Abiola Abrams is definitely a post-millennial woman. The back cover of her book Dare says: Provocative. Empowering. Outrageous. Fearless. There are many ways to describe Abiola Abrams, the BET host, feminist filmmaker and creator of The Goddess Factory–she’s a dash of Oprah Winfrey, a sprinkling of Martha Stewart, plus a healthy dose of Candace Bushnell. What would be the result if she poured her life changing energy into a novel? Dig in and find out how far she goes in a phenomenally fun and entertaining urban fiction debut…
Clutch: You appear on several BET J shows, a new book, and you make Indie films. How do you define yourself?
Abiola: First of all, I don’t define myself by what I do, I define myself by who I am. So, to take it back to basics, I am a first generation Caribbean American woman who loves help other people claim their personal power. Sometimes that means by hosting The Best Shorts and giving other filmmakers a chance, or appearing as an opinionated community panelist on My Two Cents. Sometimes that means by directing art films and always by writing. No matter what changes happen in technology, I believe that writing will always be important. And if a people want to define themselves they do that by leaving libraries behind for future generations. I guess that in addition to being an artist and performer, I am your typical Clutch girl. I love life and I have something to say, and one of the ways I do that is in my new book Dare. I also lead workshops where I swoop in like Super Nanny for adults with all kinds of goodies in my pink satin doctor bag to give them a healthy kick in the self esteem. We all need that from time to time.
Clutch: Congrats on the new book. The cover is gorgeous. What is Dare about?
Abiola: I am so excited about this book! Dare is about a sociologist who goes undercover as a rapper and realizes that she prefers her new life to her old one. Basically, the story follows Maya, a good girl who has to go a little bad to find herself. Many of us have been there! We grow up being what everybody else wants us to be and we lose sight of ourselves. The story is a lot of fun—a really wild adventure with two best friends and some handsome men journeying the world of entertainment and self-esteem. I created an interactive site called www.daretogetalife.com that has the motivational worksheets and affirmations that Maya uses in the book to try to get a grip on her fun, crazy, partying adventure. Book clubs are loving it.
Clutch: You also shoot art films. What kind of films do you make?
Abiola:My films range form comedies to dramas. Stuff about mental illness to erotica. My films all reflect a passion for love and life. Viewers can watch clips of everything on my site www.abiolaabrams.com, but it has been my pleasure to reflect women of color in all aspects of our lives with the goal of empowering us—culturally, politically, emotionally and sexually.
Clutch: If there were a reality television show about your life what would viewers see in your typical day?
Abiola: It’s funny that you say that. In addition to The Best Shorts, I am launching Planet Abiola, a daily online show in association with Blackplanet. Tracey Cooper over there is incredibly supportive. The show combines the best of The View, Tyra, Best Week Ever, etc into a fun, crazy, sexy, mÃ©lange that will also have reality elements. If my life was a reality show during the day you would see me working really hard as a writer, TV personality, art filmmaker and at night you’d probably see me hanging with my friends or on a date. Yes, I am still a sassy single, as a friend of mine puts it (laughs). There is even going to be a boyfriend competition on Planet Abiola. It should be tons of fun. And of course, the reality show would also have to include my kitty Princess Anabelle.
Clutch: What sort of advice would you offer to a young woman starting out in the business today?
Abiola: This comes back to the main lesson in my novel Dare. More than anything that the best advice is to always remain true to yourself, because at the end of the day, it’s just you and your maker. The Goddess Factory is my motivational blog, and people can find that at www.thegoddessfactory.blogspot.com. It’s advice and tidbits about love, life, beauty, drama and scandalosity. Yum!
Clutch: We believe that you can tell a lot about a person by what’s in her purse. What do you keep in your clutch?
Abiola: Ooh. Good question! First of all, as an artist, I think that we should always have the ways to promote ourselves with us at all times. That means if you are an actress, you should have a headshot, if you are a singer, you should have a CD, a filmmaker, a copy of your film. I’m a girl who mixes the best of high and low culture. So, in my gorgeous Nancy Gonzalez crocodile tote right now I have a copy of my novel Dare, because I never know if I’ll run into Steven Spielberg in a cafÃ© and need to hand him my book. I also have business cards—a must. Altoids are critical for a girl on the go. A small bottle of water to keep myself hydrated—a goddess gets thirsty. And of course the cell phone, bank card and cash. Most important though is a small notebook to keep track of new ideas, thoughts, writing that pops into my head. Ooh—and I also have little cards with my favorite affirmations: All things are possible, I am a magnificent and divine creation, and I have more blessings than I ever thought possible!
[Photo Credits: T’rah Veal]