Island Lime puts Caribbean talent on display in Hollywood

One week ago a group of actors, filmmakers, singers, producers, songwriters and other creatives, all of Caribbean descent or with a connection to our islands, gathered at Kiss Kiss Bang Bang nightclub in Hollywood.

Outside was a crisp 15 degrees Celcius but inside the club, Caribbean warmth permeated as the specially invited guests mingled with film and record label execs, publicists, casting agents and other influential stakeholders in Hollywood.

Free drinks flowed, doubles, pholourie, jerk chicken and Jamaican patties were consumed and the sounds of the West Indies a dancehall artiste Red Rat and soca singer Nailah Blackman kept the dancefloor alive.

The event was Island Lime, a networking party hosted by Question Mark Entertainment under the ODOS umbrella.

An acronym for One Degree of Separation, ODOS is a platform created by Question Mark principals Simon Baptiste and Carolyn Pasea-Pogson, to unite Caribbean and Caribbean-adjacent creatives with a view to developing their talent, providing access to opportunities and funding as well as positioning the Caribbean on a global stage.

Island Lime is one of the activities geared towards those goals.

The bi-annual mixer was first introduced in Los Angeles in 2018 where over 400 people including Black Panther actor Winston Duke, turned up to support the initiative. This year marked the return of the event, which was on hiatus due to the pandemic.

Dancehall artiste Red Rat

In his brief address during the festivities, Baptiste said the initiative was not about one Caribbean island but the entire region moving as one.

“We have been crabs in a barrel for a long time we just need to get rid of that barrel,” he said.

“What we are witnessing tonight is a movement. No matter where you are from it is a movement. It starts with a stage, it starts on a dancefloor but it also starts from the perspective that if we come together as a group, we too can conquer.”

Explaining the motivation behind ODOS, Baptiste said it was formed with the intention to give the Caribbean a voice.

“We have been culturally appropriated for so long we are now about to make our own statement,” he declared.

This sentiment resonated with Red Rat, a member of ODOS, who told Loop News that Caribbean unity is important to move the creative industry forward.

“I think this ODOS group is amazing because I am team Caribbean from the beginning. For me, the Caribbean was striving better when we were together back in the 90s when we started music. I could guarantee you that when I put out music it was number one in Trinidad and we got love from Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean before we broke overseas,” he said.

“I think the movement of the Caribbean is important and we as Caribbean people don’t understand the value of what we have…I think this group is one of the groups that capture the movements of people like myself to make this grow and be successful.”

ODOS members listen to advice from casting director Kim Hardin at Rita House in LA. Photo: Jeff Packard

Ache Abrahams, an actor who currently attends the Identity School of Acting in London, is delighted to be part of the movement.

“Coming from the Caribbean where there are not so many opportunities as we would like in the creative industries, being part of ODOS meant coming out here and standing collectively with a group saying we have talent, we have resources, look at us,” she told Loop.

She said the main benefit of the weekend was making connections in the industry and within the ODOS group.

“It is just beautiful to know that you have support, you have people who want to be part of the picture and move us forward collectively.  I know the connections I am leaving with I have for life.”

Baptiste and Pasea-Pogson have leveraged the relationships they have formed and nurtured over the last 20 years to create opportunities for many creatives.

Through Decibel, they have encouraged young people to explore their creativity through sessions with notable Caribbean and foreign celebrities in dance, music and film.

Through the Dream Big Foundation, filmmakers such as Stephen Taylor have had the opportunity to get mentoring on sets in Hollywood.

Recently, through the ODOS platform, Trinidadian actor Michael Cherrie was cast to star alongside Academy Award winner Regina King in the upcoming Netflix movie Shirley.

Simon Baptiste, Scot Sardinha and Chris Scott speaking at Rita House in LA. Photo by Jeff Packard

Some of the stakeholders with whom they formed relationships were on hand over the weekend to speak with the ODOS attendees about various aspects of the industry.

Casting Director Kim Hardin (Shirley, One Night in Miami, Hustle and Flow), Emmy-nominated choreographer Christopher Scott (Step Up, So You Think You Can Dance, Wicked), producer and director Sterling Milan (The Get Down, Black Movie Night) and Trinidadian Scot Sardinha who works with Will Smith, spoke to the ODOS members at intimate sessions over the weekend and imparted gems of wisdom about the industry.

Tolga Akcayli, a Vincentian/Turkish filmmaker, said he hoped to leave LA with recommendations or direction as to where he needs to go to get his next project done.

Akcayli is the producer of the award-winning film Too Lickrish, which he made by convincing his student peers to do it for free and later shared the profits earned with them. He identified funding as a major challenge for regional filmmakers.

Black Panther actor Winston Duke with Caroyln Pasea-Pogson at the first Island Lime in 2018.

“I think we should apply that model to each other’s projects. If you believe in a project by a fellow Caribbean filmmaker you should consider play and get paid after,” he said, stating that we need to move as one bloc instead of individual islands.

Kory Hart, one-half of the songwriting duo Full Blown Entertainment, which is managed by Question Mark Entertainment, said the connections made in LA were worth the trip.

“The Island Lime Event weekend and by extension ODOS is a great platform for all Caribbean creatives who wish to build a career outside of their immediate network of the islands. I met a fellow Trini who lives in LA and what he said really left an impression on me. He told me ‘LA is a multiplier…but you need to come out here with something to be multiplied’.”

“LA is the world hub of entertainment so it makes perfect sense for the event to be out there. Even if you do not have a manager or agent, just being there allows you to meet like-minded people and make the right connections that can change your life.”

Baptiste told Loop that the focus going forward will be on building ODOS globally. Seminars and workshops in the same vein as Ted Talks or SXSW are also in the works as well as looking for funding which, he said, allows creatives to make the projects they want to make without the complications of underfunding or under capitalisation.

For more information visit the ODOS website.


This article was originally published on Loop News (

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