Otoja Abit wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film “A New York Christmas Wedding,” which is currently available on Netflix. The New York-based actor (“Stonewall,” “Black-ish,” “Harlem Knights”) said while he is grateful to be faring well during this pandemic, he was disappointed he couldn’t celebrate his movie at film festivals as originally planned. Still, he remains optimistic and looks forward to the day when it’s safe to travel again. “My dream trip would be to travel to England with the one I love for a Christmas holiday,” said Abit, 35. “(We would) see a show on the West End, followed by a quaint dinner at a local pub.”
Q: How have you been dealing with this pandemic?
A: The pandemic has been extremely difficult. I usually look forward to being able to go out and enjoy social events. My dog, Willa Grace Abit, has been a major benefit to encourage stepping outside daily and exploring life, rather than being inside.
Q: If you had travel plans for 2020 and had to cancel, where were they to?
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A: I had planned to go to a wedding in Jamaica after completing all the work on “A New York Christmas Wedding.” That was going to be a much-needed vacation. And also all the film festivals – Miami, Martha’s Vineyard, North Carolina, Wichita, Kansas)! I missed a lot of opportunities to see our film play on a big screen with local audiences.
Q: How has coronavirus affected your ability to work as an artist?
A: I feel stilted being unable to get on a plane and go to California for that added option of our business. Safety comes first, of course, but it seems that with the lack of domestic travel, job opportunities are regionalized and becoming scarce.
Q: What is your favorite vacation destination?
A: The Berkshires in Massachusetts. It’s incredibly freeing to be surrounded by nature, quality food and art within three hours from New York City. Forest Hills, Queens, (is) a quaint metropolitan neighborhood minutes away from Manhattan and has everything one can want from an outer borough.
Q: What was the first trip you took as a child?
A: Visiting family friends in Otis, Massachusetts. It was an amazing experience to jump in a lake, sleep in a cottage and pick your own blueberries from a bush to add to morning pancakes.
Q: What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?
A: To be adaptable and try new things. Just because something might be foreign doesn’t automatically mean it’s not for you.
Q: If you could only pick one place to eat, which would you choose?
A: A local mom-and-pop restaurant. The importance of them historically and their character is what I would want in a true dining experience. Plus, the food would have its personal touch that is made with love.
Q: Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A: I like to visit friends in Baltimore. When I see my friends in the DMV area – D.C., Maryland, Virginia – they introduce me to new things that I enjoy experiencing.
Q: Where is the most romantic destination?
A: A rental home in a small town where you don’t know anyone, to go somewhere safe and get lost. That’s where the romance of life lives.
Q: If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?
A: Playing college basketball at St. John’s University, I had the privilege to travel annually for holiday tournaments. One tournament was in Honolulu. To experience the native culture and festivities outside of my usual New York City experience was everything.
Q: Do you speak any foreign languages?
A: I’ve become conversational in Spanish.
Q: When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A: My iPad. It has all the necessary components in one. Music, PDFs to read, downloaded films, maps and most importantly, my Scrabble app.
Q: What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?
A: My best vacation memory was spending a week in the summer in Shelter Island, New York. I was there with friends and it was the first trip with my then eight-month-old puppy. It was phenomenal to see her take in the ferry, run on an open grass field under the sun and go to the beach for the first time. My worst vacation memory was traveling to a destination wedding where it poured. (I traveled) so far to be inside of a hotel and watch four channels on a small television screen.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow “Go Away With…” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)