Recapping... I did this in February of last year (2012), and got a few response, so I figured, a year-and-a-half later, with the site's audience now larger than it was back then, that I'd try it again.
I know that a significant chunk of S&A's audience comprises of actors, actresses, directors, DPs, editors, etc, etc, etc. Some are able to earn a paycheck utilizing their artistic and/or technical skills; others - and I'd say the majority - are what we've labeled the proverbial *starving artists*, working diligently, relentlessly, struggling to climb this incredibly steep hill, trying to reach some pinnacle of success - whether personal or professional. And still others exist somewhere between the former and the latter.
Where do you fall? And, as the title of this post states, what's YOUR story, and would you like to share it with the rest of the world?
Think of it as an extension of the successful S&A Filmmaker Diary series we launched almost 2 years ago. I'm looking for your individual stories of struggle and/or success, regardless of what rung on the ladder you are currently on, after all, not only is S&A just a source for news, its goal is also to become a community of cinema lovers where we can all share/debate/discuss/learn/teach/commiserate/etc.
Here's your chance. You might learn something; you might teach someone something.
What's YOUR story? You can email me (email@example.com). You can submit your story in any format - written, or even documented on video. I'll post as many of them as I can. Substance and presentation are key for consideration.
And be sure to attach a photo (large size) for me to include, and if you have samples of your work, include them as well.
It could be a story about a current situation you find yourself in; or it could cover several days, weeks, months, or years of your career. It could be that you just want to vent your frustrations; aspects of, or people in this business that piss you off; aspects of, or people in the industry that encourage you. It doesn't have to be all negative, nor all positive. We're complex people, and so I assume our stories are as well.
My name is Saadiqa Muhammad. I am a single mom, actress. One of these things I knew I wanted to be, the other I made an early declaration I never wanted to be, a mother. I didn't trust myself to have another life in my hands I guess. I didn't think I would be any good at it. I was determined to stay focused on my craft and what I felt it was I was born to do...kids, family not that interested.
I was off to a great start upon graduating from college as I was cast as a lead in the Independent film "One Week" directed by Carl Seaton. The film went to do very well in the festival circuit and created much buzz. Soon a majority of the cast moved out to LA and I myself thought it would probably be a great time to move. However lack of funds and my feeling I'm not sure if I'm ready to make that move detered me. The film ended up getting distrubution and was being screened at Acapulco Black Film Festival for a second year. The director called me and said they would like the cast there..everything would be paid for..Awesome. I had one little surprise though...I was pregnant. I was about four months when I attended the festival..I hadnt told anyone in the cast so they were shocked lol...but not as shocked as me.
When I found out I was pregnant I just couldn't believe it, I mean sure you know what you did...but I simply could believe it. I was petrified. "God, uh you know me right..a kid, me?". I had no money, substitute teacher/actress living with my parents. the father and I not on the best terms and man I really did want to move to LA. And then there was the relationship with my own mom. It was a little challenging for my mom to deal with me being pregnant...she herself an artist..I think she was disappointed in the fact that my dreams were going to be put on pause. It was very tough for us to be around each other and so I had to move out. I stayed with friends...it was a very challenging time...but I made a promise to myself that i was going to be the best mother I could and somehow I was going to make this work and still pursue my dream. I would rub my belly, tell my unborn I loved them and that all would be okay. On Sept 29th 2001 I had my son and completely fell in love..a love unlike I had ever known.
I wish I could say all was rosy after I had my son, but that's not how life is..it is really a journey. My son was diagnosed with autism and his first couple years were challenging. Here I am single mom, my child has special needs and I am still trying to do this "acting" thing..am I crazy, selfish?...I couldn't let it go. I was still subbing ,auditioning, teaching performing arts during the summer and still longing to move to Los Angeles, but kind of decided I would just have to be happy in Chicago and make it work.
I was doing a play and after one of our rehearsals I get a call from the hospital about my mother who was there because she was having some complications with her heart..."we need you to come as soon as possible"....I was scared, unsure of exactly what was going on. I arrived at the hospital and one of the nurses said my mom had to have a biopsy.."what"?..what''s goin..i am the only one there and they tell me I can go into the room with my mom while its being performed. They take me out the room and proceed to tell me my mother has fifteen masses on her liver...she has cancer. I could not believe it. I was frozen. Me and my mom had an up and down relationship... we weren't maybe as close as i would have liked us to be...but in that moment everything left...it didnt matter that was my mom, my best friend...my sister and brother were away at school...it was me and my mom( my dad of course) ...she and I would spend the next couple of months talking sharing, understanding one another. I would cherish these moments..I would tell her it was because of her that I wanted to be an artist. She was a talented writer, director, storyteller, singer...she could walk into a room and take it over ..the woman just had presence.. I would tell her that I watch her be sad at times because I knew she didn't get to pursue evrything she wanted to do artistically..that I was maybe a little angry at her for not being more true to her gifts..that maybe that was the reason I didn't want to be a "mom"...I felt like that meant you had to give that up. And she would tell me how much she loved my son, that I make sure I am true to myself and would tell me make sure I am happy. She would ask me every visit...."r u happy?"
My mom passed away...I was NOT happy...I felt lost. I knew however I had to pull myself together because I had a son who was depending on me. Still auditioning, teaching, trying to balance..still wanting to move..decided ok I will and I did. Before I moved TNT Network had a contest looking for a new up and coming actor..I was one of three finalist..yes! this is a sign!!...I didnt win and after 3 months because of money and a personal situation I had to move back to Chicago...well LA I tried.
I had really given up on ever moving back.. it was to big a move... I was back in Chicago...life was so up and down and honestly I was just tired. I am going to become a fulltime teacher get a nice house in the burbs and raise my son and be "stable"..yep it's decided. I am working at a school as a creative arts instructor cleaning up the classroom my kids walk in on me smiling..the cutest faces and I looked at them and as much as I loved those faces something said you are not supposed to be here...move. I had no money saved up...no real plan, honestly didn't even want to listen to that voice because to me it was't practical or making any sense. Move...okay..I called LAUSD just to make sure that maybe I could at least sub,. have a job when I got there...they said if you can be here for our next training class( which was a month away) you are set. So I left, my son stayed in Chicago and I went to LA with $500 and no place to stay..
It was tough..what the hell did I do?...but I decided I'm here there's no turning back...alot of things have happened since I moved( my son came out with me a couple of months after I moved) some great some not so great...during the period of not so great I believed I was forced to really examne myself as an artist..sometimes when you are not working you have no other choice lol...After my mom passed I found a journal entry where she wrote "I wish I was as brave as my daughter, I admire her. That still with her son she is pursuing her dream"
My dream yes is to be a successful actress but deep down I also wanted to create avenues for other actors, writers, artist to utilize their gifts. I wanted to write/create something that I felt as an actress and one of color that displayed us in positive, fun roles that I felt was reflective of my friends and I. "MOMS" a brand new Series is my baby I believe it is also the culmination of a big part of my journey...the last thing I wanted to be is the thing I love and cherish the most...it is some of my funniest most joyous times...and learning times...especially as a single mom. It centers around a single mom, trying to rediscover herself, find love again as she and her friends all try to juggle the hectic demands of kids, husbands , career and their friendship with one another. I have an AMAZING cast..wonderfully talented, funny leading ladies actresses Keena Ferguson, Jillian Reeves Ortiz, and Marta McGonagle. And an awesome cast of children(I believe my experience as a teacher helped me out on set)...I believe all my journey experiences have made me a better "creator" instead of just an actress "waiting"...I am very proud of this series (we've even got plugs from Kevin Hart and Ice Cube)...this is just one of my stories...but it will probably be my most favorite as for me being a "MOM" is the greatest thing I could have ever imagined. I am happy ;).
Here's episode 1 of "MOMS" titled "meet shari":
Saadiqa K. MuhammadSoundLife Entertainment"where the Art & Business of Entertainment live