Archive for the ‘fathers’ Category

*A special thanks goes to Errol Anthony Wilkes for his contritution to the book “Daddy, Am I Pretty?”  The following is taken from the publication that went on sale Father’s Day of 2010.

Dear Priscia Liliane,

This year will mark the 10th anniversary of your Mom’s passing. Dec 11, 1999 started out the typical for us during the theatre season. I was supposed to have two shows and you had your dance recital to do that afternoon. Little did we know that our life as we know it would change, forever.

That day when I saw the remnants of the car that was once driven by the woman I pledged to love and protect, I prayed to wake up from the obvious nightmare. Alas, it was not a dream. Was it some cruel joke that God was playing? Why dear God did this happen a couple weeks before Christmas? And, on the day I was to buy the Christmas tree! Well, the deed was done. I remember Tony Baker and Mr. Astley telling me that the last thing I should ask myself was “why me”. Of course, that did not stop me from making that query. I was understandably pissed at God. We had just bought that house less than 6 months and we had just begun to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Now instead of planning for Christmas, I was planning a funeral. Ironically, I have gained more faith because you must use your trials and tribulations as opportunities to achieve successes.

The worst day was when all our guests finally left and we walked into that empty house. I looked at you, barely 12 years old and life had to suck for you at that time knowing that Mom was gone and never to return.  I made a pact with myself that day. I decided to live life to the fullest and to make sure that you grew up to be a great citizen.

I know some of the things I forced on you were not your cup of tea but I felt that in order for you to succeed, I had to remain vigilant. That’s why I insisted that you read Manchild In The Promised Land, Huck Finn and all those other great works of literature. That’s why I insisted that you listen to Coltrane, Bach and Vivaldi. That’s why I took you to all those Plays and Museums! That’s why I didn’t let “headaches” keep you from attending school. That’s why I taught you how to cook our native dishes and sang those folk songs you now have your friends call for me to sing to them over the telephone.

I felt that right or wrong as a Black person and a West Indian in this my adopted land, it is highly imperative that one has to be much better than others competing for the same job. I tried to instill in you that great study habits and hard work pays off.

It took me a year after Marie’s passing before I started to try to date. I kept my relationships away from you because as predicted most of them did not last long. Your aunt Maxine stated that I was too busy looking for another Marie. Well, there may be truth to that because your mother was a very beautiful and special lady. She was very passionate about her opinions and that lead to some of our most heated discussions that usually left me sleeping on that lumpy and unappetizing couch!

Sometimes I am haunted by the memories of that very last argument we had because she died before we made up. The lesson here is that we should always mend our fences and disagreements prior to going to sleep.

I remember that Sunday in August 2005 after you were installed at Dillard University, I cried on the way back to Houston. I was darn near Baton Rouge before I stopped crying. That was only because I could not see out of my extremely swollen eye lids.

Then came Katrina and you moved even further away to FAMU. The good thing is that you occasionally get to see your Mom’s family in Valdosta. Yes Prisca, that is a good thing. Family is family and I want you to learn their culture as well. It is what you are.

I want you to continue working hard. I know I preach a lot about grades and you get a bit testy whenever I do, but you know what? Tough. That is who your Dad is and I don’t suppose I am about to change now. I did not get where I am today by half stepping and as long as I am alive, I will not allow you to be mediocre at anything in this life. This is why you get frustrated when you call me for advice and I don’t tell you what you want to hear. My love for you just will not allow me to lie to you.

I know I normally write my letters to you with my trusted fountain pen but I am trying to evolve into the 21st century. Since it took me so long to write this one, look for my subsequent letters in your mail box.

You have grown into a strikingly beautiful young lady and as I have said to you many times before. The right guy will come along. After all, Mom and I found each other. Do not make any compromises with your life that will come back to haunt you. Everything and every choice you make in life has consequences. You have to learn that patience in the case of love is a good thing. There are some good guys out there and one day one will be yours. Right now your job is to finish your college studies and be a well-rounded individual. Real men dig smart women, trust me on that one.

I close now with this last bit of advice. It is my high school motto LABOR OMNIA VINCIT. It’s Latin and means “work overcome all difficulties”.

With All My Love,

Dad

A copy of the book “Daddy, Am I Pretty?” can be obtained at www.FootprintsBooks.com .

by Sabin Duncan

There is a scene in the movie The Best Man, where Terrance Howard’s character attempts to assuage his friend’s fears by assuring that “karma don’t come back like that.”  As a father of two beautiful girls, I am certain that I am not alone in hoping that karma indeed does not come back like that.

At the moment we first find out we’re having a daughter, every father flashes back to all the things that he has done to and with someone else’s daughter.  It is at that moment, despite religious standing or affiliation, every father-to-be communicates with God.  A communication, a prayer, or more than likely a plea, that begins with these two words: “Lord, please”.

From that initial moment of humility and probably for the duration of our days, we are never the same.  We attempt to stand rigid, but when those pretty eyes sparkle and coo “please daddy”, we melt faster than ice cubes in a heated oven.  When baby girl cries, our chest expands, our bravado multiplies and our ego rages – because whoever did this to our baby girl, they are about to be victimized by our ferocity.  Yet somehow, the money you had begun saving for a huge high-definition television, becomes easily spent when lil’ mama needs a pretty dress and sandals.  Indeed, we are never as tough as we were before daughters.

Yet I’m here to say that unlike the rest of you, I can tell my daughters, “no!”  In fact, I supplement my “no” with a crazed hysterical look that shouts, “what the heck were you thinking?”  But my girls work with charm – hey, what can I say?  They get it from their dad.  They climb into my lap and use their little fingers to outline my eyebrows or mustache.  Then they tuck their little chins to their chest and look up from under those long eyelashes.  They shrug their little shoulders and affectionately murmur: “daddy….”  The rest of the statement doesn’t matter, because this daddy springs into action. “What!! You can’t find your Princess Tiana Barbie? Well, go get your jacket.  Daddy will get you a new one.”  Later, as we proceed to the cash register of Toys’ R Us, I stoop down and plead with my little ladies, “don’t tell your mama, ok?”

This post is originally featured in Daddy, Am I Pretty? by Damon E. Duncan.  Order Your Copy today!

Last week a beautiful little girl named Shaniya Davis died a grisly death.  Her body was found on November 16, 2009 in a forested area off of Highway 87 in Sanford, North Carolina.  The medical examiner concluded that the cause of death was asphyxiation and the autopsy revealed that the little five year old girl was raped.

Reports state that Mario McNeill has remained in isolation since he surrendered to authorities on November 13, 2009, after being seen carrying Shaniya Davis in his arms in a hotel. Police say they do not believe that Shaniya Davis was killed inside the hotel.

In addition to Mario McNeil, Shaniya Davis’ mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, faces charges of filing a police report, human trafficking, and child abuse involving prostitution. More details regarding Antoinette Davis’ role in Shaniya’s death have not yet been made public. It is possible that she may also face additional charges as the investigation goes forward. Antoinette Davis was arrested on November 14, 2009, the day following the arrest of Mario McNeill. Antoinette Davis reported Shaniya missing during the early morning hours of November 10, 2 009.

I find these recent events as repulsive as anything that I have ever been privy to in my 41 years of human existence.  When I see images of the bubbly Shaniya Davis I can’t help but to be reminded of my granddaughter.  The thought of prostituting a 5 year old evokes a quiet rage that can only be contained by venting through a pen.

In addition to the recent horrific events involving Shaniya, I also had the opportunity to view a film entitled “Precious”, the story of a mentally, physically and sexually abused young black girl who manages to maintain enough sanity to realize she deserved something better in life that what she currently had.

The commonality between the movie and the current event is the fact that no father was in place providing the covering that a little girl needs.  I am a firm believer that little girls are God’s greatest gift to humanity.

I must apologize for my inability to bring comfort to my readers as it pertains to these atrocities.  My creative masterworks of adjectives simply cannot assemble a sequence of words to take the pain out of this recent event.

It is times like these when we must remember Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.”

Shaniya,after a life of complete terror, you can now rest in peace because you are with Daddy now.

Until next time,

david ruffinDavid Ruffin (born Davis Eli Ruffin) (January 18, 1941 – June 1, 1991) was an American soul singer most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of The Temptations from 1964 to 1968 (or the group’s “Classic Five” period as it was later known). His was the lead voice on such famous songs as “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”. Known for his unique raspy and anguished tenor vocals, Ruffin was ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2008. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 for his work with The Temptations.  Fellow Motown recording artist Marvin Gaye once said admiringly of Ruffin that “I heard in (his voice) a strength my own voice lacked.” Wiki

Fathersfootprint’s recently caught up with David Ruffin, Jr. who is also an artist in his own right.  It didn’t take David Jr. any time at all to clear up some misconceived notions we had about his legendary father. 

 

David Ruffin, Jr’s Vital Stats:david ruffin jr cd

Name: David Ruffin, Jr

Relationship Status: Single

Profession: Recording Artist

Residence: Los Angeles, CA

Hometown: Detroit, MI

CD Titles: All My Life, Bloodline

Recording Label: Ruffin-It Muzic

 

FF: Not only are you the son of David Ruffin, you also bear his name.  How has this helped or hindered your career as an artist?

D-Ruff: Breaking into the music business isn’t something one pursues for three months, six months, or a year, and can expect to see great results. It’s something that most successful people find is a life-long pursuit. “Taking a shot” at a career in music is like taking a shot at being a quarterback, a track star, or being an Academy award-winning actor. The effort you put in will dictate the rewards you ultimately receive. I think my father David Ruffin was all that rolled into one.  He was the best of the best…he paved the way for many artists, including myself.  I do not feel my father’s career hindered me at all in the music industry.

FF: Your father is a product of the Motown Machine.  What advice do you have for artists looking to sign with a label in today’s entertainment environment labels?

D-Ruff: Hire an excellent attorney, booking agent, and shop until you have what you need as a artist.  I would like also to add my father was not a product of Motown.  He, as an artist, helped to define the Motown Machine as it is known today.

l to r: Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, David Ruffin, Otis Williams & Melvin Franklin ~ The Temptations

L to R: Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, David Ruffin, Otis Williams & Paul Williams ~ The Temptations

 

FF: There are rumors surrounding the life and legacy of your father, the great David Ruffin.  What rumor would you care to dispel for our readers?

D-Ruff: I’m sure people want me to comment about his untimely death and the circumstances around it, but I will not conjure up any words or some story to pacify the curious. However, more in the vein of- or for future artist’s and entertainer’s in general, I’ll say this: In the music world as in any entertainment field there are always going to be rumors, especially with the  group as large as the Temptations.  These men were on the road sometimes 40 weeks a year, in the recording studio, away from families & friends.  There is really no way to dispel any of the rumors out there. My father loved his children, family, friends and his music.

FF: In your estimation, what was the true source of your father’s pain?

D-Ruff: Perhaps his true source of pain was leaving home at such a young age. Learning is a process for all of us as adults.  My dad had to learn real fast at an early age how to survive in the music world and he struggled to make it.  It was not a overnight success story.  It took him years to make it.  Once he did, it hit all at once.  He tremendous amount of success may have been a little too much for him at the time.

David Ruffin Jr pic

FF: Tell us about your music. 

D-Ruff: I have a style, better yet, a way about my songs that are based on feelings. When I write songs, I am motivated and inspired by the song that I see around my life, the feelings that I get from the energy that I’m sharing with producers or peers and the actual track it’s self.  Not everything in life and love that we feel is great and good.  If we are lucky WE get to share our thoughts and feelings with others and in return they get some joy or a lesson from it.  My music is born from feelings, lessons, living and learning, coupled with intense music, sound, production and more feeling.  My music hopes to reach others and to help promote more, understanding, expression and love.

FF: We share Detroit roots and have both moved away from the “D”.  What aspect of Detroit has had the most profound effect on you as an individual?

D-Ruff: The Motown sound, Northern soul.  It’s a feeling you don’t lose or forget.  Detroit suffered when Motown moved its operations to the west coast, so did many of the artists.

We’re very excited to be able to share with the FathersFootprints’ audience a significant piece of Detroit’s (and music’s) rich history.  Today, the world famous Motown studio is now a museum displaying the great accomplishments of Detroit teenagers including: Smokey Robinson and the Miracles; Diana Ross and the Supremes; The Contours; The Four Tops; Martha and the vadellas; The Marvelettes; The Spinners; The Jackson 5; Stevie Wonder; Marvin Gaye;  and David Ruffin and the Temptations.

We look forward to continued lineage of souful sounds through David Ruffin Jr.  We close this feature with a couple lines from the David Ruffin-lead Temptations hit – Ain’t Too Proud To Beg:

“I know you wanna leave me, but I refuse to let you go

If I have to beg and plead for your sympathy

I don’t mind ’cause you mean that much to me

Ain’t too proud to beg, and you know it….”

We beg you to check out David Ruffin, Jr.  You won’t be disappointed.  To sample his music, visit his MySpace page by clicking the link below.

Until next time,

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FatherFootprints sends a special shout out to our dear friend Kelley Terrell (niece of the late Tammi Terrell) for making this interview a reality.

Many have inquired about the man who is responsible for lighting the fire in me known asfred jr FathersFootprints.  One of the first essays I developed was centered on the man who has been a major driving force behind my successes and the shoulder to cry on during my failures.  I introduce to the our readers, Fred Duncan.  The man I call Dad.

Often times, life in a city like Detroit can be unforgiving.  Carving out a niche and securing a decent living for your family can leave a man feeling overwhelmed.  For many years my father made the daily commute to the downriver Ford Motor Company assembly plant known as “Rouge”.

Not unlike numerous families who chose to be participants in the Great Migration to Detroit, Chicago and other northern cities in search of an opportunity to provide a good living for their families; my father endured the ritualistic nuances associated with life behind the plant walls.

The Great Migration was the mass movement of about five million southern blacks to the north and west between 1915 and 1960.  During the initial wave the majority of migrants moved to major northern cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and New York.  By World War II the migrants continued to move North but many of them headed west to Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. The economic motivations for migration were a combination of the desire to escape oppressive economic conditions in the south and the promise of greater prosperity in the north.  Since their Emancipation from slavery, southern rural blacks had suffered in a plantation economy that offered little chance of advancement.  While a few blacks were lucky enough to purchase land, most were sharecroppers, tenant farmers, or farm labors, barely subsiding from year to year.  When World War I created a huge demand for workers in northern factories, many southern blacks took this opportunity to leave the oppressive economic conditions in the south.

There were many occasions when I looked into my father’s eyes unable to discern what I was really going on inside of him.  In my youth and immaturity, I resolved that the Look was simply a man that had all but given up on his hopes and dreams.  It was not until I became a man myself, that I reflected on that Look and understood that my father’s hopes and dreams did not rest with what he could or would accomplish as an individual, but rather what his seeds would accomplish in years to come.

ford

It was his work behind those plant walls that allowed my brother and I receive private school educations.  It was the daily laborious (sometimes mundane) work at Rouge that provided the health benefits that ensured mom had the best care when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was that same Ford plant that provided the springboard for my brother and I to receive advance degrees (by the way baby bruh is wrapping up a doctorate).

Even though my dad endured many years as a plant worker, he managed to achieve some dreams of his own by enrolling in the Ford apprentice program and becoming a licensed electrician.  He is now retired from Ford Motor Company at a master electrician’s status.  He is blessed to be in good health, both mentally and physically.  While he is experiencing the pains of watching his colleagues’ transition to another life-form almost daily, he basks in the faith and hope for his grandchildren and great-grandchild as well as the future generations of Duncan’s he will never know.  I can honestly say I never heard my father utter the word hopelessness.

I conclude this writing with a quote from the Scottish novelist James Matthew Barrie:  “Dreams do come true, if we only wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.” To the man I most admire and will always look up to (pops is 6’5”), whose strength and diligence has created endless possibilities for Sabin, myself and our respective offspring – thanks for the sacrifice. 

Until next time,damon framed

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FathersFootprints is proud to provide you with short essays and poetry for Father’s Day 2009.  Guest contributors provide insight into why they love dad.  Enjoy.

Entry #1 – David Greenwood

My dad is my HERO! Always has been & always will be. Why? Because he’s ALWAYS been there for me. Not to bail me out but to give me what I needed when I needed it most. Advice? Got it good. Money? Not without a lesson learned. Love? Unconditional. Positive examples of what a man should be? Every single day. My dad? Priceless.

In his older age, he takes care of my mother without a moment’s hesitation. At 78 years young he is the MOST loving grandfather to all his grand kids ranging from my 4 year old Lauren to my brothers 30 year old Joy. He has made footprints that are clearly defined and easy to follow because of the lessons he taught us. I get somewhat emotional when I think of the sacrifices my dad made in order for me to have a quality life. He took me to baseball & basketball practice EVERYDAY and NEVER missed a game! He drove a million miles to come see me play in college. I gave him my MHSAA 1985 State Championship medal (the first one) on the floor of Crisler Arena because of HIS commitment to me and making certain I got to & from practice every day/every night.

I know everyone thinks that their dad is the greatest but I have to say that my dad is simply a GREAT father and I love him for that.

David, wife Lisa and their daughter

David, wife Lisa and their daughter

David Greenwood, a Detroit native, is a firefighter with the Birmingham, MI Fire Department.  He is a graduate of Lake Superior State University where he attended on a full athletic scholarship.  David is married to Lisa (Maxwell) Greenwood and they have one child.

              

 Entry #2 – Lisa Lipscomb

“Where do you see yourself in 6 months? 1 year? 5 – 10 years? You need short and long term goals. You have to plan for the future.” I remember these words flowing from conversations my Dad shared on numerous occasions. In fact, I remember my Dad most for two different things. The first was asking questions, he wanted my brother and I to think, about the past, present and future. He wanted to know what we knew so that he could fill in the gaps of our not knowing and he did that well. The second thing I remember happening often were his lectures. He was famous for giving advice, whether solicited or not. My brother Phillip and I had to sit and listen as he told us about his experiences, what he expected from us and his perspective on the world around us. My cousins laughed and others felt seemingly sorry for us because of the length of time and frequency in which the lecturing occurred. Based on what others said, I thought I was being tortured at times. According to what I know now, those moments were my Dad’s contribution to us. He was investing time and knowledge in his offspring. Those streaming words were his dreams and prayers for a better future and hope for an informed set of siblings. He always reminded us of the importance that we do better than he and my Mom. We had more opportunities and he clearly wanted us to take advantage of them. He did not accept excuses and had high expectations, all the time.

He was pouring the concrete that would become our foundation. He was building a bridge between where we stood and the land of opportunity that is unending, unlimited and as close as the next breath we can take. Education reigned supreme in our home. “I am a life-long learner,” he’d say. Have you noticed I’m always taking classes or learning something new?” He reminded me time after time that it was the route I should also take. I frowned at the thought of always being in school. My God, I thought. Is it that serious? I’m tired of school. Who in their right mind would willingly continue taking classes? I laugh as I remember those moments, especially now that I have been a public school teacher for the past 14 years. I share this timeless advice with my children and my students. They usually have one of two reactions. The first is that they’ll sit back and listen. The second reaction is grumbling. Grumbling at the thought that school and learning could possibly go on forever- as a child, I was a grumbler.

As I begin my fourth decade of life, I am happy to call myself a lifelong learner. I set a goal to do something new and fulfilling every month. Over time, I’ve learned that one thing a month isn’t enough. It could be as simple as trying a new restaurant, walking the track at a park at a new park or trying a new skill. I tool swimming lessons for the first time just before I turned 40 last fall. My Dad transitioned from this life 12 years ago at the age of 48. He passed on from complications due to colon cancer. His final lesson was just as important as the ones he drilled in my head when I was a young girl. Take care of yourself, stay on top of your health. Eat correctly, exercise regularly and if something isn’t right, go to the doctor. There is a part of me that feels Dad thought he was invincible. He served the military by going to Vietnam and making it back home. He started as a fireman in the city of Detroit and worked up that career ladder until he served as a Captain in the Training Academy. He won many battles throughout his life. He told me, even when I could see that he was losing his battle with cancer, that he was getting better and he’d be alright. In truth, he was letting go of this time and space, moving closer to God and that does make everything all right.

Lisa with her late father, Phillip

Lisa with her late father, Phillip

Lisa is a school teacher for the Detroit Public School system.  She has a BA from the University of Michigan and a MA from Marygrove College.  She has three children.  Lisa is a published poet.  Her first book is entitled, Somewhere in the Middle of Love. http://books.google.com/books?id=_fJWfdmiXN4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=lisa+a+lipscomb

 

Entry #3 –  Kelley Terrell

I have some very fond memories of my dad. When I look back, I didn’t realize it then, but he was giving me a guide to life and how to maneuver. My mom died when I was in 5th grade. I admire the fact that he did not give me to a family member to raise me. He decided he would do it himself.  Now this was not easy for him or me. He had a funny way of showing his love. He also had a strange way of explaining life’s issues. My adolescent years were rough without a mother to understand certain female emotions and feelings.

Once my dad died I soon realized that all the things he used to say were true. Life is not a bed of roses; no one owes you anything; you better go get what you want and never wait on anyone else’s ship to come in; wait on your own.    

I truly treasure all of the life teachings and lectures he gave me. I never realized just how important each of those lessons were until I was living on my own without any parents trying to make it in this world with no guidance. Well one thing is for sure God never left my side and he helped me to remember the things that my dad taught me. All that he couldn’t do he gave me the tools of life to be able to handle them myself. I know you’re in heaven still watching over me. Happy Fathers Day, Love Kelly

Kelley attended Bennett College in North Carolina.  She is currently developing a magazine for adolescents entitled, Everything Tween.

 

Entry #4 – Gail Rene’e Morrow

“ODE TO DADDY”

Depressed and empty

The missing link

Nights gone sleepless

Unable to think

Unexpected absence

Taken away by surprise

Here today…then gone tomorrow

Right before my very eyes

Continuous tears

I can’t seem to stop

From the endless days

Of undying thoughts

A heart so heavy

Weighed down by the pain

Upset by the devastating phases

Of life’s common change

A chair unoccupied

One less dinner prepared

Minus one less listener

From a story to share

A replay of last words

A recall of laughter

Snapped photographs cherished

From moments captured

A stroll down memory lane

To bring about a smile

A smile turned to sadness

From a sudden fatherless child

The tears, the tears…

They just continue to flow

From a heartbroken daughter

That needs a healing for her soul

If I could just be selfish

Bring him back for one more day

I’d wrap my arms around him

So much love I would display

I’d constantly tell him that I love him

And shower him with praise

Of how such a wonderful dad and provider

He was to the very last days

I’d take advantage

Of every minute with him here on this earth

For a father and daughter relationship

Is everything that it’s worth

So I’ll see you soon daddy

Never forgotten, will you be

You were the best daddy in the whole wide world

And everything to me!

I miss you daddy, Happy Father’s Day!

Entry #5 – Charles Shaper

“By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.” Both of my Dads were there and they both did Great Jobs. I Iove them both dearly.

FathersFootprints Family, Watch and Listen to this with my dads and I.

Don’t forget a Father’s Day gift!  Find great gifts for dad at Brookstone.com.

Until next time,

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chenoa maxChenoa Maxwell, actress and photographer, exemplifies a ‘Renaissance’ woman. She is best known for her starring role in the 1997 romantic comedy entitled Hav Plenty and as the recurring character Lena Turner on the hit UPN sitcom Girlfriends. Ms. Maxwell has also appeared in the WB sitcom, For Your Love. Additionally, she was the leading lady in R&B singer Joe’s video, What if a Woman. In addition to the film Hav Plenty, she starred in Cold Feet (1999) and G (2002) starring opposite Blair Underwood.

Chenoa is an extremely hard working and dedicated woman.  We managed to catch up with her to do this interview – as a prelude to featuring her story in our forthcoming book, Daddy Am I Pretty?

FF: You’re an actress and photographer.  It appears that photography is becoming the dominant art of the two.

Chenoa: Appearances are tricky.   I believe that art is simply an expression of truth.  Today, right now, my truth is all about capturing the realities of others rather than portraying them.  Since I’m still very much in the adolescence of my journey, I’m curious to see which art form truly dominates and becomes my legacy. 🙂

FF: What caused this shift?      

Chenoa: In the nutshell, extreme disappointment and loss of purpose.

FF: How did your interest in photography begin?   

Chenoa: Images were always something that had this hypnotic effect on me.  Basically, I was that annoying friend who always documented every occasion to annoyance.  However, it was my trip to Uganda that truly shifted my life again from plateau to passion.

FF: Tell us about the “8 Seconds Uganda Project” and how it changed your life?                                                                                                                                                            

Chenoa: Nothing could have prepared me for the amount of devastation I saw while I traveled through Uganda.  The level of pain, stench and poverty the country endures is indescribable.  Yet these people house a spirit so beautiful, so courageous, it doesn’t depress, it inspires.  Death happens for many reasons there.  Above all I couldn’t get over the hundreds of children who died every 8 seconds from lack of clean water.  That is how my project started.  The first trip to Uganda changed my life!

Chenoa Maxwell film trilogy

The Chenoa Maxwell film trilogy

FF: Without divulging too much prior to the release of the book, what is significant about your relationship with your father?   

Chenoa: Although he is my father, I call him dad.  He is consistent and thankfully still alive.  Although he rarely communicates his love  to me verbally; it is undeniable, true, and unconditional.

FF: What comes to mind when you hear the phrase, Daddy Am I Pretty?   

Chenoa: My dad would always say, “pretty ain’t sh*t!  Millions of girls are pretty.  What counts is the other stuff.  What else you got that’s interesting?  What you got that’s gonna last?  Stand out?   When you figure that out…come talk to me.”

FF: What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?  chenoa 40

Chenoa: Hmmm…That  the best part about any art form is discovery.  After that, I’d say, be sure to specialize in one area of photography and be GREAT at it!  Develop your own style/voice.  Build a great team.  Be patient and allow time for yourself grow. Constantly evolve yourself. Study light. Lastly, remember that nothing is more dangerous to an artist than complacency!

FF: What can we expect from you in the near future?  

Chenoa: Wow! I have a million exciting things brewing at the moment.  A few of the projects I am in the middle of developing include an intimate project on “The Truth Behind Commitment” and a crazy web series entitled, “The Adventures of Mad Max.” For the rest of the goods…check me out from time to time on www.chenoamaxwell.com.  The noteworthy sections tell all.   🙂

We are very excited to feature Chenoa Maxwell on this blog and in the forthcoming book.  If you have comments or direct questions for Chenoa simply click on the comment link below to express yourself.

Until next time,

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