Imagine being a nanny for a 23-year-old heiress, or the model in the after picture for a scam diet pill, when all you really want to do is be a working artist. This comedic series follows the lives of 5 people who meet in an effective but weird support group for artists with this exact problem.
Keep it Colorful
Inclusion StatementAs a black woman in media and film, I am surrounded by very talented marginalized people. Because this series is set in NYC I think it is only right that the crew and cast represent the diverse group of people I met during my nine years of living there. This project needs their voices & talents.
About The Project
I first came up with this idea about seven years ago at an artists salon but didn't know what to do with it. I thought about having a blog where people could share their horrible/funny job experiences anonymously, but I never went forward with that. I was finishing grad school, but I was very focused on finishing my thesis documentary about Nigeria after the Biafran Civil War and staying alive. During my second semester of graduate school, I was diagnosed with Lupus and it completely changed my focus and the trajectory of my life. I was able to graduate and about 2 years later moved back to Dallas. Things definitely got worse before they got better but I am in a better place now.
This year has had its challenges but I continue to hold on to my graduate school vision of "Tyler Perrying my way into the industry" (2009 reference). So two years ago I wrote the pilot for Artists Anonymous.
The show has an ensemble cast but is centered around the main character, Cynthia.
She has always wanted to be an actor but just needs her breakthrough (although that doesn’t seem to be anywhere in sight). She is focused and determined now more than ever since she recently turned 30, and feels like time is running out. She puts on appearances so that her immigrant parents and four older siblings don’t know what is really going on. She exaggerates her job positions to make it seem like she is really making it in the industry. She wants to continue towards her passion but has regrets about not going to law school when she had the chance.
Cynthia meets Ian at an audition and they feel an immediate familiarity with each other. She tells him about her very unsuccessful attempt at finding another job as phone sex operator. He invites her to come to the Artists Anonymous support group. Ian is 28 years old, from St. Louis. He is a writer/actor. He came into the audition, where he met Cynthia, out of breath rushing from his current job as a lifeguard/aqua aerobics teacher at a retirement home. Ian doesn’t know how to swim. He writes a lot of great short films that are very artsy, maybe too artsy and misunderstood. His passion project is a sci-fi film script, but he is too insecure in the idea to share it. He is insecure about a lot of aspects of his life from his sexuality to his life goals.
Ndelea is Cynthia's best friend from Chicago and is from a very well to do family. They are very supportive of whatever she decides to do; they just want her to do something. She lets Cynthia stay with her rent free or rent fluid. Cynthia tells Ndelea about the support group even though Ndelea does not have to work these odd jobs, because her parents give her a comfortable monthly allowance. She continues to do odd jobs because she wants to feel like she is a part of a struggling artist community and paying her dues. Ndelea produces really good films when she finishes them, but she usually leaves things half done.
Marcellus met Ian a few months into going to the support group. Marcellus, who prefers to be called Marcel, is 30, very athletic, and was a former athlete. He is from Atlanta and competed for a few years professionally, but now he wants to be on Broadway. He moved to NYC with his longtime girlfriend Kayla, who just wants to get married and live a picturesque life with him. She is not very understanding of his dream. He currently works as an after picture model for a shady weight loss supplement company.
He also helped Vanessa get a job with the same company. They had a connection in a few of the support group meetings and quickly became friends. Vanessa is 29 from NYC and is an absolutely beautiful person inside and out. She hates the modeling jobs she gets because she feels like they are demeaning and aren’t even reputable gigs. She doesn’t really want to be a model. She is a documentarian/director and loves capturing extraordinary stories of what appears to be ordinary people
My hope is to make this an on location series that will give the audience a real life look into these characters lives while capturing the authenticity of NYC as the sixth character in the ensemble of a 10 episode a season. The show will mostly consist of character-driven scenes that will have cohesive transitions into another scene. The audience gets to watch as these five people become friends over time, and witness their evolution into becoming better artists and better people. Their journey is filled with very weird jobs, multiple auditions with bad and not so bad productions, relationships found and lost, and of course the support group, which has a host of interesting characters including the group leader Maya. The group interaction will offer very funny and poignant moments throughout the show’s run. At least one of the characters will achieve his/her dreams, some will find themselves in careers and situations they could never have imagined, and one will continue to be a struggling artist. The aesthetic of the campaign video is not a reflection of the show. The sets will serve as an extension of the characters or their current position in life. The white sets for the campaign video were due to time and budget constraints.
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About This Team
I came into this project only knowing a few of the crew members and all of the extras. I am very happy with the group of people who did end up working with me through auditions or recommendations. The person I first wanted to be my cameraperson and DP was unavailable and recommended Dom G. Jones. I called her to see if she was would be interested in my project and we ended up talking for almost 2 hours. She is an American Writer, Director and multi-disciplinary artist born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She attended Columbia University in New York City, where she studied cinema, art, literature and Russian language. In 2012, she matriculated with a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies. Her work has premiered at Austin Music Video Fest; Babes Fest, Austin; Helmuth Projects, California; Studiolo in Switzerland; and in online publications such as i-D Germany Magazine (VICE), Afropunk.com, Noisey.Vice.com, and Dallas Observer. Her work spans various mediums as she engages the audience in questions of selfhood, relationships, spirituality, and everything in between.
She then recommended Brady as the lighting director and second cameraman, who I had already worked with on a previous project, where I was the talent and he was the director. Brady Tulk is a freelance filmmaker. Brady studied film at KD Conservatory in the Motion Picture Production program. Since graduation, Brady has gone on to full-time video production in the film industry. Brady is the creator of a comedy YouTube channel, Sock Puppet Parody, which creates music videos of bands featuring sock puppets. When not producing and directing YouTube videos, Brady works as a technical director at Gas Monkey Live, a live venue with a capacity of three thousand people. Brady specializes in music video production but is experienced in many types of film such as narrative, documentary, event recording, and live performances.
Behind the scenes, footage and the promo pictures were captured by Jameel Bagby. He is a full-time 7th grade Science teacher and Track coach. Jameel graduated from the University of North Texas (Go Mean Green) and started with photography a little over a year ago as a hobby. He continues to get better and it took off from there. He loves photography and the challenge it brings and he couldn’t be more appreciative of the opportunity to be a part of this production.
The Cast consists of Nono Osuji, the creator of Artists Anonymous, who plays Cynthia. The character is based on Nono's real-life experiences but takes some creative licenses. Nono is a first generation Nigerian-American, born and raised in Dallas, Texas. One year after graduating from St. Louis Univ. she moved to NYC to pursue a career in theater and film. Frustrated with the lack of suitable roles that were being offered to her, Nono adjusted her plan and decided that she was going to “Tyler Perry” her way into the industry. She earned her Masters of Arts in Media Studies and Film program from the New School University, where she produced a thesis film about Nigeria after the Biafran War. She is now pursuing a career both in front of and behind the camera while writing for her website: The Lupus Diaries. The site highlights her personal story about being diagnosed with Lupus, and it shares the stories of other Lupus patients. The site is also a health and lifestyle blog where she shares everything she’s learned along this journey, from skincare to recipes to alternative treatments. She serves at her church as the Director of the Drama Ministry and loves using her gifts to uplift others. To further her career in film and TV she is taking acting classes both in Dallas and New York, auditioning for plays, commercials, and film.
Chandra Jennings really embodied the essence of Ndelea. Chandra Jennings is a certified health education specialist and health coach with a master’s in public health. She enjoys motivating and assisting the community with their wellness goals and programs to improve their health. When not working Chandra can be found practicing yoga, volunteering, singing, and traveling to one of the many cities on her bucket list. Chandra enjoys acting and has lent her talents to projects for Google, the Harman Company, and community plays such as “Play Date”, “Mirror", and " Phonograph”.
Martin Salazar who plays Ian landed the role because of his flawless Chewbacca impression. Martin is a 22-year-old full-time student at UNT pursuing a degree in advertising. He's also pursuing his goal of becoming a professional working actor. He likes going on hikes at local nature preserves & photography.
Madison was the only person who auditioned for Marcellus that really committed to singing the Lion King song and doing the corresponding African Dance with no shame. Madison is an actor from Dallas, Tx. He's been acting since December 2017 and has already been involved in several short films. Madison is also a musician for his church and loves spending time with his son and daughter.
Nicole Holt's audition for Maya was so captivating and real that she changed what I envisioned for the character, but it worked. Nicole grew up in Germany and discovered her love of acting at the age of 12 by participating in theatre plays in school. After rediscovering her passion for acting in 2004, she's been in numerous films, working her way from Extra to speaking roles. Some of her favorite credits include "Hate Crime" with Bruce Davidson, and the ABC Pilot "Final Witness". She has built an impressive resume, as evidenced on the internet movie database: www.imdb.me/nicoleholt
I met Alicia at her birthday dinner hosted by some Women in Film Dallas members. I wanted the clown to be unconventional by making her a millennial woman. Alicia is a native Northern Californian and a 'can do anything' person. She is an actress, camera operator, camera assistant, writer, director, and producer. Having earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences from UNLV, she went on to work in biology and corporate finance, but found where she truly belongs is in film. Her diverse knowledge and strong work ethic were instrumental in her completing her full-length documentary, various short films and music videos all while working on feature films, TV shows, commercials and corporate videos.
Nicole F was very deliberate and powerful in her audition and I thought she would be a great fit as Vanessa. Nicole Fancher was born in LA but grew up in Oklahoma. She got the film bug when studying Opera at Oklahoma City University and has been acting in indie films and commercials ever since. She also does print and vocal work. In her spare time, she enjoys cuddling with her cat, Jasper.
I met Ryan at an Art House Exchange event. I knew that I wanted him to be a part of the project, but he couldn't' make the auditions. He did a great job as Extra 3 and was very convincing of his fear of clowns.C. Ryan Glenn is an actor, designer, and burgeoning writer. He is not afraid of clowns in real life. They get a bad rap, those clowns.
I work with Jason at our church's, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Drama Ministry as co-directors. I thought being a part of the project would give him more experience in film and tv. Jason White is an actor and a fun loving and enthusiastic artist. Desiring to serve, grow and entertain through acting. Jason is a firm believer in Christ and is thankful for the opportunity to use this platform to minister the gospel.
A big thanks to my Audra Craig, who did makeup.
My PAs Taylor, my niece, & Andrea who did an amazing job ensuring that the day went smoothly.
& my singing extra Kendra Kinnie!