Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Black Author wins The Matrix Copyright Infringement Case

Black Author wins The Matrix Copyright Infringement Case

This little known story has met a just conclusion, as Sophia Stewart, African American author of The Matrix will finally receive her just due from the copyright infringement of her original work!!!
A six-year dispute has ended involving Sophia Stewart, the Wachowski Brothers, Joel Silver and Warner Brothers. Stewart's allegations, involving copyright infringement and racketeering, were received and acknowledged by the Central District of California, Judge Margaret Morrow presiding.
Stewart, a New Yorker who has resided in Salt Lake City for the past five years, will recover damages from the films, The Matrix I, II and III, as well as The Terminator and its sequels. She will soon receive one of the biggest payoffs in the history of Hollywood , as the gross receipts of both films and their sequels total over 2.5 billion dollars.
Stewart filed her case in 1999, after viewing the Matrix, which she felt had been based on her manuscript, 'The Third Eye,' copyrighted in 1981. In the mid-eighties Stewart had submitted her manuscript to an ad placed by the Wachowski Brothers, requesting new sci-fi works..
According to court documentation, an FBI investigation discovered that more than thirty minutes had been edited from the original film, in an attempt to avoid penalties for copyright infringement. The investigation also stated that 'credible witnesses employed at Warner Brothers came forward, claiming that the executives and lawyers had full knowledge that the work in question did not belong to the Wachowski Brothers.' These witnesses claimed to have seen Stewart's original work and that it had been 'often used during preparation of the motion pictures.' The defendants tried, on several occasions, to have Stewart's case dismissed, without success.
Stewart has confronted skepticism on all sides, much of which comes from Matrix fans, who are strangely loyal to the Wachowski Brothers. One on-line forum, entitled Matrix Explained has an entire section devoted to Stewart. Some who have researched her history and writings are open to her story.
Others are suspicious and mocking. 'It doesn't bother me,' said Stewart in a phone interview last week, 'I always knew what was true.'
Some fans, are unaware of the case or they question its legitimacy, due to the fact that it has received little to no media coverage. Though the case was not made public until October of 2003, Stewart has her own explanation, as quoted at aghettotymz.com:
'The reason you have not seen any of this in the media is because Warner Brothers parent company is AOL-Time Warner.... this GIANT owns 95 percent of the media... let me give you a clue as to what they own in the media business... New York Times papers/magazines, LA Times papers/magazines, People Magazine, CNN news, Extra, Celebrity Justice, Entertainment Tonight, HBO, New Line Cinema, DreamWorks, Newsweek, Village Roadshow and many, many more! They are not going to report on themselves. They have been suppressing my case for years.'
Fans who have taken Stewart's allegations seriously, have found eerie mythological parallels, which seem significant in a case that revolves around the highly metaphorical and symbolic Matrix series. Sophia, the Greek goddess of wisdom has been referenced many times in speculation about Stewart. In one book about the Goddess Sophia, it reads, 'The black goddess is the mistress of web creation spun in her divine matrix.'
Although there have been outside implications as to racial injustice (Stewart is African American), she does not feel that this is the case. 'This is all about the Benjamins,' said Stewart. 'It's not about money with me. It's about justice.'
Stewart's future plans involve a record label, entitled Popsilk Records, and a motion picture production company, All Eyez On Me, in reference to God. 'I wrote The Third Eye to wake people up, to remind them why God put them here. There's more to life than money,' said Stewart. 'My whole to the world is about God and good and about choice, about spirituality over 'technocracy'.'
If Stewart represents spirituality, then she truly has prevailed over the 'technocracy' represented in both the Terminator and the Matrix, and now, ironically, by their supposed creators.
Stewart is currently having discussions with CBS about a possible exclusive story and has several media engagements in the near future to nationally publicize her victory. June 13th 2004. Sophia Stewart's press release read: 'The Matrix & Terminator movie franchises have made world history and have ultimately changed the way people view movies and how Hollywood does business, yet the real truth about the creator and creation of these films continue to elude the masses because the hidden secret of the matter is that these films were created and written by a Black woman...a Black woman named Sophia Stewart. But Hollywood does not want you to know this fact simply because it would change history. Also it would encourage our Black children to realize a dream and that is...nothing is impossible for them to achieve!'
Greg Thomas, Editor

Sunday, February 14, 2010

You Say you want the truth, But you can’t handle the truth! Featuring, casting director, Wendy McKenziePart Two...

Cheers everyone!

I'm back with part two! I hope you enjoyed part one of this blog. There was much feedback on part one, and I appreciate it all. I know some of you agreed with me and there are some of you who disagree with me, but, I think it is important that you understand that my blogs come from a place of truthfulness. I write, not to take sides, but to enlighten, to share my point of view, give tips and to help the actor to learn from my experiences and knowledge and grow from them. So read and enjoy the rest of this blog featuring, casting director, Wendy Mckenzie, Wink of an Eye, LLC. If you haven't read part one, read below to catch up. Also, if you like reading my blogs, please click on the icon below to follow me. Without out further ado....


I remember when Wendy screamed at me after doing a scene for her! LOL. Looking back, I feel that the scene I’d done for her was “good”…(there it is again, "good"!), but she’d told the audience, and me that I hadn’t listen. I’d ended the scene before her telling me to stop. Though I was made example of in front of 30 people, I learned to never make that mistake again! In fact, at the auditions in the DAG on January 17th, I decided that as the heroine addict, I will nod until I was fully laid out on the ground and sucking my thumb if I had to, but I would not stop the audition myself! LOL, that was my learned lesson. In fact, I always make sure now to TAG my scene at every audition so as not to rush the ends of my auditions. (You can learn what TAG is later in my acting classes!)


After a little chatter, I’d gotten down to the business at hand. I said, “Wendy, people are pretty offended by your Brutality at the auditions,” and she told me in so many words that she cared what people thought, but she does what she does because she cares! Sort of like your parents telling you that they spank you because they love you! She said that for a while she’s been trying to figure a way not to lose who she is in her workshops, but to be truthful, because she wanted actors to walk away feeling that they are advancing toward the right direction rather than sending them on their way with their ego’s unbruised, but their career in a pigeon hole (my words not Wendy’s); meaning that, they remain as mediocre actors, never rising to the level of the “Great” actors and rarely or never booking a job.


Wendy shared with me that she wanted to be a motivational speaker. Admittedly, I was shocked. A motivational speaker!!! Wendy said she didn’t want people walking away from their careers because of something she’d said to them, yet she felt the truth needed to be said. At that point, I felt I owed it to Wendy to be truthful. I suggested to Wendy that she really needed to find a way to bridge the gap between telling the truth and motivating the actor. She admitted to working on just that, saying that she loved actors and she wanted them to feel like they can come to her and not run from her. I told her that I would blog about that and she was cool with that.

Here are a few questions answered in our interview:

Squeaky: What do you like for your actors to walk away with after workshopping with you?

Wendy: I want actors to have knowledge of self- they learn a lot about themselves in my workshops and you can see small things happening, at such a short time. I believe, once you know who you are and you are totally comfortable with self you are able to grow. Once you understand you, you can own it! I want actors to live with their past and future, and not to forget to use this while acting. If you need to, pull from a moment that made you cry. With knowledge of self, you can open up more…if you own all your experiences. Knowing and owning whom you are as a person can help the actor move forward.

Squeaky: Why do you want to be a motivational speaker?

Wendy: I want to inspire people, no matter what they choose to do in life; live their dreams and understand anything is possible. I never dreamt that I’d be here, casting movies, directing a play, and modeling (when I was a model). At first, I never saw myself doing these things. Now, I do them to prove a point to myself, if you want something bad enough you can find a way to get it.

As a motivational speaker, I like to inform the actor- to prepare them with tools to move forward. It takes more than talent; there are tools. I give knowledge and let them know whats expected of thm. Knowledge is power. I give them power by teaching; by showing them and really having them live in that moment. I want them to see what they are doing wrong and right. I owe them that.

Squeaky: What is the biggest mistake you see actors do when auditioning (in regards to their preparation)?

Wendy: Over acting!!! The thing is, actors don’t know to ask questions, ‘what’s happening here?’ or ‘What’s this about?’ For instance, at the auditions at the DAG some of the women were dressed like bumbs- that’s over acting…this is a woman who is living on heroine she’s not a bumb- don’t act, just be! That’s what I teach in my class. So many of the women read that role like a runaway slave…instead of just talking, as themselves.


As actors we need to learn to not let opinions get the best of us- we have to come to grips with where we are and decide where we want to be. We have to know that every casting director, director and agent’s opinion will vary. They are all subjective. We must go on auditions knowing we did our best. In order to know this, we have to get coached before our auditions, go to acting classes and go to workshops to learn from the very people who have crushed our egos or have lied to us and told us that our auditions were “very good”. We need to know, in the world outside of these workshops, we will not get babied, although I agree with whoever said, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” That being said, we need to understand that this is a cutthroat business and because we can only control ourselves, we have to toughen up. These casting directors here it all from the producers and directors before, during, after casting. So I suggest that we don’t take it personal when we get cut from auditions, or when we don’t get the callback. It’s tough to not book jobs, I know, but the workshop is where you find out the truth, the “why”. Let that next, “NEXT, STOP, and THANK YOU, be the fuel to your fire and next time show that CD your growth. We all have choices, and to survive in this business, you must continue to grow or someone who’s “great” will take your job!

For all my fellow actors whose first love is acting…to you who have been hurt in this business, ego’s bruised, and to those who got back up and fought despite of….I leave you with this song:

At first I was afraid I was petrified

Kept thinkin' I could never live without you by my side;

But then I spent so many nights

Thinkin' how you did me wrong

And I grew strong

And so you're back from outer space

I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face

I should have changed that stupid lock

I should have made you leave your key

If I'd've known for just one second you'd back to bother me

Go on now, go walk out the door

Just turn around now

('cause) you're not welcome anymore

Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye

Did I crumble

Did you think I'd lay down and die?

Oh no, not.I. I will survive

Oh as long as I know how to love I know I'll stay alive;

I've got all my life to live,

I've got all my love to give and I'll survive,

I will survive. Hey hey.

It took all the strength I had not to fall apart

Kept trying' hard to mend the pieces of my broken heart,

And I spent oh so many nights

Just feeling sorry for myself. I used to cry

But now I hold my head up high

And you see me somebody new

I'm not that chained up little person still in love with you,

And so you feel like droppin' in

And just expect me to be free,

Now I'm savin' all my lovin' for someone who's lovin' me

Go on now.. etc.

If you are interested in attending workshops with Ms. Wendy Mckenzie, please visit her sites:



Sunday, February 7, 2010

You say you want the truth, But you can’t handle the truth!


I’m not sure who came up with the quote, “only the stong survive”, but I’m partly convinced, it was some one in the entertainment business! Lol.

There has been a lot of buzz about the past, Directing Actors Gym (DAG), founded by Miles Maker. On January 17th, at the gym, actual auditions were being held with Casting Director, Wendy Mckenzie for a play, “Who Is a Virtuous Women”, written by AJ Jackson.

The DAG is known to be an actor friendly space where different levels of actors come to “flex” their acting muscles. The audience is usually filled with performing actors, directors, writers, producers and spectators who come to enjoy actors who are learning, growing and flexing their acting muscles as well as flaunting their talents. At the DAG, there is usually a director chosen, someone who is thriving in the business, and who can provide a great deal of advice to the actors to push them to their next levels and at the same time, workshopping the works that are being performed for the various writers.


At the past DAG, tensions were high! This was not just the usual gym setting; this was an audition for casting director, Wendy Mckenzie, (Wink of an Eye, LLC.), who is known for being a brutal-tell-it-like-it-is-even-if-it-hurts, casting director! Miles Maker, in his introduction, made mention of the tension lurking in the room and spoke to all the actors to relax and have fun. And the fun began… or ended…

The auditions began with all the men going to the holding room and coming up one by one to audition, while the women watched. The first few auditions passed fast, with Wendy saying, “STOP, NEXT, and a few quick, THANK YOU’s”, before the actors could in some cases, even get the through the first line! Suddenly, I could feel the tensions peak, probably sending most every actor waiting to audition into a frenzie. I must admit, I began sweating too; I knew my turn to audition was coming soon. I literally had sweat rings from my arms to my navel! LOL. After the actors auditioned, they were sent down to the holding room and Wendy addressed the audience as to why the actor either would be called back or not and what worked or didn’t work. Sometimes, even keeping the actors on the stage to probe them on their acting choices in front of all. It was a grueling process and in my opinion, a brutal, but great place for me to learn- even if it was at our (the actors auditioning) expense.

Wendy was very frank when she didn’t like acting choices that were made and equally as praising when she loved someone’s work. Still, she left actors infuriated! In the holding room, I heard other actresses balking in so many words, about “the nerve” Wendy had; others totally distraught and some even talked about their embarrassment, that they were stopped during their first sentence. Because I was third to the last to audition, I’d overheard a lot. I’d noticed one girl sitting alone downstairs kinda just staring off in a daze like, and I asked her if she were okay, and she mouthed something (I could not make out), and I then heard her say she was okay. Then another actress came down, taken back, by being stopped mid-first sentence and the two of them chatted on about the audition, obviously both upset by Wendy stopping them.


After the auditions, (I’d survived them!), I was having a general conversation with two actor friends of mine; encouraging them to audition for the final audition Wendy Mckenzie was having for the same play, and one of my friends said she was a little scared to audition for Wendy because she’d heard how brutal Wendy could be, and she’d heard from a couple of her peers about them being stopped while auditioning for her at the DAG. I was really floored by how quickly information traveled, as it was only hours after the audition! One of my friends decided that she would not audition for Wendy after our long discussion, and my other friend and I ended our conversation on this note: that we would make our own experiences and will not make any assumptions, nor would we come to any conclusions from other people’s experiences.


After all that happened during and following the auditions, I began thinking about Wendy’s “brutal truths”, and wondered, could there be some validity to the buzz? Is Wendy wounding actors? Or, are actors wounded because they are not able to deal with the truth? I’d been thinking really hard about blogging since these auditions, and felt torn. On one side I am an actor, and am biased when it comes to my fellow actors and how we are treated. On the other side, however, I am a professional and an acting coach who believes that every actor should know the truth and be truthful about where they are skill wise. I believe the sooner we find out, the better because then we have more time to improve.


A few days passed and I wrote on my facebook status, “I need to blog!” I felt the need to address this matter badly, and was building up my confidence to write about it. Please understand- I still had to consider my thriving career as an actor as well! After deliberating, I decided I owed it to my peers to blog about this. So, I did what many bloggers would have done; I went to the source!


I decided to see if Wendy Mckenzie would be willing to discuss this audition and her workshops with me as I’d participated in her workshop once before. I wanted to be honest with her and see what she’d say, if anything, about the buzz that had been buzzing. At the time, I wasn’t too sure how she’d take discussing this matter with me, so I diddled daddled around the topic.


One thing that I know about Wendy, and most who have conversed with her outside of the audition room would probably agree, and that is, that she has a sweet spirit-still very straight forward- but down to earth and sweet, none the less. In fact, one memory I have of Wendy is at a model/actor workshop and modeling competition where the two of us served as judges on a panel, and true to form, Wendy was brutal, and honest and she told it like it was! After the workshop, there was a young man who hung around to get feedback from Wendy and I. The young man was really aggressive and wanted answers on bettering himself and his craft. During the workshop, he told Wendy that one of his best traits was that he could sing, and when asked to sing in front of the audience, the young man recoiled. Wendy decided not to waste time with him and politely told him to have a seat. Shortly after the workshop had ended, the young man wanted to redeem himself. He came up to where Wendy, another judge and myself were standing and asked us to “tell him where he’d err’d. He’s also asked Wendy particularly to look at his portfolio and tell him what she’d thought. Wendy, still truthful, yelled at him, “Why did you get up and say your best skill was singing but didn’t sing!!! You have to be prepared!!!” She goes on, in a very giving manner to tell him how it looks when an actor/model isn’t prepared. Then she snatched his portfolio, and she told him what did and didn’t work with it. The other judge and I chimed in here and there, but I watched closely at how Wendy related to the young man; getting a sense of what she was really like, when she was not in a “workshop” setting. My opinion was that Wendy loved what she did, and cared about what the young man walked away with. She’d spared him all symphathy and told him what she thought. It’s been a year since that guy met with Wendy, and I happened to run into him again at dinner at the cheesecake factory, and he made me a friend on facebook, and the first thing I noticed was his new portfolio pictures he’d put up! They looked one thousand times better! I guess what I am saying is, that this guy didn’t allow Wendy’s “brutal truth” to destroy him, his drive. In point of fact, it appears as if he’d taken her advice, (He later sang for us all at a bar in the hotel over the bar music and the abundance of chatter! Lol), and he’s been pushing toward his mark since.


As actors we are needy! We go into an audition room, audition and we wait with bated breathe in anticipation for the casting directors and directors to say something to us regarding the audition. Sometimes, that need to be told from the casting directors and directors, “Very Good, thanks,” puts them in an uncomfortable position to say just that. Then we walk outside of the audition room all smiles like, “He said very good, that’s a sign,” only to wait by the phone and never get the callback. I know because I use to do that. Then we spend that next few days or weeks wondering what we could have done differently, or why didn’t we get the callback. So, ask yourself this question folks:

Which is better, the truth or a lie.

Would you rather have a CD tell you, after you audition for them, nothing at all, “very good, thanks”, or “What are you doing? That choice has nothing to do with the script! It would have been better if you’d…”

I’m sure I will have differing opinions about this. There are people who can’t handle the truth, there are people who agree with the old adage, “if you don’t have anything good to say, say nothing at all,” and there are people like me, who want to know the truth, nothing but the truth, so help me God! The truth frees me, and it sets me free. Yes, it hurts to know that I didn’t do the job I’d intended to do. I hate it when I’ve learned that I made all the wrong choices or my choices were only “good”. In this business, good is not good enough. I remember sitting through workshops that the Network East were having and watching about 30 people audition for various casting directors, including Wendy’s workshop. I remember the first time I labeled the actors in workshops; “bad” think about another career, “good”, and GREAT! In most of the workshops, (about 30 people in each), most of the people fell into the “Good” category, and only few (3-4) were great! An ephiphany went off in my head one day that I could not just have a good audition, I have to have a great one, and my acting choices have to be stand alone- outside of the box!

I say all this to say, that the brutal truth- helped me to NOT want to do just a “good” audition...

...Stay tuned for part two where Wendy shares her feelings on this touchy subject and where Wendy reveals a few helpful hints for auditioning and talks about her workshops....

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