Aurelia Lyles is the founder of The Cocoa Express Show LLC, has been a bit of a mystery. She doen't really say much about her life or experiences; however, each episode on the show gives you the impression that she is well informed. The connection she establishes with her guests make for a truly entertaining show.
Here's a little back story. Aurelia is a native of Brooklyn, NY and has attended Erasmus Hall High School where she majored in instrumental music and learned to read, write, transpose and sing. But her love has always been track and field and the big screen. Film is were her studies at Borough of Manhattan Community College and Pace University offered her a chance to understand the industry and find her voice. What most discover is her zest for life; she's a "girl who wants to have fun." Some of her adventures will make your belly hurt with laughter.
"I've never let my fear impede my curosity of the unknown." - Aurelia Lyles
On October 18, 2018, my long-time friend, aspiring photographer and I headed to New Orleans to attend the 29th New Orleans Film Festival. We had another goal of celebrating our birthdays (mine the end of September and her being at end of October). New Orleans is an amazing place, with wonderful food and people. Contrary to the images we all saw during the hurricane Katrina travesty, these are a resilient highly spirited people.
As a film enthusiast, I will admit that my visual appetite was satisfied. Film festivals are an opportunity to learn about the world with its varying views. This art form can transform it's viewer mentally, emotionally and physically. By that I mean your eyes are open to different perspectives, you get to see how other people live and you can get a really intense history lesson. Not to mention the series of activities throughout the city that offered the attendees a chance to embrace NOLA in all its glory.
My standout shorts were: The Wormwood Star by Dir. Adelina Borets, about the only two residents left in te Mali Klischi village;. The majority were displaced due to radioactive contamination; Palenque by Dir. Sebastian Pinzon Silva, is an ode to a small town that has greatly contributed to the collective memory of Colombia: San Basilio de Palenque--the first town in the American to have broken free from European domination; Hair Wolf by Dir. Mariama Diallo, about a black hair salon in gentrifying Brooklyn, the local residents fend off a strange new monsterf: white women intent on sucking the lifeblood from black culture; The Arrest by Dir. Kira Akerman, about a teenager's encounter with the New Orleans criminal justice system; Black 14 by Dir. Darius Clark Monroe, an archival social study examining white pathology and cognitive dissonance via media coverage of a 1969 racial protest at the University of Wyoming. There were so many more shorts that were viewed.
We attended the panel discussion titled "Melanin Sex on Screen," was a panel discussion with moderator and film critic for Vanity Fair K. Austin Collins, Gene Graham, editor and documentarian--His film "This One's for the Ladies"; actress Lynn Whitfield, with over 100 acting credits in film and television, including Eve's Bayou and, now, OWN's Greenleaf and Tchaiko Omawale, director of feature film "Solace." The discussion was about the images of black stars have contributed mightily to American society's sexual imagination. But as often as these sex symbols serve as rallying point of pride, they can also reinforce harmful sexual stereotypes.
This panel shed some eye-opening commentary about how the decision to shed your clothing on film could impact what future roles you will appear in, in your career. Oh, let me not neglect to mention how open the panel was to chatting with the attendees after the discussion was over.
It's Summertime again and I'm sure you would love to be out and about having fun. However, before you venture out on your summer adventures, please keep these things in mind: stay hydrated; don't leave bottled water in the car; don't leave pets or little children in the car; wear sunscreen; wear protective eyewear, and keep some bug repellant handy. By incorporating all of these things into your summer checklist, you will enjoy a summer filled with fun memorable moments and fewer incidents.
Photo by: Ylanite Koppens