Tag Archives: success

june 016

10 AWESOME THINGS MY PARENTS GAVE ME

One of the nicest arguments I’ve ever been a part of occurred on set this summer, with a hairstylist and a makeup artist. This was a mature, respectful version of “my mom/dad is cooler than your mom/dad, nah nah nah boo boo!” So, for this month’s edition of Top Ten Tuesday, I’m listing the reasons why I will win this contest against anyone, anytime. With the omission of some of obvious gifts, like long fingers and specific words of wisdom and height (#irony), here is a list of things my parents gave me that prove they totally rock.

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1.   GOOD GENES

I definitely use great products, and I do my best to get reasonable amounts of sleep, and both of these habits help keep me youthful and fabulous. But honestly,  I got some really good DNA too! The first thing people notice about my mother and father is how young they look.

Dad and I at TIFF 2014

Dad and I at TIFF 2014

Mom and I at a cousin's wedding, September 2014

Mom and I at a cousin’s wedding, September 2014

I am eternally grateful to them for passing these genes on to their offspring, as evinced in the fact that someone canvassing me for a donation to TVO last weekend had to stop and ask if I’m 18 yet.

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2.  MUSICAL TALENT

Music runs in my veins on both sides. From my parents (a drummer and singer, and a flutist) to their parents and siblings and beyond, it’s in my DNA.

Dad performing at the 2009 Arcadia Showcase

Dad performing at the 2009 Arcadia Showcase

My maternal grandmother even released a cassette of her original Christmas-themed Calypso songs in the 1990s.

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3.  MUSICAL APPRECIATION

Nope, not a repeat of #2. I grew up on oldies. I wasn’t even allowed to decide what music I wanted to hear until I was a tween. Sure, I was last to learn any of the words to “Juicy” by Biggie Smalls, but I still know all the words to “Juicy Fruit” (which “Juicy” sampled).

mtumeMtume was and still is the jam.

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4.   EARLY AND FREQUENT EXPOSURE TO BOOKS

. . . lots of them!! I remember Mom pointing at the words in my storybooks as she read, guiding me to recognize the words instead of just hearing the sounds. I’m told that I started reading on my own at the age of 3, sounding out the word “Batman” on the back of a cereal box. Dad is forever tossing me books to read (y’know, like Roots when I was 12 years old).

My current reading situation

My current reading situation

Leaders are readers . . . I will always be a very proud Nerd Word!

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5.   INDEPENDENCE

My parents made sure I knew how to use the TTC even though most of my suburban neighbours didn’t. I started working at 15. I paid my way through university with awards and scholarships.

Jogging. In a desert. In Dubai. Alone. Why not.

Jogging. In a desert. In Dubai. Alone. Why not.

There have been times I’ve wished some of the above things weren’t the case, but overall I’m so grateful.

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6.   FREEDOM

Man, I never even had a curfew.

My first time taking a solo vacation; Cuba =)

My first time taking a solo vacation; Cuba =)

My parents trusted not only me but their own parenting skills enough to trust that I would make good choices, for the most part. And, for the most part, I think they would agree that I did. Good job, Mom and Dad!

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7.   YOUNG PARENTS

. . . especially in the case of Mama Dukes, who chauffeured my friends and I to and from clubs starting back when I was 14. (Relax; these were all-ages events.) My parents had me during the year they turned 22, and I felt like they were so much more relevant to and understanding of my life as a young person than most of the parents of my friends, who were older.

Honestly. They look like teenagers. YOUNG teenagers.

Honestly. They look like teenagers. YOUNG teenagers.

I did want to start having children when I was in my super-early twenties too . . . ah well, can’t win ‘em all =)

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8.   THE TRAVEL BUG

Not only have my parents always encouraged me to travel, I sometimes get to travel with one of them, and sometimes they even foot the bill!

Here they are almost a year ago, seeing me off as I set out to spend 6 months in the United Arab Emirates

Here they are almost a year ago, seeing me off as I set out to spend 6 months in the United Arab Emirates

Ooooh, I am so glad I didn’t get parents of the “it’s a big bad scary world so stay home” variety.

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9.   THE BEST EXTENDED FAMILIES I COULD ASK FOR

I mean, did I win a birth lottery somehow??? I am SO blessed to be the daughter of my parents and the granddaughter of my grandparents, the niece of my aunts and uncles and the great-niece of my great-aunts and great-uncles, and the cousin of my cousins.

A rare family photo; almost all of my Mom's mom's family in one shot, minus the great-grandbabies =)

A rare family photo; almost all of my Mom’s mom’s family in one shot, minus the great-grandbabies =)

My only gripe about my family is that not a single one of them live even remotely near New York City. (Apparently a college professor who shares my surname is there, but we’ve never met, so . . .)

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10.  THE GET-OVER-IT GENE

Not that my life has been rocked by (m)any catastrophes, but one event which was painful and difficult to get over was the end of my parents’ marriage. People are constantly surprised at how well my mom and dad, who split up more than 20 years ago, get along with each other today. This was just one of the ways they taught me what to do with obstacles, challenges, “hurtful” events: get past, through, over, and/or around them.

IMG_1517 IMG_1386Lesson learned, you two.

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I hope I can be half as amazing when it’s my turn to raise children. <3

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me and Missy.002

DREAMING BY DESIGN

So last weekend I ate lots of food, saw tons of relatives, and reflected on things that have happened for me between Thanksgiving 2013 and Thanksgiving 2014.

Like 2 super-exciting gigs, for example. I got to escape winter by singing in Dubai for 6 months, then I came home for the summer and filmed my first movie role playing the young Missy Elliott in Lifetime’s Aaliyah: Princess of R&B.

Of course there’s a silver lining in every cloud and a cloud for every silver lining. The Dubai experience was awesome, but being away from family and friends for that long can be tough. Playing the part of a pop culture icon in this major project is my biggest booking so far, but it didn’t come without a certain amount of . . . let’s call it . . . character-building.  =)

Now this post isn’t going to count, characterize or rehash any negative comments from the world of social media. (Although I offer a sincere “Thank You” to all those who took the time to send me encouraging messages; more than I expected! Bless up.) Nope, I’m writing this to share something that helped me keep my head up when it would have been easier to get angry or defensive or sad.

Let’s take it back to high school for a minute. As a tenth-grader at Thornhill Secondary, I had my first taste of graphic design in a course which I think was called Computer Sciences, and one project really stuck with me. Our teacher instructed each of us to Photoshop our face onto the cover of a popular magazine.

I loved the idea, and I scanned a hard copy of VIBE that I’d bought on a recent trip to the States (it was hard to find in Canada at the time).

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I’d never heard of a vision board or a dream board back then, but I kept a copy of this assignment. And I almost forgot about it until years later when the “controversy” arose about me portraying Missy Elliott. You cannot imagine how encouraging it was to find that 12-year-old piece of paper and hold it in my hand. It taught me 3 really important lessons.

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1. THOUGHTS BECOME THINGS

Me designing this made-up cover, and keeping it, was my way of saying to God and the universe (long before I learned about the law of intention or self-fulfilling prophecies or anything like that) that I wanted fame and fortune and photographers. I still want to be a cover girl; I would love to do so in the world of music, but if it comes about through acting or some other form of expression, I’m fine with that as well. This taught me that making and using vision/dream boards is incredibly powerful as long as you’re putting the work in too. Mind what you wish for, because if you think it enough times, you’ll end up with it somehow.

 

2. NEVER GIVE UP

Notice, the time lapse between my magazine assignment and the headlines for this casting was 12 years. I originally thought I’d have a record deal around the time I finished high school — HA! It would have been so easy for me to trash this printout when I realized I was headed to university instead of being the next teen pop music queen, or any of the times I auditioned/applied/submitted for a role/gig/deal and didn’t get it. Now I understand that years or even decades can go by, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get what you’re going for. It might just mean you haven’t grown enough, or learned enough, or sacrificed enough yet.

Let’s say you set your ultimate goal 20 years ago and you’re not there yet. I don’t know when you’ll make it, but if you give up, I know you won’t ever make it. And it might be right around the corner. So keep going.

 

3. GOD HAS A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOUR

To be honest, my choosing that cover was a matter of convenience; it had nothing to do with Missy herself. Of course I’m a longtime fan; the woman is a legend! But it ended up as my backdrop simply because we were told to choose our favourite magazine (mine was definitely VIBE) and that was the hard copy I had to scan. Of course, the funny plot twist is that I went from replacing Missy’s face with my own to being the face of Missy in the movie. So the timeline looks like this:

June 2002 – I declare “I’m going to be on the cover of VIBE one day” by inserting my face onto VIBE’s cover and changing up the headlines to reflect my own interests and wishes.

Summer 2009 – VIBE goes out of print. I mope about my lost opportunity. Even the magazine’s later resurrection and reincarnations don’t make me feel much better. I sulk, but I keep working (duh).

June 2014 – I audition for and land the role of Missy Elliott in Lifetime’s biopic Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, and I keep an eye on social media as people speculate about the movie and about who will be playing the lead role. The majority of what I read confirms my suspicion that the public will be vocal about any casting choices they don’t like.

August 2014 – BlackFilm.com publishes a piece about the movie’s cast, announcing that I’m playing Missy. Figuring the cat’s out of the bag, I confirm via Facebook (where a bunch of people who know me are full of congratulations) and Twitter (where a bunch of people who don’t know me are full of something else). Remembering my 2002 DIY mag cover, I remind myself that I earned this role and that my job is to get up, dress up, show up, and play the part. I have an incredible time, working with amazing people — love and respect to Izaak, Alex, AJ, James, Brad, Etheline, Rose, Chris, Gisele, Joe, Michelle, Fast Eddie, and every single member of the cast and crew for making this experience as awesome as it was!

November 2014 – the movie comes out, and a new chapter begins.

 

I can’t wait to see what new things I’ll have to be grateful for by next Thanksgiving.

xoxo

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10 WINS FROM MY STAY IN DUBAI

 

June already! I’m almost back on Canadian soil (editing and posting this from inside an airport terminal actually), after spending half a year abroad. For this edition of Top Ten Tuesday, here are ten awesome memories and/or accomplishments from this stay in Dubai . . .

 

1.  So much writing.

Beginning on Christmas Day 2013, I promised I would write every day. Even a single sentence, or a few words; some days this meant an entire song or three, and some days it meant several scenes of a TV episode. Sometime in April or May I got a little more strict with myself, so now I have to write a snippet or piece of a song, or a song idea, every day. Even on days when I’ve completed a song. Even on days when I’m totally focused on a script and don’t want to think about writing a song.

IMG_0726So, the final tally? 52 new songs and 3 new episodes of the series I’m working on. Plus, I’ve got about 11 pages of ideas to dip into the next time I think “now what can I write a song about?” Not bad at all.

 

2.  So much sun.

What do you when it’s 50 degrees warmer where you are than it is back at home? You go to the beach.

Feb 5 2014.027It’s not like I was out there every day, but I definitely took advantage of my winter and spring in the desert — and I’ve got the tan to prove it!

 

3.  So much singing.

Being onstage six nights a week and singing so many genres (pop, reggae, rock, country, soul, Motown, blues, calypso, jazz) is awesome training. Doing so without lyrics in front of you is great for your memorization skills. Doing so in heels has left my feet considerably uglier than they were six months ago . . . ah well, you can’t win em all.

DSC08154Shoutouts to my incredible bandmates Jo (keys) and Julian (guitar), for allowing me to experience the awesomeness that is playing with live musicians — and alllllll the hilarity that goes along with it!

 

4.  Friends from every corner of the globe.

Maybe not every single corner . . . but I now have people to welcome me in Italy, South Africa, Indonesia, Sweden, all over the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Russia, the Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, and of course here in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. And as eager as I am to get back home and hug all my people in Canada and the United States, it feels good to know that friendship transcends borders.

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IMG_0110Of course I look forward to welcoming any of my new friends if and when they find themselves in Toronto, too!

 

5.  Fly boarding.

Hands-down the coolest single activity I’ve done since leaving home.

flyboard10You can watch the video here (in fact, go do it right now) and I really hope I get the opportunity to do this again one day . . . Does anyone offer it in southwestern Ontario yet?

 

6.  Loving on nature.

At home I can jog along Lake Ontario, and I’m frequently amused by the friendly (well, probably just hungry) squirrels in my neighbourhood, and there are some nice views of the sunset from my building before it’s hidden by condos.  In Dubai, I’ve been bathing in the Gulf of Arabia, taking pictures of flowers and sandscapes and water views, and loving the sight (though not always the sound) of tons of birds — including obnoxious crows and shrill peacocks.

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10am in Toronto, and 6pm in Dubai

 

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There are some really cool manmade wonders out there, obviously, but it’s also been really nice to just look at a seashell or a cliff and enjoy that.

 

7.  Opportunities.

I’ll do my best to explain this clearly and without offending anyone.

Opportunities are everywhere, and so are opportunity-seekers and opportunity-creators. But it seems to me that there is a greater sense of possibility in Dubai than at home; and it has nothing to do with money and everything to do with attitude. Both Toronto and Dubai are big, bustling cities with international populations and people at different socioeconomic levels . . . but they differ when it comes to the ratio of whiners to risk-takers. At home, I find a lot of people who feel that they’re stuck in a rut. In Dubai, I find a lot of people who are hustling, who are keeping it moving, who are creating some type of change instead of just complaining.

Example: my friend Davide Giusti (grey shirt), tennis coach extraordinaire who is opening his own academy in Dubai, and 15-year-old "Rpince Pavel," a future world tennis champion from Poland

Example: my friend Davide Giusti (grey shirt), tennis coach extraordinaire who is opening his own academy in Dubai, and 15-year-old “Prince Pavel,” a future world tennis champion from Poland

This is probably because roughly 80% of the people there are expats (not local to the area, they were born somewhere else), so they’ve already taken the step of leaving home, their physical comfort zone. Granted, many of the people I met were on vacation, but when I did meet someone who’a planning to stay for awhile I tended to notice a quiet confidence and certainty that they’ll be able to do what they came here to do. And if not then they can go somewhere else and try again. It’s all good.

 

8.  Truly cherishing interaction with people from back home.

It will be such a treat to sit down and have a meal with family and friends again. Even if I don’t like the food, I have to sit on the floor, and no one says a single word for the duration of the meal.

See these two? They will be smothered with hugs very shortly . . .

See these two? They will be smothered with hugs very shortly . . .

I knew homesickness would be an issue for me; I’m glad that I came through without getting too emotional (for the most part), and I now fully understand what a musician friend of mine meant when he told me staying away for a month wasn’t enough; he wanted to be gone for long enough that he missed being home.

 

9.  Exploring.

I’ll have to make sure I do this in Toronto/Ontario/Canada too! One of the best things about travelling is getting to know a new place. I don’t mean just the people and customs and laws, I mean the physical place. When you’re new to the UAE, you ask a lot of questions like “Why isn’t there any parking?” and “Can I take the Metro?” and some more unique ones too, like “Why isn’t there a street address?”

The huge sigh of relief when you finally somehow get to the place you were hoping to find . . .

The huge sigh of relief when you finally somehow get to the place you were hoping to find . . .

I’m very grateful to anyone who has ever printed and distributed a clearly marked map, and for numerous online forums where expats and travellers share tips. I’m also newly in love with Groupon (and similar sites like Kobonaty) for offering great deals in the area, making it that much easier to get out there and try a desert safari, or flyboarding, or a double-massage deal.

 

10. Discovering and developing new talents.

I’ve dusted off my photographer, videographer, and video editor hats, in addition to writing new episodes as mentioned above. I decided to share some of my insights in a 30-day art installation project via Instagram and Facebook/Twitter . . . (stay tuned to my YouTube channel for a video recap of that, plus a video recap of the whole Dubai trip) . . . and being genuinely touched and surprised by a bandmate’s comment that I’m “so visual,” I’ve been creating collages (as seen all over this blog) that are way better than those Instathings, and I even came up with my phoenix/mermaid photoshoot out of thin air.

collages.056Plus, I commissioned two newly designed dresses and had them made at a local tailor’s (and blogged all about it), and I’m really loving finding new ways to express myself visually!

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So what’s next for me? A Top Ten Tuesday blog featuring the 10 best things about being back home?

Nah, too predictable.

See you next time ;-)

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Dubai recap – Show Week One is done …

… and today is my day off, so my goal is to bang this out and get back outside =)  (Today I finally got to the beach.  Video footage here.)

So, Jo Maharaj and I have finished our first week of shows at the White Orchid Lounge (Palm Tree Court, Jebel Ali Golf Resort, Dubai).

White Orchid Lounge

White Orchid Lounge

With the creative band name of “Jo & Chattrisse” (yep, really), we have entertained several dozen guests for four sets a night since Monday night.

1st night onstage

1st night onstage

We have crooned, laughed and sometimes improvised through such varied songs as Sweet Love by Anita Baker, Beyonce’s version of Fever (we’ve done those two every single night so far), Rehab by Amy Winehouse, Just the Two of Us by Bill Withers, Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen, Let’s Stay Together by Al Green, No No No by Dawn Penn (click here to see a snippet of video footage), and Dance with My Father by Luther Vandross.  We’ve had regulars come back for 5 or 6 nights in a row, we’ve had people up and dancing, we’ve even had the power cut out on us more than once.  (That’s when your improv and/or a cappella skills come in REALLY handy!)

We’ve garnered fans, like 5-year-old Daisy who left us this note:

It says "I love your singing so much" =D

It says “I love your singing so much” =D

And taken song requests …

We get more requests for Bob Marley than for anyone else, and people from every background you can imagine are singing along, bopping their heads, or up and dancing.  #proudtobeJamaican

We get more requests for Bob Marley than for anyone else, and people from every background you can imagine are singing along, bopping their heads, or up and dancing. #proudtobeJamaican

And I am already so wholeheartedly grateful that I’ve been given this opportunity.

If you or someone you know is in the Dubai area and wants to check us out, come through!  No cover, if you’ve got questions you can leave a comment here or at www.facebook.com/chattrisse.

And with that – it’s lunchtime!  Feel free to stay in touch via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and of course right here at www.chattrisse.com.  Thank you so much for your support and well wishes; bye for now!!!

 

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Grinning from Ear to Ear!

Phew!

So I’m noticing a trend here and I’m not mad at this at alllll: as the weather gets colder, my career heats up. Last fall I had a spree of auditions and bookings, and sure it’s still summer right now but that thermometer says fall is coming back real soon! Awesome things are happening. Here’s a page out of my dayplanner to prove that when it rains amazingness, it POURS…

Monday July 29: audition for an out-of-town singing gig.

Tuesday July 30: audition for a movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, and I made progress in my ongoing search for the right manager.

Wednesday July 31: had an awesome time on an awesome boat ride with old and new friends, and some extremely attractive new acquaintances (hey, all work and no play would make Chattrisse a dull girl); and I got asked to interview Destra, the queen of soca, for a live worldwide audience via Caribbean Connections TV.

Thursday, August 1: I launched my blog (yep, this one – yay!!) and the wonderful Lindsay Holung, a fellow Ryerson RTA grad, recorded me and the wonderful Hollywood Jade doing one of his routines from his Urbanesque class (footage coming soon, I hope).

Friday, August 2: I got to interview Destra, the queen of soca, for a live worldwide audience via Caribbean Connections TV (I’m still so excited! Again, footage coming soon, I hope, lol!).

A great live interview with DESTRA

A great live interview with DESTRA

Saturday, August 3: Caribana! Played mas in an absolutely gorgeous costume with Carnival Nationz (for pics and a summary of the day, read this).

Sunday, August 4: Surprise – guess who was the SUNshine Girl the day after the big parade! And then a huge fete to finish off the jump-up long weekend.

Published in the Toronto Sun - August 4 2013.  "When she's not jumping up, Chattrisse dreams big..." they even quoted my love for KES the Band!

Published in the Sunday Sun – August 4 2013. “When she’s not jumping up, Chattrisse dreams big…” they even quoted my love for KES the Band!

And that was just, one, week. Love it!!!

Stay tuned for even more big announcements, coming up soon!

(Oh man, I don’t know how I can sleep at nights. Eee!)

Hope you’re all having an incredible summer too!!!