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Living authentically is the message that Pastor Eddie Lawrence preaches to his flock at Perpetual Peace Ministries, but does his own truth extend beyond the pulpit?
In his debut novel, COLLAR CONFESSIONS: Sharing the Man of God, and the soon-to-be-released COLLAR CONFESSIONS series on Here TV, author and screenwriter Dwight Allen O’Neal tells the tale of a cleric who spins a tangled web of lies, greed, sex, and addiction.
As seen from the pews, Pastor Lawrence is a sanctified leader, a beatified son of God, living a pious life of faith alongside his childhood girlfriend and soon-to-be first lady, Tiara. What parishioners in the congregation do not know is that their beloved curate is far from holy.
He possesses prodigious pride, insidious greed, and an unquenchable lust that he satisfies with casual sex with both women and men.
In the novel, Pastor Lawrence struggles to reconcile his life’s soul-wrenching contradictions and juggle relationships with his two fiancés: Tiara and his secret male paramour, O’Neill. Little does he know that he isn’t the only one carrying secrets…
“This story deals with the hypocrisy within the church,” says O’Neal. “The church is a place that was created to heal; however, many people in the LGBTQ+ community enter the church and then are in need of healing. They lead double lives, in constant fear of being discovered. Many turn to social media that is, in essence, a dangerous Pandora’s Box where anything can happen.”
When creating the COLLAR CONFESSIONS screenplay, O’Neal and his co-writers, Dane Joseph and Daniel Armando (who also directs the series), originally planned to re-tell the story from the book, but opted instead to tell a new story in the world that the book created. The series explores the journey Pastor Eddie takes after his experiences with the characters in the book. “We challenged ourselves further by looking at the story from the lens of a thriller,” explains Daniel Armando.
Nathaniel J. Ryan stars as Pastor Eddie Lawrence in the series. “Pastor Eddie is a man deeply in love with his lover(s) and his husband, however, his insecurities prevent him from remaining monogamous. I think Pastor Eddie is misunderstood, even by himself.”
Ryan says he approached the role by looking for similar characteristics within himself that would allow him to empathize and understand Pastor Eddie better. “Stepping into his shoes and wardrobe helped me to bring the character to life.”
Making his film debut in a non-adult movie is 2020 GAYVN Winner DeAngelo Jackson. “I have always dreamed of doing more than adult film work,” Jackson reflects. “When I first read the book, I was thrilled to be able to bring one of the characters to life. After learning the series would be a thriller and I would get to perform stunts on camera and learn fight choreography, I was sold!”
“I hope COLLAR CONFESSIONS entertains and inspires viewers to live in truth,” Jackson continues.
“We are excited to support original stories that challenge us to be our most truthful selves within interpersonal and professional relationships,” said Emmy-winning Producer and Here TV President John Mongiardo. “The production team at Novo Novus takes diverse and powerful content to a level specifically designed for Here TV’s exclusive and premium platform distribution.”
COLLAR CONFESSIONS is executive produced by Dwight Allen O’Neal, Daniel Armando and Dane Joseph. It premieres on HERE TV on Friday October 8.
Dwight Allen O’Neal’s COLLAR CONFESSIONS: Sharing the Man of God will be available on Amazon and wherever books are sold on Friday October 1.
Ally Walker has been an inspiration to me all of my adult life. Growing up in a small town of less than 1,200 people there weren't a lot of role models to be found so I looked to television. I found my role model in Dr. Samantha Waters from Profiler. Walker played Waters with an intelligence, strength, and passion that made me want to get out into the world and make a difference. Because of the show, I went on to study forensic psychology. The sociology and psychology classes paired with forensics I've learned have helped me with a cold case project I'm working on in Kentucky that I hope will provide closure to some families. To call Ally Walker an inspiration is an understatement.
DP/30: Sex, Death and Bowling, director Ally Walker youtu.be
Not only did Walker inspire me with Profiler, but she inspired me with a documentary, For Norman. Walker came upon a woman and a one-year-old baby named Norman in a park one day. They were homeless and the baby had cardboard on his feet to keep them warm. After Walker talked to the mother for a while it became obvious the mother was mentally ill. Instead of walking away like most of society would unfortunately do these days, Walker decided to help these two.
She went to a clinic to have the baby checked out, she called the woman's family to try and get them to help but to no avail, and she ultimately found them a shelter to stay at. However, Walker was so worried about the health of the baby that she discussed this with shelter employees who told her to call the Department of Child and Family Services. This is where For Norman picks up.
Walker saw the same woman on the street, this time without baby Norman. Walker wanted to find out what happened to Norman and whether or not he was okay. Instead she found out about a foster care system that wasn't all it was cracked up to be. “My friend Adam Davidson and I started filming,” she told me.
“The court opened up and let me interview kids in the system. At that time, there were 50,000 kids under the DCFS's supervision. The film won awards for showing the struggles these kids faced: being taken from their homes with no real help given to their parents; being moved as much as 20 times within the first year; being separated from their siblings and sometimes being put into much worse situations.
"For me, the experience was shocking. For a country that likes to stress family values we really don't consider families much. The kids I filmed were some of the most courageous people I have ever met. As were their families, both foster and biological. I'd like to do a follow up documentary and see what became of them. Many people in child welfare credited the film with illuminating the struggles these children face and for helping create a movement for change within the system.”
ALLY WALKER HAS FUN WITH CONAN youtu.be
As if that isn't enough reason to be inspired, Walker adds a gay character to a film she wrote and directed called Sex, Death, and Bowling. She assembled a dream cast who all played their roles perfectly and with a subtle beauty that enhanced the words written by Walker. The film centers on 11-year-old Eli who is faced with the impending death of his father. Eli wonders what is death and what happens when we die so he sets about finding out.
I can relate to Eli as my mother is going through stage three ovarian cancer and was given two years left to live by her doctor. I wonder what is death and what will happen to my mother when she dies. Is there life after death? Add to the mix Sean, who hasn't seen the family in years because he is gay and wasn't accepted into the family because of this. This is also relatable. Growing up in a town of less than 1,200 people you run the risk of being bullied, beaten up, and in my case contemplate suicide instead of dealing with the aspect of being unaccepted because of who you are. Most people in the gay community also have someone in their friends or family circle that have walked away because of their sexual orientation. Walker based this character on her friend, Tom Ford.
“I went to school with Tom Ford,” she said. “I knew Tom when he was 14 and 15 and we hung out. I ran into him when I was writing Sex, Death, and Bowling and realized what that must have been like. To be a young man, a kid really, who's basically going to be ostracized if you really tell people who you are and what your definition of love is. And it really struck me because I had just been losing so many people that I was shocked by it. You really get shocked when you start losing people that you love by how petty everything is and how stupid and meaningless a lot of the stuff we worry about is.”
Walker wrote and directed Sex, Death, and Bowling and when I told her my story her response was kind. “I write for people like you,” she said. “I really am glad it spoke to you. The lack of acceptance is what kind of breaks your heart. When people have these preconceived religious notions or whatever kind of notion, I don't fault religion. I think religion is very good in ways, but we really are just living beings and we really need to be able to co-exist with one another without belittling each other or fighting. There's only love. You can be famous, you can make money, but there's only love.”
Love is what life really is all about. The LGBT community has an ally in Walker and I wondered if this felt odd to her. “No, I do the same thing for women and kids too,” she said. “I speak up when I see injustice and I got to tell you I have a lot of gay friends. When people are not accepted, when people have to struggle, when people have been hurt, I relate to those people. I do fight. I do advocate for gay rights. I do advocate for equality for people. I'm sick of this. It should be over. These chapters should be done. They should be in a book somewhere that we read about and go wow I can't believe we were like that.”
“It's hard to be discriminated against,” she added. “It's hard to be judged for what you do and what you look like. People and their preconceived notions of what you are. And that's something that's really hard to get around.”
Yet with Walker on our side we will always have someone humble, kind, and passionate. Walker brings hope and love to everything she touches.
When Brody Ray walked onto the stage of America’s Got Talent, he had no idea what he was in for. The 30-year-old Nebraska native—and now Nashville resident—was trying to overcome the nerves caused from being in front of a live audience and the four people meant to “make or break” him.
Brody Ray: Transgender Singer Performs Original Song, "Wake Your Dreams" - America's Got Talent 2018 youtu.be
Brody stood in front of judges—Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Mel B, and Simon Cowell and was asked what song he would be performing. Brody replied, “Stand in the Light,” a song originally sang by Jordan Smith.When asked by Mandel why he chose that song, he explained that “Stand in the Light” applied to his life and the “struggles and battles” he has worked to overcome.
Mandel pushed him further, “What is the struggle you’ve overcome?” That’s when Brody admitted to the audience and to the world that he is transgender.
Less than five minutes later, Brody would finish singing the powerful song, the audience and judges would all be on their feet, and he would receive the four yeses needed to move on in the competition.
I spoke to Brody about the experience and what it means to be able to share his story.
Brody Ray: Grew Up As Natalie But This Transformed Singer's GOT TALENT! | America's Got Talent 2018 youtu.be
You walk on stage. You’re in front of hundreds of people and four judges. Were you nervous? What was going through your mind?
I was nervous. It’s taken me awhile to get to this point where I can put the nerves behind me. These people are just like us. Sure they can make or break me, but I felt comfortable and confident. I was able to put those nerves aside and just focus on the music.
There are so many great songs out there. What made you choose the song “Standing in the Light”?
I heard the song years ago, and it almost had me in tears. It made me feel so connected with the song. People are going to talk about you, but we need to stand in the light and be proud of who we are. I thought what a perfect lyric for this moment. I went back and forth 3-4 weeks on a song, but when it came down to it, that was the one.
You got a standing ovation from the audience and the judges. Talk to me about what was going through your head when you saw everyone on their feet.
During my performance I was focusing on the crowd and working to connect with them. I knew I might screw up if I focused on the judges. I didn’t get to see Mel B share a tear with me or how into it Heidi was. Someone told me Simon was tapping his foot. But i didn’t even know they were on their feet. Everything just came full circle with my transition and with my vocals.
I lost my voice for a year and so it was a challenge. Everything came full circle. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. It was just perfect.
The judges gave you some great feedback. What stuck out the most?
Howie’s feedback really stuck out. He told me ‘You are standing in the light.’
The people that are inspired by it, that is the feedback that matters. We don’t have to live in a bubble. We can live happy, successful lives. I want people to know I’m not just a trans guy, I’m singer.
Looking back on the audition, was there anything you would have changed or were you pleased with it?
I am very happy with it. I was cringing listening to me sing. It seemed too fast. My voice was shaky. But I know I have to stand back and for once let it be and let it happen. I told myself you did a good job, Brody.
Photos: Trae Patton/NBC
Eight friends, all in stable relationships, venture into a game of sexual discovery by exchanging keys and by extension, swapping partners, in an attempt to introduce variety and excitement into their lives.
This is the basic premise of El Juego de las Llaves (The Game of Keys) a half-hour drama-comedy in Spanish with English subtitles. The show is lavishly produced and performed with total commitment and flair, and addresses the theme of relationships, commitment, trust, intimacy, desire, acceptance, and self-fulfillment...to name just a few hot topics.
The series focuses on the story of four couples whose attempts to spice up their lives results in far deeper explorations of self. As each travels through his or her own secret desires (including one character, played by the gorgeous Horacio Pancheri, who discovers he is gay), the game takes on a life of its own and the couples must face the impact of their decisions and their own perspectives on sexuality.
El Juego de las Llaves (The Game of Keys) is brought to you by Pantaya, the Spanish language premium streaming service. A hit in Spanish-speaking countries, the series is now being brought to the U.S. with very accessible subtitles in time for National Hispanic or Latinx Heritage Month.
Season 2 is now available on PANTAYA, the Spanish language premium streaming service.
If you're curious about what happened in Season 1, check out the trailer here: