Recently I was invited to attend the above premiere of America The Beautiful because my friends, Michele and Gerren Taylor, are the focus of the film. I've seen them working on this film over the past few years because we're friends.
I met both of them while attending a church up in Hollywood. I had recognized Gerren Taylor as the youngest top model ever from The Oprah Show and celebrity whore that I am, walked over to say hello and introduce myself. I love celebrities, what can I say?
Always have, always will. May explain why I enjoy my career as a personal publicist so much when I'm doing that type work. Don't always respect every celebrity (can you say John Mayer?), but do get a kick out of them nonetheless.
In any case, we've been friends ever since and although we haven't been in touch as closely the past two years, we have a friendship that doesn't require constant contact. (And no, I'm not referring to the email service. LOL)
In any case, they've been working "on" and "in" this film as the focus of this documentary with Director Darryl Roberts for the past five years. To be honest, I didn't know if it was ever going to end because it's the type of film that follows a person's life intertwined with all kinds of other data. When do you know when to stop?
It's my gut feeling after viewing the film the other night that this is going to be another Michael Moorish, Ken Burnsish, Morgan Spurlockish, and all the other filmmaker's films out there who make such a major impact on society.
Here's a review by Neil Pedley on IFC.com called "A doc on beauty culture" and I quote:
"America the Beautiful"
At 12, Gerren Taylor was a bright young model who strolled the catwalk
of Fashion Week in Los Angeles. By 13, she was considered a has-been.
Director Darryl Roberts traces Taylor's early entrance and exit from
the runway to paint a far larger picture of the inner workings of the
fashion industry, examining the class system of models and the
advertisers and designers who relentlessly manufacture a feeling of
negative self-image among consumers and then prey upon it to get us to
dip into our wallets. Through interviews with fashion industry experts,
the first-time documentarian learns that beauty isn't skin deep — it's
retouched, glossed over and as a business, just plain dangerous.
Opens in limited release."
What is cool to me is that all the key players of this film are African American. I can't think of any other documentary about the American experience that was created by an African American, can you? If you do, please leave a comment because I will totally give credit where credit is due.
Please don't take that observation the wrong way. I think this film is ground breaking on so many levels and am so proud of my friends I can't begin to tell you. I think that's why it's taken me so long to write about it. I'm getting teary eyed just writing this!
I know what's it like to pour your heart, life and soul into a project for years on end with no reward. They deserve all the critical acclaim and recognition they're receiving. Darryl just sent me a blog he wrote about his experiences and what's next for the film which I'll paste at the end of this blog post.
But for now, please allow me this moment to share my heartfelt observations on America The Beautiful. It's not often that people I care about achieve such HUGE goals. I'm so proud of them I can't see straight. Okay, I can see straight, but you know what I mean.
The film was a little discomfiting in certain parts because I know Michele and Gerren so well. Their relationship is so intertwined and sometimes it doesn't play as nicely on film as I know the love they feel for each other in real life. What mother/daughter relationship isn't complicated and filled with contradiction?
Also, having always wanted to model and having attended numerous fashion shows over at LA Fashion Week, I understand the demands the modeling industry places on women. It was just a little shocking to hear the Parisian modeling agents be so blunt about the reason models notoriously have been so thin. It's about the cost of fabric that the designer uses! GIVE ME A FRICKIN' BREAK!
I wonder if Heidi Klum could address this issue in her Project Runway show. Why are we allowing an epidemic of eating disorders to develop simply because some fashion designer doesn't think he/she will make a profit on the design they create if they use more fabric? Just shocking to me the lengths this industry goes to to make a buck.
But this film doesn't stop at just exposing the modeling industry, it also explores the greed and total disregard for our health that the cosmetic industry allows - again for the sake of the almighty dollar. The shocking thing this film brings out is that there are so many ingredients that actually cause cancer that are used daily unknowingly by women because its part of their daily makeup routine. Even nail polish!
I think that's the main reason this film was suppressed in the media when it screened in New York. Too many people don't want you to see what this film is explaining. It's absolutely shocking. Don't let big money control whether or not this film makes the big screen - see it this weekend! There's humor in it too. Darryl is a very funny guy and uses himself to expose the beauty myth too.
The cool thing about Darryl is that he's such a laid-back, easy going guy who narrates so gently, you're not jarred by his disclosures, but educated and angered instead. I love that about him. Just a big gentle giant with a heart for women and our empowerment which I think is great. As he says, this is not a movie opening, it's a movement!
What was absolutely jarring were the revelations that the majority of the "Doctors" practicing plastic surgery on the TV shows so many watch are not Board Certified! That means they haven't passed the Boards to practice plastic surgery, often times aren't even trained in these procedures, but E! Entertainment and all the other channels don't give a rat's ass about the people they're having carved up on national TV, only their ratings.
Now that may offend some of you from those shows, but give me a break. Are you really going to tell me that it's ok that a Doctor who hasn't passed a State Board test is ok to slice and carve open people just because he says he can? And because they're creating good TV? NO WAY JOSE! The interview with a woman we've known from TV who had a terrible surgery will just sicken your stomach it's so chilling.
Now I am the first to admit I like plastic surgery. I had my nose done years ago and never looked back. I believe that in certain instances (mine was a deviate septum that I also had enhanced to look better) plastic surgery is ok. It's just become so rampant because of TV it's insane!
This film blows the lid off so many aspects of the beauty industry its no wonder its receiving such great reviews. I really hope you'll put it on one of your must see list of films to see this weekend because based on the return from this weekend it will determine whether or not they have a national release.
Be the trend setting country and city that I know all Los Angeleans are, and see this film. You'll be blown away. I promise you. I don't promise things lightly either. I really do mean this. It will blow you away.
I don't want to buy mainstream cosmetics any more. I don't want anything except natural products now after seeing this film. When you hear how cancer is increasing and watch the hypocrisy of Revlon sponsoring the Breast Cancer Run Walk when so many of their ingredients perhaps help women get the cancer in the first place, it's disgusting.
Big business only cares about one thing. MONEY! I don't care what they claim otherwise. It's all about the bottom line. Well, I, for one, am tired of my health being one thing they don't care about. So in my small way, I'm helping spread the word to all of you in hopes your eyes will be opened also and perhaps we can create a change where they'll notice - their wallets.
So THANK YOU DARRYL ROBERTS. THANK YOU MICHELE AND GERREN. You've boldly gone where no one has gone before and for all the heart ache, trouble, financial difficulty, ridicule and whatever else you put up with to make this film, THANK YOU!!!!!
Thank you Gerren for allowing us an intimate look into your life at your most vulnerable time of your teen-age years. Thank you Michele for being the woman you are. Thank you Darryl for exposing the beauty industry as never before. Thank you readers for reading this far. Thank you to those who will spread the news and actually go see this film this weekend.
Please note, I've taken Darryl's following email message to all of us and made it more just a letter about him and the film. I've not written any of the following, but have edited it to fit the format I host here.
Enjoy! And please, please, please, support this film and see it this weekend. You'll be glad you did. Here's a link to a recent article by the Los Angeles Times too entitled "
Model Gerren Taylor's short but stunning fashion career seen in 'America the Beautiful'
What's cool is that this article is written by Booth Moore who covers the LA Fashion scene and was actually in the audience when Gerren had a fateful fall on the runway which is captured in this documentary.
Okay, on with the rest of the reviews!
.WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING:
"EMBRACES A REMARKABLE ARRAY OF TOPICS"
"AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE NOT JUST FOR WOMEN, BUT FOR EVERYONE"
"ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENTARY FILMS OF THIS DECADE"
-The Daily Campus
A Personal Message from the Director We want everyone to share its important message!
"Considering that we're challenging an industry that has been assaulting our self-esteem for a long time, this isn't just a movie opening, it's a movement. It's how each and every one of us can say ENOUGH!
The reason I believe a movie about our unhealthy obsession with beauty is important is because it really effects young girls. The average girl, 8 to 18 years of age, doesn't like her body, doesn't feel she's attractive and is contemplating dieting or even worse, plastic surgery.
This is very unhealthy because as we all know, a healthy self-esteem is the engine that makes you assertive, confident and ready to take on the world.
Unfortunately, this has been taken away from a lot of us, so that some beauty companies can sell more products and the CEO's of these companies can drive Bentley's."
All of us with "America the Beautiful" appreciate your support! We hope you will come out with friends and family, pass this blog on, and spread the word about "America The Beautiful."
We want everyone to share its important message!Now, here's where you can see it since I know you will now. And if you need more convincing, click here for CNN's review and showcase of the film.
THEATER ANNOUNCEMENTS -
This weekend the film is in 4 cities. If you know anyone who lives in any of these 4 cities, forward a link to this blog and ask them to support America the Beautiful documentary.
The 4 cities and theaters where we open this Friday:
Check theater listings for show times!
LOS ANGELES (second week):
Mann Beverly Center 13
8522 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA, 90048
Culver Plaza Theatres
9919 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
Regal Horton Plaza
475 Horton Plaza
San Diego, CA 92101
Regal Village Square
9400 W. Sahara Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89117
1881 Post Street at Fillmore
San Francisco, CA 94115
AND ON FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 5TH,
WE OPEN IN:
Regal Fox Tower Stadium 10
846 SW Park Ave
Portland, OR 97205
5321 East Mockingbird Lane, Suite 230
Dallas, TX 75206
Now for some ATB news!
LA Premiere -
We had the Los Angeles Premiere of "America The Beautiful", on
Tuesday August 19th at the Mann's Chinese Theater. It rocked! All 500 seats
were occupied and the response was phenomenal. This was possible because
of the support of the YWCA.
Faye of the YWCA Los Angeles branch and Lorraine
Rapper David Banner, Gerren and one of the real Board Certified Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Anthony Griffin, of "Extreme Makeover," attended the premiere. Gerren, the star of the doc, is 18 now. She got a car a month ago. It seems like yesterday when she was 12 on the couch saying "ooooh, boys suck!"
Actor Michael Beach "Waiting to Exhale, Soul Food, ER & Third Watch," came with his wife. (Editor's note: During the introduction to the film, Darryl explained that Michael was one of the financiers of the film saying he guilted him into it by telling him he needed to do something positive for women seeing as he always plays such a mean guy. Isn't that funny?)
AMERICATHE BEAUTIFUL -There's a scene where a woman walks into a plastic surgery office and asks to have her privates shaped to look like a picture in Playboy Magazine. Then we cut to Eve Ensler "The Vagina Monologues," who looks into the camera and tells men what to do if they don't like women the way that are. She uses 1 word of profanity. 1 word! And they gave the film an R for it. Have you seen "Dark Knight," or "Hellboy 2?"
The director was given the chance to take it out and get a PG-13 so that teenagers could see the film. He declined because he felt that women have been expected to assimilate into a male dominated society for hundreds of years.
Eve was saying there's nothing wrong with women, maybe there's something wrong with men. He took that to be a statement of empowerment for women, so he left it in. But when they leave the theaters, he’s going to take it out so he can get a PG-13 and release the film to every high school in the country.
THE AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL MARCH ON D.C. -
THE AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL MARCH ON D.C. -Next month on September 10th, they're having a congressional screening of the film sponsored by Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-MN). The purpose of screening the film for congress is to get them to pass an important bill that would require insurance companies to cover eating disorders on parity with other mental illnesses. Right now insurance companies don't have to cover eating disorders and parents are taking out second mortgages on their homes to cover the $25,000 a month for their child to get treatment.
Two bills have been introduced in Congress in an effort to provide access to care for people with mental health conditions such as eating disorders. The bills promote mental health parity, in which some insurance policies would be required to cover treatment for eating disorders equal to the coverage offered for medical conditions. The Senate bill and the House bill vary, but the Eating Disorders Coalition supports BOTH. The original 1996 mental health parity bill must be reauthorized by Congress. Compared to the new U.S. Senate version of the bill (S 558), the new House version of the bill (HR 1424) is more responsive to the needs of people seeking treatment for an eating disorder.
If you're in the Washington D.C. area on September 10th and would like to
support them on this hopefully historic day, go to this website to get the
information and come on out: Until
next time, have a great, wonderful and fantastic day! America the Beautiful Director
Washington D.C. Screening
next time, have a great, wonderful and fantastic day!
America the Beautiful Director