Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Race, Gender and Good Stuff in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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*This post is for people who have seen the film and contains spoilers. For those who haven’t seen the movie, read a different Cocoa Fly post.

I LOVE Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I saw it twice in one week and I rarely see a movie twice in the theatres.  Aside from it being a good story, I was happy to see racial diversity and a kick ass heroine.


Rey is a scavenger from the planet Jakku, who collects metal scraps for a living. She’s a street kid and knows how to take care of herself. But later in the film we find out she’s the next chosen one—following in the legacy of Anakin and Luke Skywalker. Which leads me to believe Luke is her father and Anakin/Darth Vader is her granddaddy. I love Rey because she can fight, is a hell of a pilot, strong, has a heart and there’s so much mystery surrounding her past. Who is her family? Where did they go? She is one of my favorite female action heroines. A possible female Jedi made the movie more appealing to me. I was thrilled to see she wasn't sexualized! There are many women geeks like myself who spend money on action movies, toys, clothes and we want to be reflected too. Just like guys like seeing men kicking ass on the screen. Star Wars gets points in the gender category. Daisy Ridley plays Rey and is great in this role.

General Leia' son, bad-acting Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren,  needs a spanking.

Star Wars doesn’t get points from me with General Leia Organa. If Leia is going to be general, she needs to act like a general. When her team, The Resistance, was formulating a plan to defeat The First Order, she gave no ideas. Poe Dameron, Hans Solo and the other fighter pilots were running things. I felt like the Star Wars writers gave Leia the title of general to show they’re being inclusive of women. But they weren’t. A friend of mine said maybe she sat back because her evil ass son Ben Solo, now Kylo Ren, would be attacked. But it didn’t stop his daddy Hans Solo from planning an attack. And let’s face it, the Skywalkers have a history of fighting their own when they’re split between the dark side and the light. They need to make her a real military in the next episode or give her a new title.

I was also happy to see the Asian woman fighter pilot for The Resistance and Captain Phasma a female leader for the dark side. I think Captain Phasma may have some secrets in the next episode. Maybe she’s related to Rey?
 Lupita Nyong'o' is the voice and motion behind
Maz Kanata.

Did you know Oscar-award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o was in the film? Do you know who she played? She was the CGI creature Maz Kanata. This creature has been running an intergalactic pub for 1,000+ years and sees into the souls of people through their eyes. She’s similar to Yoda. I have mixed feelings about Lupita’s role in the film. Lupita Nyong’o is so beautiful and I wanted to SEE her face. I am disappointed that a major black actress in the Star Wars series is still invisibilized by playing a creature. Maz Kanata is an important character and I like her. But I wanted to see Lupita. Black don’t crack. I think she could play a woman who is over 1,000 years old and still look good. But I’m glad Lupita got paid and is part of the Star Wars legacy. Ironically, racists were mad about John Boyega, a Nigerian-British black man, being one of the lead characters. Yet they didn’t complain about Lupita Nyong’o voicing a wise creature. I guess for racists, it’s okay if black folks are heard and not seen. They didn't have a problem with James Earl Jones voicing Darth Vader either. I wonder if they know George Lucas' wife is a black woman. 


Which leads me to racial diversity in Star Wars. FINN IS MY DUDE!  I love John Boyega as Finn, the Storm Trooper with a conscious who fled The First Order. Fin is funny, charming and handsome. He’s a good guy, with a good heart like Rey. You want him to win. He wouldn’t follow commands from evil leaders and kill innocent people. He’s in love with Rey. John Boyega and Daisy Ridley have GREAT chemistry. Some have complained that Fin got his ass kicked a lot.  Fin worked in sanitation for The First Order so I’ll give him a pass on getting his butt kicked. But he’s still a fighter and hopefully he’ll be trained and ready to give some beatdowns in the next chapter of this series. I know racists were mad because God forbid in the history of cinema that ONE black man would be a leading character in Star Wars. Probably 95-99% of superheroes and sci-fi heroes are white men. Heroes come in all colors and sexes. I love Fin. He’s a great character. I’m especially excited for black kids who can see their likeness on screen in the form of a courageous hero who believed in doing the right thing.  And other kids can see from both Rey and Finn, that heroes aren’t only white and male. 

Poe Dameron...Yesssss!

And speaking of males, I am in love with Poe Dameron. When his plane crashed in the beginning I was thinking, “He’s too fine to die!” LOL Poe Dameron was more of a general than Leia. Poe can fly ANY plane, is a fighter pilot, devised plans of attack and is fine. Guatemalan-American actor Oscar Isaac plays Poe. From what I’ve read online, there’s more to his character (based on the comics) that wasn’t in this film as well. Three of the major characters in the film were a white woman, black man and Latino man. It’s about damn time. Amazing and long overdue!

Yeah I have a Star Wars picture too!
Photo Credit: Cousin Mike Pleasant

Now for the good stuff…

Again, I think Rey’s daddy is Luke Skywalker and he disappeared because he owed back child support. Ha! Okay I’m kidding about the child support but Luke is her daddy.  We know her father was absent in her life, because when Kylo Ren read her mind he said that Han Solo was like the father she never had. Luke has been gone for 30 years.  As for her mama, who knows? Who was Luke creeping with?

Kylo Ren is Rey’s cousin. This may cause some friction between Leia and Luke.

I can’t believe Kylo Ren killed his daddy!!!! That bothered me for a few days. How can you kill Hans Solo? Who wrote that scene and how do they sleep at night?

There wasn't enough sentiment for Hans Solo's death. There were a few shots of sad character's then they started talking about finding Luke Skywalker. I felt there should've been more mourning for such a major character. 

Harrison Ford is still cute. An older gentleman who sat next to me at the movie said to me, "Hey he still had a few years left in him! Why did they kill him?"

Kylo Ren, part of the The Knights of Ren, is a brat. I think the Knights of Ren kidnapped Rey’s family because when she had flashbacks about that day, you could hear a voice that sounded like Kylo Ren. I don’t think it was him, but another knight.
And Rey can fly the hell out of the Millennium Falcon.

I could write a whole book on this so I’ll stop here. Tell me what did you think of the movie?