Zora SpotLight ~ Jasmine Bracey (Actress)

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Greetings Zora’s!

What I really like about this blog is not only do I get to write and share about the interesting adventures and experiances I encounter, but I also get to highlight some of the interesting and unique people I encounter along the way!  Once a month I plan to highlight a fellow explorer — giving a glimpse into their world and hopefully planting a seed of inspiration along the way!

This month Im kicking out a interview with the lovely Jasmine Bracey.



— I wrote briefly about Jasmine in the previous post “ShakeSpeare In the Park.”  Jasmine was referred to my salon through Steppenwolf Theater Company – do to my profession and the way my environment is set up, I get to connect with my clients on an intimate level.  Jasmine and I hit it off immediately sharing some of our interest and other fun/corky stuff!  She’d invited me to her performance in George Orwell’s Animal Farm at Steppenwolf but I was not able to attend.  I was so happy when she told me about “Shakes in the Park” and that she was performing at Columbus Park, a local park located less than 10 min from where I work.  I knew I couldn’t missed the opportunity!

Jasmine’s performance was AmazingIMG_4903 — and her presence/voice demanded the attention of the audience!  So much talent and so much grace, I was happy when she agreed to let me interview her:)

Check it out!

At what age did you know you wanted to be an actress? 

The earliest I remember wanting to act was at the age of 6 years old. I used to be an avid tv watcher (especially of Nickelodeon) and watching shows like “You can’t do that on Tevlevision” and “I dream of Genie” I knew I wanted to be a storyteller.

Once your gift/desire to pursue theater was discovered – how was it cultivated/supported?

I tried to get involved with the drama club in 4th grade but didn’t make it into an official production until 6th grade. From then on I was constantly involved in theatre and then once I went to college I struggled to find my majoruntil I saw a production from FSU’s School of Theatre. I declared my major and since then it’s been a beautiful journey of discovery and support thru education (I have my MFA in Classical Acting and a professional certificate in Musical Theatre from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy). Also thanks to professors, my mother, and other actors that i’ve met along the way. It’s imperative that an actor develop a creative family that supports them throughout their career and I have been very blessed with mine.

Shakespeare is a really complex yet beautiful catalog of work, you really have to have  an understanding of it to appreciate it’s purpose.  Why Shakespeare as a theatrical focus?How long have you’ve been a actress?

    1. The language. It seems as a society we move further and further from a focus on language. Being able to express and work thru the gamut of emotions using words has been a wonderful experience. Shakespeare’s Characters define themselves with the words they use, and meant to be listened to not read. The more I listen and study Shakespeare the more I fall in love with him. If you take Ophelia’s “O what a noble mind is here o’erthrown” speech from Hamlet and go thru the speech only using the vowels you find that Ophelia is crying thru the speech. She has a long list of emotional vowels then when they string together create a series of crying noises. There’s a lot of that in Shakespeare. In my mind he is without a doubt one of the greats.


  1. What are some of the ways you prepare for the stage?

Of course, reading the play and memorizing lines. But one of the most important things for me is understanding the story the play is telling. The deeper the understanding of the story the better the actors will be at doing what needs to be done in order to be effective with the audience (especially with Shakespeare) so everyone knows how their character fits into the story/why their character was even written.

Can you recall a moment during a performance that really moved you?

There are so many. Theatre by it’s nature is meant to stir the humanity within us all; whether it makes us laugh, cry, question, etc. If you leave a production not feeling anything, then that show didn’t live up to what it was supposed to. I’m constantly moved by performances even ones i don’t like because they cause me to think about why i didn’t like it (knowing that someone else in the audience may have loved it).

    1. I’m so intrigue and appreciative of the Art in the Park initiative – can you elaborate a little on the purpose of bringing theater to local parks in the Chicago area?

    Chicago is a huge city and while there are a lot of theatres and arts all around sometimes people need the arts to come to them. Just as there are food deserts we have culture deserts in our city. The Parks initiative brings communities together by providing a number of events in the parks for free. Shakespeare is no exception. Not everyone can make it to Navy Pier to see a show at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre on Navy Pier and for others it’s not even on their radar. Shakespeare in the parks gives communities exposure to something they might have never tried and might like.

    1. Lastly, A question I like to ask often: Using only one word for each, tell us 5 things that inspires you?





    Thanks for sharing a glimpse of your life with us!

  1. Until next time,
  2. Happy Journeying
Categories: art, events

Shakespeare In the Park

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Greetings Explorers!

Last week I had the pleasure of watching one of my client’s/friend (Jasmine) perform a fun and hip rendition of some of William Shakespeare’s greatest hits (Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, and many more)!   IMG_1814 IMG_1816

What’s even more cool is that the performances are free to attend — and takes places at local community parks across the city of Chicago!  This is their 4th year bringing the arts to cultural deserts of the city, exposing those who may not venture out/or who can’t afford to enjoy the art of classical theater.  I picnicked with my 12 month old niece and sister/friend Kendra — it was such an amazing time and the stage production and audience interaction was top notch!

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Produced and hosted by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier and sponsored by the Chicago Park District – each performance is kicked off with a “Green Show” with showcase the talents of artist within the parks community.

For more information about this initiative and to see when their coming to a park near you please check out www.chicagoshakes.com/parks.  I’ll be interviewing my friend Jasmine Bracey  to talk more in depth about the purpose of “Shakes in the Park” and her journey of being a actress — be sure to check back soon!  In the mean time, please enjoy some of the images I captured during our experience!

Thanks for journeying with me!


Categories: art, events, music Tags: , ,

My New Favorite Smoothie!!


Ok… I was stuck in a smoothie rut  (my fellow smoothie makers know what i’m talking about)!  The same smoothie every morning — so much so, that once you get totally bored, you stop drinking this quick and nutritious “liquid meal” all together. Not Good!

I was determined to break the monotony of my routine – that I a played around w/ some ‘new to me’ ingredients and discovered a new fav!  Cherry Berry  Cacao Smoothie (I just made that name up, lol).  Raw Cacao is one of natures most delicious super foods. Why?  Many health enthusiast and professionals consider it as a “rich source of essential nutrients.  It’s reported to contain 14 times the amount of antioxidants than red wine and 21 times the amount found in green tea.” According to SuperFoods Living.



That’s great news to read — but what’s more amazing is that it makes anything you add it to taste so rich and chocolaaaaty* :) Try it and tell me what you think! I get my cacao from Whole Foods — about $16 a box – but a little goes a long way!

By Ojio from Whole Foods -- with a little research I'm sure it can be found less expensive.

By Ojio from Whole Foods — with a little research I’m sure it can be found less expensive.


1 cup of ice

1 frozen banana

1/2 cup of frozen strawberries

1 heaping table spoon of Cacao

2 cups of Almond Milk

*Add to blender in the above order (liquid last)

When all chunks are out, pour into mason jar or cup and top it off with:

1 teaspoon of hemp seeds

about 5 frozen/pitted cherries

Sprinkle on some cinnamon or pie spice… Enjoy!


Categories: food, recipes Tags: , , ,

Skinny Taste Cook Book

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Super simple and tasty dishes! Highly recommended!

Sometimes I get bored w/ my own cooking… I hate when that happens, because the end result of that is the dreaded Bad Food Choice. Ugh!!! I’m so grateful I came across the Skinny Taste Cook Book by Gina Homolka– lots of cool/simple recipe choices that not only taste good, but is also good to your waistline!  I’ll be sharing some of my experiences from this cook book — but out of respect and support of the authors work, I won’t give detailed recipes — that’ll be my ethics policy whenever I share a dish from any cookbook thats not mine (future plug, lol).  If it’s my own personal creation — I’ll be sure to give step by step instructions!

I strongly recommend you purchase a copy for your own experimental pleasure:) I got mine off of Amazon — haven’t made a failed dish yet!

Super simple and tasty dishes! Highly recommended!

Super simple and tasty dishes! Highly recommended!

Skinny Chicken Parmesan --made this for my peeps!  My me a version w/ Eggplant!

Skinny Chicken Parmesan –made this for my peeps! Made me a version w/ Eggplant!

My Egg Plant Parm inspired by Skinny Taste!  I'll share the deets in a future post!

My Egg Plant Parm inspired by Skinny Taste! I’ll share the deets in a future post!



Birthday Behavior – San Diego

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It was my recent trip to San Diego and a lite conversation with my baby brother that gave me the push to “finally” start the Zora blog.  Again – Im always searching for that new and exciting experience – always attuned to the adventures/recomendations of those I’ve crossed paths with.  San Diego was just what I needed to relax, recharge and explore things I had yet to know.  My bro has lived here for Four years – and Im still scratching my head to the fact that I’ve just visited.

I had no idea how beautiful and historically rich this beach side/military city was – so much to do and see!  My seven day vacay went by so fast – I’m already mentally planning my next trip back again! Journey with me…

Categories: art, events, food, travel

Well its about time!

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“I have the nerve to ‘walk my own way’, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions.”  ~Zora Neal Hurston

IMG_0940   Hi all, welcome to my new “pleasure/hobby” blog (that I should’ve started Years ago)! But no worries I’m here now:)  My name is Shantenekia – and I’m a self proclaimed “Zora!”

Now who and what is a “Zora” you might ask?  Well to me, “Zora” is inspired by a combination of the culturally rich and artistically talented writer from the harlem renaissance era Zora Neal Hurston –  and the curious child like wonder and tenacity of the cartoon character Dora the Explorer.  Used as muses for me, both represent my desire to explore the world I live in freely and to the fullest!

From my love of food, cooking, travel, books and the art(s ); music, film, dance, theater, poetry, fashion, DIY crafts — basically anything that inspires authentic expression and creativity – I wanted to created a space that celebrates the corkiness of all of my curious adventures and the adventures of others that choose the live life off the beaten path!

Stick around and journey with me – we may have more in common than you think!

Respectfully yours,