What's the key to happiness?

The cover of Your Path to Self Acceptance and True Happiness, written by Trinidadian filmmaker, screenwriter and actress Teneille Newallo.
The cover of Your Path to Self Acceptance and True Happiness, written by Trinidadian filmmaker, screenwriter and actress Teneille Newallo.

Synonymous with emerging films in the local creative industry, Teneille Newallo, ever evolving in her own way, has added one more creative role to her portfolio – author. The journey to her first release on Amazon, Your Path to Self Acceptance and True Happiness has been several years in the making; but like the book itself will tell you – it was all in its own time.

Newallo was recently recognised for her role as a screenwriter and one of three producers on the award-winning film, The Cutlass. With a BFA in Theatre Performance to her name, she has worked over the past decade as an actress, director and TV presenter as well. Her first book, however, is a cathartic moment for the creative professional.

"My best friend passed away about 16 years ago, and it was in that time, in those moments following, that I started writing this book. It took form over the last few years and evolved. At the core of it, this book is a very personal one that I hope will allow people who read it, to accept wherever they are in their path and their life's journey," she pointed out.

Film producer, actress, screenwriter and author Teneille Newallo. Photo by Anthony Moore courtesy Teneille Newallo

"Happiness, and I know we hear this often, is really found within and that is the goal with this book," the first-time author added. The description on Amazon.com notes that the book “digs deep and analyses common emotional encounters like fear, loss, attachment, judgement, love, doubt, the ego, power, desire, intelligence, true kindness, karma and even the artistic path to enlightenment; and shows you how emotions affect our daily lives and our daily happiness.”

On a small island, in an even smaller creative community, baring one's soul by way of writing can be a particularly tough decision. "I once considered writing this under a pen name as at the time I was a young actress, and I didn't think that I was the type of person people would want to hear from. In hindsight, I can see that part of my hesitation was a fear of baring my inner thoughts to the world. But now seems like the right time," Newallo explained.

"The book's evolution too has been natural – over time it's become three sections starting with personal stories in the first part, along with poetry to help people absorb the lessons in different ways. That first part is titled Stepping Stones to Presence. The second part, The Puzzle Connected, takes the stepping stones and covers topics like true kindness, love, the ego and more so that we can learn from the experiences in Part One. The final section is a short story, a true story too, called Judgement – the True Story of a Madman which shows that anyone can be a teacher and that teachers on our journey can be found almost anywhere."

The format of the book allows persons to read and learn in several ways and also makes it easy to review in the future too.

Part of Newallo's journey has been motherhood, as well. "My daughter just turned four last weekend – four going on fourteen!" she expressed with a laugh. "I'm very hands-on with almost anything I'm involved in so motherhood, of course, is no different – I'm involved 150%. I am also happy to have a partner who's very involved and invested in her growth and development too, so that helps with the work-life balance," she added. That said, she's had to make accommodations. "I used to wake up and write at 5am before I became a mother – but mornings now belong to my daughter. Of course, it's changed in terms of demands over the past four years as she's now in school, but I've had to find a way to keep writing and keep working on the things I love while also tending to the people I love – that's important."

Teneille Newallo on the set of Magroves in character makeup. Photo courtesy Teneille Newallo

Through it all, Newallo has demonstrated an uncanny and tireless persistence. Her career has seen her shortlisted for a North American reality show called Movie Star (2008) and play host for Triniscene and Synergy TV and the popular bmobile Danceoff TV show. With writing at her core, she penned the screenplay for The Cutlass while on a sabbatical in Costa Rica which has since been awarded both Best T&T Film and the People's Choice Award at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival. It is also available globally on multiple platforms such as Amazon Prime Video in the UK and Hulu, Comcast, DIRECTV, Vudu, Xbox, Sling, Dish, iTunes, Google Play and Fandango in North America.

Teneille Newallo on the set of Mangroves with actor Anand Lawkaran. Photo courtesy Teneille Newallo

Another short film, Mangrove, Teneille's directorial debut, done as a proof of concept for a TV series called Soucoyant which she hopes to also produce, was also recently accepted into a major international festival – which she can only reveal in August as per the festival's rules.

"I've found myself in a place where I don't just have to write for work which is a fantastic place to be. It's allowed me to create work for the passion of it while also doing paid work. While it's all writing, it varies widely. For a script, you may find notes taped all over the walls of my office space while with the book it was very different, more controlled. But either way, I'm always eager and excited to write.

“With motherhood in hand, it takes a lot of time management though. But as a mother, it's also important to keep doing what you love to be happy. When you are a happy mother, you're going to have a happy child. Children feed off of the energy of their parents.

“So in a way, happy life, happy child!"


"What’s the key to happiness?"

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