August is a really big month for Chevonne Collins, story editor and co-producer of Faux Pas, which is hitting the film circuit. Faux Pas is a film about romance and it explores the issues of trust, mistakes, recovery, and interpersonal connection.
Collins is excited about the film which is screening at Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, The Black Harvest Film Festival in Chicago, and the Black Star Film Festival in Philadelphia.
Read what she has to say.
Do you most often actively seek inspiration or does it find you? Or is it a combination of the two?
I’d say there’s a combination of the two. I’m pretty observant in general and I tend to get a lot of inspiration by just paying attention to my surroundings. Also seeing people I went to school with, used to work with, or women who look like me pursue and be successful in their craft never fails to inspire me.
What led you to art in general and to your art form in particular?
I’ve always been drawn to creativity and art of all forms. Music, books, museums, fashion, TV, you name it. When I was younger, you could bet money a gift from me would be some kind of homemade arts & crafts project (and I better see it on your refrigerator). But, it took me a while to find my niche. I began college intending to major in architecture. Then I took physics and … there went that idea. So I switched to finance because it seemed like a stable job that I could do. But when I interned at a bank for two summers and was bored to tears, I soon realized it wasn’t something I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Not to mention, econ 102 had its way with me. Finally, I finished undergrad (on time) with a degree in advertising, but it wasn’t until I went to graduate school that I truly realized my strength and interest in writing. I had a professor who really inspired me and encouraged my talent in that area. He sparked my confidence in my writing ability.
Have you ever been involved in traditional business? If so, how?
Yes, in fact I work in PR during the day, which is almost a perfect marriage between advertising and writing.
In addition to mastering their art, what other skill sets to you recommend that artists develop if they want to be successful?
Networking, goal-setting, collaboration and self-promoting! Self-promoting being my biggest struggle of those four. I’m trying to push myself to “toot my own horn” more. It’s easier for others to believe in you when you show that believe in yourself first.
How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?
I write often and I read. I’m never not reading something. Writers read. (And I just used a double negative. Fight me.)
Do you think that there are any widely held misconceptions about art and/or artists? If so, what are they and how do you work to dispel them?
I think one huge misconception about art comes from the education system. Some schools are cutting art classes from their curriculums because they don’t feel art is as important as math or science for students. Also, people tend to think you can’t get a “good job” with a degree in one of the arts. True, math and science are important to subjects to master, but there are also a lot of young artists out there and their talents shouldn’t be discouraged. To dispel those misconceptions, I like to make young people aware of the many career options that exist for artists that may not be as widely-known as doctor or lawyer, like sound mixers or graphic designers or editors or animators or curators or interior designers and so on.
How do you map out your goals? How do you measure your success?
If I have a large project I want to get done, I tend to give myself an attainable deadline and then work backwards with small steps I can make each day or each week or each month leading up to it. I measure success by whether or not I met my goal in the first place and if I felt I put my best foot forward or if I did a mediocre job just to say I finished something. The ultimate goal is to do my best work in the amount of time I say I’m going to get it done – which doesn’t always happen, but when it does I feel like superwoman. Or Beyonce after the Super bowl.
Who do you consider to be your peers in your field? Who do you see/use as examples for you to emulate? Name two of your top role models: one in the art world and one from outside of it.
From the art world: Mara Brock Akil
From outside of it: My mommy.
Name three books, works, performances or exhibits that changed how you viewed life or yourself.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley
Quiet by Susan Cain
A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
Why do you consider continued learning important?
Learning goes hand-in-hand with growth. It also requires openness and being receptive to the world around you at any age. That’s how you acquire wisdom… and I don’t know anybody who aspires to be an old fool.
What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
What role does art have in the community? What role would you like to see art play in the community?
I think art brings the community together. People from all walks of life can connect over a single song or movie or painting, etc. that resonates with them. I think I would like some art to play a more of a role in the political/motivational space. I think there was more are with a community-empowering message out there in the 60’s and then again in the 90’s. I wouldn’t mind if some of that returned to the main stream.
What role does technology play in your day-to-day life? How do you utilize it?
I utilize it too much! My email, my calendar, documents, social media, all of it is either on my iPhone, on my laptop or my desktop at work. I’m on some form of technology most of the day.
What software, app or other technological innovation has made the biggest difference in your life or career?
Okay, when I started college in 1999 and got my first email address, that changed the game. Obviously technology has grown leaps and bounds since then, but that was the beginning of my personal tech boom.
Please define your personal brand.
A writer, PR pro and collaborator who values authenticity, creativity, humor and community relevance. Oh, and running.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I wish people had more of an appreciation for the differences in races, cultures, countries and continents of the world. “Different” too often is used like a bad word in that regard.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I have always wished I were more outgoing. I’m a textbook introvert.
What does it take to be iconic? In your estimation, who has achieved that status?
To be iconic, I think it takes a library of legendary work that is tough to follow, has a specific brand that is clearly recognizable for that person or business, and is maintained with a near-herculean work ethic. Michael Jackson was iconic in my eyes.
The film will screen at the following festivals:
1. Blackstar Film Festival (Philadelphia), which runs Aug 1st – 4th; Faux Pas screens on Aug 2.
2. Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival (Martha’s Vineyard, Mass), which runs Aug 6-10th, Faux Pas screens on Aug 10 as a part of the HBO