I play ANGELA, the devoted military wife and mother of two, in Sand Storm film. Which is fun because I’m used to playing less than upstanding characters. How delightful for me to play loving, loved and get to use my full emotional range. Sand Storm was directed by Geoff Erwin and premiered at LAFS April 2013. Follow @tonyakay to be the first to see the entire film when released. Until then, enjoy me as the good mom and loving wife, ANGELA, in this clip from Sand Storm film:
What I wanted to “be when I grew up” first, before anything else, was a football player.
I was three years old when the subject came up. I wore a humongous football helmet around the house and ran with no seeming direction—sometimes in circles, sometimes into walls due to an oversized helmet blocking my vision—whenever a game was on television. But I also wore a mask and bounced on a spring horse when Zorro was on. And acted out every A. A. Milnes character on the stage of my childhood bed when I was read “Winnie the Pooh” bedtime stories. I think I was a doer right from the beginning. Oh, how early we display our unique personalities!
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I guessed his name right away—the man behind the counter. I just knew that the guy singing and chopping tomatoes had to be the chef himself. He also turned out to be the owner. Right in the heart of Salt Lake City’s funky Sugar House neighborhood, next to the political-statement bumper-sticker store. And the metaphysical book store. Third door down, tobacco and glass pipes. But proudly on this corner, with singing, chopping chefs and abundant natural light: Living Cuisine Café, serving entirely organic, raw-vegan fare. The exact kind of joint in which I wanted to spend my fourth-year-raw anniversary.
Chef Omar Pure Heart’s Nigerian and Lebanese upbringing makes for an exciting selection of dishes, gigantic with texture and exotic in spice combinations—like a perfectly crumbling-crust pizza with a delightfully un-American pesto.
Immediately after completing school in Lebanon, our singing chef and his mother moved across the sea to Utah, where Omar went to university and his mother opened up the renowned Lebanese restaurant, Mazza Cafe, in the 2 million-person big/little city. Omar studied Geophysical Engineering for years before awakening to raw food himself. Indeed, the story of Living Cuisine Café seems unlikely indeed (but Chef Omar Pure Heart would certainly say it was divine). He went all the way for his love of raw vegan food, abandoned his engineering studies and opened Living Cuisine in July 2005 on only $3,000.
And now he stands with one assistant behind the counter just radiating—radiating light with a smile as blinding as the Bonneville Salt Flats, as he relishes the feel of a knife slicing through a tomato and concentrates on feeding his customers. He understands that he is feeding their souls as well, and knows the importance of his work. I’ve never seen a man bask in such genuine pleasure from cutting a tomato.
The kiwi-cacao pie with macadamia cream, chocolate mousse and a gentle berry sauce was served in a heart-shaped bowl. It feels good to eat food prepared with this much love. Heck, it feels good just to be in proximity of people as radiant as Chef Omar Pure Heart-—people who have truly come alive.
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“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive. What the world needs is people who have come alive.”
My parents told me I could do it. They didn’t giggle, they didn’t tease, they just said, “You’ll be the best football player ever, honey,” as I tackled another wall. When I was eight, they told me I’d be a fantastic children’s book illustrator. At 11, I was to be a horror author and at 16 a tattoo artist, but the entire time I think I really knew it was dance—and they told me I could do that, too. All that mattered is that I had something to love and believed it was possible.
What would life be if we, like Chef Omar Pure Heart, against all odds, believed we could do anything and then did it? Like a song in the kitchen, like the infectious blinding smile, like a knife through a tomato when we live our love.
I play lead, FLOWER, in the scifi thriller film Off World, available worldwide winter 2013!
Like a Queen Animal I felt nature’s electricity charge and ions get active. Like horny high schoolers in spring, I found the woods for what I, too, thought was privacy and what in actuality was fresh air.
The lightening started long before the rain. Queen Animal heard deep throated growls surpressed, but approaching quickly, still miles away. The thunder arrived with drops of wet dignity. Nothing more genuine than rain. Personality forward. Anabashed in clean despair.
I walked on spongey seasons of diciduous collect, the lightening exposed the entire forest as in midday. I sharply breathed in rain storm electricity, then seven women of all shapes and individuality and two wise men appeared. Around what seemed a sciencefiction boulder, slightly redder than sandstone brown, stabbing out of the wood’s gassy incline, in a clearing surely deer had laid flat. In the deer home; these people – already InIt. I saw them see me.
Freeze frame: ten figures illuminated by the lightening sky. Freeze frame: noctournal proceedings back to black just as quick. Next blink I am upon them, no time for hesitation, no time to think – just respond. My gut moved me and there I was, joined with them staring in a pool of rain which had assembled in an organic dent, like a boulder bowl.
Oh, this secret. Reverent in the rain for this secret. From speech fully refrain. No one told me the plan. But there I was – I know how to do it.
We worked. We went deeper in our work. I never saw a face but in my mind’s eye. No eye contact, no touch. Only silent, concentrated skrying of the rain reflecting pool. The surface black like hemetite and strangely still. To be receptive in this moment is total. And the thunder slammed the hill, rattled the earth nearby so it shoved our bodies too. But we did not startle. We did stare. We did melt and meld. Instead of a gardian, in the water, an archytpe appeared.
She was sad, but lovely. Her white slip, smudged from soil, hung off her body and she cried and then exhaled it deeper. She did not cry. She raised her head to the sky and arched her chest, threw back her arms. Con pura vida, her face to the sky (feet on ground), the rain hit her, flowed over her. With each drop that slid down, the slip grabbed the body, changed color, wet fabric clung crisply.
In forever or no time at all, she received everything. She became rich of soul and insight she had missed out on misbehaving in the city. Her beauty grew and … the surface broke. Not by wind, not by techtonics, not by human. It was over.
It’s not our job to explain or rationalize or reason. Only to receive the signs and resopnd to them.
Next thing, my soaked slippers stepped on my stair. That was the end of this me.
There it is—right there! And even more over here. In fact, kale is all around. So, why can’t I eat it for a salad today?
Catering on the set of this television show has oodles of kale—underneath the turkey slices, garnishing the deviled eggs, and floating wearily amidst melting ice under the serving bowls that hold… the iceberg salad option. Is my world set up to work against me?
But I don’t complain. In fact, I usually just bring a gallon of fresh juiced apple, beet, ginger, spinach and lemon juice to the set so I don’t have to. Complain, that is. The last thing I want to be is That Girl who “can’t eat this” or “has a problem with that.” I’ve developed the “It’s no big deal” attitude over the past 29 years of vegetarianism (19 of which have been vegan and the past 11 raw). I mean, how are people supposed to be open to my lifestyle if I have a problem with it?
People wanna talk about my green health choices, chefs will create special orders and best of all, when I don’t gab about what others should or shouldn’t eat, antagonists don’t try to tell mewhat to eat. But this is ridiculous! There is kale right there, but I’m stuck with this iceberg salad. Sometimes I feel like just giving up.
I watch green idealists and vegetarians do it all the time. They give in to outdated medical marketing and slip a little salmon in here and there. Their businesses give in to profit and package their “health” products in petro-plastic. Or they give up on humanity in general and retreat to their permaculture heaven in the remote forests, or their thatched-roof bungalow on the tropical island. Anywhere they no longer have to deal with the harshness of the rest of the world—hoarding their ability to make a difference all to themselves.
Of course, everyone is different and just because a hippie lives in the woods does not necessarily mean he has given up on affecting the world. But maybe he has. I wonder if I need to head for the hills right now myself. After spending a literal three hours on my cell phone attempting to remove myself from only five junk-mail lists (yes, I call the companies who send me junk mail to request removal every time). And in that three hours, after getting removed from only three of the five lists, I hung up the phone, spirit crushed. Forgive me for wanting to save a friggin’ tree! I saw a new light: the world is set up against me.
I usually have the most positive attitude about “doing what I do, not to ‘save the world,’ but to live a life doing the things I believe in.” But right now, I don’t want to have to call to remove myself from a mailing list I never joined. I don’t want to breathe carcinogenic carpet off-gassing because my yoga studio didn’t spend the money on eco flooring. I don’t want to eat a lousy iceberg salad when there is kale everywhere on this catering table except in the serving dish!
Seems like there are only two choices for the daunted raw-vegan environmental activist: head for the hills and live in a gray-water, solar-heated, cob-wall fortress; or accept that none of my activism really matters at all. I mean, who does all this work matter to anyway?