You A’da Know…These Films That Pay Homage To The Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area!

Has social distancing in the wake of the Rona already got you going stir crazy? Well, now would be a good time to sit back and Netflix/iTunes/Amazon and chill your way through the collective quarantine we are officially under.

What better time to catch up on some film gems that may have passed you by while they were in a theater near you?

Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area at large are well known as a heart of cultural and artistic excellence and influence. As such, inevitably artists who call Oakland, San Francisco and the Bay Area home are wont to give tribute to the place that shaped their soul, their artistry and their world view. Film lovers are the lucky beneficiaries of that trend. Over the last decade in particular we have seen some groundbreaking and award winning feature films come out of The Bay that have caught the attention of the world.

Here are just a few of my faves of the bunch.

  1. Fruitvale Station

The story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.


Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Ahna O’Reilly, Octavia Spencer

Why I Love It:

For those of us who are from Oakland and lived through this tragedy, it can be a hard watch as it picks at wounds and sensitivities that have yet to heal. Still, it is an important and necessary story that gives insight into what happened on that fateful night of the killing of Oscar Grant by a BART police officer.

This incident touched off riots, protests and profound conversation the world over about racism and police violence and brutality towards the Black and Brown communities at large. In a culture that can be quick to demonize murder victims like Oscar Grant and be judgmental and unforgiving of mistakes of a young man’s past, Fruitvale Station humanizes him. It gives us a glimpse into the life of a man who was striving to change for the benefit of his daughter and the woman he loved and the potential that was so tragically snuffed out that fateful morning on a BART platform.

  1. Sorry To Bother You

In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed.


Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer

Why I Love It:

Right off the bat I am transported back into time as I relive a childhood memory with the mention of the Rusty Scupper, a popular Oakland restaurant from back in the day.  *Let’s pause here for a moment to pour out one for the restaurant homies of years past like the Rusty Skupper, Casa Maria, Spenger’s, Fuddruckers, Skates, Hs Lordships…*

As classified by writer/director Boots Riley (who like me has theatre roots at Berkeley’s Black Repertory Theatre), Sorry To Bother You is an, “absurdist dark comedy with magical realism and science fiction inspired by the world of telemarketing.” Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius serves as our guide into this fantastical exploration of code-switching, temptation and the soul crushing risks of assimilation in the hopes of receiving the rewards and benefits of a Capitalistic structure. The implied commentary suggests that Cassius must put on the mask of whiteness to achieve success, taking him up the ladder to a status and prestige that ultimately seeks to deplete his very humanity.

This movie is a fun and engaging ride that is sure to get you thinking of the many powerful underlying messages scattered throughout.

  1. The Last Black Man In San Francisco

Jimmie and his best friend Mont try to reclaim the house built by Jimmie’s grandfather, launching them on a poignant odyssey that connects them to their past, even as it tests their friendship and sense of belonging in the place they call home.


Cast: Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan, Tichina Arnold, Danny Glover, Mike Epps

Why I Love It:

“We built these ships…dredged these canals…in the San Francisco they never knew existed. This is our home.”

Those are the haunting words that are at the crux of the themes explored in The Last Black Man In San Francisco. At its base this is a love story between a man, a house, and a city as told through the lens of the relationship of protagonist Jimmie and his best friend Montgomery. We bear witness to Jimmie trying to lay claim to something he feels ownership of, but that is — due to circumstances beyond his control — slipping through his fingers.

Such is the plight of many Black families in San Francisco through rapidly increasing gentrification. This film gives me a sense of melancholy for times gone by because the house stands as a metaphor for middle class people being pushed out of their beloved city. That leaves many at a crossroads between fighting for what they love or making the heartbreaking decision of releasing their dreams and letting their property go. It’s a very timely tale of what continues to happen in San Francisco, Oakland and many other cities throughout the Bay Area and across the nation. As stated in one of the most stinging lines from the film directed towards a cavalier gentrifier, “You don’t get to hate San Francisco…You don’t get to hate it, unless you love it.”

  1. Blindspotting

Collin must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning in his Oakland, California, neighborhood. His bond with his volatile best friend soon gets tested when Collin sees a police officer shoot a suspect in the back during a chase through the streets. Things soon come to a head when the buddies attend a party at the upscale home of a young and wealthy tech entrepreneur.


Cast: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Ethan Embry, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Wayne Knight

Why I Love It:

This film serves as a love letter to my beloved hometown of Oakland. While it is fun to see some of the iconic sites and symbols of The Town highlighted up on the screen, it is the depth and message of the story that really pulled me in.

This is a deep dive into what happens when we are forced to put a magnifying glass up against our lives and detect some of the blindspots we may have towards the people with whom we travel on our life’s journey. Are they helping or hindering our path? That is the question presented to Collin. How does he reconcile the faults and failings of those who have seemingly had his back (both Miles and Val in their own ways) when doing so may risk his very dignity and freedom? Comedy is used as a device to lighten up some of the gut punches that come from the heavier subject matter, such as the demonization of Black men, White privilege, code-switching, gentrification, police brutality, violence and identity. Sound familiar to the themes in some of the other films on this list?

Although I totally missed it during its theater run, I was lucky to catch a recent fundraiser screening of Blindspotting at The Roxie in San Francisco while I was back home in the Bay Area. Opportunities are probably few and far between now, but if you can, catch this one on the big screen.

  1. The Harimaya Bridge

After the sudden death of his estranged son in rural Japan, an American man must go there to claim some important family items. While there, he discovers some secrets his son left behind.


Cast: Ben Guillory, Saki Takaoka, Misa Shimizu, Danny Glover, Misono, Honoka, Victor Grant, A’da Alison Woolfolk (Hey, that’s me!), Miho Shiraishi, Akira Hamada, Junkichi Orimoto, Peter Coyote, Hajime Yamazaki, Toshiyuki Kitami, Yukiko Kashiwagi

Why I Love It:

Because…obvs!!! But seriously, even if I wasn’t in this movie and my brother, Aaron Woolfolk, didn’t write, direct and produce it, I would still LOVE this film.

Shot in the tradition and style of Japanese filmmaking, The Harimaya Bridge follows Daniel Holder as he must face the demons that have left him blinded by hate in order to open his heart to the love that could save him.

Shot in Kochi, Japan for six weeks and San Francisco for two weeks, it is a beautiful story with gorgeous cinematography and world class art that boasts a cast of top tier A-List Japanese acting and music talent. The music score is phenomenal and still gives me chills! The film opened nationwide in Japan and Korea in 2009 with a limited US run in 2010. The character of Mickey is featured as the central character in the short films “Eki” (The Station) and “Kuroi Hitsuji” (Black Sheep). Aaron won the “Best First Time Feature Director” award at the 2010 Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival for The Harimaya Bridge.

Although my brother and I were born and raised in Oakland, our family also has deep roots in San Francisco. Many of the sites and locations in the film were shot in places that give honor to that legacy as it documents a special part of our history for posterity.


You may have observed that Danny Glover appears in three of the five above named films. That is a testament to the fact that in spite of — maybe because of — his status as an icon and legend in the acting field he is an ardent supporter of young artists and of his hometown (San Francisco) Bay Area roots. Having filmed with him in a foreign country, I have personally witnessed the reach and effect of his star power. (Some of the stories I could tell of that amazing and unique experience!) To have someone like Danny reaching back and giving a hand up and legitimacy to those following in his path is just one of the reasons Bay Area artists continue to shine and thrive.

So, grab your popcorn and/or other quarantine snacks (if you haven’t already depleted most of them as I have) and take in some of these movie treasures. You can maybe then identify some of the reasons why you, too, should Hella love Oakland, San Francisco and the Bay Area!





You A’da Know…It’s My Re-Birth Day!

A year ago today I almost left this life. Literally. My organs were shutting down, I didn’t have enough blood in my body to sustain life. After numerous communications  from my brother and multiple medical professionals, my mother in Oakland, California received a call at 3:00 a.m. from an ER doctor telling her that she needed to get to Los Angeles immediately, but he could not say that I would still be alive by the time she arrived.

Plot twist. This was during the time when all of the Boeing 737 airplanes were grounded due to electrical errors so there were absolutely no flights to be booked unless tickets had already been in the system on a flight that was delayed or canceled.

Let’s rewind… The afternoon of March 13, 2019, I had met a friend for lunch. While we were in line at a popular restaurant to order, I started feeling lightheaded. I told my friend I needed to sit down and headed to an open table. Before I knew it, I was hitting the ground, my head having banged quite soundly on the hard tile ground while I was in full collapse.

Immediately, a crowd of people were around me asking if I was okay and coming to my aid, the most concerned of which was my dear friend. I was helped to a table, with many kind faces doing their best to assist me. 9-1-1 was called as a stranger with a phone to his ear earnestly asked me what day it was and who was the president of the United States. “Don’t remind me,” I believe I murmured.

To be honest, in that moment, what I was feeling most was embarrassment. The group of wonderful strangers who were actively trying to assess and help my situation wanted to call an ambulance. I refused. I just wanted the attention off of me and my (to my thinking at that moment) fluke of a mishap. I feigned that I was okay, when I really was not.

It’s moments like these that you realize that there are more good, kind, honest, genuine and loving people in this world than not.

The Head of Security (HOS) had been called and I repeated that I was fine. By that time, the restaurant manager, who was deeply involved and attentive, had offered me and my friend free lunch. Most of the busyness around me had settled and I was doing a good job of faking that I was okay and out of crisis. Spoiler alert…I was not.

The HOS wrote down his number and insisted that I call him when I was ready to leave so he could escort me to my car. I promised I would mainly to get him to leave.

I conned my way through “lunch” (which consisted of me pushing food around my plate) with a throbbing head from the hard bang during my fall. Had I been a cartoon character the stars would have been circling above my head.

Although my friend wanted to stay with me to make sure I got to my car, I insisted she go back to work, knowing it was her last week at her job at CAA. She was moving on to bigger and better things! I swore I would call the HOS to help me and she reluctantly gave in and left.

I did call the HOS. He came back to get me and walk me to my car. He gathered my things for me and all I literally had to do was walk. However, as we were going out the door with me just two steps behind him I felt myself falling again and seconds later I was on the concrete ground face down blood streaming from my busted lip.

This was the moment that I really got scared. I did not know what was going on with me. Why couldn’t I even walk a few feet?! I was fine when I got there! What. Was. Going. On??!!! I felt like a failure at the very basics of life.

Through a series of events that included:

1) The HOS somehow getting me to my car where I refused an ambulance again and said I’d rest in my car until I felt strong enough to drive;

2) Calling my mom panicked and still being stubborn and hard-headed until she basically said, “Girl, get the ambulance!!!” (I must note here that those of you who knew my dad know that particular term was in addition to being a beloved nickname of endearment, also — with a shift of tone — what he would call me when he was exasperated with me, though those times were rare);

3) Calling back the HOS to tell him that I WOULD like the ambulance as I was increasingly getting weaker and weaker. I simultaneously was receiving a voicemail from my manager about an audition for the next day;

4) Begging my mom to call my manager to let her know I had received the message about the audition, but at the same time let her know what was going on because…what’s an actress to do?

5) Two ambulances, including a horrific initial ambulance experience with the LAFD paramedics team, and two hospitals because my primary hospital didn’t have any beds available initially and I had to be taken somewhere else first to be triaged and have my immediate crisis managed;

6) In the wee hours of the next morning, finally being transported by another ambulance to my primary hospital…

…There I was in the second Emergency Room literally hovering between life and death.

Because of the grounded airplanes my oldest brother had to drive my mom down to get to me, but she was on speed dial with my brother down here and the ER team throughout the night sharing crucial information and frantically receiving updates as she was trying her best to get to my side.

When I woke up later that morning much of what had happened the night before was a blur after I was put in the first ambulance. However, I do remember waking up in the first hospital and my older brother being there advocating for me and my needs nonstop like a confident, no-nonsense boss in those uncertain moments.

But in my mind I was feeling fine. So, OF COURSE, the first thing I did was find my phone and email my manager to tell her I woke up much better and was sure I would be released in time to make my “STATION 19” audition.

Cue the next phone call from my mom where she informs me, “GIRL, you are in the ICU!!! You aren’t making any audition today!” (Again, copy the note above regarding my dad’s usage of the term.) I reluctantly emailed my manager back to say, “On second thought…”

Also, during that phone call my mom would tell me how fervently everyone had been praying for me. She told me that she, in addition to praying incessantly, had been in conversation with my dad on the other side. That, in fact, she was fussing and telling him, “Don’t you take our daughter! We will all be together again one day, but don’t you take our daughter now!!”

She then chuckled and said to me that she guessed my dad was up in Heaven saying, “This woman just won’t leave me alone!” That made me laugh so hard and for so long that it was the moment that she really knew I was going to be okay.

A year later this all still feels a bit unreal and surreal to me. But it is events such as this one that remind you of the blessings you have and the people who REALLY love you and have your back…as well as those who say they do, but don’t.

I’m so grateful for the people in my life who got me through this terrifying and unsettling time.

In this ordeal, which turned out to be Septic Shock, I did not have a death experience, at least that I recall. I wish I had. I would have loved to have seen my departed dad and precious family and friends again. But I am glad that I get to continue this life experience and am thankful for those special people who make it such an incredible journey.

From now on I will view March 14 as my Re-Birth Day. It also happens to be my Godson’s birthday who is one of my biggest blessings. Most importantly, this is a day to be thankful and celebrate life because we never know when it may suddenly slip away.

The board from my hospital room on the day I was released after 3 days in ICU and 3 days in the regular hospital ward.

You A’da Know…It’s My Dad’s Birthday

This is one of those mornings that I wish I could get a hall pass to slip into heaven to give my dad a big hug and kiss. We’d go bowling, talk and laugh over dinner and then dance the night away to his Motown faves.

Who am I kidding, though? If I had that option I would abuse the privilege and spend all the time I could with my loved ones that are so very missed. Jesus would see me and say, “You’re here AGAIN?!”

I know in my heart that Leonard Woolfolk still feels my love and all of the hugs and kisses that I wish I could give him. And I feel his too. Happy Birthday, Dad!

With love eternal from your Girl. ❤️

You A’da Know…You MUST Vote!

If your vote weren’t so powerful why would they try to suppress it?

If your voice was not so important why would they try to silence it?

So much is at stake so please do not let your voice be stifled. If you don’t vote you have no right to complain.

Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Democrats Abroad, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia let your voices be heard today.






You A’da Know…Eliza!


My grandmother Elizabeth Goodwin Jamerson Jones Jamerson. How incredibly blessed I am to have her blood flowing through my veins.

That beauty? That strength? That independence? That power? That fire? That fight? That spice? That persistence? I get it from my mama who got it from her mama!

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Grandma! You are eternally loved and forever missed. 🌹

I am working hard to bring her incredible life story to the screen. Hopefully one day soon you too will love Eliza as much as I do!

#Eliza #BayArea #SanFrancisco #Louisiana #BlackGirlMagic #BlackWomanMagic #Grandmother #Granddaughter #ActressLife #WriterLife