News

“Mission Possible: Help Us Get to Africa

June 20, 2017

“The time has come,’ the Walrus said,

     To talk of many things:…”

 

Akata Family,

For the past two and a half years I have been working on Akata Documentary, a film which traces my journey to uncover my family’s history. Through my journey, you have witnessed me purchasing and taking my DNA test to meeting new relatives. Via social media, you’ve traveled with me to Utah, Atlanta, and South Carolina. I showed you the slave homes were my ancestors where enslaved and we’ve even celebrated together at the #AkataCookout.

I’m excited to report that the Akata Team and I have almost reached the final stage of production. Today, we are asking you to continue your support by helping us complete the film. Up until this point, we have self-funded this project and unfortunately, we have exhausted our resources. We have one final segment left to shoot which requires us to spend one month in West Africa. We want to ensure the authenticity of the film by visiting the exact places where my ancestors originated. Some of these places include Ghana, Cameroon, and Nigeria. We want to visit every slave port, castle, and museum. While we are there, we hope to interview the locals and get their perspective of their country’s history and how they feel about my project. I am super excited but I am prepared to work as soon as my feet hit African soil.

Our goal is to raise at least $10,000, which will provide 2 international plane tickets to Africa, as well as domestic flights within the continent to 7 different countries. 

To Donate: https://www.gofundme.com/AkataDocu

For the past two and half years, I have dedicated my life to this project. No really… I’ve stopped working a regular 9 to 5 job and I have worked diligently on this project because I see the value and impact this film could have on an entire generation. Not only to inspire the African American community to get interested in their own personally genealogy but to enhance relations within the African diaspora and inspire the youth to appreciate their individual culture and traits that make them unique. This film must get done and it must be put out there for public consumption. I can’t do these things without your help.

 I look forward to whatever support you can provide, and I look forward to sharing my West African experiences with you!

God Bless

Victoria

Together we can make genealogy lit.

www.AkataDocumentary.com

Continue Reading

News

You’re Invited: #AkataSoiree

June 3, 2017

You are invited! Consider this your personal invitation from us.

On Friday, July 28, 2017, from 7:30 -10 pm, we are hosting a fundraising soiree to get the community excited about our project and excited about donating to our GoFundMe campaign. At the event, our guests will be the FIRST to see the premiere of our official movie trailer! I cannot wait for you guys to see it. We will also have time to for a Q&A session afterward, so don’t be shy.

Our menu will consist of delicious American and African cuisine by our very own chef Loyal “Chip” Henderson III and our sponsor Lady V, from Lady V Bijoux. What else can I say? There will be $5 raffles (we have awesome prizes), giveaways, music, networking and more! Be sure to wear your best African attire. If you don’t have any, cocktail attire is best.

When you arrive, use our Snapchat filter and tell your friends to support our film by donating to our GoFundMe campaign. We are bringing back the Akata Documentary & Up Studios LLC banner, so take as many selfies you want in front of it!

Please RSVP to the event here: https://akatasoiree.eventbrite.com

#AkataSoiree #AkataDocumentary #MoreThanBlack

 

 

*P.S. It is recommended that you show up on time. We will be premiering our video presentation at 8:30 pm sharp!

Continue Reading

News

“Black Privilege”: A Book Review

May 23, 2017

Warning: Spoiler alert! The views expressed in this blog post are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Akata Team.

His Story

Whenever I read a book, regardless of genre, I like to completely immerse myself in a story. I want to feel that what protagonist feels, eat what they eat, smell what they smell, I think you get the picture. When I was reading Charlamagne’s story, I didn’t have to rely on my imagination as much, because his story and my story are a lot alike. Well…. Not really…. at all, but our mentalities are virtually similar.

Charlamagne and his family grew up in a trailer park in South Carolina. His mother was a teacher and a Jehovah Witness, and his father was infamously known around town as a drug dealer and womanizer. As a child, he was constantly teased for being dark skinned (me too), having spots on his face and a big nose. He excelled academically in elementary school (me too), but years later he kept getting suspended from school and eventually thrown in jail. On one occasion he and his father were put in jail for drug possession and ended up in the same cell.

The rest is history – After getting fired from 4 different radio stations, having to move back in with his mother (at the age of 30) with his wife and daughter, Charlamagne is now as successful radio co-host, podcaster, TV show host and now a best-selling author. If you are an avid listener to the Breakfast Club like I am, most of this brief breakdown should not come as a surprise to you, but if it did, my bad, I told you there were spoilers.

God Plays A Major Role In His Life

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I appreciated how much Charlamagne credited God throughout his entire life. Now, I am not stating that he said he was a “born-again Christian”, in fact, I do question some of his theology (but that is beside the point), what I am saying is that I admire that he told his readers that his life would be TRASH if God’s hands weren’t on it. For instance, when he was still a radio DJ in South Carolina, a friend of his prophetically told him that he should do radio in New Jersey, he immediately shot that down, until he saw “signs” everywhere pointing him to New Jersey and eventually he got a call and it was an opportunity to work in that state.

Another incident was when he was a teenager, a neighborhood bully caught wind of Charlamagne talking mess about him. The bully confronted Charlamagne about it, he didn’t back down. The bully beat him up so mercilessly that another child had to step in and break up the fight because he thought the bully was going to kill Charlamagne. Long story short, that bully is now a man serving a life sentence in jail for murdering someone.

A final example, Charlamagne re-tells the infamous story of being jumped outside of the Breakfast Club building. He was punched in the back of the head and fled the scene, of course, this incident was caught on camera. In the book, he shared that the police found the person who hit him, and a week later from his incident, that criminal murdered someone. That could’ve been him. Charlamagne has had so many near-death experiences (me too), which he shares in his book, that he proclaims that he doesn’t understand how people cannot believe that there is no God. Lol, He is truly a witness to the Lord’s mercy and grace. Love him or hate him, Charlamagne is FAVORED. God indirectly showed him his destiny through signs, mentors, and circumstance. Unlike Charlamagne, God told me directly to create Akata Documentary, but that is a story for another time.

 

His Advice On Life, Career, And Love

One of the features I love about this book is, it reads like a self-help/ memoir. Charlamagne addresses how to overcome misogyny and homophobia in the African American community, how to prioritize your career, love life, make new friends and seek out experiences. Towards the end of this book, Charlamagne shares what a typical day looks like for him. OMG, all I remember is that his day starts off at 3:30 am and the rest is filled with: Breakfast Club gig, podcast gig, TV show taping, meetings, prayer and spending time with his family. He shares that if you want to prioritize your personal success, you have to be FOCUSED and cut the riff raff out of your life. The riff raff can include: clubbing every weekend, spending downtime with friends knowing that you have more important things to take care of, social media (especially if it isn’t your job) etc.

Charlamagne says it’s good to spend time and chill with (old) friends, reminisce about the good ol days and turn up every once and while, but that cannot be a habit for him. Every “down time” he has within his day is spent with his wife and kids. I loved reading how much of a family man Charlamagne is. If I am honest, I needed to hear these words, because his schedule is the story of my life, on a smaller scale. I am not working a 9 to 5 job, Akata Documentary and Up Studios LLC are my life. As the main character and executive producer, I manage a team of 5, the social media handles, website, I am in meeting after meetings, writing email after emails, networking events, you name it. Because I work so hard on this and other projects, I don’t have a lot of time to socialize like I once did. And it’s not like I don’t have time, I choose not to make it high on my priority list.

Recently, I went to a fashion show event that one of my friends were hosting, and all of my homies whom I grew up with were there. I had an awesome time catching up with them. Towards the end of the night, one of my friends pulled me to the side and said “Vicky, you know we all miss you at the rec center (my old hangout spot). You should stop by every once in while. I left that conversation feeling horrible, do my old friends feel abandoned, do they hate me for not stopping by like I used too? After I read Charlamagne’s schedule, I realized that it is ok for people to miss you when you are out here grinding. When that level of success comes, you can bless them how you want to and in your own time. So to any of my homies that are reading this post right now, know that I love you and I miss you too. What I am building here with Akata Documentary is going to BLESS ALL OF US.

 

Final Thoughts

If you are on the fence of whether or not you want to purchase this book, I say BUY IT, #SupportBlackBusiness. I know this book will encourage people who have never thought about sharing their story, into doing so. If you are into pop culture, buy this book. If you are into rags to riches stories, self-help books or even New York Times best sellers, BUY THIS Book.

BTW I am not sponsored by Charlamagne or “Black Privilege” estate

Victoria Gregg, M.B.A.

Continue Reading

News

What You Can Expect From Us: 2017

May 17, 2017

Can you believe that this year is almost half-way over?! Not to worry, we have some BIG plans for this year, so I want to take the time out to share what you guys can expect from us (The Akata Team) in 2017.

GoFundMe Campaign

In mid-June, we will be launching our GoFundMe campaign. We will be asking our supporters to join the effort to helping us complete the film. Unfortunately, we have exhausted our funds and we have one final segment left to shoot. We want to ensure the authenticity of the film by visiting the exact places where my ancestors originated, so we would like to spend one month in West Africa. Our goal is to raise at least $10,000, which will provide 2 international plane tickets to Africa, as well as domestic flights within the continent.

We have been working hard on this independent project for two years and we hope we can count on you to help make this film best it can be. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. I look forward to whatever support you can provide, and I look forward to sharing my West African experiences with you! Stay tuned for more details.

Akata Soiree

You are invited! Consider this your personal invitation from us. On Friday, July 28, 2017 from 7:30 -10 pm, we are hosting a fundraising soiree to get the community excited about our project and excited about donating to our GoFundMe campaign. At the event, our guests will be the FIRST to see the premiere of our official movie trailer! I cannot wait for you guys to see it.
Our menu will consist of delicious American and African cuisine. What else can I say? There will be $5 raffles (we have awesome prizes), giveaways, music, networking and more! Be sure to wear your best African attire. If you don’t have any, cocktail attire is best. Stay tuned for more details.

Returning to the Motherland

Assuming we make (and exceed!) our crowdfunding goal, the Akata Team and I will be traveling to West Africa in Dec. 2017. We will be working as soon as our American feet touch African soil. We are there to retrace my ancestors footsteps. I want to visit every slave port, castle and museum. I want to interview strangers on the street and ask them how they feel about an “Akata” (Nigerian slang for African American), tracing their roots. Some of the countries on our wish list include: Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo and Senegal. Sounds like alot huh? Well, we will be staying in West Africa for the whole month of December.

After we get back to the states, we will jump right into post-production. As I stated above, we cannot complete this film without you. Please consider donating to our GoFundMe campaign in June. If you are led to donate RIGHT NOW, you can do so by visiting www.AkataDocu.com/Give.

See you at the Soiree!

 

Continue Reading

News

Rest in Paradise Uncle Billy

May 3, 2017

Dear Uncle Billy,

Sometimes we forget to live, cherish,  appreciate and love this thing called life. My favorite Uncle, you left us in November. We were supposed to go on a White House Tour on December 5th. I was going to give you an extreme update on my movie, instead of subjecting you to hearing second-hand information from my mother. You were going to say  “Oooo and Ahhhh”, tell me how proud you were of me, and then you were going to give me a list of items to bring back from Africa.

God had different plans… You passed from a heart attack on November 21, 2016. Through these tears I shed, I can rejoice because you lived a great life. My whole family, your students, and your community loves you. I know you are in a better place. I thank you, Uncle, for taking care of my family when times were hard, taking care of my 90-year-old grandmother, for your generous “just because it’s Monday” gifts. I thank you for sharing your artistic talents with my sister and I. You kept us well stocked with all the art supplies we needed to hone our crafts. Even as an adult, Uncle I thank you for falling in love with Akata Documentary, I thank you for sharing my project with one who listened. I miss you soooooo much.

 

Your niece,

Victoria

 

Continue Reading

News

Florence Has My Name Written All Over It

It all started off with a pin

Early July, around noon time, I invited my genealogy mentor over to my house so she could show me what she had discovered. In that session, she revealed me to me that the slave owner who was responsible for my family’s name, went by the name of Joseph Gregg, born in the 1700s. Trying to keep face, I played it cool and told her to continue, all while my heart was breaking. I mean, I was not naive to think that there wasn’t a possibility of my last name originating from slavery, but putting a face to a name was a hard pill to swallow. In the midst of my world crashing, I heard my mentor say “ I found an image on Pinterest. The gentleman in the photo is one of your ancestors…” I paid her no mind.

 

Fast forward to mid-November, my team and I traveled to Florence, South Carolina to visit The Gregg Plantation. I wanted to drive past the slave mansion Joseph Gregg lived in and most importantly I wanted to see the living conditions my ancestors were subjected to. We visited the slave cabins and the tenant houses my ancestors stayed in. Re-walking the footsteps of my ancestors was devastating yet empowering at the same time. I am touching what they touched, smelling what they smelled, the only difference is I chose to be there.

 

All of a sudden spotted a “familiar picture” that I saw earlier this year, outside of the slave cabin.

 

Afterward, We visited a small resource library where I spotted the original image…

 

Then, I found a book with him on the cover!

I knew I was in Florence, SC but I literally felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. Not only did this image keep popping up, but my last name is written all over this city. This trip provided healing I didn’t even know I needed. I also met the people who are in charge of maintaining my family’s history. I had no idea they or this information even existed. I am forever humbled and grateful.

 

Special thanks to everyone who has donated to this project to make this trip possible. Words cannot describe how truly thankful I am!

 

 

Enjoy more images from our trip

 

Continue Reading

News

Akata Documentary Presents: The #AkataCookout

April 8, 2017

July 30, 2016 My team and I hosted a FREE luxury summer cookout, to celebrate a year of production and to introduce our project to the community. We spared no expense when it came to venue selection, food and raffle prizes.

At the halfway point in the evening, we presented a sneak peek video presentation to showcase what we have been doing this year. Afterwards we opened up the floor to questions. At first our guests showered us with praises and safe questions like: “How does your family feel about your journey?” All of a sudden, our conversation led to deeper issues within the African and Black communities. Topics such as mental health, systematic racism and personal testimonies came up. Several of our guests poured their hearts out during the Q&A portion, that people described our event as a public therapy session.

We also sold $5 raffle tickets at the event. The prizes included an Ancestry DNA kit, a handmade purse from Kenya and 2 curated African baskets filled with awesome items from Black and African owned businesses. We are raising money for our team to take a trip to Marion, South Carolina to visit The Gregg Plantation. Without giving away too many company secrets…. My last name is Gregg and we want to visit The Gregg Plantation, you guys put 2 + 2 together.

If you would like to make a donation to our project, click here

All in all, our team was humbled by the turn out, love and feedback we’ve received. If the money permits we will contemplate hosting another cookout or similar event again.

Continue Reading

News

DNA Testing My 95 Year Old Grandmother

July 9, 2016 My Creative Director and I drove 2.5 hours to Eastern Shore, Maryland to visit my 95 year old grandmother (on my mother’s side). She is the only living grandparent I have and have ever known. I love her to pieces

Unfortunately, this is the second time we’ve had to DNA my grandmother. As you can imagine, it is very difficult for a 95 year old woman to provide enough spit to fill half of a tube. I really hope Ancestry.com can do something with sample that she did give. If not, I am looking for other DNA testing companies that use hair samples or cheek swabs.

Here is my call-to-action, do not wait to start your family tree. And if you have the finances PLEASE PLEASE test the members in your family, especially if you do not know your family’s origin story. Why? Your future grandchildren will thank you.

Continue Reading

News

Much Love From Ivory Coast

Jason and I were invited to attend a private reception at the Ambassador’s estate to welcome African American’s who discovered they had shared Côte D’Ivoire ancestry!

His Excellency, Diabaté Daouda, shared a beautiful presentation, amazing Ivorian food and made us feel so welcomed!

The evening opened with light refreshments and the guests communicating amongst themselves. Even though I “looked” the part, I felt so out of place. Instead of being the fun and outgoing person I am, I was worried if the Africans could smell the American on me. All the butterflies were washed away when the host gave his opening speech and welcomed all of the African Americans in attendance and reiterated that this event was for us. After many speeches from the Ivory Coast staff and a round of applauses for the blacks who shared Ivory Coast ancestry, the love expressed in that room was overwhelming. Then it dawned on me, as much as I am seeking the African community, many Africans are reaching back to embrace me. As an American, I only looked at Slavery as something that negatively affected Black Americans, never taking into account that families were destroyed and colonization tormented entire communities. Being at this event gave me validation,  I am on the right track. Here’s hoping my brothers and sisters will join me.

Continue Reading

News

Top 5 Tips To Starting Your Family Tree

Welcome to Part II of our Ancestry Mini Series.

This series will soon answer the question, Can African Americans successfully use Ancestry.com to trace their roots? Akata Documentary follows the journey of Victoria G, as she discovers her own African heritage. One of the goals of this film is to inspire Black people to research their own family history to better understand our place in this world, acquire life lessons, and discover a whole new community that has been reaching out to us for some time now.

In this video, The “Barefoot Geneologist” Crista Cowan, shares her top 5 tips to starting your family tree. Here are the 5 tips, as follows:

1) Talk to your living family members
2) Start Building your Family Tree
3) Utilize the US census (if you are doing US based research)
4) Take the Ancestry DNA test
5) Don’t Give Up

Try Ancestry.com and get 14 days Free

If your family does not have a family tree, why not take on that role to cultivate that information, so you can share it with future generations to come.

For more information about our documentary, check out our teaser: https://youtu.be/aoke2LIoYQI

Continue Reading