Tag Archive | country

JESUS HOPPED THE ‘A’ TRAIN

A Train Poster (2)

I’m very excited to be playing the role of Mary Jane in the Praxis Stage production of Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train by Stephen Adly Guirgis. This is a character I’ve wanted to explore for a long time and I’m working with a great group of artists. If you’re in the Boston area in May, please be sure to check it out. Tickets are now ON SALE.

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WHAT I LEARNED FROM A YEAR OF FILMS BY WOMEN

 

Ocean Waif

In October of 2015, Women in Film Los Angeles launched a challenge that asked people to watch one film a week by a woman for a year and to share and discuss those films on social media. To date they’ve reached over 11,000 pledges and are still going strong.

What I’ve learned from my year of women-directed films is much the same as what I’m hearing from everyone else–namely, that you really have to dig if you want to consistently discover female filmmakers. Here are my observations from the year:

  • I wanted to watch current films, not just the standards that everyone already knows. It was much easier to find independent films with female directors; very difficult to find mainstream studio films. The Wrap recently released this stat:

    …of the 149 movies currently slated for a wide release from the six legacy studios over the next three years, only 12 have female directors. That means a whopping 92 percent of the major motion pictures due in theaters through the end of 2019 will be helmed by men.

  • Sometimes I couldn’t find a narrative feature at all and that’s when I started filling out my year with shorts and documentaries–both of which are much more prolific in terms of female directors. Once again, it all comes back to money and opportunity. What can you make when you have neither? I scoured other people’s lists to see what they were watching and the same films came up over and over again (as they will on my list too). There were limited choices; sometimes nothing appealed to me and I had to go outside the box to find something I wanted to watch.
  • This process of deliberately watching films from female perspective is what finally drove home to me how much of my life–and the lives of all women–have been shaped by the male gaze and point-of-view. Our stories are not being told and so, because we don’t see ourselves on screen or the potential for what we can be on screen, we often don’t see another choice but to accept and perpetuate the myths and stereotypes of what a woman is or what she can and should be. Of course there are many exceptions (thank you, new Star Wars franchise) and media is not the only thing that shapes a life but I’d never before realized just how critical a role it actually did play for me. What could the world look like for future generations of women if we were truly represented?
  • One of my reasons for taking the pledge was to find a director for my own feature project. I fell in love with a lot of new filmmakers but one issue remains: most of them don’t have the breadth of experience that male filmmakers have and may require a leap of faith. Years and years go by between most women’s first and second features…sometimes more years than you can believe and it’s actually tragic how long it takes for a woman to find the funding or opportunity to make one film, let alone several.
  • A highlight: Ashley Judd seeing my blog about her film Come Early Morning (one of my all-time favorites) and writing a lovely comment to me on Facebook.
  • I watched 35 Narrative Features, 8 Narrative Shorts, 6 Documentary Features and 3 Documentary Shorts.
  • My Top Five new films that I discovered and highly recommend are: Stray Dog (Documentary Feature) by Debra Granik, Into the Forest (Narrative Feature) by Patricia Rozema, Hostile Border (Narrative Feature) by Kaitlin McLaughlin & Michael Dwyer, Cigarette Candy (Narrative Short) by Laura Wolkstein and Emotional Fusebox (Narrative Short) by Rachel Tunnard.
  • I remain committed to working with women directors and am very inspired and excited by the prospect. I also remain committed to seeking out films by women on a regular basis and especially to supporting them at the box office and on social media–two places where it counts.
  • Join the movement and take your own #52FilmsByWomen pledge HERE.

The Films

LOVE & BASKETBALL (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Gina Prince-Blythewood

OBSELIDIA (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Diane Bell

BLEEDING HEART (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Diane Bell

GAS FOOD LODGING (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Allison Anders

STORIES WE TELL (Documentary Feature) / Directed by Sarah Polley

COME EARLY MORNING (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Joey Lauren Adams

SELMA (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Ana DuVernay

STRAY DOG (Documentary Feature) / Directed by Debra Granik

ANOTHER KIND OF GIRL (Documentary Short) / Directed by Khaldia Jibawi

JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUE (Documentary Feature) / Directed by Amy J. Berg

I DON’T CARE (Narrative Short) / Directed by Carolina Giammetta

LIFE IN COLOR (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Katharine Emmer

ADVANTAGEOUS (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Jennifer Phang

THE INTERN (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Nancy Meyers

HOSTILE BORDER (Narrative Feature) / Co-Directed by Kaitlin McLaughlin & Michael Dwyer

TOUCH (Narrative Short) / Directed by Jen McGowan

SPEED DATING (Narrative Short) / Directed by Meghann Artes

BELLE (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Amma Asante

GIRLHOOD (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Celine Sciamma

ENOUGH SAID (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Nicole Holofcener

HOTEL 22 (Documentary Short) / Directed by Elizabeth Lo

MIELE (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Valeria Golino

SEQUIN RAZE (Narrative Short) / Directed by Sarah Gertrude Shapiro

EMOTIONAL FUSEBOX (Narrative Short) / Directed by Rachel Tunnard

CIGARETTE CANDY (Narrative Short) / Directed by Lauren Wolkstein

WAITRESS (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Adrienne Shelly

THE PIG CHILD (Narrative Short) / Directed by Lucy Campbell

WATER (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Deepa Mehta

TALLULAH (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Sian Heder

WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED (Documentary Feature) / Directed by Gillian Armstrong

FANGIRL (Documentary Short) / Directed by Liza Mandelup

ALWAYS WORTHY (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Marianna Palka

STRANGERLAND (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Kim Farrant

BONESHAKER (Narrative Short) / Directed by Frances Bodomo

PINE RIDGE (Documentary Feature) / Directed by Anna Eborn

BRIDGET JONES’S BABY (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Sharon Maguire

IMAGINE I’M BEAUTIFUL (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Meredith Edwards

BIG STONE GAP (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Adriana Trigiani

CERTAIN WOMEN (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Kelly Reichardt

SUFFRAGETTE (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Sarah Gavron

OPERATOR (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Logan Kibens

RED ROVER (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Brooke Goldfinch

INTO THE FOREST (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Patricia Rozema

BRIGHT STAR (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Jane Campion

ALWAYS SHINE (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Sophia Takal

IT HAD TO BE YOU (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Sasha Gordon

AMERICAN HONEY (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Andrea Arnold

THE DRESSMAKER (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse

LEARNING TO DRIVE (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Isabel Coixet

THE WINDING STREAM (Documentary Feature) / Directed by Beth Harrington

THE INTERVENTION (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Clea Duvall

DESERTED (Narrative Feature) / Directed by Ashley Avis

HER*STORY: Donna Frost

There are those who will dismiss you because you are a woman. But I never let that get in my way. I was determined to become my own person, reliant on no one to do what I do.

Donna Frost

Donna Frost / Singer-Songwriter / Age 58 / Hendersonville, Tennessee

Donna Frost was born into a family gospel group and hit the road with them at two weeks old. She decided she wanted to be a performer at age six after witnessing the Beatles phenomenon on the Ed Sullivan Show and she has been a full-time touring artist for the past 23 years.

I sold Christmas cards at the age of nine to make my own money to buy a piano.  My aunt gave me my first guitar. Later on, when I was older, she paid for me to go to Belmont University to study music. She also bought my brother and I a van and an equipment trailer for us to tour in when we were older with our rock band.

Donna was influenced by all kinds of artists in every genre but became attached to one in particular–one of the first women to achieve major success as a solo artist in the country music industry. Skeeter Davis’ hit single, The End of the World, is still a favorite today and I can definitely hear her influence in Donna’s music.

Skeeter_davis_the_end_of_the_world

As a child, my first hero was the late Skeeter Davis, who was my idol and became my mentor when I was an adult. I sang with her the last eight years of her life in the 1990’s – early 2000’s.

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Donna Frost with Skeeter Davis

Donna also found steadfast support from her mother–the “rock” of her family–and her aunt, Mary Lynch Jarvis.

Pop album

(Jarvis) was a pioneer…for women who worked in the industry. She was Chet Atkins’ right hand at RCA for 20 years and blazed a trail for women in the music industry.

Being a woman in the music industry is certainly difficult. There’s the Good Old Boys club; there were the occasional dominating males I worked with in some of the bands who tried to push me around…I’m very independent. Now it’s the ageism thing sometimes. But, overall, I’m very blessed. I’m busier now than I’ve ever been with my music, and, as I said…I’m self-reliant. I perform and tour by myself most times.  I book the gigs, I drive, I roadie, I play and sing, I do everything for myself. And I like it that way. My experiences with my bandmates through the years have been great overall, especially the bands I have played in with my brother and with my good friends. I’m fortunate.

How do you define success?

To me, success is loving what you do, doing what you love, and I see myself as successful because I have been doing this since I was a teenager. I have been a full-time touring artist since 1993 and I have had so many rich experiences, so many wonderful people in my life that are my friends…friends I would not have had were it not for my music.

Back when I was younger, I was like everyone else. I thought a major label deal and becoming a big star was what I wanted. It didn’t happen that way. And the older I got, the more my priorities and expectations changed. I have learned there’s more to life.

I also am involved in several programs that help others through music. In addition to my shows as an artist, I play several shows each month for Music for Seniors, which brings music to the elderly (some of them are Alzheimer and dementia patients). I am an ambassador for Ukulele Kids Club, which places ukuleles in hospitals for sick kids. Prior to that I was with Musicians On Call for five years (We brought live music to hospitals and hospices.) and Songs of Love for five years (writing and producing songs for terminally ill children).

Being able to give back with my music is very important to me. That means more than any record deal or fame and fortune. I am quite happy with my life. I’m thankful that I’m so busy at age 58 and still able to go do my thing!

Ukebilly

A couple of years ago, life threw Donna a curve-ball and it turned out to be the beginning of a new chapter in her music.

I’m currently promoting my 5th CD and first all original Ukulele music album, Ukeabilly Mama, which came about when I was recovering from my accident (broken arm) and surgery two years ago. I had to cancel six weeks of shows but I was playing my Ukulele, writing music and rehearsing. When the accident happened, the doctors said I would not be able to perform for 6-8 months but I proved them wrong. The Ukulele saved my life and gave me a cool new angle to my career. It has opened some new doors and set me on an amazing journey.

What are you working on next? Is there something you’d still like to see happen in your career?

I’m always writing new songs and hope to get in the studio to record my 6th CD in the months ahead. I’ve written close to 300 songs and have only recorded about 60 of them. I am currently writing my first book, Guitars, Ukes and Sequin Boots-My Life in Song, which I’ve been working on for a couple of years and hope to have out soon as well. Something I would love to see happen would be having some of my songs placed in films and TV shows. That is what I would like most!

Which actress would play you in the movie of your life?

Bette Davis or Diane Keaton.

You can hear Donna’s music, check tour dates and more on her page at REVERBNATION.

Red guitar

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