 2 projects. It is nice to know that I did not spend the entirety of 2020 curled up in my bed as I thought I had.

Through a Lens Darkly

This afternoon I watched Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People directed by award-winning filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris.

I’m posting it here because it is a must see to my mind but also because features photographer and Material Life STYLE owner Carla Williams.

I never met Carla face to face – I interviewed her online for a ‘zine called Trade:Queer Things back in the days when payment was a free book, namely The Black Female Body (Carla was co-editor). The ‘zine cover featured a nude self-portait of Carla.

Years later, the editor of the ‘zine was at a ‘zine fair and that cover would cause controversy. Viewers could not believe that Carla would willing show her own Black Female Body under her own terms.

But in the end, that is what the documentary is all about – being able, as Black people, to determine how we are seen by others.