As a child, I had a notebook where I would write down song lyrics and poems that came to my mind. I must have been seven or eight at the time. My elder sister found out about it, and after reading through the notebook, she advocated to my parents that I be enrolled in piano lessons so that I could cultivate my passion for music in general and songwriting in particular. 

She vouched for me at the court of parental permission, promising to be the one to take me to and pick me up from the classes and take care of all of the logistics that would incur. After much resistance and debate, my parents finally decided to give-in - but with reservations. I was to begin with weekly classes during a trial period of one month to see if this could develop into something more than a hobby. That is all I needed, so we got started shortly after. 

Four weeks in, I had fallen head over heels for it after venturing into this new creative universe that my little mind didn’t know existed. I felt in my element. Mind you, I was in a little corner of Africa that nobody knew and likely cared about, but I could already picture myself writing songs for and making films with these people I saw on the little screen in our dining room.

Films that would touch you so deeply that you’d feel like there was a you before watching it and a new you afterwards. Films that you would watch and rewatch so many times that you knew every line by heart, mimicked every facial expression and could replicate the entire scenes’ choreographies with every minute detail.  Films filled with larger-than-life people who made you dream. 

These people were called Hollywood stars, and stars they were indeed.

That one singer who would send your heart into a rollercoaster when they appeared on the screen.  That one actor or actress that you’d collect photographs of and hide below your mattress so your siblings wouldn’t tease you mercilessly for weeks on end about your crush on them. They were the epitome of raw entertainment.

They were captivating, almost hypnotising. They would portray talent and possess an unparalleled presence. They felt like they did not live on this same round-shaped earth as you, where the sky is blue, and the sun rises in the east, and in many ways, they did not indeed.  

As soon as I started taking those piano lessons, in my tiny head, I began seeing myself collaborating with these stars. I would ask my siblings to call on me or wake me up when specific music videos or films played on TV - to catch a glimpse of the magic. 

“If I become good enough at this, then maybe, just maybe, one day I could write or compose something that they would enjoy”, I thought. “If I did this long enough then maybe one day I could meet them, and they would show me how to sing the way they sing, dance the way they dance, or act the way they act”. A girl can dream.

In a child’s mind, it is not about fame or riches because children know nothing about that nor can understand what that truly entails - or at least should not. On that virgin canvas that little ones have between their ears, it is about the person, the star, their heroes. They gradually begin inscribing information about the people they watch and those who inspire them. It is about what those people show them, how they influence them, and what they teach them as being good or bad. 

That is the immeasurable power that stories possess. A power that Hollywood once helmed as the quintessential storyteller of the world. The power to change minds and shape the future.  

Hollywood’s charm used to be so mighty that its magnetic grip on the world’s culture could make one feel like the sky is the limit. That is what its stars used to embody: unlimited possibility for the impossible. 

How could little kids in the middle of Africa know every lyric to a Micheal Jackson song, try to dance like him, train to spin around like him, and spend days competing about who can do the best he he!? Those were the days. It was glorious! 

After the four-week trial period of the piano lessons, my little dream was abruptly killed when my parents decided that the costs, time, and effort were not worth it. The trial period failed to push the needle forward. 

Storytelling has remained a part of my life since, though mostly unwittingly - until circa three years ago when I began making tentative plans for a professional career as a writer. Fortunately, I am not one to do anything of impact in my life without proper planning and reflection. 

I like to master the waters that I am dipping into, measure their length, width and depth, test their composition and purity levels, as well as get to know the other organisms that dwell in their midst. With this effort came a process of disillusionment with the fairytale-esque world of entertainment that the little girl in me had thought about since childhood.

My parents’ decision earlier in my life had inadvertently kept me from actively occupying my mind with something unreal. A world that is not real. I will forever be grateful for that. It had preserved me from wasting time and energy on an aspiration that, had it ever manifested early in life for me, would have surely destroyed me. 

This relief comes as no surprise to you all reading this today, I presume, for we all know that the system of Hollywood has been designed to turn lies into truth, sustained to steal people’s destiny and hope, trained to corrupt the body and soul; and established to kill and destroy. 

The system of media and entertainment has lied, stolen, corrupted, killed, and destroyed so much that its structure has now turned on itself. This and only this is the main reason behind their fall from grace.  

This letter - or dare I say, epistle, as it pertains to its content and form -  is going to be the first in a series that I shall address to the entire industry as a whole: from the unseen powers that be who orchestrate, finance and dictate the agendas to be implemented, through the greatest stars who have been active in this business for decades - or even just for a day, all the way down to who may be entertainment’s next wunderkind who is merely thinking of pursuing a dream in this industry. Let’s not forget the general public, the customers, who have grown weary of the damage done to their families, communities, and culture.

I have chosen not to spend too much time discussing in great detail the statistics about the current state of Hollywood, lest I preach to the choir. A state that could be likened to a wilting plant that was uprooted and dumped in a dark room - door locked, key thrown away - left to desiccate, and die. 

And dying, it is indeed. 

It is on life support, and the doctors have officially confirmed that there is nothing more that they can do. So, I am here to say that it is time! It is time to unplug the machines and let the patient go.  

Yes, it is time…

Time to stop overestimating yourselves and looking down on the very people without whom your vacuum of an industry would be just that - a vacuum.

Time to stop wondering why your films have stopped being box office successes.

Time to stop spending hundreds of millions of dollars on algorithms to decipher what modern audiences want - the fall from grace.

Yes, it is time…

Time to stop speculating on why the public could care less about your extravagant award shows, preposterous galas, and ludicrous “high-profile” events.

Time to stop trying to figure out why your factory-manufactured pop “artists” have not been able to sell the proper amount of records despite all the money you spend on them.

Time to stop financing fickle media articles and orchestrated “viral” moments in an attempt to keep yourself and your projects relevant - the fall from grace.

Yes, it is time…

Time to stop trying to hide from the public the fact that your desperation has reached unimaginable heights.

Time to stop gyrating to the sound of your poisonous drums that are so out-of-touch with the real world that they turn all of your expensive efforts to stay alive into a repulsive mess.

Time to stop attempting to brainwash mass audiences in the hope that they will swallow your unscrupulous virtues and broken values to keep your disgraceful industry running - the fall from grace.

Yes, it is time…

Time to stop mishandling your artists both behind the scenes and in the media, as if they were objects instead of human beings.

Time to stop thinking that all of your abhorrent trafficking of people and ideas go unnoticed by the public.

Time to stop making up excuses for your crumbling system - the fall from grace.

You have fallen from grace.

I am here to say that it is time to stop looking in the wrong place. 

I am here to say that it is time for you to open your eyes and realise that your downfall has nothing to do with the financial market, novel audiences, technological breakthroughs,  a health epidemic, or any form of economic turmoil.

I am here to say that it is time for you to accept that the destruction of your entire structure has nothing to do with anyone or anything but has EVERYTHING to do with no one else and nothing else but YOU

You have been the executioner of your fall and disgrace. 

You are so perched up in your world devoid of accountability that you have failed to realise that the fuel you have used to keep your engine working has been the instrument of your demise. 

Lies are the fuel.  

Yes, lies. You are so disconnected from the truth that you have been unable to identify the seed of your impending death for the sake of your survival. You have spent ungodly amounts of money, spilt outrageous amounts of blood, and tested a variety of solutions to fix your macabre engine. Yet, its fuel, lies, has been its venom all along.

Lying is embedded in your DNA, that it is indeed. 

Everywhere you go, everything you convey, and every endeavour you initiate feed on lies. In fact, you fib so much that falsehoods have become truth to you. You lie to the public to exploit them, you lie to your industry staffers to keep them under your thumb, but worse of all -  you lie to yourselves. 

You have been racing with your lies for decades but, alas! The marathon that is the truth has had the fidelity, courage, and perseverance that only truth can have. And the lies? Well, their sprints have turned around and started catching up with you.

Before a project is even off the ground, you, fabulists, are already lying about the purpose of the project and the essence of its story. You deceive audiences by making false promises - and then wonder why your undertakings do not succeed. 

Lies are the fuel. 

As a matter of fact, your deception begins before your foot is out of the door. You lie to those supposed to be closest and dearest to you. It starts in your own bed, to the one you share your life with - most of them have no idea who you are. You lie to your family about the life you live, the things you desire, and the people you work for. 

You lie to your children and teach them how to lie to others - and themselves. Those youths grow into the adults who fill the seats that were once yours. And so the cycle persists for generations upon generations. But this isn’t enough, you require that your employees do the same as you, creating institutions of systemic liars for generations upon generations - then you wonder why your rule has poor leadership and lacks proper drive.

Lies are the fuel. 

You entertain the world and yourselves with jabberwocky that only you could understand. You lie about the figures your corporations earn and spend. You lie about the ideals your companies have. You lie about the methodologies you follow to produce or market entertainment. You lie about the people behind the successful hits and the dreadful failures. You lie to and manipulate your executives, who then lie to and manipulate their subordinates, and the cycle continues -  then you wonder why your organisations are breaking apart and profits deteriorating.

Lies are the fuel. 

You lie to your entertainers to control them to make as much money as possible off of them. You train them to lie to themselves about the reality of their misery and to lie to their families and the populace about their pain and suffering. You are willing for things to escalate to fisticuffs, physical or sexual abuse or even death to get what you want.  

You manipulate them to get them to sign contracts that give you ownership of their very lives. That ownership becomes the primary tool with which you steal their hope, break their spirit, and destroy their destiny. 

For the strong ones who choose not to comply, who refuse to live a life in which they can’t go to sleep at peace with themselves, you use the clandestine contracts they had once signed out of desperation for a chance in this industry to force them into destroying themselves and their careers - publicly, after which you black-list them, all using lies. Then you wonder why the performers meant to make money for you have become embittered with you instead.

Lies are the fuel. 

For those who eventually decide to stop complying with your demands, you lie to them to hook them up to addictive substances so that you can keep them under whatever control you can still manage to milk them until their last drop. You lie to their families to be able to continue to isolate them and trap them under your influence.

When they finally hit rock bottom in ways they cannot hide anymore, you launch a PR machine to try and sell a story about their situation to the public using what? Lies. Then, you eventually end their careers - also using lies.

Let’s not talk about the countless - and majority - amount of incredibly talented people whose collapse will never be known by the public. They remained crushed souls who got sold as cattle, violated, disrespected, and scorned in the dark, never even getting a chance to see their star shine - then you wonder why your projects are growing more boring and devoid of talent.

Lies are the fuel. 

Every word written, article published, and video filmed relies on a hidden lie. Your paparazzi pictures are all lies. You orchestrate “spontaneous” moments, stage “heartfelt” images and texts, and fuel conflict and media outrage - with lies. Every photograph and every gossip is a pre-planned lie. 

You tirelessly try to fabricate authenticity, but all it does is expose your appalling fraudulence that reeks of hypocrisy.  Your prize shows, festivals, and affairs are all lies. You use red-carpet events to sell crooked images of your people and products. Your self-indulgent and self-serving brouhaha you call “activism” is a lie - and the right hashtag to make it go “viral” never fails. It is all a charade, filled with lies.

You are ambulant frauds.  You fake your age, your childhoods, your talent, your careers, your homes, your vacations, your love interests, and even your children (!!!!). You fake your families, your friends, and your professional projects. You breathe in fake and breathe out more fake. It is all to give impressions and get calculated results, no matter the cost. Lies, lies, and more lies.

Your exaggerated sense of self-importance that uses lies and manipulation to thrive is nauseating.  You lie to the public so much that you can’t keep up with versions of your lies. You manipulate optics so much that all the bent shapes and irregular lines make you look like walking monsters.  Then you wonder why the public has stopped being phased by your publicity shenanigans and has dumped your desperate PR articles into a corner of the internet that they visit only when bored out of their minds.

It is sickening.

Out of all of these lies, your self-deception is the biggest and most destructive kind. You have lied to yourselves. You have told yourselves that the egregious things you do are legitimate for whatever reasons your dysfunctional minds have been able to come up with. You have lied and deceived your souls into accepting and indulging in their obliteration and that of those around you. 

It is no surprise that you can’t survive without being high on something. Your addictions numb your spirit, mute your conscience, and help desensitise yourself to the truth of your depravity. This way, when tomorrow comes, and you have to wake up and restart your existence as a walking fraud, you won’t have the clarity to crumble under the weight of it all but slide into your next falsehood.

These facts are common practice with the vast majority of the Hollywood industry on board, from the greatest celebrity to the tiniest employee on set or in the studio - it is insanity. You have lied so much that your lies are what you have accepted as the truth, whilst the truth you have turned into something to hide, discredit, and destroy in the media if it were ever to come out so that it can never be credible in the eyes of the multitude. 

The once illustrious and prosperous Hollywood - with its enchanting pretence, captivating stories, and spellbinding stars -  has fallen from grace. With this fall, its glitz and glamour have faded, and its community collapsed to make way for a struggling group of people, the majority of whom, despite unlimited money and fame, remain unable to survive a day without dependency on sex, alcohol, drugs, or medication - or a mixture of all four. 

You suffer from self-induced oppression, but at the root of all of this - for most of you reading this - is fear.

It is all out of fear - I know it, and you do too.

Yes, it is all out of fear…

The fear of anonymity, falling into the pool of insignificance after all the sacrifices you have made to get to the level of stardom that you have now.

The fear of losing your money, influence and position - those things to which you have attached your identity and sense of value.

The fear of failure, knowing that the world is watching, people are looking up to you, and thousands would kill for your spot.

Yes, it is all out of fear…

The fear of missing out, losing your only chance to make it just when it feels like you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

The fear of poverty, getting fired and black-listed in the industry because you wouldn’t follow your boss’ instructions.

The fear of defamation, getting your public reputation destroyed, and your career ended -  even though truthfully, privately, you were the one who chose to do the right thing.

Yes, it is all out of fear…

The fear of harassment, once more at the mercy of the heartless hector next door.

The fear of abuse, being despoiled by the powers that be if you do not stay in line. 

The fear of death, your physical and emotional well-being and those of your family are constantly under threat if you do not do as told.

Fear can be a powerful force but only if you let it settle in and take over your life. It is that fear that this regime continues to count on to keep their industry working and money flowing. They rule by fear. They make sure that you live in a permanent state of fear and distress so that they can control you with the utmost effectiveness.

But I have good news for you. Like everything else they do, the fuel behind the fear-inducing threats is nothing but lies. Once you see the lie and arm yourself with the truth, the fear must go.

I can write this with my full chest because I have faith in the truth, and I am not afraid of them nor their lies; they could never and will never outlive the truth. There is nothing concealed that will not be exposed nor hidden that will not be made known. 

The truth must be pure to yield its power. Cling onto the truth - unfiltered, unbiased, unadorned, unmodified. Take that truth with you, and march on. 

Ask yourself what it does for you to gain all the prosperity in the world but lose yourself. This is especially true when what sustains the said prosperity is fake. Your persona is not genuine. Your fame is volatile. Your money is precarious - especially when it was given to you, and can get withdrawn just as quickly.

There is no point in suffering in silence for a fantasy.

Here is a question: would you rather pay the price of lies that lead to destruction and death, or that of the truth that leads to restoration and life? If you chose life, then know that your priciest possession moving forward is contained in a two-letter word: NO. 

SAY NO.

Say no to it all, no matter the consequence. 

Say no, and take back your vigour. 

Say no, and take back your hope.

Say no, and take back your delight.

Say no, and take back your mind.

Say no, and take back your fate.

Say no, and take back your virtue.

Say no, and take back your grace.

Say no, and take back your dreams.

Say no, and take back your talents.

Say no, and take back your serenity.

Say no, and take back your sanity.

Say no, and reconnect your soul to the magnificent power that is the truth.

Start today, dear friend. When the manager calls and asks you to lie on that project - say no. When the boss calls and asks you to falsify those reports - say no. When the press calls and demands false statements - say no. When the studio calls and wants to impose its agenda on your work - say no. 

Say no to all the lies.

Say NO, a clear, firm, and unwavering no. But before you do, be prepared for five hundred different hells to run amok in your life and unleash their fury upon you. 

Say no in every situation where your character is in danger, even if it forfeits your public image, for a public image is elusive and is just that - an image. Sometimes it can be good, sometimes it can be bad, and it is malleable because of how much they can manipulate the media. They can just as easily decide to destroy your image regardless of whether you comply or not. So don’t struggle and fight with them on reputation in the tabloids, press, or social media, but do fight to preserve your character

Your character is the essence of who you are - it is with your character that you go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning. Your character is the keeper of your heart - it is to your character that you owe absolute integrity in every way and at all times. Protect your character to preserve your soul, and remember that public image comes and goes. 

Sometimes it will mean that you will have to be the very person to destroy your public image as punishment for saying no and refusing to bow to their god of lies. Don’t worry about it. If they hand you a spade to dig your grave, take it with a smile, ask them where they want it to be dug, and start digging. Dig the hole and lay in the tomb, with relief that in the end, they would not have gotten what they truly pursue: ownership of you

Arm yourself with courage, and set yourself on the narrow path of the truth, for it is the only one that will keep you whole and make you come alive. 

"Just say NO." - Elvira