‘War Room’ 12-Year-Old Actress Alena Pitts & Mother Pen Children’s Book ‘Hello Stars!’ (INTERVIEW)

Book Giveaway!

Hello World,

In honor of mothers on Mother’s Day, I want to introduce you to 12-year-old Alena Pitts and her mother Wynter Pitts who co-wrote the new book Hello Stars, the first book in the Lena in the Spotlight series from Faithgirlz! Below is the synopsis of the book.

Young Lena Daniels never thought she’d get the chance star in a movie. Headstrong and determined, she has her life planned out to the minute. But when her best friends, Savannah and Emma, tell her about an audition for a part co-starring her favorite singer, she knows there’s nothing else in the world she’d rather do. And now that she’s gotten her wish, Lena finds that being in the spotlight is harder than it sounds. She got everything she never wanted! Her face turns up everywhere she goes, and everything in her life is flipped upside down. Lena wonders if this is a dream come true or a horrible nightmare. Even a visit from her best friends during filming turns into a disaster. With her little sisters—Ansley, Ashton, and Amber—and her mischievous pup, Austin, constantly at her side, Lena must face the challenges of everyday life while chasing her dreams of being a model and actress on the big screen. Lena tackles tough choices, learns the value of perseverance, and keeps her hopes high. She knows her faith and family will keep her feet on the ground and her eyes on the stars.

As an author for Faithgirlz, which is offered through Zonderkidz, the children’s division of Zondervan, Alena is the youngest, African-American female author with a major book publisher! You may already be familiar with Alena, who portrayed Danielle Jordan in the 2015 hit film War Room! Below is my interview with Alena & her mother Wynter…

1. How does it feel to be the youngest, African- American female author to be represented by a major book publisher?

Alena: Kind of surreal still. Like it hasn’t really hit me. So it’s crazy. I’m just grateful that it happened to me! And then I’m like, ‘Thank you God!’

And how did you get a book deal for Hello Stars?

Alena: So, my mom was like, ‘Hey Alena, do you want to write a book together?’ I was like, ‘Sure.’ My mom was like, ‘That would be so fun!’ I really didn’t think that was going to happen, but she was like, ‘Let’s just pray about it.’  So I prayed about it not really expecting anything to happen. So like two weeks later, we got an e-mail from Zondervan asking if we wanted to write a book for them. So I was like, ‘Wow, this must be God’s plan!’ (Laughter)

Wynter: It literally happened just like that! It was just this random thought I had one day, and I just looked at her and said, ‘It would be so fun if we wrote a book together.’ And that was it. And then, a few weeks later, we got an e-mail from Faithgirlz saying they wanted to talk to us about the project. It was so bizarre. Because of my ministry with girls, I had done some Faithgirlz product giveaways and helped them promote some things so I had a relationship with the publicist there. Since then, I found out the publicist mentioned our names to their team over the last year or so, but I didn’t know anyone else on the team!

2. I understand that Lena’s story is based on what has happened in your life as you starred in War Room.

Alena: Well, the book is about Lena Daniels, and my nickname is Lena. That was where I got her name from. And the book was about how she wanted to be in control, and she had her whole life planned out until God was like, ‘No, you’re going to be in a movie and then, you’re going to do this for me. And none of this stuff you have planned for yourself is going to happen.’ And she was like, ‘Wow, I can’t be in control.’ But she found out over time that going with God’s plan is way better than anything she ever dreamed of and that’s kind of like my life.

I had my whole life planned out, my job and what I wanted to do when I grow up. But then I got an audition for a movie. And I was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy!’ And I had to learn to give it all to God! And let Him be in control. So the story line is based on my entire life. And a lot of the funny things that happen in the story are actually real.

So you had your whole life planned out already at 12 years old?

Alena: Yes. My original plan was to do a couple of things. One of my plans was to go to law school and become a lawyer because I love to debate and stuff. But then I figured out how long law school was! Then I was like, ‘Nah!’ Then, I was like, I guess I will be a singer and learn to play some instruments. I still kind of pursue that. But another part of me was like I want to be a professional volleyball player which I still want to do. But based on my life, anything is possible, and you don’t have to stick with one thing your entire life. That’s really boring.

3. So Hello Stars is just the first book in the Lena in the Spotlight series. What can your readers expect in the future books in the series?

Alena: Expect more surprises, more plot twists.

Wynter: Lena continues to grow in her faith and in learning to let go of her plans.

Alena: Yeah because she doesn’t fully learn to let go in the first book! So she goes along on that journey in all three books.

4. You portrayed Danielle Jordan in War Room? How did you get to audition for that role?

WAR ROOM, from left: Alena Pitts, Priscilla C. Shirer, 2015. ©Sony Pictures Releasing

Alena: My aunt [Priscilla C. Shirer] was one of the main characters in the movie, and she asked me if if I wanted to audition because they were looking for a little girl to play the part of Danielle. I was like, ‘Sure, I would love to do that.’ But I really didn’t think I would get it. But I kept auditioning and auditioning, and it came down to me and this other little girl. I was like, ‘Wow, this could actually be real. This could actually be what I do in the future.’ I just kept praying about it, and I got a call and I was asked to be in the movie. I was like, ‘Goodness. Sure!’

5. What was it like being on set every day with the Kendrick Brothers,  a the Christian brothers who produced the film?

Alena: I like to say it was like church. In the morning, we had prayers. It was different than a normal movie set. And it was a lot better than a normal movie set. And then throughout the day, we would stop and pray if something went wrong. And it was really fun because there were a lot of kids there who were a part of the movie like the double-dutchers.

(Check out behind-the-scenes footage of the double-dutch scenes from “War Room” below)

Where was War Room filmed?

Alena: It was filmed in Charlotte, North Carolina.

And now you want to be an actress?

Alena: I wouldn’t say that. But like I was saying before, if another opportunity comes up, I would definitely say yes to something I felt had God had for me. But I wouldn’t say I would be an actress for the rest of my life.

Wynter: I just encourage her and tell her that when God lays things on her heart or brings things to her just like auditioning for “War Room” to just say yes to it. Even in writing the book. I want her to say yes to the opportunities that God brings her way.

6. As a co-writer for Hello Stars, how did you contribute to the book?

Wynter: Well, Alena would write the outline and the plot, and she would sent it to me. And then I would help to stretch it out. I would add words and make the story longer.

7. Other than the book Hello Stars, is there something from the War Room experience that the both of you took away that stays with you today.

Wynter: For me, just the whole point of the movie is that prayer works. And not just saying, ‘Lord, give me this, give me that.’ But when we have a heart that really wants to serve God and wants to see Him glorified in our lives, when we commit that to prayer, He is able to do amazing things!

Alena: Yes, prayer works and prayer is possible. When I was younger, before the movie, I really didn’t think prayer was something for me. I thought it was for older people because they always had testimonies about everything that happened. But I never heard a little kid talk about the power of prayer so I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s not for me yet.’ I will wait until I get older. But then during the movie, I started to pray, and I was like, ‘Wow, this is something that happens for everyone.’ God doesn’t just listen to older people. I like to say that God’s favorite people are little kids! And I will keep saying that until I get older. (Laughter)

Below is a video of Wynter and her daughter Alena talking about Hello Stars.

About the Author: Alena Pitts is a young actress and model from Dallas, Texas.  As the oldest of four girls, Alena first cut her teeth in acting through making home videos and dramas with her sisters, using their entire home as their recording studio.  She has a natural love for all things creative which falls right in line with her gifts and talents. The Kendrick Brothers’ War Room marks Alena’s professional acting debut. With only school theater on her young resume, Alena jumped at a chance to audition for the role of Danielle Jordan. In addition to school and acting, Alena models and is a frequent contributor for the magazine For Girls Like You.

 About the Co-Author: Wynter Pitts is the founder of For Girls Like You magazine and the author of For Girls Like You: A Devotional for Tweens and You’re God’s Girl. The mother of four girls, Wynter’s mission is to empower and equip girls to walk boldly into becoming who God has created them to be and to provide parents with the resources and support needed to raise strong Christ followers. In addition to publishing the quarterly magazine, Wynter is a frequent blogger, a contributor for LifeWay’s ParentLife Magazine, and a public speaker. She is also the niece of Dr. Tony Evans. Wynter, her husband, Jonathan, and their four daughters (ages 6-12), reside in Dallas, Texas.

Thanks to  Alena and Wynter, I’m giving away a free copy of Hello Stars to the first person who emails the answers to these questions: What star from a ’80s to ’90s sitcom starred in a Kendrick Brothers film? What was the name of the sitcom? And what was the name of the film? Email your answer to me at jacqueline@afterthealtarcall.com.

Any thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greenleaf Mid-Season Finale Recap, Season 2 Episode 8: And the Sparks Fly Upward…

Hello World,

Saints, pull up real close to your laptops or your phones because I’m about to serve you from the sumptuous feast that was laid out in this OWN’s “Greenleaf” mid-season finale !!! And you gon be licking your fingers too because it was sooo juicy!!! Taste and see that the Lord is good! LOL

Crash…

Remember at the end of episode 7, last week’s episode, Grace sped off the Greenleaf estate in a Greenleaf security truck to chase down Mac after he boldly sent flowers to the estate in honor of the one-year anniversary of Faith’s passing? Well, this week’s episode starts off with Grace careening through the woods, pressing her foot on the gas until she loses control of the truck. The truck catapults into a tree and Grace’s face lands on the steering wheel with the air bag deployed. For a second, I wonder if she is dead. But I’m like the heroine of the show cannot be dead at this point. And as soon as I have this thought, she stirs and then wakes up, stunned to realize what happened. She crawls through the window and then calls Darius the journalist on her cell phone. (Am I the only one who thinks the truck was about to blow up? I guess I’ve seen one too many action movies! LOL!) I thought Darius and Grace were through, but obviously, I was wrong.

He takes her back to the estate, where he is enthralled by the grandeur of the Greenleaf home. I guess it’s one thing to write about the Greenleaf dynasty, but it’s quite another to see it up close. He tells the family that Grace was “lucky” to have survived to which Bishop responds with, “We don’t believe in luck.” Grace explains the accident by saying she swerved to avoid hitting a deer. Once Darius leaves, Bishop says, “If you ask me, I don’t  think that was any deer.” He tells his daughter that she has to stop pursuing Mac and Sophia tells her the same thing. Grace says, “We all have our crosses to bear.” Sophia says, “Then you are mine.” Can you imagine telling your mama that she is your cross to bear? I can’t…

When Charity and Jabari get together, it won’t be by accident! As Charity is caring for her son, Jabari calls to invite her to Nashville to record with a group that is coming in from L.A. Y’all know recording won’t be the only happening, right? She agrees to his invitation, but now she has to figure out who will take care of Nathan while she is away.

Before the Triumph train crashes, Jacob finally divulges Basie’s poker scam to his wife Kerissa. Kerissa calls Basie and his wife Tasha Bonnie and Clyde and says she should have known something was up when she found that one-hundred dollar bill on the floor. She tells him he’s got to get out of this situation, but whatever he does, he better not go “crawling back to that mansion and that sneering a** mom of yours.”

Macarena…

The “relationship” that Mac has with his girlfriend Lorraine is like a badly choreographed dance. It’s not free flowing or joyous. Everything he does or says is to squelch her women’s intuition which is trying to tell her that this man is no man at all. She’s living with a monster but she gon learn. The lies that some women tell themselves to keep a man is simply sad.  According to Mac, his niece Sophia is the one who is blowing up his phone all day and or all night although we know it is Michaela from his old building. Lorraine says, “What kind of niece calls her uncle so often?” He says, “I like to be there for her if she needs me.” She then admits that she knows what people are saying about Mac, but she doesn’t believe them. She tells him she loves him. Dumbo.

Outside of whatever church the couple are attending, he calls Michaela to tell her she needs to stop calling him. Michaela says her mother has gone schizo, and she needs a place to crash. “I don’t have anyone else,” she says. But Mac still shuts her down for now.

Charity looks like she is ready to get her dance on at the club although she is singing at Sunday morning worship service. Her dress is fitted and short. Kevin notices,  but that doesn’t stop him from glancing at Aaron during the church service.

Across town at Triumph, Basie Skanks listens to his headphones, dancing around and what not in his office before his Sunday morning service starts. He is trying to get pumped as he wants to make a “withdrawal from the banks of Heaven” he tells Jacob, who catches him while he is dancing. Yes, he expects his flock to make up for the funds he lost in poker. He is a delusional shepherd. In service, he tells them to admit they’re “in sin” and they need to “dig deep” and “sow a seed of faith.” Then he says, they got “skanktafied.” See what I mean?

Back at Calvary, Bishop tells his flock that while he could preach about the wages of sin, he wants to talk about the gift on the other side of the equation. “To sin means to turn away, but to repent means to turn back.” I know that Bishop is no angel, but unlike Basie, I really believe that Bishop believes in the power of God even if his humanity fails him from to time. Grace looks at her father as if she wants to repent of trying to avenge the death of her sister on her own instead of leaving the vengeance to God as He commands. But she doesn’t know how it seems.

Kevin agrees to care for his son while Charity goes to Nashville and she says he can stay at the estate while she is gone. Little does she know that while she has to travel across the state to see her soon-t0-be new bae, her husband’s soon-to-be new bae will be just down the hall from her. She may as well be “dancing the dark.”

The dance between Mac and his age-appropriate beard abruptly, and I mean abruptly stops when he gets a call from Deputy Mayor Leonard who says he will not be getting a job for him after all with his “sick self” because of pushback he has already received. He delivers the final blow when he says, “Lose my number.” Mac believes Grace got to the deputy mayor when Jacob was the one who threatened him. When Lorraine asks him who was on the phone, instead of lying as he had in the past, he says, “None of your business.” He then proceeds to call her everything (including “bottom-shelf” and “off-brand” ) but a child of God before telling her to get out! And the woman didn’t want to go although she did leave. Smh. He then calls Michaela and asks, “You still need a place to stay?” I guess since he has no job prospects, he has nothing to lose by revealing his true character.

If Zora and her boyfriend Isaiah were dancing to “Cha Cha,” the music has stopped . He invites her to listen to him record a song at a studio, but when she truthfully tells him that a couple of his notes were flat in front his friends, he asks to speak with her privately. He clutches her arms and tells her, “Don’t do that in front of them.” It’s obvious this guy may be an abuser so Zora calls her cousin to pick her up. The only problem is that Sophia is supposed to be on the way to meet her mother and Darius at a restaurant.

Karma…

Basie feels betrayed when Jacob comes to him and offers to pay Triumph 2’s debt if Basie would allow him to have the church and disassociate it from the original Triumph. When Basie asks how he is going to get the money, he says he has the money as it was a wedding present from his parents. Yes, Jacob had the trump (not Drumpf) card all along. He says Basie is playing a dangerous game with Triumph’s church members. “If you mess with black people’s money, they will rise up and take it back.” Got that right! I despise a money-grubbing, dishonest pastor. I’m so thankful that I was raised by an honest and upright, God-fearing pastor.

At Mac’s apartment, Michaela gets comfortable on his sofa as Mac pours two glasses of liquor before they watch “Imitation of Life.” Darius and Grace wait for her daughter to show up to meet them for dinner at Farm & Table. Michaela and Sophia do have similar looks, and it’s clear that Sophia could have been one of Mac’s victims if Grace had allowed him to get anywhere close to her daughter. I’m so creeped out as I watch Mac touch Michaela’s hair as she sleeps. Then he touches her knee and continues to move his hands upward. He attempts to kiss the child when she wakes up and kicks at him until she is able to escape his grip. Thankfully, she runs out the apartment.

After tucking in Nathan, Kevin takes the baby monitor to Aaron’s quarters where he and Aaron kick back and have a beer. Aaron gives him advice on finding a place since Nathan can’t seem to find anywhere to rent. Kevin tells Aaron, “Thanks for being so nice to me through all this.” Their arms are already touching and then they kiss! After this, Kevin may find a way to keep living at the estate.

Mac the monster calls Grace and tells her, “You should have left it alone, Gigi.” Grace leaves the restaurant and rushes over to Mac’s house. She believes her uncle has done something to Sophia to retaliate against her although she doesn’t quite know what her uncle is talking about. He calls his niece a female dog and their limbs entangle as they fight. They fall to the floor and Mac lands on top of his niece. With his sweaty, contorted face close to hers, he grabs her throat and squeezes. For the second time, I wonder if the heroine is about to die. But just before the life is squeezed from her, she finds a piece of the broken liquor bottle and sinks the shard into his neck! As the blood gushes from his wound, she screams, “Tell me where she is!” Mac got what was coming to him, but if he is dead, what will happen to Grace?! See why God says, vengeance is mine…

And then it’s over! Wasn’t that good? Are you satisfied or do you want more?!  I guess we will have to see what happens when OWN’s “Greenleaf” returns this summer!

Thank you sooo much for reading my Greenleaf Mid-Season Finale Recap, Season 2 Episode 8 and my other recaps so far.

Check out a snippet from “And the Sparks Fly Upward” below…

Any thoughts?

If you would like to keep up with OWN’s “Greenleaf,” and my recaps, please click on this link to subscribe to my blog 🙂!

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Your Mother with Gospel Star Kierra Sheard & Her Mother Gospel Legend Karen Clark Sheard!

Hello World,

Happy May! Mother’s Day is just two weekends away, but there is still time to plan how you will honor your mother! If your mother is a gospel music aficionado, she can meet gospel star Kierra Sheard and her mother, gospel legend Karen Clark Sheard who are hosting a “Mommy & Me Mother’s Day Dinner” in Atlanta on May 19. “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Phaedra Parks and gospel star Tasha Cobbs are special guests.

The goal of the “Mommy & Me Dinner” is to appreciate mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other significant women in the lives of millennials and generations prior. This dinner will provide an environment and opportunity for mutual appreciation, amusement, laughter, emotional healing, and long-lasting healthy relationships among attendees and their beloved. A red carpet will be on hand for mothers and daughters to have a celebrity- like experience! As a part of the $75 Diamond Package, attendees receive: a red carpet photo with Karen and Kierra, preferred seating, dinner and keepsake hard-card invitation. The $65 Gold Package includes a walk on the red carpet and dinner. The dinner, which starts at 6 p.m., will be hosted at Terminus 330, 330 Marietta St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313.

To buy tickets, go to iamkierrasheard.com/mommy-me-tour. Ticket sales end Friday, May 5!

Any thoughts?