Monday, June 30, 2014

The Last Ship: Welcome to Gitmo.

A few spoilers ahead.....

Last night's episode of The Last Ship was nearly sixty minutes of action-packed suspense and drama that had me on the edge of my seat!

In this episode, the USS Nathan James heads to Gitmo to refuel and replenish supplies.  The tactical team is headed by Jocko Sims's Lt. Burk and Eric Dane's Captain Chandler. While one-half of the team attempts to refuel the ship, another enters the pharmacy on base to obtain desperately needed medical supplies and equipment which will allow Drs. Scott and Tophet to work on the vaccine. During the mission, the team falls under attack by Al-Qaeda prisoners. They run into a defense contractor named Tex who allies with them against the attackers. They are successful in their mission and make it back to the ship, with injuries but no deaths. 

Some thoughts.

Not shocking--I didn't trust Quincy from the beginning and I was right. He's a slimy bastard and time will tell just how much damage he may have done to the mission of the Nathan James and its crew.

The circle of prayer on deck gave us an insight to the emotions of the enlisted as they gathered on deck to say prayers for loved ones and share photos on their cell phones. Charles Parnell's Jeter and Eric Dane's Chandler were present and it was clearly evident from the looks on their faces, they felt the pain alongside their subordinates. While we've been focused on those in charge of the ship, we've had little interaction (of course it's only the second episode) with the enlisted so this was a nice touch and very heartfelt. I felt like that was just the beginning of us getting to know the heart and soul of that vessel.

Adam Baldwin's Slattery clearly does not like Rhona Mitra's Dr. Rachel Scott and he made it pretty clear when he called her out in the meeting. I am looking forward to more scenes between them. He doesn't trust her...and why should he? She lied to all of them. He lost his son. He blames her in part for that. I'm sure they all do. And she knows it as evidenced by her heartfelt remarks in the comms when she emphasized she was just following orders from the Pentagon.

The conversation that took place between Slattery and Chandler was one I'd been waiting for. At some point, especially after we were left hanging a bit in last week's episode, some of us wondered what would go down and if Slattery would defy his Captain. I'd hoped there would not be a mutiny. I like that while Slattery may disagree with Chandler, he's got his back and he is in fact, on board completely in the mission. For a moment, that look on Slattery's face when he reaffirmed his commitment to following the orders to Chandler, I thought perhaps XO was a little hurt that Chandler even asked him for that reaffirmation.

I really enjoy Slattery and Chandler together, they complement each other nicely. They can be at odds but  remain a united force. I also appears they have different commanding styles which will likely figure more prominently in later episodes.

Who of us wasn't cringing during the tactical team's mission to the pharmacy?  They had one hour to get in and out before they ran out of oxygen. We were watching the clock...waiting...wondering how in hell they were going to get out after the doors had been found chained and locked and the remaining terrorists waiting and shooting at them from the other side. 

As to thoughts on characters, I am incredibly impressed with the commanding performances of Eric Dane, Adam Baldwin and stepping up in this episode--Jocko Sims.

The character of Dr. Rachel Scott has grown on me. I like her. I just couldn't handle all that bitchiness in the first episode, it was too soon. Let us get to know her, let her sort of grow on us before you throw that at us!

I like Christina Elmore's Lt. Granderson. She's no-nonsense, fair but firm and...she's not a bitch. We saw a fair amount of her in the pilot, a little of her in the second episode and hopefully she'll have a stronger presence. I like her, she's got a commanding presence among her subordinates and she garners respect. She's a character that is easily-liked and respected.

My favorite part of this episode was the between-the-lines communication between Chandler and Slattery when Chandler was on the ground and facing armed terrorists and Slattery was aboard the ship.

"Listen to me Amir, you want the entire southwest corner of the warehouse...." (immediately the camera focuses on Slattery, he's thinking..he knows something's up.)

Amir, the lead terrorist demands all of the food. 

Well see now we've got a bit of a problem with that because there's one thing from the old world that still applies today...something that will never change..."

Suddenly we see the five-inch turning and I'm yelling at my TV "FIRE THAT SON OF A BITCH!" and at that moment Slattery yells "Fire!" (I have to admit I was pure giddy with excitement at that point! See...even girls like to see stuff get blown up!) and just before it hits the camera pans back to Chandler... 

"We don't negotiate with terrorists."  (Favorite line of the entire episode. Cliche and all!)

Slattery's distraction allows the team to kill the terrorists and they managed to get back to the ship, albeit with injuries but everyone survived. An added bonus is that Slattery decided to trust Scott and send her off the ship to take care of one of the wounded sailors, one whose life she saved. It was evident on board ship after all was said and done, that Scott had earned the admiration and respect from the crew for her actions. If they were angry or hesitant before, I feel now a spirit of camaraderie may have been borne of that experience.

In the final segment of the episode Chandler communicates with a ship he believes to be English but... is determined soon after that it is not a British ship, it is in fact the Russians.

Recall Dr. Tophet's frantic message in the last episode (in Russian)...and now we know who is on that ship! And...from the previews...we can be pretty sure what..or rather who...they want. And so the worn and weary crew of the USS Nathan James must prepare for battle again.

I'm very pleased with this week's episode and I hope the action and suspense continue. Sure, there were a few cliches like "Revenge is a dish best served cold" and its response "Let's Eat" but it worked and overall this was a solid episode.

A few people, mostly Navy vets have complained about procedural errors. I'm more interested in the drama and action and less interested in the tiny errors in naval procedures.  I served on a ship and the minor inaccuracies didn't bother me. Why? Because I was too focused on the main storyline. Sometimes tiny details just aren't important.

I would make a few recommendations to the showrunner. First, I'd focus some on the struggle among the enlisted crew in regards to being underway, in close quarters, without the possibility of seeing land for some time. No matter how seasoned a sailor you are, this is eventually going to get to you especially if you have the weight of what's going on in the world at that moment, weighing heavily upon you. Someone is going to crack. Add to this mix the torn feelings many have about wanting to get home versus their duty to their mission. Let's ensure the crew is seen as human beings and not robots. Human beings are fallible and we should see that. I'm not saying that the stress might turn some of these crew into traitors, its' not traitorous to be worn, weary and scared and want to go home. But while they know the vaccine that can be produced aboard that ship may get them home, they also know the longer they are away the more likely they are to never see their loved ones again. And in tense and stressful situations, human beings rarely think rationally. It would be nice to see this struggle because I believe in real-life, this would happen. It's human nature. And just as much as I might like to see this, I would add into that mix one of their own, likely CMC Jeter, as a force that helps keep them grounded and united.

Second, I'd like to see the show abandon the storyline of the romance between Lieutenants Green and Foster. It just doesn't fit. It didn't fit last week and it fit even less this week. It feels forced and out of place. And frankly, we just don't need it. Does it add to the storyline? No, not so far and I can't see where it will in the future. I talked last week about limiting subplots, now is the time. You can have a top-notch drama without throwing in a complicated romance and sexual relationship into it. If The Last Ship is going to survive, it's going to have to sacrifice that element. Believe me when I say it will not be missed.

All in all, while I wasn't sure last week how I'd feel after watching the second episode (because it was just too early), I am pleased that they came through. Once again I will reiterate that The Last Ship has two solid leads in Eric Dane and Adam Baldwin. They are entirely convincing. We're being shown a side of Rhona Mitra's character that we can now grow to like. Jocko Sims is positioning himself in a solid supporting role here and it fits well for his personality.  I also think the slowly delving into the personalities of some of the enlisted crew rounds it out nicely.

Kudos to the team at The Last Ship for delivering a great episode. I'm looking forward to another hour of pure action/suspense/drama next week!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dammit people...start taking care of your pets!!!

I'm about to rant here so if you don't want to read it, now is the time to move on. I'm surely going to offend some people but right now, after what I just saw, I don't give a damn.

When you take an animal in, you take complete responsibility for it. You feed and water it, provide it with good shelter (and that does NOT include chaining it up outside all day) and you take it to the vet for its shots and checkups.

You do not let your dog ride on top of the toolbox on the back of your pickup truck because "he likes the breeze". Have you no brain in your head? One stop short and that dog goes FLYING into the back of the truck and is severely injured or killed OR the dog flies into the windshield of the car behind you!

When you take your dogs hunting, you need to bring home the same number of dogs you left with. You let them loose in the woods, you have a responsibility to make sure they get home. You don't just give up and leave them there for someone else to find...or as happens often...leave them to die out there from lack of food and water.

When you take an animal in, you don't let it run free because you think they like it. They're the animal, you're the human, you are in charge, you have the responsibility for its well being. Animals are not equipped to know the dangers that lie ahead, YOU ARE!. Animals that roam free are in danger--of being run over by a car, shot by hunters, bitten by snakes or other animals, or they wind up lost and can't find their way home so they wind up dying of starvation and dehydration.

It is irresponsible and cruel to let your animal just wander all over the damn place. I don't care if that's how you were raised, it's WRONG. My parents didn't raise us like that. Our pets had collars, they had their shots, they were well-fed and always had fresh water. We put up a fence so when they ran around outside they would be safe. It's not that difficult a concept, you just have to give a damn.

It is heartbreaking to see a poor dog or cat laying in the middle of the road, with drool coming out of its mouth because its either starving, dehydrated or rabid, unable to move anything more than its head because it is so sick and exhausted. It is so sad to see dogs and cats lying dead on the side of the road because they've been hit by cars.

There are people out there who would counter me and say "my animals roam and they are just fine" and all I can say is that is ignorant. One of these days it COULD be your animal out there and when something happens, it will be YOUR fault.

These are living, breathing creatures and we as human beings, have the responsibility to care for them, to keep them safe.. DAMMIT PEOPLE....DO THE RIGHT THING!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I want my America back.

This is America, land of opportunity. Most of us here were raised on the idea that if you work hard, have patience and pay your dues, things will eventually go your way. Our parents and grandparents assured us that while it'd be tough at times, hard work, loyalty, and perseverance paid off. It sounded good, right?

That was the America of yesterday. The America of today ...I hardly recognize it.

We're all raised with the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality and that's fine but the more you pull, the weaker the bootstraps get and eventually they break. What happens when you've done all you can to get ahead and nothing comes of it? What THEN?

Check out my friend Anne's blog posts below and read for yourself the prejudice and discrimination faced by the long-term unemployed. Contrary to what you might have been led to believe, the list of long-term unemployed isn't populated with drug addicts, alcoholics and welfare moms sitting around all day waiting for a government check. There are people out there, a lot of them, who want to work and yet no one will hire them.

I want my America back. I want Anne's America back. I want the America our parents and grandparents told us about...where, if we worked really hard, persevered and stuck with it---we could be anything we wanted to be.

I miss that America. Don't you?

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Last Ship: Phase Six (pilot)

The Last Ship is based on William Brinkley's novel of the same title. It's produced by Michael Bay, directed by Jonathan Mostow and co-written by Hank Steinberg and Steven Kane.

Eric Dane is Captain Tom Chandler, Commanding Officer of the USS Nathan James. His Executive Officer, Commander Mike Slattery is played by Adam Baldwin. As part of their mission, they are to take two civilian scientists, Dr. Rachel Scott (played by Rhona Mitra) and her colleague Dr. Quincy Tophet, to the Arctic to study birds. After four months underway and successful maneuvers (which they think are part of their mission) the ship prepares to head home to Norfolk, Virginia. The Captain order the scientists back to the ship after which Scott reams the Captain a new one for compromising her mission. (This would be the moment I began to hate her.)

Later, we find Scott on a satellite phone making contact with her people in Washington complaining that her mission is compromised. Just after that, in the comm center, Chandler is told by his superiors that the mission has been extended, they are not in fact, going home. They receive no explanation and are told to maintain radio silence. The scientists are then able to head back out to the tundra and finish collecting samples.

The problems begin when, while digging primordial samples out of the frozen tundra, the scientists are attacked by what we later learn are renegade Russian forces. Fortunately the crew of the Nathan James manage to kill the attackers and get the scientists back to the ship. They bring along them a severely injured Russian pilot who attempts to communicate but only says one thing...about wanting "a cure."

Chandler is pissed at Scott (and rightly so) because he knows she's hiding something from him. He suspects the Russians weren't after the samples, they were after her. She refuses to tell him anything about the cure but she reveal to him that seven months earlier, the CDC and WHO had sent her to Egypt to collect a sample of a virus of unknown origins that had mutated and spread. It started in Africa and Asia and was considered a stage two but months later escalated to a stage six resulting in a worldwide pandemic which had infected 80% of the world's population. She informs him that no vaccines worked, that their only hope was to retrieve primordial strains from the Arctic from the feeding grounds of the birds that carried the virus. Chandler is seething that he and his crew were misled and that she broke radio silence endangering the crew and the ship. She lets him know, in no uncertain terms, that they were under radio silence "to protect my mission, not yours." 

Later, Chandler is contacted by the White House and he is surprised that he is not talking to the President or Vice President but rather the Speaker of the House, who took the Oath when both her predecessors died from the virus. She sends him coordinates to a lab in North Carolina where the scientists can begin work on the vaccine. When asked about finding loved ones, he is told that most of the population is dead or dying. The US no longer has allies or enemies, it's "just a world of sick, desperate people." She tells him the Nathan James was fortunate to be out of the "hot zone" and subsequently orders him home so Scott can begin working on the cure. 

After Chandler opts to head to an unmanned refueling station off the coast of France, Slattery, having spoken to his wife, reveals that his son is dead and that his wife is in a "safe zone" with their daughters. (You can't help but want to cry for Slattery.) They are interrupted when they word a nuclear missile launched from a surface ship and is headed for them. It overshoots and winds up slamming into the French coast. The EMP disables the ship but eventually with their hope resting on one last fuse (and the hand of the Captain who risks death from the power surge--that was sooo badass!) they're able to get power going again.

With eleven percent fuel left, they see a ship on the radar. It turns out to be an Italian cruise ship and after repeated attempts to contact, they decide to board it. (This is a hard scene to watch). All of the crew and passengers are dead, save one, who Scott injects with morphine to stop his pain. As they gather canned food and other necessary items, one of the crew opens the cold storage hoping to find meat, only to find bodies piled ceiling-high. Meanwhile as the boarding team races to exit the ship, another member of the crew, Frankie, trips and falls down the stairs, losing his bio-hazard mask in the process, which immediately exposes him to the virus. Within moments he is already showing signs of infection and knows he cannot return to the ship. Knowing what agony lies ahead, he takes out his gun and kills himself. (Very jarring and emotional scene.)

Once returned to the ship, Chandler receives a five-day old message from the President but after attempts to authenticate, the crew cannot reach anyone in the Pentagon or Presidential bunker. The message tells them to reroute from North Carolina to Mayport, Florida. That message is followed by a video message from Chandler's wife and two children, letting him know they are safe, having escaped early on. A glassy-eyed Chandler watches as his children ask, "daddy where are you?"

Upon arrival at Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville, they find there is no sign of radiation in the air. While Slattery is topside talking about "we're home", Chandler is below decks asking Scott if she and her colleague (if I haven't mentioned yet this guy is shifty, I'm saying it, he's shifty!) can create the vaccine in the makeshift lab aboard the ship. At first she insists it is not possible but Chandler has his reasons, he knows it is safer for them to stay at sea. She finally relents.

Meanwhile Slattery briefs a select group of the crew, with instructions on getting on dry land and securing the area for the teams to move in but Chandler takes Slattery aside and tells him that they can't get a hold of anyone in a position of authority for instructions. He tells Slattery "were not going home." The lab is two hundred miles in and while Slattery insists they can fight their way to it if necessary, Chandler refuses, he says it's too dangerous. He informs Slattery that Scott can do her work aboard the ship. Chandler and Slattery are now at odds. Chandler wants to stay at sea and ride it out till the scientists create the vaccine and Slattery wants to get to the lab so the work can be done there in the proper place so they can all get home. He insists that the crew should be allowed to get back to their families before it's too late.  

Thus begins the tension between Number One and Number Two.

The Captain informs the crew that, with the US government no longer functioning and the country they left, no longer in existence, they are leaving Mayport and heading for fuel and food at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Their mission now is "to the entire world" and they can only do that by keeping the scientists safe long enough to come up with the cure.

In the last scene, Scott's colleague (shifty scientist) is on the satellite phone, frantically relaying the news to someone on the other end that they are not headed home. 

As to the casting, Eric Dane is solid as the Captain. I like his no nonsense, military-like approach. He's a hardass and a badass and that's just what he needs to be. Adam Baldwin is the Executive Officer and as supporting cast goes, he's one of the best. I see him as Chandler's friend and nemesis...when the situation is called for. Rhona Mitra is somewhat convincing in her role as the Dr. Rachel Scott yet but I'm not completely liking her character quite yet. It's not personal, it's that her character comes across as a real bitch in the first episode. Okay so Dr. Scott was somewhat justified in her bitchiness, I mean 80% of the world's population is dead or dying and the fate of the remaining 20% is essentially in her hands. But if she's going to be like this the entire first season...oh hell no. Only time will tell if Scott becomes a likeable character that I want to root for or if I hate her so much I'll wish the virus killed her too.

Dane and Baldwin are so good together. These guys just took control from the moment they appeared on my screen. I've never seen Dane in anything prior to this but he captures the essence of a Naval warship commander here. The graying hair, the stature, the firmness of his voice, the all Commanding Officer in my book. And Baldwin? Exceptional as the Executive Officer, he has the look and the feel and his presence commands respect. A note about Baldwin, he's good in anything you put him in. He can play the guy you love to hate to perfection but then he can also be the guy you love to root for. 

Having been in the military and aboard ships, I understand the jargon and the atmosphere and I found these guys not only believable in their roles but oddly reminiscent of near middle-aged executive officers I dealt with when I served. Baldwin and Dane make a good partnership. That scene toward the end when they're at odds, I liked that...after all, we can't have them agreeing all the time. Even though Slattery is required to carry out Chandler's orders, I like that he's hesitant, he's angry. I like that they disagreed.  I just hope they don't wind up portraying Slattery as a bad guy because then I'm just done. That ship is responsible for the fate of the remaining population of the world and it needs a strong leadership.  Chandler can't do it alone. As it is in real life, Captain Chandler will need to make decisions that at most times, the crew will not agree with but he'll do it because he has to, not because he wants to. And he'll need his Number Two in there as his advisor and confidante and also liaison with the crew. Slattery likely deals more with the crew than Chandler does and it'll be Slattery that can either make--or break a mutiny.  Though mutiny under such circumstances may be a possibility, I hope it doesn't come to fruition. While it is necessary for the characters to face-off, they must always on the same team with the same objective. The enemy is the virus, not each other.

All in all, while the first episode lacks in character development, it's completely understandable, after all it's just the pilot episode and impossible to pack so many backstories into a one-hour pilot. It was already packed--with fast-paced, high-action scenes and realistic special effects.

So, let's go back to the title of this post. Can it deliver? I believe it can. Dane and Baldwin will no doubt deliver in their performances, as we've seen in the past. Rhona Mitra, Jocko Sims, Charles Parnell and Travis Van Winkle make a great supporting cast.  The show should take care not to involved in too many subplots and personal relationships drama so as not to take away from the main story. With just nine more episodes to go in this first season, there's not much time to tell the story so they've got to move and move quickly. Only time will tell.  I wish them the best of luck!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Marlo Bernier: A Journey Through the Human Condition

 “So it was some five months ago, where I found myself paralyzed and unable to function any longer, under the noise within my mind and throughout my soul.  I am transgender.”

---Marlo Bernier, October 2007 

“My career just wasn’t tough enough, so I woke up one morning and decided to change my sex.”

Imagine living every day of your life knowing that you are not the person everyone thinks you are. You keep a secret so devastating it threatens to destroy you. The people closest to you -- family, friends, colleagues, have no idea the war that wages within you. You want so much to let it out, to shout out to the world but you don't because of the fear, the shame, and the humiliation that looms over you. 

Then, one day the catalyst appears and you finally find courage to take control of your life. You are ready to divulge your secret knowing that doing so will change your life forever. It has the potential for destroying your relationships, your career, everything that you hold dear but you do it because it is your life and you have to be true to yourself. This is who you are and you can no longer deny it. To do so would be cruel and inhumane. You begin gradually, taking baby steps until one day you go for it. You take the leap and once you do, you never look back. And as it turns out, now that you are free to be who you really are, your life is better and more fulfilling than you could have ever imagined. 

Just ask Marlo Bernier, actress, producer, writer, and director, who, as Mark Bernier, spent a tour of duty in the Air Force and later performed on many of Baltimore's stages as well as in some very popular television shows such as Cold Case, Homicide: Life on the Street, and Las Vegas, and she will tell you that making that decision -- to take the leap and be true to herself was the best decision she’s ever made. Marlo Bernier was not born at the moment she transitioned, rather she's always been there, hidden beneath a facade she never felt comfortable with in a body that seemed to belong to someone else.

"I'm a GIRL! Can't anyone see this? What's wrong with you people?"

Marlo had no idea what was happening to her but she knew something was different. At the age of four, she tried on girls' clothing and as she says, "not in the size way but in the psyche-way". She swished around her Nana's living room in lingerie in front of her family as they cheered her on thinking it was just another silly childhood phase.

She recalls a kindergarten memory:

"There, in the middle of the room was a box, a large, rather tall cardboard box and open at the top. Inside were bunches of clothes, yes boys and girls things, grown-up stuff mostly...I remember so very clearly how girlish I felt when my hands landed upon that Dress, buried deep somewhere among the contents of that box. I thought absolutely nothing of putting it on and dancing around and again receiving acceptance, not scorn, nor disapproval."

For Marlo, this wasn't a passing phase. It felt natural.

"Grabbing the skirt out of the box was innate within me. I did not think 'Should I?" I just did it. It was that easy and felt normal to me."

As a teenager, Marlo's mother knew she was going through something but she had no idea what so she suggested Marlo talk to a therapist. While the therapist was kind and reassured her everything said would remain confidential, Marlo was terrified. She wanted to tell him her truth but she just couldn't bring herself to do it. Instead, she remained silent and no one was the wiser. Therapy accomplished nothing and needless to say she did not return for more sessions. 

Therapy as an adult proved life-changing when, sixteen years later, her psychologist in Baltimore, who specialized in transsexualism and gender identity issues diagnosed her as a “textbook transsexual.” Marlo felt triumphant. Finally, someone else had recognized it but oddly enough when it happened it was not as earth-shattering and cathartic as she believed it would be.

"So, there I was in his office, no couch, no tables, just a couple of leather Brahmin lawyer-like chairs. I tell him my story, fifty minutes later he renders and delivers his diagnosis; it is evident that you are a textbook transsexual. It was chilling to actually hear it for the first time, out loud. I believe I wept, yes I wept. Then he hands me a tissue and says; alright, tomorrow I’m going to make a call and refer you for Hormone Replacement Therapy."

Marlo received the diagnosis she'd been waiting for but instead of liberating her it had the opposite effect. She was terrified. Before she left his office, his parting words to her were; I wouldn’t wait any longer…if I were you.

Overwhelmed and exhausted, Marlo decided to take a trip to New Hampshire to visit her parents. She had hoped it would bring her a sense of comfort at a time when she desperately needed it. One night, as her father slept, Marlo and her mother sat at the "Truth Table" which was as Marlo describes, "the nerve center of all that was really good and for certain, a comfort zone of sorts", a place where things were often discussed. She was apprehensive at first, attempting to divulge her secret in a roundabout way until finally she gathered the courage and told her mother the truth. 

"Mom, I have always felt like a girl." 

There!  It was done. Marlo said the words she'd wanted to say for years. She tried to help her mother better understand by offering recollections of childhood experiences in which signs had been revealed that there was definitely something different about her. Marlo anxiously awaited a response which, as it turned out was not what she had hoped. While her mother had heard her, she had not actually listened and in the end while Marlo was assured of her mother's love, she was not assured of her acceptance.

And all Marlo had ever really wanted was acceptance.

"This is not an act, this is who I am."

It would be ten long years before Marlo would once again deal with her transsexualism. When she did, it was with the help of an amazing therapist, Allyn Miller, in Woodland Hills, California, with whom she felt an immediate connection. Miller would ask her, "What kind of woman do you envision yourself being?” and the answer, though it took some time to formulate, was quite simple: "The same kind I was as a man; kind.”

In 2007, Mark Bernier had begun the transition and by mid-2009 had begun living full-time as Marlo Bernier. Marlo is fortunate to have the support of many friends and family, people who have embraced her and love her now as they have always done. However, not everyone has been so accepting and she leaves her door open in the hopes that someday the people she cares about, who have found it difficult to accept her true self, decide to become a part of her life again. She remains hopeful.

"I'm lucky to have had people who transitioned along with me. Well, at least over ninety-five percent of friends and a certain portion of family have been accepting to varying degrees. I made a conscious decision to not presuppose how people would react. I have been and continue to be very fortunate by the kindnesses countless friends and family have shown me."

"Though it is impossible for me to escape my past, this does not mean however, 
that I must continue to reside in it.”

Marlo is the same person she's always been and she believes it is crucial for one to feel comfortable in one's own skin, without any pretense or false aspirations. Though she accepts her past and that it is a part of who she is, she no longer lives in that world. Her experiences throughout her entire life have shaped her into who she is today and she is proud of that. She is neither ashamed nor delusional. She is accepting.

"I didn't transition from male to transgender-female; but rather, I transitioned simply from male to female. Now my past is my past (meaning, my transsexual past - at least for me) and of course because of the news of the show and its being brought to life, there will come with that, those who want to label me; Marlo Bernier - transgender actress/filmmaker et al (when all I ever wanted was to be treated and received as any other woman - and which I have been. I am the luckiest girl in the world!). And let me be clear on this, I am in no way saying that I am ashamed of that label, or any of those terms, it just goes with the territory, I suppose."

 "Myrna -- is me going public in a big way."

Marlo Bernier is kind, compassionate and intelligent. Her energy and sense of humor are infectious and you can't help but notice how happy she is with her current place in life as well as with her newest adventure, one of her biggest projects yet -- a new original TV (dramedy) series titled Myrna, which is based on her life and experiences.

Myrna is a groundbreaking series is a collaboration between Marlo, Jennifer Fontaine and Ted Campbell who previously worked together on other critically acclaimed projects. It is backed by the creative team at Jackie Frost Films, Less is More Productions, and Scorpio Rising Films. They have begun pre-production already, including crewing-up and location scouting for the pilot.

Marlo describes the crux of the show:

"After a successful career in front of the camera and on the stage, an actor sacrifices everything when she finally confronts her true gender identity and transitions from male-to-female. We follow Myrna as she struggles to find work as an actress, wrestles with a manager who still wants to send her out as her former-famous self, Michael and deals with the drama & comedy of her friends' reactions as they make an effort to come to terms with Myrna and her life-altering transition."

The pilot, co-written by Marlo and Ted Campbell is a brilliant mixture of real-life inspired humor and drama about us coming to terms with who we really are.  

"Myrna is pro-life and pro-humanity," Marlo says. "It's not just about a boy who is (actually) a girl, it's about the human connection and how we all strive to live life as who we really are. Our hope is that our audience will grasp that Myrna is a person and that these are people with different journeys on the outside, perhaps. However, at our respective core we are all symbiotic and I hope--that people will find a way toward a greater understanding, and in the very least find their way toward compassion.” 

When asked if Myrna is part of the healing process, she says it is but not in the cathartic sense one might expect. Her work on the series has given her the hope she can continue in the profession she loves, doing the work she's always loved and is confident that the experience will make her a better writer, filmmaker, and actor. Her desire is that her work lives on long after she's gone. During this journey she says, "I'll continue to discover, discover as it continues to reveal itself to me, and everyone around me."
Marlo recalls a poem her Nana had taped to the refrigerator. It was Langston Hughes' "Dreams". 
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

"Simply for me" she says, "The essence of this poem is contained in its opening line; Hold fast to dreams – and so I did, somewhere deep inside me, I held on and I am still holding on."

Marlo is indeed holding on. She is strong and determined not to lose faith in herself, her dreams and the world around her.  A woman who once lived on the precipice, afraid and unsure and terrified of the future, she eventually found the strength within herself to conquer her fears and to live her best life. 

Fear is a powerful thing and all too often it makes people go through life without really living because of that ever-looming possibility of failure, rejection or humiliation. Marlo hopes that telling her story through Myrna's eyes helps us to deal with that and more
While Myrna is based on her real-life experiences, it is also a story about the human condition. It's about the meaning of life, the search for identity and purpose, the fear of pain and rejection, and the need for love and acceptance -- things which are all too familiar to many of us. 

At its core, Myrna is a story about strength, courage, determination and being true to one's self. Her fight is our fight, her anger is our anger, her pain is our pain and her joy is our joy. In the end, Myrna's journey (and Marlo's) is essentially our journey.